According to a The Straits Times report in 2015, Singaporeans came behind only the Chinese among non-British undergraduates studying at Oxford and Cambridge. It is widely known that various UK universities boast a large Singaporean community, allowing one to find the balance between seeking comfort with fellow Singaporeans and meeting people of other cultures.
Furthermore, the similarity between UK's university system and that of Singapore makes the UK a favoured study destination among Singaporean students. If you are considering enrolment into a UK university or look forward to starting your academic term there as a 'freshie', consider doing these things to maximise your experience!
Join a Society
Many students we have spoken to from UK universities, such as Law student from the University of Manchester Bryan Kuah and Philosophy student from the University of York Nur Hisyam, have communicated their joys of being part of a society. Their active involvement in school has shaped their character and enabled them to forge bonds with fellow Singaporeans and international students. Bryan served as President of the Singapore Students' Society of Manchester, and was also the first-team member of the University's water polo team. Hisyam, on the other hand, has had a taste of performing magic tricks as part of the Magic Society, going skydiving as part of the Skydiving Society, and managed his first backflip in Gymnastics!
The best time to join a society is in your first year, for this is when you will be able to make friends with others who are also settling in as you are. Putting your participation off to the second year might make you feel as if you have missed the boat, or that your schedule will not allow for an additional commitment.
Join the RAG Jailbreak Weekend
You may or may not have heard about the RAG (Raising and Giving) Jailbreak Weekend. This is a competition in which UK students have to travel to as far away a place as possible – living on the generosity of the people they meet within a stipulated period of time. With their persuasive skills and ingenuity, some have made it across the world to Canada, Berlin, Paris and Hong Kong! The catch is that participants have to raise funds for a charity of their choice before they set off on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. Participants get to step out of their university walls and at the same time contribute to a good cause!
Travel the UK
University of Bristol student Deborah Chan shares that some highlights of her UK journey include expeditions to places such as Bourton-on-the-Water, Westonbirt Arboretum and Stratford – places where she could appreciate rich English history and picturesque sceneries. For University of Glasgow student Veena Amudhan, exploring beyond the walls of university and attending a ceilidh (pronounced 'kay-lee'), which are traditional Scottish dances, has certainly made for a memorable experience.
Travel with schoolmates of different cultural backgrounds to share different perspectives on foods and sights, or travel with British friends who'd bring you to the best places for meals and cultural activities. Either way, your UK travels will definitely broaden your horizons and shed light on new perspectives.
At the end of the day, studying in the UK will give you the chance to live independently and meet people of other cultures. While studying abroad can be a daunting endeavour, organisations such as the British Council, UKSSC, Singapore Societies and the universities themselves will help you to ease the challenge of settling in. All you need to do is adopt an open mind, be unafraid to try new things, and embrace all the opportunities you will be presented with.
Considering an overseas education? Check BrightSparks out for scholarships that will help to ease your finances!