Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: National University of Singapore
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: INK
Termin: Vårtermin 16/17
Namn: Se whee Park

Innan avresa

During my second year of Biomedicine I got to go on exchange to Leiden (Netherlands). This exchange had been one of the best 4 months of my life and a definite highlight from the whole program. Therefore when I was given a chance to go on another exchange, I was more than eager. Why I chose Singapore was because it is a country that is so different from Sweden, its schools are worldwide known for their high quality of education and it is warm 365 days of the year! I knew if it wasn’t for this opportunity I would most probably never be able to live in Singapore or in any other South East Asian countries. Also coming from the previous exchange I felt that I had the experience and the lessons learned to be able to successfully have an exchange student life far away from Sweden. 

Not a lot of information was given to us about Singapore and the National University of Singapore (NUS) beforehand. Many of the exchange reports written were from students who had only done their degree thesis at the university and therefore wasn’t considered a NUS student. On the other hand I had applied to do a 22.5ECTS degree thesis and a 7.5ECTS elective course in order to be considered an exchange student. Therefore whilst the others did not have to do much paperwork, I had to go through with the whole exchange student application and registration process. On top of that there was a lot of confusion and miscommunication between KI and NUS about how the credits from NUS would be transferred to KI. So be sure to e-mail the International Coordinators at KI and NUS beforehand to see what the current exchange contract between the schools are.

Before any application I had to first have to find a professor and research team that 1) interested me and 2) was willing to have me work in their lab. I did my degree project in NUS Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI). The research focused on using synthetic biological methods for therapeutic usage and the lab was located conveniently on campus and only around 10 minutes walking distance from my dorm. Students from KI usually go to the A*Star Lab which has many different research teams and is very international. They are based off campus but only a few subway stops away. As communication can get slow with e-mail I made sure to contact research teams and the Principal Investigators as early as possible. 

There were no additional vaccinations that were required to be taken apart from Hepatitis B. However it is recommended to take other vaccinations like Tetanus and Typhoid if one is planning to travel around in South East Asia (SEA) during the exchange. Although I did travel I did not take the vaccinations and was fine during the whole exchange but this could have been luck. Many many students got food poisoning during their travels so it always help to be wary. It was also not necessary to take any sort of certifications as there weren’t any mandatory health check-ups but I did still take the yellow vaccination certificate with me just in case. 

The registration process was very complicated and a handful. It consisted of two parts: Registration Part 1, which had to be done before departure, and Registration Part 1, which had to be in person in NUS. One had to also apply for a Student Visa through the SOLAR system. The registration pamphlet they send out by e-mail after getting accepted into the school has most of the necessary information. Otherwise they were also very responsive by e-mail at Both for Registration 1 and SOLAR I had to pay administrative fees of about 120 SGD and 30SGD, respectively. This is around 880 SEK. Flight wise I took the fastest route which is via Helsinki, Finland through Finnair to Changi airport in Singapore.

Night skyline view of Marina Bay Sands and the Art and Science Museum.

Ankomst och registrering

I arrived in Singapore on the 2nd of January which was when the student housing was available and I also because I wanted to settle in before Orientation. It is most convenient to take a taxi from the airport but a cheaper alternative is ordering an Uber or Grab. The Orientation was on the 4th of January and consisted of a few lectures about the school, the rules and how the online systems like IVLE and MYISIS worked. IVLE is similar to PingPong and MYISIS is similar to LADOK. On the 5th of January there was the mandatory Registration Part 2. The process though was very efficient and fast. 

There was a buddy system available where exchange students were assigned to Singaporean students as well as many events in the beginning accommodated to new exchange students. For example there was a tour around the large campus, a food bingo at ChinaTown and a Welcome Party. Throughout the semester there are continous events for exchange students so it helps to be enrolled in their mailing list: “NUS Peer Advising” ( and also follow the official Facebook groups like “NUS i.CARE” and other unofficial Facebook groups like “NUS Exchange Students 2017 (SingaporeUNI)” which is geared more towards nightlife. 

Seminars with important information from Orientation


In comparison to Sweden the living cost in Singapore is definitely cheaper. However because of the vast opportunities to go travel and enjoy the nightlife the living costs might add up. I took a loan from CSN and used mainly that and some of my savings when I went over the monthly budget. Here I’ve summarised the average costs I’ve spent on each category in one month. I have also not included the rent as this will be explained more thoroughly in the “Accommodation” section. As for using money the majority of stores and food outlets accept only cash therefore I usually took out a bundle of cash every month from the ATM and used that. When I had to use card I use by ICA Banken card. 

Phone: 20 SGD (≈130 SEK)

I bought a pre-paid sim card from Singtel through convenience stores like 7-eleven and Cheers and charged it at with 20 SGD (≈130 SEK) every month. With this I could buy 3G of data which was enough. It also helps to have your phone connected to the eduroam in KI so that you can use the eduroam in NUS too. 

Food: 210 SGD (≈ 1,200 SEK)

As for food, Singapore is a beautiful product of high quality Asian cuisine mixed with insanely cheap prices. There are canteens and food outlets everywhere: in the dorms, subway stations, streets etc. and if you stick to those on campus they will usually average out to the price of 5 SGD (≈ 30SEK). It is in fact cheaper to eat out than to buy groceries and make your own food. There is a whole variety of foods ranging from Malaysian to Italian however if you stick to canteens on campus and also choose Asian dishes over more Western ones you can keep the costs for food down quite low. Tap water is drinkable but there are also water filling stations in several locations around the campus. 

Before coming to Singapore I was eating Vegan however I realised that it was hard to keep eating Vegan in Singapore. On the other hand there are many Vegetarian and Pescatarian alternatives. Also if you eat at food courts many times you can ask the staff to exempt the meat from the meal. 

Household: 100 SGD (≈ 590 SEK)

When I first moved in to my dorm the room was quite under-equipped and lacked necessities like coat hangers, soap, pillow, towels etc. Although there is an IKEA it is quite difficult to get to and unnecessarily expensive. Instead cheaper alternatives like Nanyang Market in the Prince George Park’s Residence student dorms and dollar stores like Daiso in shopping malls do just fine. Also if you would still like to make food you can buy groceries at supermarkets like Fairprice and the Nanyang Market which is close by the campus and cheaper than ones like Cold Storage. 

Clothes: 100 SGD (≈ 590 SEK)

Despite the constant hot and humid weather most of the indoors are chilly from strong A/C air, especially in lecture halls. Also when working in the lab I had to always wear long pants and covered shoes. Unfortunately I had not thought of that and did not pack enough warm clothing. So for sopping I usually went to VivoCity, which is a few stops away from campus and has stores like Zara, H&M, Forever21, Pull&Bear. One thing to note is that these stores are actually more expensive here than in Sweden.  

Social: 100 SGD (≈590 SEK)

Nightlife in Singapore is great! Regions like Clarke Quay and Holland Village are bustling every night. Every Wednesday is Ladies Night meaning females get lots of advantages like free entrance and free drinks at the clubs. On other days the prices for alcohol is insanely  high and entrance fees can go up to 20 SGD (≈120 SEK). To avoid this you can usually sign up on guest lists found in Facebook groups mentioned above in the “Arrival” section. Alcohol, as mentioned, is very expensive in Singapore and is about double or triple the price in Sweden. However if you go for Happy Hour during the weekdays in bar areas like Holland V you can get a pint of beer for about 8 SGD (≈50SEK). Also most social events held by the school is free and also usually has free food!

Transport: 70 SGD (≈ 410 SEK)

Public transportation is very accessible and quite cheap. The whole country can be reached by the subway called MRT and busses. To use the MRT you buy a EZLink card from any counter at the subway station. Then you can charge it as you use it. The EZLink card can also be used when doing laundry in the dorms. Within the campus there are internal busses going around which come quite frequently and are completely free. They also have Wi-Fi in them! Uber was also used a lot especially when the MRT stopped going late at night or when we were going to and from the airport. This adds up quickly so it helps to subscribe to the Singaporean Uber website as they regularly send discount codes. 

Travel: 560 SGD (≈3,300 SEK)

Apart from paying rent, travel fees wer by far where most of my money was spent. However I do not regret it at all because I believe that when you’re living in SEA you should take as much of the opportunity as possible to travel around. Whilst other exchange students had very lenient schedules I still had to go to lab Monday to Friday from 9 to earliest 6 and the schedule shifted so much depending on how successful the labbing went. Therefore it was a bit hard to go on long trips as well as plan trips ahead of time. Still short and spontaneous weekend trips were the highlights of this exchange. 

To be able to save as much money as possible on this it is best to buy the tickets quite early an through budget flights like TigerAir and AirAsia. Also accommodation in SEA is quite cheap for the quality so look through Airbnbs and hostels at

Pines Food Court in Prince George's Park Residence. Most of the food outlets look like this!


There are several student accommodations on the NUS campus however a few are available as options for incoming exchange students. The two types are summarised below. Also there are many rules that one has to agree upon to be able to accept accommodation. These rules are explained thoroughly and are things like “You cannot have anyone sleeping over” and “You cannot smoke or drink on campus and carry anything of such in your possession”, however the school most of the time doesn’t take active steps to regulate these rules. 

Halls (King Edward, Raffles etc.):

These are similar to Houses in the Harry Potter books. You can apply to different Halls and each Hall is known for a specific activity or these like for example sports or theatre. By living in a Hall you are in a community of students and means you have the responsibility to join in on the activities that they hold like sports games, theatre productions and Inter-Hall tournaments. Because of this commitment there are not that many international or exchange students in these halls. Also breakfast and dinner are provided and is included in the accommodation fee.


University Town

UTown is a small campus on it’s own. It is where they have most of the international and exchange students. They are newly built and have facilities like a gym, outdoor infinity pool, rock climbing wall, piano room, 2 food courts, Korean restaurant, Pizza hut, bookstore, hair salon, pharmacy, convenience store, study rooms, computer and Mac rooms and more. They also sometimes hold lectures as well as many events and bazaars. There are different kinds of accommodation configurations but the most common ones are those with 4 bedrooms and a shared bathroom and shared kitchen. The kitchen however is just a sink and a microwave and cooking isn’t allowed. Most of the rooms do not have A/C but they are still breezy if the windows are kept open. 

The rooms at UTown are usually more expensive but are still very competitive as everyone wants to live there. Therefore it might be hard to get it as a first choice. However you can always request a transfer even after receiving another room. I had also initially requested a transfer to a room in UTown however I decided to stay at Prince George’s Park Residence as I had enjoyed staying there a lot more than I thought I would. UTown is also the furthest away from the subway station, around a 5-10 minute bus ride. 

Prince George’s Park Residence (PGPR)

PGP is an older student dorm than Utown and is several tall blocks of buildings with individual rooms for students. The bathroom and kitchen are shared amongst around 6 people and the kitchen is suitable for cooking as it has a fridge, freezer, stove and oven. However it is not well equip and in a pretty bad condition therefore I barely used it to cook for myself. Facility wise it has a small gym, basketball court, laundromat, Nanyang mart, 2 food courts, a fast food/snack bistro called Supersnacks, and study/lounge areas with AC in each block. There are three types of room; one with A/C and own bathroom, one with a sink only and one without all three. I had the room type B which had a sink and though it was uncomfortable in the beginning to be in such a humid weather without an A/C I eventually got used to it. I also kept the windows open and ceiling fan running at all times. Room type B was also cheaper than the room with A/C. For 17 weeks I payed a total of 2,125.71 SGD (≈14054.15 SEK) upfront which seemed like a reasonable price for a minimal room. Housing outside of the campus can get very expensive and because there is so many things to do outside I was never much in my room anyway. 

I personally really enjoyed PGP and am glad I chose to stay there during the whole exchange. Like UTown there are many exchange students as well in PGP and that is where I met most of my closest friends. It is also convenient that it is walking distance to the subway station which also has a small shopping area. 

Blocks of apartments at Prince George's Park Residence

Studier allmänt

The other researchers in SynCTI were mostly local Singaporeans. Everyone worked really hard and usually stayed from 9AM to 6PM. Some of the PhD students who lived close by stayed until 11PM. My mentor understood that I was in Singapore for only a short time therefore encouraged me to travel and have a more lenient schedule however because everyone was working so hard it motivated me to work hard too. 
The research building of SynCTI

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 6 på KI

The one course I took in NUS apart form labbing was Food & Health GEH1019 of 4MCs. We were free to choose one elective course within the Life Science Department so we chose this one because we heard it was a relatively easy course to follow. Also they touched upon subjects of different diets and it’s effect on society which was a topic I was interested to hear a professional’s view of. Classes were held for two hours every Thursday and assignments given out were an analysis essay of a specific type of diet, a 3 days project of logging what you ate and calculating the nutritional values and a feedback report for each other. The final assessment at the end of the term was a 100 question multiple choice test. 

Overall view of the course was that it was quite easy and the workload wasn’t that demanding. The lectures had a whole lot of students but they were not mandatory and it didn’t necessarily feel like you were missing out by not going to the classes. This was good because sometimes extra time in the lab was needed. Therefore it was a good and easy course to compensate for the heavy workload of the lab. 

UTown area has good places to study

Språk och kultur

Singlish! This is the unofficial language of Singapore and is as diverse as their country. It’s a mixture of words of English, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese, Tamil and more. Therefore although it might sound like English, in the beginning it was be slightly hard to grasp what they are saying. The classes on the other hand are all in Standard English. Therefore there wasn't much trouble studying and living in Singapore when it came to language. 

Culture-wise Singapore is a very safe and clean country and there are many rules to regulate this. For example theft and burglary is punished severely and therefore there are little to no cases of pickpocketing. It was shocking for me to see how people left their entire bags, wallets and computers in the open space for hours while they went for a break. Also there is a big fine for littering therefore if you ever feel like throwing something away do wait until you reach a trashcan otherwise you’ll be spending your whole student loan on that fine. Another culture clash is that in Singapore people stand on the left when they are on the escalator or using the stairs, this led to several embarrassing bumps before I got used to it. 

Arab Street in Singapore, a very multicultural country!

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

Before arriving, little did I know just how much Singapore had to offer. However after spending 4 months there I had an incredibly fulfilling time outside of my studies that I wish everyone who goes there can also experience. I have therefore summarised my favourite things to do during my free time into categories.

Events held by NUS:

Throughout the semester the Peers Advising group organised several events however I didn’t go to them because they were either at time I couldn't make or they were fully booked.

  • Dragon boat 
  • A meeting every Thursday with different themes, similar to “Coffee Hour” we have at KI
  • Buddy system
  • Campus Tour
  • Museum and Tourist spot trips

Night life and Bars:

Although Ladie’s Night on Wednesday is ideal for females the weekends are also great times to go out. Usually during the week you can find more international/ exchange students at parties whilst during the weekends there are more local Singaporeans. The dress code is also strict and expects well dressed people like no sandals/flip slops, and long sleeved shirts and short for men etc. 

  • Attica
    • located in Clarke Quay which is a nightlife district with many clubs and bars
  • Altimate
    • club at the top of a skyscraper with a great view
  • Cherry
    • Hip Hop and RnB music throughout the night with a retro aesthetic 
  • Wala Wala Bar
    • Great selection of beer and food like pizza. Also every Friday they have great live music. 
  • ION Orchard Mall SkyBar
    • Happy hour until 7PM means amazing cocktails for 10SGD!
  • Stickies
    • A bar and hangout area with board games and pool
  • Timbre+
    • A large container open area with good food, beer and live music that you can request songs

Events and places to go in Singapore:

  • Chinese New Years fireworks at Marina Bay Float
  • Splurge for one night at Marina Bay Sands and go to the infinity pool
  • Lazarus Island
  • Silo Beach on Sentosa Island 
  • Cloud Forest in Garden’s by the Bay
  • Tree Top Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park
  • Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Travel Locations in SEA:

  • Koh Phi Phi
    • The first travel location during the exchange was at Koh Phi Phi. It is a party island that has good hostels like Slinky hostel and shows ranging from fire shows to Thai boxing fight shows. 
  • Kuala Lumpur
    • You can get cheap flights and go for a weekend trip. I would highly recommend staying at a Airbnb in the Regalia apartments to enjoy a rooftop infinity pool and dining at the restaurant Opium.
  • Cambodia
    • My favourite travel during the exchange was in Siem Reap. I would recommend booking a hotel with a pool and going with on a Temple tour with a tuktuk during the day. 
  • Hong Kong
    • Hong Kong was the most expensive destination as well as the chilliest. The best accommodation method is through Airbnb and to book and plan this trip as early as possible as things can get quite expesive. 
  • Bali
    • I stayed in Ubud in an amazing airbnb with a pool. I would say you have to do a sunrise tour at Mt.Batur it was by far the most amazing view I’ve ever seen. 
  • Myanmar
    • For Myanmar I went on a 10 day solo trip after my degree thesis was submitted into NUS. It would feel too rushed to go for less than 10 days as there is so much to see. I usually traveled city to city with night buses which were really comfortable and was able to visit Yangon, Bagan and Inle Lake. If you’re going to Bagan and Inle Lake y it is strongly recommend to stay at the hostel Ostello Bello as they have great events and tours for travellers. 
Sunrise after a trek up the volcano Mt. Batur, Bali


The exchange at NUS had exceeded all of my expectations. 

Before coming to Singapore I was nervous that I would be lonely, bored and be working all day in the lab. However the turnout was definitely far from it. Although it did help that I took an elective course and therefore could stay on campus and meet other exchange students, what eventually mattered the most on how this exchange would proceed was my attitude, because opportunities are truly only made by me. If I hadn’t been as active and open I knew I wouldn’t have the friends and have had the amazing travel experiences that I truly value, no matter if I was living on campus or not. It also made me think of how pleasantly surprising life might turn out when you walk towards the unknown and unfamiliar. I mean who would have thought that I would be climbing temples in Cambodia sometime during mid-March? Definitely not me in 2016.

Therefore although I gained a lot of knowledge academically and also got to experience hands-on what working full time in a lab is like, I will highly appreciate the personal lessons this exchange has taught me. I believe that these lessons will stick with me throughout my life and even today it motivates me to always fearlessly and enthusiastically grab for opportunities that might pass by. 

Now for any student that might be reading this and are eager for an experience of a life time, I highly highly encourage you to apply to NUS for exchange because Singapore is truly a wonderful and grande adventure to embark on. 

The view from the highest swimming pool in the world: Marina Bay Sands!