Faces of MIB

Jessica Chen - Singapore - Nanyang Technological University

How was your experience studying abroad?

I had been looking forward to my semester abroad ever since I entered the MIB program. When I first arrived in Singapore, I felt nervous since it would be my first time away from home. At the same time, I was incredibly excited about all the new people and experiences I would encounter during my time there. My study abroad was everything I expected and more! Living and studying in a country was completely different from my past experiences traveling because I felt like part of the community instead of just another tourist. I was forced out of my comfort zone and met lots of people that made my semester special. Although I encountered some surprises along the way, the experience definitely helped me grow and I would do it all over again if I could.

What challenges did you experience? How did you overcome them?

My semester abroad was not always smooth sailing as it was my first time living in a completely different country on my own. I experienced some homesickness and jetlag in the first week, but attending orientation events and meeting other exchange students helped me get over it. Exploring the gorgeous neighbourhoods in Singapore reigniting my excitement and making new friends made me feel less lonely in a foreign environment. Towards the end of my time abroad I encountered problems with my housing and flight home. Luckily, I was able to work with the university’s staff and the airline to make changes and correct the issues. All the challenges I faced during my semester abroad were easily solved through effective communication.

What skills did you develop?

I developed organization and communication skills during my study abroad. The entire process required me to have all my documents organized for exchange application and visas. While the culture in Singapore is quite laidback, academics are very important so I had to make sure I was organized with my school work. Of course, I also took advantage of my time in South East Asia to travel so I had to plan trips and manage my finances to meet my budget. Since I was in a new environment I had to talk to strangers. Singapore’s official language was English, but they also spoke Cantonese, Mandarin, Malay, and other languages so it was important that I could effectively communicate my thoughts. Aside from these skills, I think that being forced out of my comfort zone has helped me become more outgoing and confident in my own abilities.

What was your most memorable moment?

My most memorable experience was when I decided on an impromptu trip to Sydney, Australia to visit my aunt and uncle. I had gone to Australia once when I was a baby, but I had always wanted to go back now that I could actually remember my travels. I spent reading week being a tourist in Sydney. The beaches, markets, and time spent with my aunt and uncle were unforgettable! Although I was not able to go snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef like I had hoped during my visit, I fell in love with Australia and I hope to visit again soon.

What are some tips you wish you knew before going abroad?

Prior to embarking on my adventure abroad, I wish I was aware of the possibility of homesickness. Everyone I spoke to about their experiences only talked about all the fun they had. While it’s true that studying abroad is extremely fun and exciting, the first couple of days might be rough. It takes time to adjust to an unfamiliar environment and to make new friends. Once you figure out your new routine, you’ll get over your homesickness very quickly! Spending a semester abroad is a very rewarding experience, so take the opportunity to test your limits and get out of your comfort zone. Have fun and grow from the experience!