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Student Testimonials: Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

NTU

Name: Daniel Cathie


Highlight of my semester abroad:

My favorite part of IBEX was either visiting Krabi, Thailand for Recess Week, or our groups' last get-together on the Clarke Quay bridge. Krabi was surreal- the island hopping tour featured the most beautiful beach I've ever seen. In one day, my group trekked through the rain forest to see natural emerald-color pools, climbed a mountain to reach a Buddhist temple, and rode an elephant through a lake.


If you go, you must...:

Eat lots of food! Singapore has some of the most amazing, cheap Asiatic/Eastern dishes, drawing from Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cuisines. Plus, it's incredibly cheap to eat like a king. So go for it.  Also, movie theatres are awesome in SG, and cheaper than NY, too.


Something about me you might be interested to know:

I have a solid CS/programming background. I successfully went through the OCR process while abroad, too.


More Student Insight


Expenses

  • Airline ticket to/from Singapore location: $1,500 - $1,900 USD
  • Taxi from airport to campus: $16 - $17 USD
  • Housing: $400 - $900 USD
  • Local Transportation: $400 USD/semester
  • Phone: $150 USD/semester
  • Books: $150 USD/semester
  • Food: $2,000 USD/semester


Banking

  • "Very convenient on-campus bank, with student-friendly checking account options. Combination of Singaporean bank account (which is a necessity, because the NETS check card is the most widely-accepted form of payment outside of cash) and credit card with no international fee. If I could do it again, I would have instead opted for a secured-balance credit card, with no cash-out fee. The notion that Singapore is a credit card-friendly country is a little misleading; it's a necessity to have cash on you at all times."
  • "I brought $5000-$6000 USD. Singapore is very cheap but you spend a lot of money traveling. ATMs charge $2 per transaction so set up a Singaporean bank account or use HSBC."


Housing

  • "Residence hall, furnished with bed and desk. I was fortunate to win housing through the lottery system, where only 30-40% of international students are given any residence hall assignment, at a subsidized cost."
  • "There are very clean communal bathrooms and the laundry is free but you hang clothes rather than using a dryer."
  • "Ate on the campus, campus cafeteria, and out. There is a kitchen on every floor, but the best part of Singapore was the food. At each of the cafeterias, fresh food was prepared for every order."


Academics

  • Workload and grading: "There are no midterms, just weekly homework assignments. Finals were worth 60-75% of your grade."
  • "About the same as at Stern. They do have a curve that is imposed by the Registrar's Office. So, although the professor may award an "A", the Registrar makes the final determination."
  • Professors: "Very impressed. For the most part, they had vast amounts of knowledge. The professors preferred to have lively discussions. The professors of my business classes seemed to care more about the students. They were well organized and their slides were really helpful. The professors of my general elective classes were dry and boring. They didn't really provide good feedback on papers or questions."
  • Classroom climate: "For each class, there is a two-hour lecture given once a week. They each have a 2-hour tutorial (a smaller class, much like NYU recitations) offered a number of times a week. The classrooms had air conditioners and it was always cold, so you had to bring a sweater or jacket. My Marketing professor actually tried to involve the class by having us do surveys and exercise in groups. The recitations were designed to make the students talk and integrate what they learned by applying concepts to case studies."
  • "70% of our classes were based on one final which I felt wasn't right. I worked pretty hard on classwork assignments, but all it took was one test to mess me up. In addition, we are not allowed to look at our finals after they are graded unless we pay $10. I thought that was unfair because I wanted to see what I did wrong and learn from it. Their reason for that policy was so that not all the students dissatisfied with their exam grade would go and complain about it unless they were dedicated enough to pay $10."


Course Recommendations

  • "My favorite class was Data Management and Business Intelligence with Professor Damien Joseph. Although this was a student-driven class with a focus on the final project, the professor was helpful and informative, and motivated everyone to complete what originally was a daunting assignment."
  • "I took 4 classes - Marketing, BP & Ethics, Social Organization, and Elementary Chinese II. The Marketing course was pretty good, I learned a lot of intro marketing concepts. The BP & Ethics course was more towards business policy and management issues, so we didn't really cover any ethical issues. The case studies were helpful in applying the concepts for both classes. For Social Organization, it was disappointing. It was dry and the topics weren't interesting. The concepts were introductory level and stuff that I had covered in my high school classes. I expected Elementary Chinese to be easy and it was. It didn't really require much effort."


Student Life

  • "I made a lot of local and international friends who were awesome. The locals that I met made an effort to welcome me and make me feel like I had known them for ages. They took me around to both tourist places that not a lot of foreigners would know about. They were mainly what made my experience so great."
  • "University-sponsored athletics and social fraternities are almost non-existent at NTU. However, there is a wide array of IM/Club athletics, Academic Clubs, and Cultural organizations. (Note: LGBT has almost no presence in NTU if that is a concern for you). Being a 1-semester student, it was difficult to get involved in many of the clubs, due to either full-year membership fees, full-year requirements, or entry requirements such as auditions (for the numerous dance clubs at the school). However, many of the students were very accepting of semester-abroad students as honorary members. I was involved with the NTU chapter of Toastmasters, due to my roommates’ association with the organization, and a project I worked on with the chapter. Also, NTU has a large number of events for International Students and semester abroad students."


Restaurants, Shopping, Must-See Sites

  • "SG- Clubs: St. James Power Station, Kyo, Avalon (free nights)
  • Pubs: Prince of Wales, BQ Bar
  • Shopping: Orchard Road, Jurong Point, Vivo City, JCube
  • Restaurants: Singapore has a huge Cafe culture right now, so definitely go to those. Hawker centers (esp. Gluttons Bay)
  • Must-See: Merlion, Nat'l Park in the middle of SG, Sentosa Beach/Universal Studios Singapore, Infinity Pool, Cloud Forest
  • Thailand–Definitely go to a "ladyboy" cabaret (a classy one!). Also: Khaosan Rd, get a cheap/excellent Thai Massage, cheap/renown tattoo parlors in BK, Grand Palace and Wat Pho In BK, Chaktu Chak outdoor market, "the Beach" in Krabi province, elephant-rides in Western Thailand or Chang Mi, Thousand-Stair Tiger Buddha Temple
  • Malaysia–Melacca night-time market, Petronas Towers in KL, Reggae bar (chain), Batu Caves, clothes shopping here is VERY cheap, Zouk MY."
  • "All hawker stalls (especially Lau Pa Sat); any restaurant in Chijmes; any prata place; the noodles stall in canteen 2 in NTU (get the noodles with minced meat sauce); the fruit bread from the supermarket."
  • "Orchard Road, Suntec City, U.S. Embassy Parties (every other Friday night), Zouk (a club), Sentosa Island, Tioman Island (Malaysia), The Merlion, Night Safari, Chjimes, Holland Village, Raffles Hotel (the Long Bar) & The Fullerton Hotel"


Travel Tips

  • "You can claim a GST tax refund at Changi Airport."
  • "I did quite a bit of traveling in SE Asia, due to SG's airport-with regional hub status, low cost of regional airfare, and easy access to countries with normally restrictive visa requirements (Vietnam).  I visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand twice, and Hong Kong. My best advice is to fly budget airlines, and although it may sound awful, Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia were offering amazing ticket prices for a while due to the decrease in demand. Scoot, an SG budget airline, has deals every Tuesday morning, linked from their Facebook page. Also, never trust a Tuk Tuk driver."
  • "I liked the fact that I got to travel around Southeast Asia. Since Singapore is closer than the U.S. the tickets were much cheaper. I got to go to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and HK. I bought and had things made in these countries that only cost a portion of what it would in NY."


Career Development

  • "I used the OCR process while on IBEX to apply to internships and eventually nab a summer internship. To Stern students who are planning to travel as upperclassmen: don't let the distance stop you from using OCR. Phone interviews while in sweats and eating ice cream rocks!"


Culture Shock

  • "I thought this was a great experience. I learned about how the people lived, their struggles of being Asian influenced by Western beliefs and traditions, the way they felt about the government and education system. I learned to appreciate what I had in NY (for one thing, we're not required to provide or pay for paper when we print something out in the lab). We also have access to shows at our fingertips and places to eat that are open 24 hours. They have none or very little. I also thought the education system was not that great. Kids are taught from an early age to start competing academically so they have to be #1 in everything."


Necessary Language Skills

  • English


What You Should Bring/ Not Bring

  • Bring...
    • "Bring an umbrella, because it gets very rainy in SG!"
    • "Summer clothes (Sunblock, bathing suit, sneakers), Laptop"
  • Don’t bring...
    • "Leave food from home (they have everything from the U.S. already) and notebooks (they use A4 size paper)."
    • "You can rent blankets and sheets - you won't need sweaters or jackets."