Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: National University of Singapore
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Autumn semester 2021/2022
Name: Konstantin Korshumov
Email address:


A major reason for my decision to enroll in the bachelor’s program in biomedicine was the possibility to go on exchange for a semester. In this case, I did my bachelor’s thesis project abroad during my semseter. In my opinion, going on exchange is not only a great opportunity to better yourself academically and professionally, but to also experience personal growth in all its aspects. Making friends and connections around the world is something that I value a lot and indeed drove me to apply for and go on exchange. Particularly, I chose to go to the National University of Singapore (NUS) because of its location and global status. I wanted to experience living in a whole different environment from Sweden and even Europe, hence, why I wanted to go the furthest away possible. The study-abroad information from NUS was quite clear as written on their website and I had no problems communicating with the university if any questions arose. Fortunately, I did not have a problem finding a laboratory to work at for the semester. The professors from each department were listed clearly and their background and fields of study were explained really well, so it was pleasent for me to read through them and decide which ones I potentially wanted to email to ask for a place.

The same was true for the study-abroad information I was given by KI. The presentation that we, as exchange students, were given at KI by previous students about their experiences was good and reassuring that everything will be okay in the end no matter what struggles you might be dealing with at the moment regarding the organization of your exchange semester. I also thought the exchange-studies coordinator for my program was very helpful and fast in their replies to my questions, so everything was well communicated. 

Additinoally, I was required to be vaccinated with at least two doses for COVID-19 and register the respective documents as proof in order to enroll. No other vaccines were necessary.

Arrival and registration

Since I was not doing any courses but just my thesis project for the exhange, the arrival and start date were more or less up to the lab group I was going to work with and me. This flexibility was very useful since I could not leave from KI until the very end of the semester prior to the exchange due to course work and because of the fact that I needed to quarantine for 7 days upon arrival in Singapore according to the restrictions that took place at that time. Hence, I could arrange a convenient start date for my studies with my NUS supervisor. This means that I had a week after arriving in Singapore after which my placement at the laboratory started. This was greatly appreciated as I needed some time to adjust from the long travel and the time difference, as well as I could prepare better for the work I was going to do by reading scientific articles and doing introductory courses.

In fact, both the the university and my lab offered me multiple introductory courses to get familiarize with the academic and student cultures as well as basic lab requirements. From the university's side, I was supposed to complete courses about consent, situations of by-standing, plagiarism, etc. On the other side, from the lab's side, was supposed to complete courses about the lab safety and working with patients. All of these courses were to be done so that I could become an official student at NUS. 

There were no mentor programs offered to my knowledge.


For the cost of accommodation, please, refer to the next section. Groceries from ordinary supermarkets could be at the same price as in Stockholm or a bit more expensive. However, since I had breakfast and dinner included in my accommodation as explained below, I never really needed to buy groceries and cook. Additionally, Singapore is full of these so-called ‘hawker centers’ which are essentially food courts with a huge selection of different cuisines where one can buy a meal that’s enough to get you full for just a few dollars. What I have noticed is that often times it’s cheaper to eat out at these places rather than buy ingredients and cook for yourself. The good thing is that these hawker centers do not offer junk food but actual good homemade-like food, so you do not need to worry about eating unhealthy. The campus of NUS is also full of different affordable food courts offering a great variety of food. 

In terms of public transport, you get charged by the travelled distance. To put things in a perspective, if you use the public transport from one side of the island all the way to the opposite side, it’ll take you maybe around 2-3 hours and you’ll pay around 6-7 dollars in total. Their verson of Uber, called Grab, is also quite affordable considering how expensive Singapore tends to be. In fact, a thirty-minute ride can be around 15 dollars, which if you devide with friends can just be a few dollars each.

However, alcohol is quite expensive in general. There are a few bars where you can find affordable and rather cheap drinks (e.g., Stickies). Though, most of the bars and restaurants no matter how fancy they are charge 15-18 dollars for a glass of beer and 18-25 dollars for a cocktail. If you buy alcohol from a supermarket, the prices tend to be the same as in Stockholm or higher.

In terms of keeping costs down, if you do not obtain accommodation on campus, I would suggest that you find a place to stay somewhere near the campus. This way you will minimize both the cost and time of commuting daily.

There were no obligatory costs related to vaccinations as well as student union fees. In terms of visa-related costs, I believe that if you hold an EU passport, there are no costs except for the student-pass fee that is around 70 dollars. This is basically a student visa that is valid for the time of your studies there. 


NUS offers on-capmus accommodation to exchange students. My advice is to really apply as soon as possible when you receive your acceptance letter from the university. The housing spots get taken very quickly by the huge number of international students who are also going there on exchange. In fact, NUS will send you instructions and information on housing and the application form with your acceptance letter.

The experience you would get from living on campus with all the students compared to living off campus on your own is totally different. The on-campus housing consisted of multiple student residences. Specifically, I lived in a residential college right in the heart of the campus where breakfast and dinner were included in the price of the accommodation. There was a dining hall that offered a variety of meals daily. Vegeterian and vegan options were always available. This was quite convenient as I did not need to worry about cooking. In my opinion, the standard and cost of the student housing was very good and affordable given that Singapore is known to be one of the most expensive cities to live in worldwide. For the whole semester, less than 3000 SGD was the amount paid for accommodation as well as meals for breakfast and dinner. This was actually cheaper that what you pay in Sweden if you have a regular corridor room in a student residence, such as Pax, for example.

As mentioned above, I was extremely lucky as my residential college was right in the center of the campus where most of the student life was. It took me around 25 minutes walking from my place to the lab or 10 minutes by bus. Many of the on-campus student housing options are quite central as well although there are some that are not that central. Anyway, if you can get on-campus accommodation no matter its exact location, it is a win-win situation, for sure. There are campus buses that operate for free for NUS students that take you to different places on campus, meaning no matter which accommodation you get accepted to, it will be not more than 10 minutes by bus to get to your lab.

In case you do not get on-campus accommodation, you should consider either renting out an AirBnb/apartment, or apply for alternative student accommodation facilities. Here are some useful links for the alternative options of off-campus accommodation:

Studies in general

My experience there was more like an internship as I was working at a lab on my thesis project. I wasn’t required to attend lectures of any sort because I didn’t have any courses. Specifically, I was working in human trials with my lab group in which my supervisor was also a part of. I felt like the relationship between my supervisor and me was quite good in terms of communication and guidance. The same is true for the other members of the lab group. Everyone was very friendly, approachable and easy to work with. When working with the participants in the trials, it was always a safe and friendly environment too.

When it comes to the relationship between theory and practical education, the theory part was mainly done by myself as I was supposed to read many scientific articles to educate myself on the given topic. Of course, my supervisor and the others were always ready to help me if anything was unclear. On the other hand, the practical education was dependent on my supervisor as he was the main person who was training me how to handle the different equipment for the trials as well as how to lead a session and behave in front of the volunteers of the study.

From my previous KI experience, I can say that the work resembled more or less a 9-5 day from Monday to Friday when I was attending the KI Summer School in Medical Research. However, that was not really the case for my experience at NUS. There my schedule was heavily dependent on the availability of participants to attend the trials. Some weeks I had more intense days from 7 am to 5-6 pm of working three to four times a week, whereas other weeks I only had one intense day, for example. Luckily, I did not have any work during the weekends, which I heard was not the case for some people who were doing wetlab bench work. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 6 at KI

I did not in fact take any courses during my exchange. I was entirely doing my Bachelor’s thesis. I found the examination format fair. Writing a scientific report on your own was an interesting experience from which I gained a lot. The feedback I received on the way by my supervisors from NUS and KI was definitely useful. I also really appreciated the fact that we had to present our projects. The time for the presentation and the discussion felt reasonable. This was also a great opportunity for me to learn about what my classmates had been working on for the semester as we could listen to each other's presentations and engage by asking questions.

One thing that could be improved is the selection of the KI supervisor. The initial one that I received was not very knowledgeable about the topic of my thesis, so they could only give me general feedback about the structure of the report, for example. 

I can say that I learned how to work with participants. I improved my leadership skills as I was responsible for leading sessions with the volunteers of the study. I also learned a lot of technicalities and how to use multiple pieces of equipment for different measurements or calibrations.

Language and Culture

Since my education at KI was already taught in English, I did not experience studying in a different language at NUS. 

As for any cultural differences and clashes, there were quite a few as you can imagine. First of all, Singaporeans tend to speak very fast. On top of that, they use a lot of different words borrowed from Malay and Chinese while speaking informal English, creating this so-called ‘Singlish’. So, sometimes it can be a bit hard to understand, especially in the first few weeks, but you get used to it and you learn some new words! Another thing I’ve noticed is that they use a lot of abbreviations for everything and even when speaking, instead of, for example, saynig ‘final-year project’, they would just say ‘FYP’. Another example would be that instead of saying ‘dining hall’, they would say ‘DH’. There are countless of these examples, especially in the university environment. Again, it takes some time to learn them and get used to this way of communicating. 

Food is yet another aspect where I experienced many cultural differences. There is an enourmous variety of dishes from different cuisines pretty much everywhere you go to eat in Singapore. Additionally, some of the local fruits and vegetables are nowhere to be found in Europe. This explains why the city is considered the food capital of Asia.

Lastly, I really enjoyed how international the city is. There is a huge diversity of people and their cultures in terms of languages, religions, etc. There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. All of the signs everywhere and the announcements in the public transport are in these languages. The city is very much a multi-cultural center where you can learn a lot.

The university did not offer language courses for us, as research students. Though, since English is the main spoken language, there is no need to worry when it comes to communicating and understanding.

Leisure time and social activities

NUS offered a variety of different social activities in terms of clubs, events, etc. Personally, I joined the dodgeball team as I had never played the sport before. I figured I would give it a try since it was something new to me and the exchange semester felt like the perfect opportunity for trying out new stuff. 

As already mentioned, I had the luck to live on campus. This really made it extremely easy to socialize and meet other fellow exchangers but local students from Singapore, too. The on-campus accommodation is designed in a way that integrates exchangers with local students. For example, on my floor, we were 5-6 exchangers living with 10-15 Singaporeans. There are also common areas and lounges where students can hang out, watch a movie, play board games, etc.

Singapore is a great city. There is so much it can offer from food, culture, sightseeing, events, etc. it is easy and quite affordable to commute within the island. I recommend going to the parks where you can go for a trek through the jungle and see monkeys or huge lizards. It is quite common to see these animals even in more lively spaces. You also should not miss the must-do attractions like Gardens By The Bay, Marina Bay Sands, China Town, Little India, etc.

NUS is a great univerisity with a beautiful campus. There are multiple food courts all around the campus, a lot of sports facilities accessible to every student, and even its own natural history museum. There are always some events happening, so it is easy to meet new people. There is also a huge variety of clubs that you can join wher you can meet like-minded people.  

The student life was definitely not at its best during the COVID-19 times as Singapore still had many restrictions, prohibitting gathering of groups of more than 5 people. However, it was still a fun time being there and meeting people from all over the world. Campus events were still going on with the required precautions taken.


I definitely gained a lot from this exchanged both personally and as a student. I got to meet new people and make connections in an entirely different place in the world. I also feel like I learned a lot academically and got to work with an amazing team of qualified individuals. I can say that the experience of my exhange semester will affect my future professional role as it solidified my interests in what I want to study further and work. I would encourage anyone to go on exchange to experience different environments and get out of their comfort zone. I have only had good impressions on my exchange and do not regret anything from it. Even when there might be some obstacles sometimes, treat them like lessons and learn from them.