Alex van Tuyll in Singapore

Field of study in Wageningen: Agrotechnology
Study period exchange: 15/08/2017 until 05/12/2017
Country (exchange): Singapore
University (exchange): NTU
Faculty (exchange): Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE)

2. Motivation for exchange

 

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

I chose to go to Singapore, because of the location (interest in urban agriculture, experience of living in a big international city), quality of the university and travel opportunities.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

Singapore’s far but well-connected. Still, book early. I would recommend not booking a return ticket, as you may want to travel with friends on your way back home, as some of mine did.

Extra tip: There’s a lot to sort out before getting there – and some of the documents are self-contradictory, so read everything. Make sure it’s all organised whilst you’re in the comfort of your own home so that everything goes smoothly when you arrive in the Red Dot. Residence permit should be requested for 100 euro.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

How is the study formalized?

Academic level largely depends on the course. Putting your schedule together is quite tricky but they are willing to help when you need it. Exams are firm but fair. Lesson material largely depends  on the course but is of high quality.

What is the culture of the university?

Academically, NTU is more theoretical and fundamental compared to WUR – for example, my computer vision course at NTU taught me the mathematics behind things, whereas a similar course at WUR showed me how to apply these things to agriculture (without entirely understanding their fundamentals). Everything happens on campus – people live there, eat there, and even go shopping there. Campus is huge, closer in size to Wageningen than its campus. Lots of societies. Strong hall culture. Local students are shy but approachable and friendly. Lecturers are friendly but less open to the sort of direct discussions common in the Netherlands. Lastly, NTU’s academic year is divided into 2 semesters, making for a relaxing time most of the time until everyone starts panicking for exams.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

Catering is amazing. Most halls of residence have their own Singapore-style hawker centre, as do many of the lecture buildings. Don’t expect to do a lot of cooking – if you’re lucky you might have a microwave and one hotplate to share with 10+ people. Sports facilities are great. Many halls have their own gym, and the common sports centre is brand new. Laundry facilities are present in halls as well. As I said before, the campus is almost its own town with supermarkets and everything.

5.Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing? 

All on campus. Very affordable. Most rooms are shared, but private rooms are available. There’s a strong hall culture at NTU. Not all rooms are air-conditioned (and in the ones that are, your roommate may not want to pay for it!).

What is the culture of the country like? 

They’re hard workers but enjoy a good laugh as well. Shy but approachable. Very open for Asian standards, but still considerably less open than many European cultures. The Anglo-Saxon influence is definitely there nonetheless.

Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?

Considerably less. I think I spent 850 euro at most for my 4 full months at NTU. Be prepared to spend a lot more on food, however.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure? 

NTU is far away from the rest of the country, but public transport is excellent. Easy to get a card or even pay by cash, and that will get you across the country for under 3 euros. Taxis are cheaper than in Europe, but expensive by Asian standards. NTU has a shuttle bus (the Campus Rider) which gets students from Pioneer MRT station to campus. They have 2 other lines going round campus as well.

General tip: Sleep Asian-style, that is don’t get a thick duvet. Also, mind your hygiene in this hot and humid climate. Bugs will be in your room before you know it.

6. Free time

What are must-sees in the area?

Singapore itself is full of things to see and has excellent and affordable public transport. NTU is a little far from the rest of the action but it’s all doable. Travelling to other countries is a must – even if it’s the ferry to Indonesia or the bus to Malaysia for a day!

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

Lim Chu Kang, for all agricultural students out there. Singapore has an agricultural countryside and it’s one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever visited.

Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?

At first I had to get used to the idea that everything was on campus, so I wasted time travelling into town. Also, join a society and meet local and international students. I did Taekwondo which was a unique experience in Asia – couldn’t recommend enough. Also, most Singaporeans go home for the weekend, so campus is quite quiet then – but you wouldn’t want to spend the weekends there anyway; there’s plenty to see outside. My closest friends from the exchange were international exchange students. Travelling with them really cemented those relationships.