Hello! This is Jason Ho writing from the National University of Singapore. I’m a fourth-year student concentrating in finance and information systems. Since this is my first time visiting Singapore and first time participating in a university level exchange program, I am and have been very excited and interested to discover and explore the unique Singapore, where diverse cultures, traditions and lifestyles are blended with unbridled energy and dynamism that never seem to dissipate.
Singapore is a country formed about 40 years ago on a relatively small island located south of the Malaysian state Johor and north of Indonesia’s Riau Islands with close to five million in population, mainly comprised of 75% Chinese, 14% Malays, 9% Indians, and 2% others. The diverse cultures traditions and lifestyles are what make this nation unique, where many Southeast Asia cultures come together in harmony. The crime rate in Singapore has always been low while citizens and visitors are constantly being reminded by the government on public places and transportations about the consequences of breaking the law. Hence, Singapore is considerably safe for tourists who have absolutely no experience of Asia to get acquainted with various Asian cultures in the visit of only one nation. It is like an introductory course to Asia, aka Asia 101.
Besides having assorted cultures and an almost crimeless environment, Singapore is also known for its strong economy. The nation gained its independence from the Malaysian government in the early 1960s when it was an undeveloped place, and in about 40 years later become one of the most important financial hubs of Southeast Asia. Many financial institutions from across the world now have offices and buildings in the central business district of Singapore. International cargos and ships are arriving at and departing from the enormous and world-class ports of Singapore. Last month Singapore announced that its second quarter GPD of 2009 increased 20.7% and is considered relatively better than many surrounding countries. One of the reasons behind the strong economic recovery is because Singapore is filled with talented people along with the support of a competitive and comprehensive education system.
Since Singapore has a mixture of many Asian cultures, an almost crimeless society, and a strong economy that was built within 40 years, it attracted my attention to thoroughly experience the life and to discover the business environment in this beautiful Southeast Asia financial center. Therefore I decided to participate in the exchange program for one semester in the National University of Singapore and get a taste of Asia’s education system.
The National University of Singapore Business School has high rankings and standards in providing excellent quality education in both the undergraduate and graduate program. It employs professors from outstanding universities around the world, including University of Washington. The upper level undergraduate classes are taught in classrooms that holds around 50 students. The students are encouraged and required to work in teams for class projects and presentations. Most of the classes consider group work as a significant part of the grade, approximately 50%. Therefore students meet and communicate with each other quite often. Most of the students are nice and friendly. As a foreign exchange student, I feel welcomed by both the kind staff and sincere students. In general, students are either studying or participating in school and extracurricular activities. During the free time, if there is any, the local students enjoy hanging out, shopping, and eating, just like any other students. However, since Singapore has such diverse population, they are able to enjoy the delicious and authentic food from across the world.