Studying abroad in one of the high-ranked universities in the UK may already sound like a great blessing to some of us. Have we ,however, ever thought about that there can be even more options open for you after you becoming a Surrey’s student?
William, who is from Hong Kong, is currently a second year BSc Business and Management student at University of Surrey. Every first year student will have chance to apply for an exchange programme , which is typically during the first semester of second year. To sculpt his very own studying experience, William has enrolled into one of the exchange programmes which , in this case, is a four-month stay in Singapore Management School.
When someone whom studies his undergraduate degree at a reputable UK university going for an exchange programme to a world-renown university in Singapore, how does it feel like?
1. Is there any reasons that drives you to apply for an exchange programme when you were in first year at University of Surrey?
William: There are actually two reasons. I would agree that studying in the UK enables me to step out of my comfort zone because from the moment I stepped into the university campus, I have to learn to be ‘international’ as it simply just does not work if I keep myself to be narrow-minded. I always convince myself that a ‘content and language integrated learning’ approach is the most effective way to construct my cosmopolitan identity. Even Surrey itself is already a diversified community with students of different cultural background , I believe that it is a wise decision for me to optimise every opportunity available to sculpt my world view.
That’s why I was joyfully excited when I got the email saying that I have been considered to be one of the five Surrey students whom get this opportunity to discover Singapore as another multicultural city(or country) in the world. Singapore is named as ‘Asian four dragon’ alongside Hong Kong because of its rapid international business engagement and world-class hospitality management. I think that may explain why SMU can attract 555 exchange students from all over the world at the time I was there.
2. Did you enjoy the learning atmosphere in Singapore Management University?
William: It is definitely a rewarding experiencing to interact with other SMU students in class. Our class size is relative small than that in Surrey and we only get 45 people max for an academic class.The teaching style is smilar to that in Surrey as lecturers or professors would expect me to show initiatives to participate in class. SMU actually values class participation much because class participation contributes to 20% of the module marks.
Perhaps it may be due to that fact that I am studying in a business degree, there are plenty of opportunities for group projects and group presentations. I quite enjoy doing group works because there will always some fresh ideas that I can learn from the discussion with others. I find it quite efficient to learn in a group setting. Everyone do their own independent research, and each one of us will contribute to the topic whilst being critical to different researches. Moreover, English is the first language in Singapore so language is absolutely not a barrier in academic discussions.
3. Do you think your social networks has been benefited from the exchange?
William: Although the exchange programme only lasts for four months, I basically made new friends every day. I believe that one of the ways that allows exchange students to be more adoptive to a new learning environment is to make new friends. My experience told me that perhaps this philosophy is within other’s mind too when exchange students from different universities are mostly sociable and energetic when it comes to socials.
One of the memorable experience was that I met an exchange students from Japan in one occasion. We talked about business plan and share our own thoughts with each other. Within the talk we find out that we commonly share of the visions and there are potentials for us to be a business partner. He then introduced some of his friends to me and we start to talk about serious business partnership in a group. Build on our rapport, I have the honour to get myself introduced to some authorities in the field.Even now we have gone back to our home universities, we still put serious focus on our own ‘project’ and thankfully everything is going well by far.
4. What reminder you will give someone whom may decide to go for an exchange programme to SMU?
William: Singapore is a ‘fast place’ comparing to the UK. There are lots of things going on within and outside school every day. It may take a bit time for adjustment if you are getting used to the rhythm of UK life. However for Hongkongers I would not say it is a concern because I’m pretty sure we have all developed that resilience in Hong Kong. Speaking of English, Singaporean speaks really fluent English and I don’t think their accent will be of any problem. It is perhaps ,although, interesting to say that there are two types of English lingua franca in Singapore : ‘Singlish’ and ‘Standard English’. Some of the sentences may not make grammatical sense to us when it is in Singlish. However, nearly all of my friends who is met in SMU speak standard English in our social groups so it is not hard to follow (and of cause learn from) them.
Last tip is that do your best in your semester one at Surrey because academic performance is one of the most important determent factor to the change of getting a seat for exchange programme.
Singapore is a popular destination of exchange programme for Surrey students. Nikita from Caribbean has also taken one year for exchange in Singapore so it may be worthwhile for anyone whom is deciding to follow William’s and Nikita’s roads in second year.
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