I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout my life. My dad’s job allowed my family to live in Singapore, Germany and Florida which let us travel around Europe, Asia, and South America. Travel has always been very important to me and continues to be one of my passions.
Flash-forward to college. Studying abroad wasn’t something I was interested in because I thought travelling should be about vacation only. G was able to study abroad in Spain for four weeks after Freshmen year. He had never been to Europe before and got a lot out of his experience. After Sophomore year G and I decided to go on a two week Study Abroad trip to Arequipa, Peru. In all honesty I was just excited to see Machu Picchu and cross another World Wonder off my list. What I didn’t expect was fabulous cultural exchange we had with the Peruvian students we met. Travelling for vacation is great but it’s hard to forge the friendships and learn about the culture firsthand. This is when I realized how valuable study abroad could be. I wanted to study abroad for a semester but to get all the parts to fit together was very difficult. As an IT major, the choices were a bit limited for us, dates wouldn’t work out with our internships, or the classes wouldn’t line up with our plan of study. So we gave up our dream and the semester abroad idea was filed away into the back of my mind.
Then one day…
G and I were studying for a test when he said, “Hey, I was looking on the study abroad website and what if we went to Singapore? There’s a study abroad program there!”
“Another two week program in the summer? Yeah that would be cool!” I said.
“No, no it’s a whole semester…”
A semester…in Singapore. Was this a dream? Fond memories of my childhood flashed in my mind. I remembered Singapore as a fabulous metropolis. Sure, I was five years old when I lived there, but my mom and dad would gush about how much they loved the vibrant city. But there was no way this was going to work out. We had failed to find a decent program that would fit our needs so many times before. G knew what I was thinking because he told me the impossible: the dates are perfectly aligned with our summer internships and it’s approved by the IT department. I was still apprehensive. I had a great job on campus, I was in multiple student organizations, and would my parents even let me go abroad for whole semester!
There was a lot of thinking to do and not a lot of time because G and I found out the deadline for the application was a mere five days away.
I called my mom and asked her what she thought. “A semester in SINGAPORE? That sounds like a great opportunity!” My parents were very excited about the program. My mom had no problem letting me go because she knew that Singapore is probably the safest country on earth. You could literally wave a $100 bill in the air and no one would even look at you. Even with my parents approval I was worried about going, but I decided to put in the application since it wasn’t binding if we decided not to go. It was the day before the application was due when G told A what we were doing. Little did we know, but A wanted to go abroad too! He was looking at Switzerland, but faced the same problem with the dates that we did. He scrambled to get two references and write three essays the day that the application was due. Within a few days our application was approved and we were allowed to start applying for the National University of Singapore.
Living in Limbo
The application process was intense and we had a lot of ups and downs trying to find classes that would work. We made countless numbers of spreadsheets, worked our multiple scenarios, and basically lived in the advisers’ offices. The months that we were waiting for our decision was AGONY. I hate not knowing what’s going on and I had no idea whether we would even be accepted. The National University of Singapore is the number one university in Asia with a super competitive Computer Science program, so we were worried about getting into the classes we needed. I swore A and G to secrecy about our application because I didn’t want to jinx anything, being the irrationally superstitious person that I am.
Then we got The Email
WOOHOO!!! I almost collapsed when I read that were accepted and allowed to take four classes that fit into our plan of study. Our hard work payed off! Ever since then it has been a whirlwind of paperwork, planning, and packing. We haven’t had a lot of time to get everything in order, but I know this dream wouldn’t have been a reality if we all hadn’t worked together to make it happen. We will be posting about our four month journey in Singapore and Southeast Asia. You can keep up with us on this blog and on Instagram (@akgabroad)!
If you are going to be studying abroad or have in the past, what led you to make your decision?