It is Thursday 20 January, 2022 in Kallang, central Singapore. I have just woken up in my temporary hotel room from a heavily jet-lag-induced sleep. The semester started two weeks ago at the National University of Singapore, yet due to the Covid-19 restrictions and scarcity of specific Vaccinated Travel Lane flights, I had joined the first two weeks of classes online.
On this sunny morning, the day has finally come and I am full of excitement and eagerness – it marks the first day in the new chapter of my life as a CEMS exchange student at NUS Business School, one of Asia’s most highly ranked universities. I have been dreaming of this day ever since I was first accepted into the CEMS program in the autumn of 2020. My enthusiasm to embark on this new adventure is off the chart, and I have a real spring in my step as I walk to catch the bus that will take me to campus.
On arriving at the massive campus area, I was both mesmerized and confused at the same time. In fact, it is no exaggeration to describe the NUS campus area as somewhat of a town in itself, with the core of its bustling student life situated at University Town.
At U-town, as NUS students call it, you can do more or less anything in between classes – eat at one of the many canteens with affordable and delicious food from across Asia and the world, go for a swim in the pool, attend a yoga class, get a haircut, go for a walk in one of the green parks surrounding campus, play tennis, or study with your classmates at the iconic Central Library.
This is probably the reason why many students, from Singapore and elsewhere, decide to live in student dorms on campus – there is no real incentive to leave the campus, as you have everything you need close to home. Nevertheless, I personally prefer living in downtown Singapore, since it symbolically marks a line in defining study-life balance.
I really enjoy the classes I have chosen to study here at National University of Singapore: Ethical Leadership, Global Leadership and FinTech Management. Alongside this, I am also writing a CEMS Business Project on Central Bank Digital Currency Strategies together with the globally renowned bank BNP Paribas, as well as finalizing my master’s thesis on blockchain technology and human rights at Copenhagen Business School.
The courses effectively combine my personal, professional, and academic interests (e.g. innovative technologies and sustainable development), and provide me with deep learnings from both theoretical and practical implementation. The seminars and lectures include a high degree of interactive class activities, such as workshops, live discussions, and inspirational guest lectures from the business elite in Singapore.
I attend classes twice a week – on Tuesdays and Thursdays – and try to optimize the social environment by networking as much as I can on these days. On other weekdays, I study at cafés and libraries scattered across the city. With highly intellectual and inspiring professors and a multinational, diverse and ambitious group of students from across the world, NUS truly establishes a very unique and exciting student environment.
I feel proud of belonging to such a motivating group of individuals. Studying at NUS has provided me with memories, knowledge, and friendships that will strengthen my leadership and competence as a global citizen for many years to come, and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you to the CEMS office at CBS and NUS, as well as all the professors and students who have made this experience truly unforgettable.
Since the National University of Singapore is the home university of nearly 40,000 students and 3,000 academic staff, you can imagine the extraordinarily high level of diversity, liveliness, and action. Since almost every kind of person is represented on campus, everyone can feel at home.
Furthermore, there are a multitude of student societies and clubs aimed at gathering students with an interest in, for instance, sports, dancing, music, football, tennis, golf, and sailing. I have chosen to engage with CEMS Club Singapore and the Masters Club NUS, which organize social, cultural, and sports events bringing together master’s students from across the world.
Since arriving in January, I have attended almost all of the events, and have made lots of new friends. For example, the student societies arranged cultural appreciation events for Chinese New Year and the Indian spring festival of Holi, which was an incredible experience to attend.
The common denominators bridging the gaps between the myriad of individual students are the high levels of ambition and bright plans for the future. Every person I have spoken to, regardless of their background, has very determined goals and aims for the future.
On the one hand, this encourages and inspires me to pursue big goals myself. On the other hand, it can sometimes be a bit stressful to constantly be surrounded by individuals striving to reach the next level. From my point of view, it is important to find a balance in life – being grateful and appreciating what you have in the moment and being proud of how far you have come, whilst simultaneously contemplating where the next steps can take you in your personal and professional life.
Given that I am now approaching my final three weeks of studies at NUS, I am now looking forward to the next stages of my journey.
In May, I will seize the opportunity to travel to Australia, and finalize my master’s thesis at CBS, prior to moving to London in June to commence my career at the financial technology incumbent Bloomberg LP. Needless to say, it is definitely a great time to be alive.