Since the beginning of my studies at the Bonn Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, it was clear to me that I would study my second major in the 5th semester abroad. During the first semester, a professor said during the lecture that we should take the chance of a semester abroad and go where nobody else goes to stand out from the crowd. Since I had already worked in Shanghai / China for 6 months before my studies, it was clear to me that I should go back to an Asian country.
After doing some research on the internet for renowned universities in Asia, I was shortlisted for James Cook University in Singapore, as it offered both business and finance courses that I was very interested in. The first contact was made by email to the university directly because I had a few questions that were not answered on the university’s homepage. From the university I learned that there is an organization in Germany called “MicroEDUs” that can help you apply to the JCU free of charge.
So I contacted MicroEDUs and processed my application through them, which saved me a lot of time and cleared up some confusion.
The application deadline for the beginning of the semester in February 2012 was until December 2011. Since I did not want to book my flight at such short notice after confirmation, I received a non-binding confirmation by email that students from a university like the HBRS would definitely be accepted.
At the beginning of February, so very late, I received all the documents from the JCU, including the letter of offer, which I also had to show later to enter Singapore.
James Cook University is represented in 3 cities: Townsville, Cairns and Singapore.
The Singapore campus has two campuses: the older one, where the Masters courses are taught, is in the center of Singapore, in the Ang Mo Kio district. The second is centrally located on Upper Thomson Road north of the city center. The latter is where the courses for the Bachelor’s degree courses are taught, including mine.
The university has modern classrooms, which are very strongly cooled by air conditioning. There is a small library with computers, a cafeteria with a kiosk, a student lounge for studying and WiFi connection across the entire campus.
Description of the city
Singapore is an Asian city-state that was split off from Malaysia and has been an independent nation-state since 1965. About 5 million people live in Singapore, mainly Chinese, Indians and Malays. The official language is Malay, but English, Chinese and Indian are spoken everywhere. Therefore, as a European, you don’t have any communication problems like in other Asian cities.
- Learn more information about the country of Singapore and continent of Asia on handbagpicks.
As in most large cities, people mainly live in high-rise buildings and large building complexes. There is a well-developed bus and MRT (metro) system, but the last public transport leaves around 1 a.m. You can reach the south from the north of the city by MRT within approx. 30 minutes.
Singapore has man-made beaches; the most popular and well-known is Sentosa Beach in the south of the city. From there you can see the huge cargo ports and oil production fields off Singapore. Other districts worth seeing include Little India, Chinatown, Holland Village, the Financial District and Marina Bay. Marina Bay is located in the center of the city and contains the symbol of Singapore (the water-spitting Merlion statue) as well as the most famous hotel in Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands.
In every part of the city, especially along the MRT stops, there are large shopping centers with shops, supermarkets and food courts. Most of the food in the food courts is Asian and Indian, but the supermarkets all have a wide range of European foods.
The cost of living in Singapore is very high compared to other Asian countries, from rents to groceries and public transportation.
The JCU offers hostels where you can initially stay while looking for an apartment. However, I’ve heard only bad things about these hotels; the rooms are small, the installations dirty, and the prices overpriced. I was lucky that a fellow student from HBRS gave up her room shortly before my arrival and I was able to take it over. Since the average rental prices for rooms in shared flats are SGD 900, I was very well off with SGD 700 (approx. € 425) for a room in a shared apartment with 2 people. The fact that the apartment is a 20-minute drive from the university doesn’t bother me.
Directly behind the JCU is the so-called “Bamboo House”, a student dormitory with around 15 rooms, which is furnished according to western standards and mostly Europeans live there. The rooms are small, however, and cost SGD 900-1050 a month.
Recently the JCU has a group on Facebook in which foreign students offer to take over their homes.
Integration into the BA course of study
I applied for a vacation semester during my semester abroad in order to be exempt from the fees for the NRW ticket. However, my achievements abroad are credited to me as a 2nd focus subject (International Management) and as a substitute for Wipo and Topsim General Management.
Unfortunately, I had to swap 2 of my originally confirmed 4 courses, because they collided in time. My final courses are:
- BU2005 Entrepreneurship (as a replacement for Wipo and Topsim)
- BX3031 Multinational Business Finance
- BX3061 International Business
- BX3042 Service Quality Management
The first digit shows whether the courses are from the 2nd or 3rd year of study. For the courses BX3031 and BX3042 you had to show certain previous knowledge.
The courses take place 2 hours a week with an additional one-hour tutorial in which case studies are worked on. There is compulsory attendance. The lesson differs from that in Germany in that the final exam only counts 40%. The rest of the grade has to be earned through group and individual assignments and intermediate exams. In total, I have 4 group assignments of 20 pages each and 4 individual 10 pages each and 1-2 intermediate exams in each subject. Some of the work requires a certain level of previous knowledge and is quite complex.