T he UK possesses a boundless capacity to charm and excite. Its rich heritage, foodstuff, festivals and dazzling sights are unparalleled, and bound to leave one in awe of the British way of life.
It also boasts a world-class education system, making it an ideal study destination for students all over the world. It’s no wonder that Law student Deborah Chan and Psychology and Music student Veena Amudhan flew halfway across the world to soak up all that a UK education has to offer. They take time off their busy schedules to tell us about the UK’s restless energy, unique traditions and ability to refine their cosmopolitan outlook.
Why did you choose the UK as your study destination?
Deborah Chan: Having lived and studied in Singapore all my life, I looked forward to immersing myself in a different study experience. I knew it would be immensely gratifying.
I have not once regretted my decision. A UK education encourages us to voice out our opinions without fear of judgment. We also become more receptive to constructive criticism and develop an open mind. Independent learning is also characteristic of the UK education system, which strengthens our ability to think critically.
Veena Amudhan: I was first introduced to the culture and history of the UK from reading Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton as a child. Since then, studying in the UK had always been a dream. I knew that I wanted to study music and psychology, and some of the best schools in the world for those subjects are here.
Because I wanted to study the Arts, I thought it would be best to study outside of Singapore, where I would be exposed to a wider range of culture and history. In the UK, I am able to experience a much larger variety of music firsthand, and it is also easier for me to travel to other musical centres around Europe!
Deborah Chan Pei En
Bachelor of Laws (Honours),
University of Bristol, UK
What drew you to your course of study?
Deborah: My interest in studying law was piqued by the prospect of developing skills of analysis and reasoning, and the ability to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant. Law is fascinating in that there are simply no right or wrong answers – one discerns the ‘correct’ answer based on core principles of justice and fair play.
Veena: Since I was 15, I knew I wanted to become a music therapist, a profession I was introduced to by an article in the Straits Times. Music Therapy combines my twin passions, and I wanted to learn how I can help people address emotional and cognitive needs through the use of music interventions.
What do you like about your respective universities?
Deborah: At the University of Bristol, I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. There are about 10 students in each tutorial group, an ideal number for tutors to ensure that each student is paid sufficient attention to. The small class number also eliminates any feeling of intimidation and encourages us to contribute our ideas to class discussions. There are also two annual law balls – one during winter and another in spring – to allow students to unwind and have fun after a packed semester.
Veena: Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music with so much history and culture. The more I found out about this city, the more I wanted to study here. Glasgow University is amazing – it is one of the oldest universities in the world, and where Hogwarts scenes were filmed! I was also awarded an Undergraduate Excellence scholarship, through which my four-year course fees were paid for. This definitely helped to seal the deal.
I also like that there is always something happening on campus to suit the varied interests of the student community. Music-wise, there are concerts held on campus every week. I have also been given opportunities to make friends from all over the world and learn about so many different cultures.
Veena Rachel Amudhan
Master of Arts in
Psychology and Music, University of Glasgow, UK
What are some highlights from your time in the UK?
Deborah: Some highlights include travelling around the UK to places such as Bourton-on-the-Water, Westonbirt Arboretum and Stratford. It has certainly been exciting to explore areas in Bristol over the weekends or during term breaks. I definitely appreciate the rich English history, sceneries I have been exposed to and the warm and friendly locals. Café-hopping is also a pastime here and a lifestyle I have come to enjoy!
Veena: My whole experience has been great so far. The culture in Scotland is very special and unique. The food, music, people and even language are quirky and idiosyncratic. The Scottish are very proud of their heritage, and want nothing more than to share it with you.
One of the best things you can do in Scotland is attend a ceilidh. Ceilidhs (pronounced ‘kay-lee’) are traditional Scottish dances. I’ve been to some amazing ceilidhs, and I think they’re the quintessential Scottish experience. The atmosphere is always laid-back and the main aim is to have fun, so it doesn’t really matter if you can’t dance at all!
What advice would you have for those who wish to study in the UK?
Deborah: Cherish every moment. Don’t be afraid of getting involved in various events, and interacting with as many people as you can. Most importantly, have fun while you are here!
Veena: Make sure you are as prepared as possible before you depart for the UK. It is best to get official applications ready as early as possible. For me, I attended both the British Council and the University of Glasgow pre-departure briefing, which helped me to better prepare for my time in the UK. I learnt about visa applications, the things to pack from home and to purchase here, and the places to find the best Singaporean food. These events also allowed me to meet and talk to students from Singapore who are studying in the UK!
When you get here, keep an open mind. Be willing to try new things within reason, and be friendly with everyone. While Singaporean friends are wonderful to have, do your best to mix around and interact with people from all over the world. This will make your university experience so much more enriching.