The exciting life sciences curriculum, global experiential learning opportunities and the possibilities of being able to learn outside the classroom were what attracted me to study at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
As the flagship university of a multi-racial and multi-cultural country like Singapore, NUS is unique in that we have a diverse student population on campus. With students and faculty members coming from 100 countries, there are a lot of opportunities for students to share ideas and interact with professors and students from different cultures.
For me, apart from the diversity of viewpoints and ideas, the dynamism in conducting research at the NUS Faculty of Science has enabled me to appreciate science from different standpoints. Most importantly, I’ve always wanted to be at the forefront of science and to pursue a transformative education. At NUS, I get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Asia University guides
Even as an undergraduate student, I have many opportunities to interact with professors and research fellows from all over the globe. For example, I am currently working in a stroke laboratory and my research looks at a protein complex named inflammasomes and its role in brain development. I am working alongside researchers from Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and South Korea. What amazes me is the wealth of experience these researchers have to offer in relation to the different models of stroke and their application.
I also took advantage of the language courses offered by the NUS Centre for Language Studies to learn a foreign language. The centre offers courses for 12 different languages, ranging from French and German to Thai and Bahasa Indonesian. I took up the Thai Language Programme, which is offered at six levels. I am currently at level four and through this programme, I have learned more about Thai culture.
At NUS, students are strongly encouraged to venture overseas – for internships, student exchange or community work. About 80 per cent of my undergraduate peers have a significant study-abroad experience. Between June and August 2015, I went on a summer exchange programme to the University of Toronto in Canada and it turned out to be a very enriching experience.
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Toronto is a cosmopolitan and culturally diverse city. The University of Toronto facilitator for our summer exchange programme made me feel welcome as an international student. Much to my surprise, I adapted quickly to student life in this beautiful city. During my two-month exchange programme, I visited Quebec, Montreal and Vancouver. The Canadians who I met during casual encounters were helpful, spontaneous and enthusiastic. I even travelled to New York and visited Times Square as well as Niagara Falls – not forgetting watching a Broadway show (and I also got lost in Brooklyn!).
Living abroad in a foreign country for two months was a life-changing experience for me. I learned to be independent and open-minded as I stretched myself to venture beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. I’ve also learned to cherish and appreciate my heritage and identity as a Singaporean.
Mick Lee Chang Jie is a fourth-year undergraduate biological sciences student at the National University of Singapore.