Exchange report - Student at KI
Singapore skyline
Home university: National University of Singapore
Study programme: Public Health Sciences (Master's)
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Lydia Lin
Email address:


As a Singaporean studying in KI, it was a matter of personal interest and convenience to be back home to complete the thesis requirement for my Master's programme in Public Health Sciences (HEPM). I had hoped to be more familiar with the local health economics needs and the databases by the end of the research exchange.

The National University of Singapore is the leading university in Asia in the field of medicine. Its public health school is newly incorporated but has always been an established department within their School of Medicine. Their MPH programme in particular has had notable graduates including WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who received her MPH there in 1985.

The study abroad information and guidelines were easily accessible online. I would recommend however to speak with the international coordinator in advance if you have early interest in the exchange programmes, as the requirements are unique to the universities you'd apply for. Especially in the case of NUS, there was a separate application to fill in on their end which may take more time than expected.

My experience with prerequisites such as vaccinations and certificates might be less informative - my research exchange required a detailed research plan, but does not involve the complexities of course application and credit transfers. Also with respect to visa and vaccination issues I have no additional requirements imposed on my return.

Arrival and registration

Our last course in KI ended on the 13 Jan 2017, which was later than the matriculation date for exchange students at NUS on the 5 Jan. That's nothing a quick email couldn't fix, though, and the folks at the NUS Registrar's Office set me up for a separate meeting to collect my student card once I had arrived.

For students who are taking coursework on exchange, this might prove to be more tricky. Students have to be matriculated before official enrollment for courses, and the process might be less flexible for you (ie there would be no choice but to be there for matriculation day).

There is supposed to be introduction and pretty cool events for exchange students but I was not involved. NUS is my alma mater and I've spent more time there (studying, then working) than I would have liked!


There are obligatory costs for the exchange even for Singaporeans, I believe, for basic health coverage and administrative odds and ends paid to NUS (S$120). As for cost of living, Singapore is not as expensive as it's made out to be (most times we top the charts for most expensive city because they've costed cars, and that is exorbitant in Sg for policy reasons). Restaurants are not cheap but why head there when the best food is in the hawker centres around residential neighborhoods? A meal will be under S$7 each and every time, including a can of drinks or a cup of kopi. Try all the local dishes.


I'm afraid I have not had to arrange my accommodation so I don't have much personal knowledge in this area. There is a website called that lists properties. One thing however, concerns the rental period - officially, state regulations are that if it's for less than 6 months (such as in the case for exchange), your search might be restricted to only private accommodations. These are condominiums, landed property, and not public HDB flats. An example of this, with districts selected that are near NUS is: I am quite certain there are more "unofficial" options available on the world wide web, so do talk to related Facebook groups for students and you might learn of other solutions.

Studies in general

There is little I can say for the education studies component as I was there for research and have limited access to formal modules they offered. There are a lot of seminars open to students that are educational and fun to attend though. Also, my supervisors definitely knew what they were doing and my personal interaction with them was enriching and altogether most pleasant. I wouldn't say they were any less approachable than KI professors, but that really would depend on the individual.

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 4 at KI
Not applicable.

Language and Culture

The language of academic education is English. Some students from overseas might struggle to understand the local variety known as "Singlish". But by and large in the university people do try to enunciate properly and avoid colloquial forms of the language. I've met exchange students who get a kick out of its strangeness (and oddly enough, its efficiency - see

Culturally, as a melting pot of immigrants from both east and west generations ago, Singapore is colourful. The food, festivities, and places of interest reflect that. It's not uncommon to see a Muslim mosque next to a church, and this plurality is something we consider quite special. Insensitive speech (despite "freedom of speech") towards ethnicity or religion is not well tolerated. There is a social and historical context for this and I'm not saying it's perfect, but be conscious of the fact. I think the general rule of thumb applies - that one has compassion and is respectful of others' cultures and religions - and you can't go wrong with that.

Leisure time and social activities

I suppose what most students do would be to travel to the many sunny and exotic destinations in South East Asia. Singapore is small, as a city it has some things to offer, but also be sure to explore further.


I hope others will find Singapore as unique and warm (the personalities, not the weather) as I do! Feel free to contact me if you need more information. Even if it's something I don't know, I will find out and get back to you.