Five months have passed and so ends my semester here at NUS.
I felt that studying at NUS was particularly challenging as my class seemed to be full of bright and outspoken people. I felt that the courses here had a stronger classroom involvement than our courses back home as there were always volunteers to share their ideas and solutions. However, despite having a very strong education system, there were still many apparent flaws. The typical semester workload at UoA is 60 points, or around 4 courses. At NUS, the typical semester workload was an equivalent of 75 points; around 5 courses, however, due to the competitive nature of University it wasn’t uncommon for students to be taking 6 courses a semester. I once met a scholarship student taking 8 courses one semester, a notion I couldn’t even fathom happening back home in Auckland! I noticed that this overloading of courses didn’t always achieve the intended results; students always seemed stressed out, pushing against deadlines, sacrificing sleep and social life to grind for a better grade. Studying strategy became a matter of retaining enough knowledge to get a good grade, before clearing mind space for the next onslaught of courses.
One of the more important lessons I learnt this semester was that grades didn’t mean everything. As an exchange student your credits will be transferred back on a pass/fail basis, alleviating a lot of the pressure to study and time commitment towards your courses. I find that the people who are eligible for exchange, especially to a top university such as NUS tend to be quite studious, so it may be challenging at first to place studying as a lower priority but people gradually loosened up! I found that spending a lot of time with different people and placing myself out of my comfort zone was an invaluable experience. There’s so much I learnt outside of the classroom, from having better relationships to seeing different ways of life. I feel like these experiences have definitely gone a long way towards shaping my identity and made me an overall more wholesome person. I’ll never forget Singapore!