Singapore ends

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

As most other exchange students, if I could do it again, I would. I had a great year in Singapore and have been home for a while thinking about it. I wanted to write about the highlights of the year that I haven’t mentioned so far.

I had a family, sort of a host family, who invited me for dinners and get togethers once in a while, a highlight was the Chinese New Year dinner cooked by the grandma. Or when we made a promo video for one of the board games designed by my host’s husband.

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Joining NUS mountaineering

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

The most standard advice on how to get to know people when starting university is to get involved in a student club. I went to the fair at NUS and wanted to try a new sport. Though several clubs where open for beginners, I got the impression most of the clubs were for people who already knew the sport. However, the mountaineering group was very welcoming and said anyone could come to training, for free and with no commitments. When I went for the first training it was mainly because I kept failing to motivate myself to run in the heat and humidity, I did not imagine I would end up climbing a 5863 meter peak in Himalaya with them.

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NUS academics

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

Studying at NUS was very different from in Manchester. As I study physics, the department in Manchester is large and at NUS it is tiny, so the differences might be larger for me than other courses. It is a general thing though, as far as I understand, that coursework is heavily weighted at NUS in all faculties. If there are a lot of students in a class it is marked by a bell curve. This means that to get better marks other people need to do worse than you. While this protects students against hard exams, it can also create a study culture where people are not willing to help each other. I in no way experienced this, but I heard stories about it from friends in other faculties.

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Science library. 15 minutes before it closes they play classical music to chase people out.

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North Vietnam by motorbike

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

My favourite trip last semester was motorbiking from Hanoi to Sapa in Vietnam during recess week. Warning, recess week at NUS is like reading week in Manchester, except in Manchester it’s treated like a recess week and at NUS it’s actually treated like a reading week. After a night train from Sapa to Hanoi and flight to Singapore on Sunday I had to take a midterm 8 am on Monday, worth it, but challenging.

Hanoi is one of my favourite Asian cities, the old quarter is great and there are terraces like this everywhere. The Bánh Mi is amazing.

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Weekend trip to Mount Kinabalu

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

Mount Kinabalu is in the Malaysian part of Borneo. It is 4095 meters above sea level and really really cool. It’s a two day climb and you have to join a group with a guide, since it’s very regulated. They only let 130 people up there per day, which I think is part of what keeps it nice. I went with two friends one of the weekends last semester. We started the weekend early and flew to Kota Kinabalu Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we were picked up and taken to the start of the trek.

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Singapore begins

By Monika Kvassheim, National University of Singapore

So, I have somehow been in Singapore for more than two weeks already? It has been incredibly busy and I’ve had almost no time to myself, definitely no time to blog, but now here are my first impressions of Singapore.

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Henderson waves, a bridge connecting Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park. We walked through both of these and Kent Ridge Park back to our on campus accommodation. The walk was only through parks and took us hours.

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