After about three months in Singapore it’s about time I write about the university I’m studying at. From my experience the student body is comprised of three main groups, the local students, students from Mainland China, and a large number of exchange students. For the most part it appears that students from each group tend to hang out with themselves, although as with every generalization, there are many exceptions. This is evident even within the exchange student body. In the 2008-2009 school year, there are more than a thousand exchange students from all over the world, but as time goes on, they tend to split into smaller groups based on their background: the Swedes, the Germans, the Indians, the Canadians, and even the Californians. That is not surprising since they tend to have similar interests and often travel together outside of Singapore.
The classes are conducted in a similar manner as they were at the UW. Lectures for upper level classes are taught in small classrooms (not as nice as BAEEC but much better than Balmer, they blast the AC and a jacket is necessary) of about 40 people, lower level classes are taught in lecture theatres (LT). The structure of the courses (modules) also resembles those back home: a syllabus on the first day, the grades usually consist of two exams, one project, and participation. I’m not sure about other concentrations, but the upper finance courses meet once a week for three hours straight. It’s recommended to fit your courses into a few days in the middle of the week in order to get extended weekends. The professors are also a diverse bunch; I only had one Singaporean professor out of the four classes.
A lot of students live in halls on campus, but many also commute from outside. The morning commute is a nightmare, often you’ll see the bus driving by without stopping because there are people standing on the bottom step of the bus – it simply cannot pack another person in. The food on campus, however, is excellent. There are many cafeterias (called canteens) all around campus, packed with stalls offering a wide varieties of food, they are staffed with friendly (mostly) people who sometimes don’t speak English. The cost of food on campus is also cheap compared to outside, NUS subsidize on-campus food stalls to keep the cost low for students, a contrast from back at UW where everything seems to carry a premium on campus.
However when it comes to facilities UW surpasses NUS in almost every way (except some old classrooms). The libraries at NUS are small except for the main Central Library, but it’s still hard to find a seat during exam periods. If you are into the gym then NUS is a big disappointment, the weight room is simple pathetic, occupying about as big of a space as a single Balmer classroom. Other sports equipments are also lacking, for example, you’ll need to book in advance for a badminton court, which requires you to bring your own rackets, birdies, and even the net. Students at NUS mostly choose jogging as the preferred method of exercise.