Global Mindset

April 28, 2021
• by
Kristyn Byrd
The Lion City

At the beginning of junior year, Marshall students are buzzing around the halls, classrooms, and café talking about one thing: Marshall’s International Exchange Program (IEP) aka study abroad. It seems like it’s the only topic of discussion for weeks on end until the applications are due. Marshall’s IEP program has 35 partnered schools across the globe that you can apply to and I was excited by the options. From Europe to Asia to Latin America, you could go anywhere. Before I jump into why I chose to study abroad in Singapore, let me tell you a little more about the application process.

The application process is intensive because both Marshall and the partnered school have to accept your application. To apply, you have to have a 3.0 GPA and take 6 specific Marshall courses. I also had to write 4 essays, provide a teacher recommendation, give some general information about myself, and submit my resume as well. After all of that, you’ll be asked to do a pre-recorded interview taking anywhere from 30 minutes – 1 hour. Is this a little intimidating?  Yes. But is it worth it?  Definitely! At the very end of your application, you’re asked to rank all 35 schools from 1-35, with #1 being your top choice school.

When sitting down to rank my schools, I knew one thing: I wanted to go to Asia. All my life I’ve only been exposed to western culture and customs. I thought to myself that college is about new experiences and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Asia happened to check both of those boxes for me. Also, I would have other Trojans by my side to help me along the way. Next, I filtered my options down to the best school for my concentration and if the country was English friendly. I grew up learning Spanish and am very directionally challenged, so I wanted to travel to a country where I could get by with little knowledge of the language. Voila, I settled on my #1 choice program as National University of Singapore (NUS).

From the moment I landed in Singapore, I absolutely fell in love with the country, culture, and people. Sure, I was sweating through my clothes for the first two weeks because of the humidity, but I couldn’t have asked for a better country to continue my studies. My first meal was at a Hawker Center, similar to an outdoor mall food court, where I could get a meal for $4. And the food! Kaya toast, black carrot cake (which does not have any cake in it), chicken rice, laksa, satay, and red chili crab were some of my favorite dishes! After you’ve gotten your fill of food, you can walk it off by attempting some challenging hikes. My favorite hike led to a bridge that overlooked the city and was shaped in a helix. Moreover, in the city, any destination was only a 20 minute metro ride away! The country is very centralized so it’s easy to see all the main attractions in a couple days. It would only take me about 20 minutes to get from Little India to China Town by metro. I was in complete awe of the country’s lush greenery and cleanliness. For Chinese New Year’s, we watched a culture show and one of the top two best fireworks displays I had seen in my life.

Myth Debunker: It’s not illegal to chew gum in Singapore. It’s illegal to sell gum and not dispose of it properly. But you can bring gum in your luggage!

IEP was one of the best experiences of my life. I'm so glad that I did it. Next internship opportunity? Hmmmm...the Marshall global opportunities are countless, but I know it will be somewhere with delicious food!

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