Sarah Marechal, 2013-14 at National University of Singapore

I reached Singapore last January for a four-month exchange programme and actually stayed there for nine very enriching months! Many thanks to both King’s and NUS for offering me this great experience!

Travelling abroad is a chance and so is studying! I think that going on a university exchange genuinely empowered me to explore different ways of learning and develop new interests. I was really lucky to meet people willing to tell me more about what they have achieved, their culture, their lives and about their passions.

Just when starting university, there are a lot of new opportunities to which you will be exposed. If I can think of two pieces of advice they would be the following. Firstly, make sure that you take what you want out of that new experience and be curious! I personally enjoyed myself as much in a classroom as when travelling low cost, in a very remote area and getting to know different cultures of the region I was travelling in. Secondly, engage with the student life and connect with international as well as local students. We learn a lot from the people we meet whether they be students, teachers or professionals, so do not limit yourself to what you will tend to go for first: try new activities and meet people from all backgrounds!

My best memories are shared with the persons I had the chance to talk to and that I would have never met, had my curiosity not lead me a little further! After a few months spent at NUS, I realised that the experience would be event more benefiting to me if I could stay longer to study. That move gave me another opportunity to meet other very interesting people. The students I have met were passionate about what they were studying and involved in various activities. I made friends with students that have very different lives and knew things that I did not. I ended up singing songs in Hindi very late at night, after having spent a few nights researching on the current state of the Pakistani political economy and talking about policies implemented in India. Once I stayed with a young women living in a village in the Northern part of Thailand. She had her first kid when I was only eleven and still playing games in the playground next to my house. I got to know how determined she was and what she and her relatives where enjoying about their land. I also had the chance to work with very good team members with whom I shared common interests and values, which rendered our common work experience extremely valuable. Lastly, I feel very grateful to the professionals I have met in my workplace who gave me advice for life! All these encounters were really inspiring!

From an academic perspective, studying in a different university helped me approach my discipline differently, which also allowed me to develop new skills! I took classes that interested me, that challenged me and helped me define my future research and professional projects. I am also very grateful to the teachers I have met and that really pushed me to research and learn more.

As for the “adapting the newness” part, I personally did not encounter any challenges. I actually never felt homesick! I am almost sure that none of my peers ever thought “I am 10,000 km away from anything I know…” I don’t think that you will ever feel that you are too far away, as you will be enjoying yourself a lot. However, if you do feel homesick, I think that a good thing to do is especially not to focus on the things that may be difficult to adapt to, but rather enjoy any positive experience that you can have!

A very special thank you to the Study Abroad team, King’s DPE, NUS FASStrack, USP-CMU, CAPT and Guitarpella!

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