Anyone who’s interested in Asia, won’t be able to ignore Singapore, since it is economically and politically one of the most important locations in South East Asia. Besides Singapore's relevance for Asia’s development, and thus the global system, there are many other good reasons to spend one or two semesters in the city-state. I was particularly interested in the peaceful coexistence of very different cultures in a confined space. As a complete Asia newcomer it was really exciting for me to get an insight into the Chinese, Indian, Malaysian culture and many more. Especially the numerous public holidays, such as Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, but also just a visit to the districts of Little India or Chinatown, offer a good opportunity to experience different cultural traditions and everyday life. And of course, one should not miss the numerous restaurants, since Singapore is famous for its culinary diversity.
I was very pleased with my classes at the National University of Singapore (NUS). There is a great range of course offerings at the university, including faculties such as Southeast Asian Studies which are unique to the region. In each course, I had both lectures and tutorials, which did not differ too much from the structure in Freiburg. There was a lot of discussion, presentations and group work involved. In addition to university courses there are still a million other things to do on campus. There are countless sports clubs, as well as theater groups, bands and more. As I took part in the International Office program exchange, administration was well organized and the tuition fees at NUS were waived which is a great advantage. If you are freed from tuition fees and have accommodation on campus, living costs are comparable to Freiburg. Hence, financing your studies in Singapore is feasible, even without a scholarship.
Adapting to a different system and environment was sometimes challenging but definitely worth it. Besides the enriching experience of the stay itself, I have found many new friends and discovered a part of the world, that I didn’t know before. My expectations on the semester abroad were thus more than met in Singapore.
My stay abroad (1 semester) at the Schreyer Honors College (SHC), which is a part of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), was a great experience. I had a wonderful time meeting awesome people, having fun and interesting courses, and seeing new places. Special about the Schreyer Honors College (SHC) - UCF exchange are the weekly meetings with Penn State students that will go to Germany. Personally, I enjoyed the discussions about diverse and interesting topics. Penn State is a great place to spend a diversified stay abroad. Even though it lies somewhat “in the middle of nowhere”, Penn State is still close (4h bus ride) to New York City as well as Philadelphia, which makes it an ideal place to experience two great North American cities even on a weekend trip or during Thanksgiving break. Also, Penn State is a good place to spend time outside. Mount Nittany is close-by and an offers nice hiking routes. If you want to meet the Nittany Lion, Penn State’ mascot, it is best to dive into the American Football culture and spend much time tailgating during football season. In the end, Penn State offers a variety of committees and clubs to join.
Every-day life in Penn State is somewhat different from Freiburg. When studying at Penn State as an exchange student, one usually lives on campus, which means to live in large dorms, sharing rooms (which is lovely when having a great roommate), and usually eating in dining halls that offer a variety of foods because there are not many cooking facilities. Penn State is situated in a university town called State College, which very much developed to serve the needs of a large university. Therefore, while on campus, there is not much of a mix between students and people outside university as there is in Freiburg.
Academically, Penn State offers a large and varied course catalogue. The course structure does not differ much from UCF courses, so that lectures are often accompanied by seminars. During my study abroad, I could take courses that helped me focus and further my personal academic interest, namely combining environmental sciences with communication and sociology, which made my time abroad an irreplaceable step in my academic live.
Overall, I am absolutely satisfied with my stay abroad and it helped me tremendously to refine my personal academic interest. I met many great people and experienced new places. If I were in the situation to decide anew where to spend my time abroad, I would definitely go there again.