About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Computer Science and Information Science
Program: National University of Singapore (Arts & Social Sciences)
Term: Spring 2020
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I have always loved traveling and exploring new cultures and foods. As an Asian-American, I have always been interested in living in Asia and thought study abroad would be a great opportunity to explore this interest. However, I am not fluent in any Asian language so I chose Singapore because one of the most commonly spoken languages there is English. Singapore is also extremely well-developed with beautiful architecture, wonderful food, and welcoming people. I believed Singapore suited my interests the best so I chose to study abroad at the National University of Singapore. NUS is one of the top-ranked universities in Asia, with large departments in the arts and sciences. I knew I wanted to be somewhere in which I could still be challenged while having fun. In addition, Singapore is in the center of Southeast Asia, which made traveling to other countries a lot more convenient. Overall, I am very satisfied with my selection and loved my time there.
What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience, I learned that I was a lot more independent than I realized. Traveling to a foreign country by yourself is intimidating, but once you do it, you realize how much more you are capable of doing previously daunting tasks. I used to be afraid to open up to strangers right away, but study abroad forced me to meet a lot of new people and I am so grateful for that experience. It definitely made me stronger and more open-minded as an individual and I really discovered more about who I am and what I want to pursue in life.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from my program was the immersive student life. The dorm I was housed in was in University Town, an area of campus full of activities ranging from sports, food, and just relaxing on the lawn. The dorm I lived in was mainly local students which allowed me to interact more with locals and learn more about the Singapore culture and lifestyle. I joined the dodgeball, swimming, and t-choukball groups and had a lot of fun participating. My time at NUS kept me active and social, something I had really been looking forward to. Overall, my favorite memory was living in UTown and hanging out with the people there.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
It is natural to feel nervous or uncertain when thinking about going abroad. It is a foreign country, with food, people, and customs which are completely new for you. However, the most important thing is to do your research before you go. Some places you go may have certain customs and traditions the people follow and it is important to respect those customs and traditions. Furthermore, I felt uncertain about leaving my home and family, a place where I felt comfortable and safe. However, I also wanted to explore a new experience and would rather regret doing something over regretting not doing something. I think life is all about taking steps outside your comfort zone and push yourself to try new things. It can be scary but the results are always rewarding.
How do you identify?
Student of color
Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
During my time abroad, I noticed my identity played a role I was not used to. As an Asian-American, I am used to being seen as a minority and person of color. When I was younger, I struggled to accept my culture and background in an attempt to fit in with others. But as I grew older, I became more comfortable in my own skin and proud of my heritage. That being said, going to Singapore was a unique experience because a large majority of the popular are Chinese.Thus, I blended in a lot more easily than in the US. It was a different experience entirely because for once I was a part of the majority. Nevertheless, it is not something I took advantage of, rather it was something I saw in a new light and made me more open-minded as a result. I think experience being both a majority abroad and a minority at home helped me get a better grasp on the importance of inclusivity and diversity.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
If I were to give advice to other students who share my identity, I would say it is important to educate yourself about the history of your heritage. I think it is really cool to be from a unique background that celebrates different holidays and practices different traditions and customs. Never be ashamed of where you came from, there are so many ways you can express yourself and experiencing your culture in the country it originated from can help you feel closer to your own identity. It can perhaps develop your identity even more.
If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
If faced with any identity-related challenges abroad, I think you can turn to others who share the same identity as you. They may be able to relate through a similar experience, or can give you advice on how to deal with it. I think confiding in someone else is important so that you can get another perspective on the situation.