Exchange student at Nanyang Technological University
A high percentage of English speakers and a fascination with Asian culture drew Grace to Singapore; she spent a term as an exchange student at Nanyang Technological University. She received a Gilman scholarship, which not only helped her fund the trip, but also connected her with the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.
Grace said that getting to know the locals – some of whom were classmates – helped her adjust to living in Singapore. A Chinese class, which she took as an elective to help her engage with the culture, was a mix of international students and local students who didn’t speak Chinese. During the class she was matched with two local students for a group project – they were tasked with writing a script and recording a video of themselves speaking in Chinese. She said that the opportunity for language learning, and this project in particular, helped bridge the culture between her and her classmates.
Interacting with the locals helped her learn about Singlish, the dialect of English spoken in the country. Grace explained that sometimes even though they were speaking the same language, she would have trouble understanding the locals because of some of the words they used and their mannerisms, which are borrowed from Malay and Chinese cultures.
During her time abroad, Grace also was able to spend some time traveling around Southeast Asia. She visited Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. She enjoyed traveling outside of Singapore as the places she visited showed a much different side of Asia than the wealthy westernized Singapore.
Grace’s advice for future study abroad students is to get to know the locals, get as involved as possible in university activities, and take advantage of everything Drexel has to offer in terms of scholarships and resources available to students.