I am now home from a phenomenal year spent abroad studying at the National University of Singapore. As I have already spoken about my experiences from last semester this blog will for the most part focus on my second semester in Singapore.
In my second semester I studied Public International Law, ASEAN Economic Community Law and Foundations of Intellectual Property law. I found public international law particularly interesting as it provided a good foundation to the subject and was taught from an Asian perspective which I imagine will be different to the way it is taught at Southampton. I also enjoyed studying ASEAN law because it helped me to begin to understand the complex relationships between the different countries in Southeast Asia. Similar to last semester these modules were assessed by coursework and either a take home or a conventional sit down exam. The exams came round extremely quickly this year so the ‘open book’ style of exam was greatly appreciated.
Throughout my time on exchange I have been lucky enough to visit 15 different countries primarily in East and Southeast Asia. Although every trip was incredible the highlights from this semester were learning to scuba dive in the Philippines, riding motorbikes through Laos, having sushi for breakfast in Tokyo and witnessing the tensions between North and South Korea at the Korean demilitarised zone. I have visited places I could have only dreamed of visiting this time last year and have vastly improved my knowledge of Asia.
One thing that particularly stood out for me was discovering how diverse the region is, both at a state and individual level. Within Southeast Asia alone the levels of governance, the wealth, and size of the countries vary greatly. For example Singapore is a small city state sometimes referred to as a ‘little red dot’ which only became independent in 1965. Despite this it has developed rapidly into a modern metropolis. In comparison Myanmar, although much larger geographically and in population has not developed to the same extent, it elected its first civilian government in 2010 ending decades of military control, and has only recently opened up to the rest of the world. The diversity of the region can also be seen at an individual level, the people from the 10 countries which make up the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) all speak different languages, practise different religions and survive on vastly different incomes.
I have had a fantastic year living and studying abroad in Singapore and it’s strange to think that it’s already over. Studying abroad has enabled me to live in an amazing country, make great friends, visit incredible places that I previously didn’t know existed, and gain a greater understanding of Singapore and of Asia as a whole, and for that I am extremely grateful.
I would recommend anyone who is considering studying abroad to do it. I applied last minute to study in Singapore and it has been one of the best decisions I have made. You will not regret it.