My application to James Cook University Singapore (JCUS) went entirely through MicroEDU. After I contacted MicroEDU with the intention of applying to JCUS, I was sent instructions and documents on the application process. These are pretty obvious and helpful, but of course you can always contact MicroEDU with any further questions, especially Sabine, as she is responsible for Singapore, among other things.
University / subjects
The JCUS itself is located a little outside the city center in the north of Singapore. There are two campuses there and we had some lectures on one and some on the other campus. However, this will not apply to future students, as the JCUS has built a new campus closer to the city. All lectures will take place there in the future.
The university has its headquarters in Australia and therefore the Australian grading system. The university caters to international students as at least 95% of the students are not from Singapore but from all over the world. It is really interesting to sit in one room with so many different nations and cultures and do group work such as lectures and presentations.
One shortcoming of the university is that attendance is compulsory. Students have to stamp their fingerprints at the university and for the respective lectures and tutorials. Even on days when there are no lectures, students have to come to the university for 3 hours. The reason is that the country Singapore does not want to work there on a student visa. This regulation makes it more difficult to travel as a “Leave of Absence” form must always be filled out, which must also be confirmed. At the beginning of the course it is repeated again and again that the attendance is checked. In the end, this is not taken as seriously as it is claimed, especially at the beginning of the course. It is said that a student must be at least 85% present, otherwise the student visa will be revoked.
During my time in Singapore I had 4 subjects. Once a week I had a tutorial for each subject plus a tutorial for each subject. The lectures were sometimes very full, especially in the subjects of International Business and Strategic Entrepreneurship. A lecture always lasts 3 hours plus an hour of tutorial. If you are lucky you will be assigned to the tutorial immediately after the lecture, but there are up to 5 tutorials for very popular subjects. In one subject I managed to change the tutorial, but this is also a time-consuming process, since everything is coordinated in Australia, and since you have to clock in to the tutorials, you cannot simply change after consulting the lecturer. A tutorial always lasts one hour and the number of students is limited. In the tutorials, group work is then done and presentations are given. This happens less in the lectures. With regard to group work, you are assigned to a group in some subjects or the lecturers require that at least 3 nations are in a group.
Coming from Germany, I had no problems with the group work, as I had already done a few at my university. But it is a challenge to deal with the cultures and behaviors of other nations and to coordinate this. But somehow it always worked and I learned a lot in dealing with other cultures with every group work. Regardless of whether it is English or sign language, the communication always works somehow.
In the subject of Tourism and Leisure Management I was in a group with 4 Asians for a presentation. After we agreed on a topic (hands and feet because not everyone speaks English very well) we split it up and everyone worked on their part. Of course we tried to coordinate things over and over again. Everything went very well in planning and practicing, only when we finally stood in front of the class, part of my group was very, very nervous, so that they read everything and forgot half of them. Then somehow I tried to save the situation, because there is also a group grade and somehow everything worked out. The impressive thing about this situation was that all 4 came to me behind and thanked me because they thought they owed the grade to me. I’ve never experienced anything like it and it really touched me. The way in which presentations are given there is definitely different from what we are used to. The presenter often stands in front of the class with a cell phone or iPad and reads the entire text, but this is not evaluated, it is simply normal there.
My 4th subject was Economic Growth and Sustainable Development, which interested me the most. The good thing about this subject was our particularly small class of around 13-15 people and a lecturer who spoke fluent English.
At least 3 examinations are required in all subjects. Each subject has an end exam, some also have mid-term exams and essays and presentations are required, all of which are included in the final grade. I was pretty busy with all the work during the semester. But still life in Singapore is not neglected.
The city is just breathtaking and really has a lot to offer. In the first week I more or less ticked off the complete sightseeing program, such as Universal Studios on Sentosa Island, the Singapore Flyer (Ferris wheel), a city tour, the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay (SuperTree Grove Lightshow) and the botanicals Garden. The shopping paradise, Orchard Road, was also not neglected on my exploration tours.
Basically, Singapore is a very, very good place to live. It does rain again and again, but mostly only for 1-2 hours and then it’s nice again. Food is very cheap in Singapore. In my first week in Singapore, I was really shocked because in my life I have never seen a city with so many restaurants that are full at any time of the day or night. It’s really very impressive and just great fun.
At the weekend I would sometimes go to Club Street with friends. This is a street that is closed on weekends and all the bars and restaurants spread out on the street. There is a really cool atmosphere there.
- Learn more information about the country of Singapore and continent of Asia on campingship.
Otherwise, Clarke Quay is very well known for clubbing and Boat and Robertson Quay, which are right next to it, offer a cozy atmosphere for drinking and eating right on the Singapore River.
Since I was lucky enough to be able to live with a Singaporean family that I already knew privately, I was able to get to know the city from the perspective of locals. My family took me to family and business events, so I got to know many interesting Singaporeans.
Since I lived with a family and they included me very much in their family life, I didn’t go on just a few weekend trips. Instead I did 3 big trips. During Study Week I flew to Australia for a week and visited friends there (Study Week is not actually intended for traveling and I had to get the university’s approval). Over Christmas I flew to Phuket with my family, who visited me from Germany, and then we spent New Year’s Eve in Singapore. And after graduation, I traveled through Burma for another 2 weeks.
Basically, the weekends are ideal for trips to Indonesia or Kuala Lumpur.
Do’s & Don’ts
Singapore is known as the “Fine Country” with the ambiguity that on the one hand it is a very clean country and on the other hand it distributes tickets for everything. I did not have this experience. Of course it’s a very clean country, but if you know how to behave and if you don’t spit chewing gum on the street or spray graffiti here in Germany, then you can get along very well in Singapore.
I spent 5 unforgettable months in Singapore. I keep thinking back to the time and reminiscing. Because of the connection with my host family, I will definitely fly to Singapore more often. It was so much fun to live and work together with so many different cultures and nations. As a person, I have to be flexible and adapt to the work and behavior of others, or at least try to find a common path. I got to know the Singapuries as very friendly and helpful people and you have no problems getting to know new people there.