"Studying abroad allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and grow personally. I'm usually pretty quiet and introverted, but I was able to step out of my shell and meet new people. This experience allowed me to become more independent and confident in my own abilities."
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience a different school and workplace environment. I wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone in order to learn more about a different culture while also getting the chance to grow professionally. I picked to go to Singapore because I was intrigued by Singapore's diversity. In Singapore, there are four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. I wanted to experience first-hand how the three major ethnic groups lived together in peace. Additionally, I picked the Global Internship program because I felt that I would benefit the most from an internship rather than only taking courses at another university.
We went on a tour bus to see the Malay village, Chinatown, and Little India all in the span of a few hours. I noticed that the Hindu Temple was actually in Chinatown. In fact, in one street you can find a mosque, a Christian church, and a Chinese temple. The fact that all these religious buildings are built so close to each other is incredible. It is a testament to Singapore's religious harmony. Even though there are ethnic neighborhoods in Singapore, the buildings and people living within those areas are diverse.
My biggest challenge was balancing going to work full time and taking six units of classes. I wanted to have time on the weekends to explore Singapore, so it was hard to manage my workload and have fun at the same time. What I had to do was stay on top of my coursework and finish everything on the weekdays after work, so that left the weekend free for me to tour the country.
For Mondays through Thursdays, I got up around 7:00am and got on the train around 8am. My work commute was an hour so I usually arrived to work by 9am. I worked from 9am to 6pm and then took the subway back to the dorms. I usually arrived back to my room by around 7pm depending on whether I would grab a bite to eat on my way or at the school's canteen. Then I would try to finish up some of my coursework before I went to bed. On Fridays, I attended class from 9am to noon. Then in the afternoon we went on field trips around Singapore.
I took an online Global Citizenship class through Berkeley. The workload wasn't as bad as usual Berkeley courses, but the formatting was similar to usual online Berkeley classes. I also took a History of Singapore class at the National University of Singapore. The professor didn't seem like the typical Singaporean (actually, he was Malay), in fact he reminded me a lot of Berkeley professors. The workload for that class was a bit much, but the difficulty level was much easier than typical Berkeley courses.
The most memorable aspect of my time in Singapore was getting to know the local people through my internship. At the company I worked at, all the other interns were Singaporean, so I got to socialize with Singaporeans my age. My mentor was also Singaporean, so I was able to ask a lot of questions about their culture and political climate from people who actually live there. It was really eye-opening and by the end of it all, I felt like I was living like a real local.
Studying abroad allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and grow personally. I'm usually pretty quiet and introverted, but I was able to step out of my shell and meet new people. This experience allowed me to become more independent and confident in my own abilities.
I would recommend researching the country ahead of time. Before I left for Singapore, I made sure to look up information on Google, as well as, watch YouTube videos of expats in Singapore. I learned a lot of Singlish phrases that became useful later. I also learned about the train system, so that when it came time to actually find my way around the country, I didn't get lost. I think it's important to always research the country you're going to in order to be prepared for anything that might come up once you arrive.