What is your dream school, what is your dream job? For most students looking at tertiary education, it would be entering the world’s most pretigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge in the UK or Harvard, MIT and other Ivys in the US. As just another Raffles Junior College graduate, I would say those were my first thoughts as well.
Medicine, Law, Engineering, are probably the most popular choices amongst Singaporeans due to their reputation for job security and material benefits. Whilst these factors are no doubt important, do consider that they aren’t the be all and end all of studying. Finding your passion and your calling, could go a long way to contributing to your success.
So here are just some of the more interesting university choices abroad that some of my seniors have dared to venture.
University of Tokyo, Japan
Liberal Arts Degree
Liberal Arts…and Japan. This is no doubt an unconventional choice of study. Singapore isn’t exactly very well-known for its liberal arts programme. We are a society of “Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers and Scientist”. Studying liberal arts is without a doubt, taking a big step forward. Furthermore, studying liberal arts in Japan, a non-english speaking country, can be intimidating. Yet here’s why you should consider it.
Scholarship & Education
A lot of people don’t know this, but the government actually hands out scholarships for students to study Liberal Arts in Japan for free…and furthermore it’s bond-free. So you get to study abroad in an awesome country, no strings attached. Check out the MEXT Scholarship here.
The University of Tokyo is also the best university in Tokyo. However, you should note that the University Tokyo is known for churning out bureaucrats more than businessmen. So if bureaucracy is your thing, then the University of Tokyo is right for you. In addition, if you are a foreigner in the University of Tokyo, you are going to be one special kid in a homogenous society. Your Japanese classmates will be not just curious, but fascinated when you utter the words “I’m from Singapore”.
Livin’ in Tokyo
Tokyo is the capital of Japan so living costs there might be higher than you would prefer. If you are a big spender, then you might want to consider learning how to be prudent. However, living in Tokyo isn’t all that expensive if you live in a dormitory, learn how to cook, and cut down on your booze. A large part of living expenses in fact come from dining out and the heavy drinking culture in Japan
Can’t make it into NUS YLL SoM or NTU LKC SoM? Or simply wish to have an overseas study experience, try the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg, Germany.
Die Universität (The University)
The Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany, most well-known for its rigorous Medicine Degree. The university ranks 29th globally for Sciences and Medicine. If you are worried about being able to practice back here at home, fret not. The medical degree awarded by the university is recognised by MOH Singapore.
Studying in Heidelberg
If there is one word to describe Heidelberg, it’s beautiful. This isn’t your buzzing city and urban metropolis. It’s a quiet, beautiful and warm little town with a population of only 150,000. Living in Heidelberg is pretty chill. Even studying a rigorous course like Medicine usually have great hours like 8-2 which gives you a decent amount of time to spend hiking across the beautiful countrysides, retrace the steps of famous German philosophers and truly enjoy your experience abroad.
Furthermore, the Germans in countrysides are well known for their hospitality, so be prepared to make some overly warm friends. Of course, that means that you need to have a good command of English to study this course. In order to study medicine in Heidelberg, you have to pass the C1 level German Proficiency Test at the Goethe Intitut Singapore, or alternatively study German for a year at a Student College in Germany
Studying abroad does incur costs, and a subject such as medicine can turn out really costly in countries such as the UK. However, this doesn’t hold true in Germany. Education here is free, even for international students. Most universitites only require you to pay a 50 Euros admission fees and voila, welcome to Germany. If you are prudent in your expenses, studying medicine in Heidelberg might even be cheaper than studying locally.
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland
Interested in doing business but specialising in Hotel Management? A major in hospitality management from Switzerland might just be for you. Singapore has currently yet to offer a business management course with a specialisation in Hotel Management so locals don’t have the option to study this interesting subject. But hotel management is a lucrative industry and Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, is world-renowned for it.
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne
EHL, founded in 1893 is the first Hotel Management school ever set up. It is recognised as the best Hotel Management Bachelor’s degree in the world. The school prides itself on being a university with the EHL spirit, One University, One Major. One Dream. Students of diverse backgrounds are gathered all across the world, to study their one passion, to live and breathe in the culture of hospitality.
Chocolates and Snow Mountains
On campus, all communication is in English and French, so communication shouldn’t be an issue for Singaporeans. Living in Switzerland is fun. Studying is free and easy unlike in Singapore, which is relatively more competitive. Especially in EHL, most clubs and activities are student initiated so campus life in the snow mountains should be a load of fun.
Considering that Universities are largely publicly funded, accommodation shouldn’t be expensive, even though foreigners might have to pay a small sum more than locals. However, food and other living expenses may surmount to a large amount considering the Swiss’ egalitarian society and high cost of living. A student’s estimated expenditure is around 1800 SFC which is about 2600 SGD. So if you don’t have a scholarship, cost might be a factor if you wish to study here.
Most of us only get to experience University life once. The choices we make regarding our tertiary education pretty much sets us for life. As tempting as it might be to choose a conventional path to be safe, it is worth thinking and exploring alternative options that might enrich your life or change the very course of your future. Think hard and think long, because the best investment you can make, is in yourself. Don’t base one of your biggest life decisions on the opinions of others.