Hello, my name is Timo, I am 25 years old and from 02/2014 to 07/2014 I spent my semester abroad at James Cook University in Singapore.
The choice to go to Singapore was actually not particularly difficult for me, as I had already completed a 6 month stay in the USA when I was at school and therefore wanted to get to know Asia better.
As it turned out, that was absolutely the right choice, because the “culture shock” in Singapore is not too great (the western influence is clearly there) and you are generally great in the neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia or also Cambodia can travel.
The first preparations for my semester abroad started in July 2013, with the forwarding of my data to MicroEDU. The entire application process, including applying for a visa, was no problem at all thanks to the great support from MicroEDU. Of course, you should make sure to meet the given deadlines.
I started with the concrete preparations about 3 months in advance. In my opinion, the most important thing is to be vaccinated against all common diseases. I would advise against vaccinations against rabies or any preventive measures against malaria. Much more important is a proper foreign health insurance, as the costs in the event of a hospital stay in Singapore can quickly reach astronomical heights and you should be well covered here. Incidentally, the standards in hospitals in Singapore are excellent. Probably the most important “drug” for Singapore is a sensible mosquito spray, as diseases like dengue fever are known to be transmitted by mosquitoes (I speak here from experience). Don’t worry, malaria is absolutely rare and almost never occurs.
We come to the housing situation in Singapore. Singapore has recently officially become the most expensive city in the world, which is probably due in particular to the high rents. Therefore, it is actually common in Singapore to live in a shared apartment or to have a single room with a private person who sublet it. I myself lived in a room with a bathroom in a large private house that the owner had rented out completely. Among other things, two couples from Myanmar, an Indian and a British lived there, which was no problem at all.
Alternatively, there are of course also so-called condos with pool etc, but these are usually much more expensive (rooms from around S $ 1200). In general, I would estimate the rent to be around 700 euros per month, depending on the location it is also 800 euros or only 600 euros. It is advisable to live either in the immediate vicinity of the university or in or near the center, since at night (from midnight) there is no longer an MRT and you are forced to take a taxi (taxis are relatively cheap). If you live near the university, on the one hand you don’t have a long way to the campus, on the other hand, many fellow students live there and you can easily share a taxi.
Of course, I would also like to answer the question about looking for an apartment.
I myself looked for my apartment on site. I flew to Singapore about 2 weeks before the start of the semester and rented the highly recommended Kiwi Hostel on Arabstreet (great central location and very clean) for a few days. I then looked at some of the apartments on the Internet and contacted the landlords mostly by phone (I would recommend SingTel as a provider). After about 2 days and only 2 viewing appointments, I have already found my apartment. Alternatively, you can of course look for an apartment beforehand. But there are actually always enough free accommodation options available, so nothing stands in the way of looking for an apartment on site.
The tuition fees of around 4800 euros are of course not exactly low, but also not excessive compared to other countries outside Europe. Since I didn’t get BAföG, I had to pay the fees in full.
The cost of living in Singapore, apart from the rent (which is unfortunately very high), can vary greatly depending on the person. The food in the food centers is of course very cheap at around 3 euros, but of course you can’t just eat chicken rice for 4-5 months. You should therefore be open to Asian cuisine. Of course you can also get all imaginable dishes of western cuisine. However, these are usually significantly more expensive. Most of the money can be spent in bars or clubs. This is particularly due to the high alcohol prices, 50 euros are quite normal. But how much money you ultimately spend is up to you, of course. I would estimate the cost of living to be around 500-600 euros plus rent. I have not included costs for travel etc. here. A big advantage is that you don’t have to rent a car in Singapore (as in the USA, for example). The transport network is extremely well developed and a trip on the MRT often costs less than one euro. For information, the card for the MRT is also valid for all buses and can be conveniently topped up at any MRT station. Back then, I got the rechargeable card as soon as I arrived at the airport.
When asked about a local partner bank, I can only recommend the DKB credit card, as you can use the card to withdraw money free of charge at any VISA ATM in any country in the world. I never had any problems and never had to pay any fees when withdrawing cash.
E. Study at the host university
Studying business at James Cook University is certainly more demanding than some of the other universities, but the semester is definitely manageable. The amount of work naturally also depends on the choice of course. Since the university is not that big, the organization works relatively well, and there is always a local contact for international students.
When choosing a course, I can particularly recommend the subjects International Business and Business Negotiations. The lectures were all in English and very easy to understand.
Since Singapore generally combines a lot of cultures in one place, the proportion of foreign students was accordingly relatively high. In my opinion, the international environment was beneficial for everyone.
F. Everyday life and leisure
Singapore is not only one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world, but also a city that is incredibly well organized. This is particularly evident in everyday life. You can get from A to B at any time, the MRTs run every 4 minutes and there are countless buses. The city itself is characterized by a huge variety. In addition to the great modern center of the city, there are also countless parks, some of which are really worth seeing. But what is most impressive is probably the coexistence of the different cultures on site. Chinatown and especially Little India prove this impressively.
- Learn more information about Singapore and Asia on healthvv.
Let’s get to the afterlife on site. The atmosphere at night (especially the view of downtown) is unique. There are countless clubs and bars such as the KU DE TA on Marina Bay Sands or the One Altitude (at a height of 260 meters) to name just two highlights. If you like to be out and about at night and like to party, Singapore is the place for you. There are also countless events such as concerts, trade fairs, etc. In addition, you always get to know new people from all over the world. After a night of partying, the next day on Sentosa you can relax wonderfully on the beach.
I think another reason to go to Singapore is its central location in Asia. For example, you can easily fly to Bali or Bangkok for around 100 euros. But flights to Hong Kong or even Tokyo aren’t too expensive either. A trip by bus to Malaysia or Kuala Lumpur is also an option. Among other things, I watched the Formula 1 race there. If you want to travel, it is best to do it at the beginning, as soon as you have found an apartment, or within the first 3-4 weeks of your studies, as the workload at the university increases noticeably afterwards. Alternatively, of course, after the exam phase. In addition to Thailand and Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam are certainly also worth a trip.
G. Overall conclusion
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay abroad in Singapore, and I will definitely make another stopover there within the next two years. During my time abroad I learned a tremendous amount about the different cultures in Asia and was thus able to create a completely new view of the world.
Except for the good German food, I really didn’t miss anything from home there.
If you like modern big cities and want to get to know the Asian region better (without culture shock) then Singapore is absolutely the right place for you.