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Bridget Smart is currently studying at the National University of Singapore for Semester 1 2019. Bridget is studying a Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences (Advanced). As a recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Bridget has been funded for her exchange in Singapore as well as an additional internship in Japan.

We interviewed Bridget after she had settled in at the National University of Singapore.

“On my exchange program I am mainly taking mathematics and statistics courses. I’ve been really enjoying all of my courses so far, as the courses which are offered at the National University of Singapore not only compliment my studies, but also allow me to explore areas which I may not have seen otherwise. I’m also taking a research based subject in applied mathematics, looking at creating accurate and precise models to assist in medical diagnosis in ICU patients.”

 

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore

We asked Bridget how she was enjoying Singapore so far: “I’m absolutely loving Singapore! I had very little idea of what Singapore was like as I had never been there, but have been delighted to discover a diverse country full of amazing places to explore.”

“The National University of Singapore has an amazing campus life and is always buzzing with activity – sport teams, bands and ensembles, people eating together, and of course studying! Singapore is also an incredible place to travel from – so far I’ve been able to visit Kuala Lumpur and Tioman Island in Malaysia, and I’ve just returned from a trip to Thailand.”

“There are four official languages: English, Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay. I have also been lucky enough to see so many Chinese New Year celebrations, and took part in a Lo Hei with my ultimate Frisbee team. My experience so far is that I couldn’t have chosen a better place to come for exchange! Singapore has proven to be an amazing place to live, explore, and study.”

 

New Colombo Plan Scholars at the Australian High Commission’s Australia Day event

 

Bridget’s average day at NUS: “I usually wake up, do some yoga, and then head down to the dining hall. The breakfast options usually include Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western, which always means the choice can be hard! Even though I live on campus, NUS is so big that it has its own bus system, so after breakfast I go and get the bus to class.”

“After some lectures and tutorials, I will head back to University Town to get lunch with my friends and do some study. I’ve joined the ultimate Frisbee team, so we will train in the evening to avoid the sun, and after training, get dinner in the dining hall together. If I don’t have training, I try to make the most of living on campus by going for a swim or to hang out on the lawn. Of course, on days when I finish early I will get the MRT (train) to go and explore new areas in Singapore. My favourite places I’ve been so far are Haji Lane, Little India, China Town, and the botanic gardens.”

When recalling the moment she found out she had been accepted for a New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Bridget said: “I was just heading back from collecting some printing and I checked my email – I managed to scan halfway through before I even registered what it was. Once I realised, I just stood in the hall rereading the first couple of lines to make sure. I was so happy and excited that I rang my family straight away before I realised I really had to get back to class!”

 

Visiting elephants in Chiang Mai

“When I first started looking at exchanges I wasn’t considering Asia at all – but after an exchange talk hosted by the Maths department, I realised just how incredible the opportunities Singapore offers are! So once the idea got into my head, I knew I really needed to go and study in Singapore. I wanted to chance things up and step out of my comfort zone. It is a really lovely place to live, and while everyone speaks English (which makes living in a foreign country easier), I also get the chance to improve my Mandarin skills, travel around Asia, and enjoy the tropical weather.”

“Coming into university I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study. Every day I wanted to do something new, but I always knew that I wanted to study in an area which would allow me to solve complex, global issues in practical and creative ways. After I realised that every time I considered a degree I was trying to work out how many maths subjects I could do, I knew that I really needed to just start in a maths degree.”

 

Gardens by the Bay area in Singapore

“I think that during university students have so much flexibility and so many opportunities that an exchange makes the most of! I really encourage anyone interested in an exchange to start looking at the information very early and planning, because it definitely comes up faster than you think. It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world, travel to amazing places and experience life in other countries. So far, the experience has exceeded all of my expectations, and while there have definitely been some rough times while I settled in, the experiences I’ve been able to have are brilliant and I’m so grateful I decided to go on exchange so early in my degree.”

“I’m doing research with BIGHEART, a biomedical research institute, as part of my studies at NUS. We are currently looking into the application of artificial intelligence to aid in medical diagnosis. It sounds very far from my mathematical focus, but the modelling, data analysis, and research focus all tie in very nicely with my studies. It’s been great to work within a research group, meet people from all over the globe, and also to conduct research in a field I am passionate about.”

 

Singapore city skyline

“My exchange is exposing me to so many inspiring people in a variety of fields, and my experiences are giving me the chance to develop new skills and build valuable connections. Having an international network and so many diverse experiences will give me the tools to succeed in my chosen area. My NCP program is helping me see and engage with how maths can be applied to almost every area – something I have been told countless times, but never really experienced until now. I’ve spoken to people working in research fields, banking, business, and politics, who had maths backgrounds and use their analytical and abstract thinking skills to excel in their chosen careers.”

 

“I wish someone had told me to consider Singapore for exchange earlier. It’s such a lovely place to live and the campus life is very exciting. The weather is amazing, the cultural experience is incredible, and the travel opportunities are unique and diverse – what more could you want in an exchange destination?”

“The public transport is great and living in a big city is very exciting and there is always somewhere new to explore. The university is outstanding and living on campus gives an amazing community and so many social experiences. I think students who are looking for somewhere a bit different and who want to do a lot of travel but also want to live somewhere very friendly should strongly consider Singapore.”

“Coming to Singapore has helped me realise that I want to make the most of the flexibility of my undergraduate study. It has taught me that there are so many opportunities and experiences out there, even if you have to look around to find them. I’ve also always wanted to go on an exchange to Denmark, and being here in Singapore has made me even more determined to go before the end of my degree.”

You can follow Bridget’s experience Singapore either on her Instagram @bridget_smart, or on our Instagram @uaoverseas.

If you’re interested in doing an exchange in Singapore like Bridget, you can view our Singapore page here.

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Jenal Dhar is currently studying a Masters of Business Administration. In 2018, she completed her exchange to the European Business School. She spent two weeks in Wiesbaden and one week in Berlin, Germany. 

While in Germany, Jenal took subjects that focused on topics such as the European Financial Landscape, Corporate Decision Making, and Business and Leadership in Europe.

“You often choose to participate in activities that you usually wouldn’t have done if you were alone because you are part of a bigger group. The combined knowledge and variety of experiences of those who are there with you adds to the entire experience.”

 

When speaking of some of the highlights of her exchange, Jenal reflected on her time travelling to Amsterdam and France.
“Unlike Australia, you drive for four hours and you see the languages on the signs changing and you realise you are in a different country. Apart from that, travelling with classmates for site visits to the Audi Factory or start-up companies to learn about innovation left me with beautiful memories of the trip. I met one of the most brilliant minds in the field of Strategic Management, who has provided me with a lot of advice and useful pointers.”

Jenal learnt how easy it is to bond with people from different countries and backgrounds.
“When I went to Germany, I flew with a couple of batch-mates, who I knew and had seen around in the Faculty. Once there, we met and gelled well with our other classmates. Our daily commute to the University, site visits, group discussions, class work, pre-exam discussions, group lunches and dinners actually brought us all very close.”

 

Jenal is currently an IT Manager, which she chose because she loves management and has experience in Computer Science thanks to her degree. In the next six months, she hopes to learn more and set the foundation for her start-up. She hopes to visit Scandinavian countries in her future travels.

“The biggest reason you should study overseas is because it gives you an opportunity to see the world and absorb new culture. It gives you a chance for personal development as you study and learn differently. You develop a better understanding of other cultures and business, and expand your network. Being acquainted to different cultures and working styles gives your resume that competitive advantage and is great for employability.”

Are you an MBA student interested in pursuing an exchange like Jenal? Students should speak directly with their Business School advisor regarding eligibility. Current partner universities available to be considered for an MBA exchange include Aalto University, the European Business School, Kedge Business School, and Leipzig Graduate School of Management.

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Jad Halimeh studied a Bachelor of International Studies with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History, as well as a Diploma of Languages in German. Jad completed two overseas programs with Study Overseas while he was at University – the first one an exchange to the College of William and Mary (USA) in 2016, and the second a winter school program to Aarhus University (Denmark) in 2017. Jad is currently working as a Graduate Policy Officer in the Private International and Commercial Law section of the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra.

“As with most people who studied the same degrees as me, a goal of mine has always been to work in the Public Service. I’m definitely humbled to have been considered, and looking forward to many years with the Department. I’m also a soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, a role I’ve been in for around two years now and loving every second of!”

Jad has spent many years living overseas. He lived in Dubai from 2000-2003 while his parents worked as English teachers. From 2010-2014 he lived in Lebanon where he attended high school and became fluent in Arabic. “I’d say the biggest difference for me [between studying overseas and other travel] was that there was a sense of purpose to studying overseas. Not to say that going on holiday is useless, but when you go overseas for a certain amount of time, and you have to make the most of a University experience while also enjoying the country – it really leaves no time to get bored. On another level, when you live in a country (even just for a semester in my case), you get to experience a whole different side of the place you’re visiting. You become a resident, you get to know the ins and outs of things just like the locals. Definitely a great experience to learn from.”

 

On the highlights of his overseas study, Jad said “Playing for the college rugby team and travelling to different states to play games, spending Thanksgiving in Miami, living the typical American College life (yes, it really is like the movies!), meeting so many people that I’ve stayed in contact with all these years, learning how other people go about their lives. Honestly all of it. Also being in the USA while the 2016 Federal Election took place is definitely something I won’t ever forget.”

“I think it was a really good lesson in how to be resilient. Studying overseas is such a good experience, but it does bring with it its challenges. It’s life, things go wrong, and you have to deal with it in a different country, without the support systems you’re used to. I think that’s what I learned while away – how to persevere and make things work when you’re completely out of your comfort zone.”

“I still speak to so many friends I made while overseas. In fact, I’ve gone overseas a few times since 2016 and have made sure to meet up with those same friends each time. I even keep in touch with people I met on the short program!”

 

“Studying overseas definitely gave me an edge in presenting myself to prospective employers. Of course, as with any course of study at a tertiary level, you essentially get out of it what you put in, but the things learned while studying overseas are so useful even at face value. The fact that I had experienced life in other countries, dealt with difficult circumstances while completely out of my comfort zone, navigated Denmark without speaking a word of Danish – all these things showed that I could deal with difficult situations, that I could adapt to foreign environments, and persevere with resilience. Top tip for anyone who has been on exchange or is considering it – highlight these things in interviews! It really helps you stand out from other candidates.”

“A lot of the tasks some people (myself included) may think are useless at university are actually so helpful when working full time. I never thought learning how to write policy briefs or being told to read 100 pages a night would be beneficial to the ‘real world’. In reality, that’s basically what I do. To anyone reading: don’t neglect your assignments! There’s more to come in the real world.”

 

In the next six months, Jad hopes to be accepted to study the Juris Doctor degree at the Australian National University: “My Lebanon days were definitely the most formative and solidified my determination to come back to Australia and work in service of all Australians.”

He hopes to do the best he can in his rotations throughout the Department and have fun at the same time. He is also trying to read two books per month and hopes to accomplish this.

When we asked Jad where he hopes to visit next, he said “Adelaide! I took advantage of living in Adelaide, and I never thought I’d miss it as much as I do now. I absolutely cannot wait to visit for my graduation in a couple of months.”

 

“There are so many people who study a Bachelor of International Studies with a Bachelor of Arts. In my cohort there were hundreds of people who studied the same degrees with grades as acceptable as mine. Having a couple of overseas experiences under my belt definitely gave me the competitive edge I needed to get into the workforce. Of course, I’m not saying that is the only way to get a job, but it worked very well for me. The overseas experiences I’ve been on have been so useful professionally, and I’ve made lifelong friends. I would recommend an overseas program to absolutely anyone considering it.”

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Rhona Hamilton is currently preparing to go on exchange to the University of Tokyo, Japan, in Semester 1 2019. Rhona is currently studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics, and has also completed a Diploma of Languages in Japanese. As a recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Rhona has been funded for […]

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Jan Noya is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts with a Bachelor of Economics, majoring in International Studies and Politics. At the end of 2018, Jan completed a professional overseas internship in Fiji through Project Everest. He is also the President of the Adelaide University Filipino Club.   Jan wanted to gain international experience, as […]

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Tom Chambers is currently undertaking a PhD in atmospheric physics/optics. From October to December in 2018, as part of his PhD research, Tom travelled to Davis Station, Antarctica to deploy atmospheric measurement instruments to determine the role of clouds and precipitation in the Earth’s climate system. Tom wrote the following blog post to tell us […]

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Maria Positano is currently preparing to go on exchange to Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, in Semester 1 2019. Maria is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Media. As the recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship and a PricewaterhouseCoopers 2019 fellow, Maria has been funded for her exchange and an […]

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Sophie Eather is currently preparing to go on exchange to Fudan University, Shanghai, China, in Semester 1 2019. Sophie is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in International Business, and a Diploma of Languages majoring in Mandarin Chinese. As the recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Sophie has been funded for her […]

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Office closure Study Overseas will be closed for business from 5pm Friday 21 December 2018 and will reopen in the New Year at 9am on Wednesday 2 January 2019. Finance processing will also experience some delays over this period. OS-HELP and Travel Grant processing Eligible OS-HELP or Global Learning Travel Grant applications received before close of business […]

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Thien was one of the finalists in the video category for our Best Of competition! He participated in a Project Everest program focussed on water assessment to Vietnam. Enjoy!

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