National University of Singapore

National University of Singapore

Friday, November 14th, 2008

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.

outside-central-lib.JPGThe 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.

prince-georges-park-residences.JPGA 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 (more…)


Monday, November 3rd, 2008

vietnam2.JPGAfter Cambodia I went to Vietnam. From Siem Reap it took about 12 hours by bus to get Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon. The first thing I did in Ho Chi Minh City was to get a taste of local cuisine. One person from our party had some relatives in Ho Chi Minh, and she took us to a popular local pho house. The pho was good, but I thought Pho Tran Brothers on the Ave back home is better.

vietnam1.JPGThe traffic is Ho Chi Minh is horrendous, once outside you are greeted by thousands of scooter bikes flowing down the street, which is impossible to cross. Good thing we didn’t stay long in Ho Chi Minh, the second morning I went to a charming little town about seven hours north of Ho Chi Minh called Dalat, capital of the Lam Dong province. After months in a tropical climate the coolness of this mountainous town was much appreciated. For the first time since I arrived in Singapore, I had to wear a sweater every time I went out.

Dalat is famous for its scenic waterfalls and beautiful French architecture from the colonial periods. This was a great contrast from the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh, and I enjoyed my stay very much.


Saturday, November 1st, 2008

cambodia1.JPGDuring the recess week I went to Cambodia to visit the world famous Angkor temples in Siem Reap. Mostly people probably have heard of Angkor Wat, which has been featured on every Cambodian flag since 1863, but the Angkor Archaeological Park contains much more than just Angkor Wat. Temples such as Angkor Thom and Bayon are also part of the huge complex that takes days to tour.

cambodia2.JPGI spent about three days in Siem Reap (the tourist hub and gateway to the temples) and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I have seen the sunrise at Angkor Wat and breathtaking sunset on Tonlé Sap Lake (largest fresh water lake in SE Asia), where people live in floating villages. The local food somewhat resembles Thai cuisine and is excellent. Among all of the countries I have been to in SE Asia, Cambodia has been the most interesting and worthwhile place to visit.

Kuala Lumpur

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

kuala-lumpur.JPGSingapore is the gateway to Southeast Asia; from here many great tourist locations are within reach. Last weekend I had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with my new friends in Singapore.

We departed at 10PM on Friday and after 6 hours on the bus we arrived in KL at 4AM the next day. After a brief rest we headed to the famous Petronas Twin Towers, after waiting in line for about an hour we got the tickets to go on to the skybridge on the 41st floor. From there we got to see an overview of the city center.

Food in Malaysia is very similar to food found in Singapore; it’s a mix of Indian, Malay, and Chinese. Most people in Malaysia spoke either Chinese or English so we had no problems with communication. Besides a few landmark buildings and delicious food, KL is also a major shopping city. There are many malls around city center and the prices are often half of those in Singapore. And that’s what we did for the most part besides sightseeing.

Before Leaving

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Here are a few things to check out before leaving or deciding to exchange with the National University of Singapore:

University of Wisconsin has a very informative site regarding the exchange programs it offers, UW (University of Washington) should look here for inspiration:
General Information from University of Wisconsin
Student Feedback from University of Wisconsin

National University of Singapore also has some useful pages for reference:
Pre-departure checklist

When applying for housing, make sure to apply for PRINCE GEORGE’S PARK RESIDENCES, this is the hall mostly for international exchange students so the chances of getting accommodation is higher.

Some more random/useful facts:

  • Capital One credit cards don’t charge a forex fee.
  • Public transportation is convenient and taxis are inexpensive.
  • There are three local GSM carriers: SingTel, Starhub, and M1, I recommend Starhub for SMS, bring an unlocked phone and a SIM card can be purchased for S$18 (passport required).
  • Electric outlets are different in Singapore, but don’t buy overpriced adapters in the US, they are everywhere and very cheap in Singapore.

Time has flown by…

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Time has flown by and I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post. Finals just finished up in Singapore, and now 8.jpgit is time to head back home. School out here has been a unique experience out here all the way through finals (which take place in a giant gymnasium with about 800 other students). I really took advantage of being in a new place by venturing outside my comfort zone and trying some classes that had absolutely nothing to do with my major, and instead focused on topics like Singapore business law and Asian history.

Part of the reason why I chose to come to Singapore was the fact that I was going on my own, without knowing anyone before hand. While that made the first few days kind of rough, it was the best decision I could have made in choosing a study abroad location. The network of friends I have made around the world from being here for 5 months astonishes me, and I 7.jpgcan’t wait to visit many of them in the future.

As other blog posts have mentioned, one of the best parts of studying abroad is being able to experience other countries and traveling. South East Asia is an amazing culture shock for anyone who has never visited third world countries before. From Malaysia, to Thailand, to Indonesia, to the Philippines, and many many more, these places are where the real experiences of study abroad are made. I finished up my last bit of traveling by heading down to Bali for a few days. As is always the case when visiting a country for the first time, I had an amazing time. We managed to randomly run into about 15 other exchange students from NUS (National University of Singapore) and SMU (Singapore Management University) every time we turned around. It really was a perfect cap to an amazing semester. From the beaches to renting scooter bikes and exploring the island, there was always something to do. I am excited to give white rice a break and have a nice big sandwich, but I am definitely not looking forward to needing a jacket when I get back home.


If any of you have any questions about Singapore or SE Asia in general, feel free to reach out and I would be more then happy to be of any assistance. See you back in Seattle.


Adventures in Singapore and More…

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Hey everyone! My name is Neal Mulnick and I am an accounting and information systems major in the Foster School of Business studying abroad in Singapore at the National University of Singapore. I have been in Singapore for about two months so far and am having the time of my life.

School has been surprisingly similar to life at UW, with the nice benefit of being located in clean Singapore while being in the proximity to some of the most culturally rich countries in the world. Singapore itself has an interesting mix of developed skyscrapers while remaining green everywhere you look.

So far I have had the opportunity to visit Malaysia, the Philippines and in a few hours Thailand. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we visited the Petronas Towers and the Hindu Batu Caves, in the Philippines we went scuba diving and snorkeling with whale sharks, and much more! The absolutely amazing thing about Southeast Asia is the drastic change in culture with every border you cross. Not to mention Singapore, the multicultural meritocracy with a Chinese majority, surrounded by a Malaya world.

Well, I have to leave for the airport in twenty minutes for my flight to Bangkok, Thailand…so until next time, I look forward to sharing more adventures.