Skip to main content

Madison Chen

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Business Administration/Data Science & Entrepreneurship
Program: Faculty of Arts and Sciences Program at the National University of Singapore
Location: Singapore, Singapore
Term: Fall 2022


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
"Spending almost the entirety of my life in Cary, North Carolina, I felt like Chapel Hill easily became a familiar and comfortable area. While I appreciated being at UNC the first two semesters, I wanted to be in a new environment where I could challenge myself more and build my resilience and independence while strengthening my personal identity. I had spent my ninth grade at an international school in Shanghai, China and knew I wanted to chose an Asian country as my choice of destination for study-abroad. Singapore epitomizes the beauty of multiculturalism as one of the most diverse cities with NUS being a leading institution consistently ranked among the top business schools in Asia. The country is a great in-between for America and other Asian countries as I was able to experience the cultural differences while still being able to speak English (no language barrier is such an advantage). My main academic objective was to internationalize my education and to gain a cross-cultural business perspective while interacting with talented students and professors. The program offered so many different options course wise especially because I wanted to finish as many Gen-Eds possible while also allowing me the flexibility to take other classes that interested me. Singapore is such a thriving and developed city with amazing architecture, delicious food, and beautiful sights to see and I thoroughly enjoyed the ease of exploring and the safety I felt! I also wanted to embrace the opportunity for traveling around Asia and was able to visit other countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan which were all easily accessible from Singapore. "


What did you learn about yourself?
I always feel like I doubt my capabilities and studying abroad showed me the amount of independence I was actually able to handle. I learned how to do things on my own- paying own bills, solo-exploring the city, navigating public transportation, arranging my own flights, planning trips, budgeting, etc. I learned how much I love spreadsheets and daily agendas and this assisted me in making sure I was making valuable use of my time. I learned to speak up for myself, adaptability, flexibility, and self-reliance.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
"I especially appreciated the welcoming and energetic environment of the students from NUS- at the beginning of the semester and as an off-campus student, I was super nervous about campus involvement but that quickly eased when I saw how easy it was to get involved in basically anything I was interested in. The school prioritizes funding for student clubs and organizations and I really appreciated all the events that were organized for exchange students to meet with one another and locals as well as all the beginning of the year performances and shows that were prepared. There is always something going on in UTown or by the Central Library and I loved being able to walk around and see all the talent. Aside from academics, I really enjoyed the spontaneous trip I took with 15 other exchange students to Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand during the week before midterms. We gathered a group of students from all over the globe and rented out two airbnbs and I definitely built core memories from that trip such as snorkeling in James Bond island, riding a motorcycle around the city at night, white water rafting, etc. "


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Your experience as an exchange student is shaped by personal outlook. A key determinant is whether you chose to live within your comfort zone or not- this applies to all aspects of life, social and academic. Be prepared to feel homesick. Studying abroad makes you go through so many emotions. So many highs but also lots of lows. Being abroad teaches you to grapple with living completely alone and that comes with loneliness. Staying calm in the face of challenges; there will be confusion and frustration at times, but be patient, know that things will work out. Studying abroad is a highly personal experience- no one goes through the same exact experience; understand that what you are doing now is a once in a lifetime opportunity and what you get from it is what you put in. Lastly, let go of expectations!


Would you do it again?
My Travel Blog: Compiled Google Docs “Singapore Realizations: Helpful Tips/Apps, Places to Go, Things to Do”: My Vlog Channel:


How do you identify?
Student of color


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Living in an Asian-country strengthened my identity as an Asian-American as I felt able to connect more to the Asian side of me. I was able to embrace a lot more about my appearance and learned to love the way I looked more!


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
As an Asian-American, I highly recommend other Asian-Americans to chose Asia as their course of destination.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
The exchange community and professors!