Lourents van der Steenstraten - study exchange to Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The whole experience is something I will never forget.
Looking back on my exchange
Singapore is, without a doubt, a fantastic exchange destination. A modern, green, organized city in the midst of the chaos of South East Asia. The mix of the people and their cultures make for a vibrant city, their kitchens for great food and the architecture ensures an amazing surrounding.
The whole experience is something I will never forget. Studying abroad, travelling, exploring new cultures and getting to know people from all over is a lot of fun: enjoy it to the fullest!
How to prepare
Once you know your final exchange destination, you will have a couple of months to get organized. Sometimes, like in my case, the university you’ll go to will guide you through all the things to arrange, but this might not be how it goes in your situation. Either way, there will always be stuff that you will need to do by yourself, like making sure you have the correct vaccinations & insurance (also those needed for where you might travel), sublet your room in Rotterdam, apply for the OV reimbursement with DUO and of course arrange transportation to your destination. Since the preparation process will include many documents, it is a good idea to keep them organized.
In practical terms, I found that booking a bed at a hostel for the first few nights of my stay was a good move. The same goes for arriving slightly before the start of the semester (I arrived two weeks early). First of all, it will give you time to look for accommodation in the case that you didn’t arrange this yet. Secondly, there will probably be a lot of exchange students arriving around this time as well, so it’s a good opportunity to meet people. Lastly, there could already be various events & parties organized for exchange students which you won’t want to miss.
Financing the stay abroad
During the pre-departure meeting, the exchange coordinator brought all the possibilities to our attention and briefly described the process of applying for or acquiring financial aid/a scholarship. In my case, I received an email informing me I fulfilled the requirements for the Holland Scholarship. Great news, because this definitely provided some financial flexibility for me. Knowing how much you will spend beforehand is hard, so having a buffer is always nice. It took away some of the financial worries and enhanced my exchange experience by providing me with extra funds to explore Singapore.
With planning your budget, my advice would be to keep in mind that there will always be unforeseen costs, especially at the beginning. The amount of course can, and will, vary per person, but don’t be surprised if this easily sums up to 200-300 euros.