Exchange in NUS

It is not easy to be enrolled in Fudan-NUS exchange program. After this wonderful journey ends, I know why so many students want to be enrolled. The one semester exchange study experience is really exciting and meaningful.

It is also not easy to conclude the whole semester in a few words. National University of Singapore(NUS), the culture, history and environment of Singapore left me with really deep impressions.



A most likely place to be the university gate. A very open campus without any fences.

Study in NUS is quite different.

Courses are packed together, with lectures, labs and tutorial in the same module, which is quite different from here in Fudan that courses and labs are separated. I think it is more appropriate when doing lab just after lectures. The practical knowledge learned from lecture can be soon reinforced in labs.

Compared with courses in Fudan, the contents of a module here is carefully selected by professors. Main points are clearly listed in PPTs, and we do not even need to buy textbooks and reference books. But in Fudan, the most arduous work of reading text books is a must, as PPTs are even more difficult to understand. During the lecture, contents in PPTs are well illustrated by lecturers and relationship between sctudents and teachers in class is close and harmonious. Teachers really care about whether students can understand and a handful of examples are used to attract our attention. In a Computer Organization class, students are invited on stage and three color of umbrellas are used when ilustrating PI. 

Surprised to find that although many students never appeared in class, nearly every students attended lectures are really listening concentrately and taking notes carefully. In Fudan, however, teachers are immersing in their own world, most students are either playing with mobile phones, or sleeping, or ready to sleep.

Meanwile, videos are recorded during lectures and can be reviewed on online platform after class, a very nice tool during revision. Online chat room for the course is set up and we can exchange ideas and ask questions there. Digital materials like lecture notes and assignment hints are handed out through a well-built website as well as app.

I have to say, there is still a long way to go for Fudan to catch up with NUS. Such a gap not only lies in that teachers should take more serious attitudes towards lecturing, but also in necessary technical improvements.

Living in NUS seems a luxury experience

Several halls and residences are around the campus. Halls have numerous common rooms and various activities are held. Students live in seperate rooms in the large house. Communictions between students are easier throught parties, but many students complained the noise of party, which usually last till 2am. Residences are much quieter and such a residence is similar to apartment outside. No air-conditioner in tropical area is a little uncomfortable, but the single room, 24-hour hot shower, kitchen with fridge and many common rooms of various sizes and purposes are fascinating enough. 

My first time entered the residence, I nearly got lost. All the buildings are interconnected with each other with corridors and underground paths. The residence is at the side of a high slope, 4th floor is the same height with roads on the slope. Sometimes I was just wondering which level is the exact basement level. Not to mention various turns and lifts which are easy to be mistaken, so it is not surprising that it took me a week to figure out the building structures.

University town is a specially built residence which is for demonstrations, with gym and swimming pools nearby and meals offered in plan, life there is more comfortable. It is a pity that I have not been assigned there.

I always find it necessary to build more projects room in Fudan, so that group work can be talked freely without interfering with students studying nearby. Such rooms are under every buildings in my residence in NUS. During the mathematical model contest, we even lived 24 hours in project rooms for 4 days.

Traveling in campus can only by bus or walk

The whole campus is built on a mountain ridge. With so many sharp slopes, bicycles are nearly impossible and very dangerous. But frequent school buses of various routes are convenient. Some slopes are tilted nearly 30 degrees, I was told that once a heavily loaded bus was out of power when climbing the slope. 

During weekends, buses come every 30 minutes, so walking may be faster and it is really healthy. With so many up and downs, we can easily burn energy. Soon after I arrived, I formed the habit of running around the whole campus at night. More than 4 kilometers' mountainous road really challenges the limitation of physical performance, no wonder why I got 2 kilograms thinner when I came back.

Facilities in NUS is also exciting

There is a whole building for students activities. Enough spaces are there for every kind of students club. Often hear students singing loudly in that hall when passing by, assuming they are having fun there.

Sports activities are plentiful as you can find every pitch in the sports area. We booked badminton courts several times and surprised to find many Chinese speaking students there. A standard swimming pool is available for free every day as long as there is no big activities in the pool. I have never swimmed in January, but soon regret to have swimmed in the afternoon. Skin is never white again even till now. 

NUS students seem to have large interests in sports, even girls. I am quite surprised to find that football courts are occupied by dozens of girls and boys are playing in a nearby grassland. They also participate in climbing, boating and other fierce and competitive sports. Such a high spirits in sports in not usual in Fudan.

I once noticed the ads in campus that the word "Alumnus" with nus in bold, such an interesting phenomenon, but I soon find NUS really cares about alumnus. A building is specially built for  alumnus, and there is even a swimming pool for alumnus only.

Food in NUS is diverse.

There are many canteens around campus, each with food from different countries, fulfilling the need of students from around the world. Although many stores claimed to sell Chinese food, I think there is only one store which is really selling Chinese food and I ate about a quarter of my meals there. Some stores are selling Roujiamo, which is a special snack in Shanxi province, China, I am quite astonished at finding such a familiar and unique snack selling abroad, but despite the high price, the taste is really awful. 

One benefits of various stores is that I can have a taste of food "claimed to come" from all countries. I do not know their authenticity in view of Chinese food, but some food is really memorable. The fried chicken and fish set from Japanese cuisine, the rip eye steak from Salad bar, the Omelette chicken rice, the vegetarian fried pot from a Chinese uncle(queue for at least 30 minutes) Hope to have them again.

Homework and Exam in the final seem easy to Chinese

I selected only two courses, so it is quite comfortable this semester. Lectures are easy to comprehend, as teachers are really illustrating in detail cleally, so afterclass review is easy. Homework is far less than Fudan, in one course we only have five assignment, in anothor one four. Labs are quite a piece of cake for us, so we do not need to prepare for a ling time. There are mid-terms in one course and two term tests in another, revision by midpoint is a good practice, so that I have have a happy day in final review.

I prepared for Final exams two weeks in advance, happy to find them easier than expectation. But I am totally unexpected that I can get A+ in both of my courses. I am told A is given less than 10%, and A+ has same grade with A, but merely a meritorious award for those really excellent.

Language environment in NUS

I am fully unaware of the fact that Singapore has 80% Chinese offsprings. But in class, teachers are lecturing in English, though three of my four lecturers are Chinese offspring and one of them can speak Chinese. All the students speak English in  class and discussion, but some of them speak Chinese after class. But neither their English nor Chinese is the same as I speak. Many people defined their English as Singlish(Singapore English), the most funny thing is that they pronounce "three" as "tree", some of them even can not understand "three" and try to correct my pronounciation. It seems that their english contains the accent of dialects from Fujian, China, maybe that is related to their ancestors who mostly come from south of China.

But outside campus, people tend to speak Chinese to Chinese. When I asked road to a local citizen in English, he immediately responded me in Chinese, supposing he can easily tell I am a Chinese. It is a great experience to find that Chinese is still useful abroad, and with mastery of two languages I can speak to nearly everyone on this island.

NUS really left me with graat impressions, both its teachers and students, both its atmosphere and facilities. I can feel everyday is different and meaningful, with so many exciting things to expect and explore. Such a taste of life in another university, especially NUS, the Asian best university, is precious and memorable, broadening my horizon and leading me towards a worldwide perspective.


Chiense version of exchange experience: 新国大交流感受

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