Written By: Gabriel Lim
Edited By: Shervin Lim
It was a busy Thursday night for KEVIIANs, with either schoolwork or CCAs piling up for most. However, on this hazy night, some inquisitive KEVIIANs set aside their pens and books to make time for the annual Alumni Sharing Session, brought to us by the Alumni Relations Committee (ARC). It was truly heartening to see so many KEVIIANs present, eager to discover what insights their seniors had in store for them. We were all truly thankful for the four seniors who took time off their busy schedules to drop by.
Without further ado, allow me to introduce…
The four seniors present were extremely keen to impart their knowledge to the majority freshmen (no prizes to those who predicted this) crowd who turned up. The seniors touched on a wide variety of topics, ranging from how to apply and qualify for the student exchange programme (SEP), to more sensitive topics like the most interesting thing they did while on exchange, which I shall not deign to mention here.
I have done my best to distil a few important points of the sharing for any clueless freshmen (myself included) who were otherwise engaged during the session and unable to avail themselves for the event. They are:
- If you want to go SEP to get the best possible education overseas, then by all means do so. However, if you just want to go SEP for the overseas experience, aiming for the not-so-popular schools will increase your chances of getting in.
- Good results will help, but not a necessity to be selected for SEP.
- Don’t be afraid to constantly meet and talk to new people, both locally and overseas.
- Map more than the desired amount of modules you want to take overseas so that if some of the supplementary paper work fails, you won’t be left with no modules.
Finally, KE Press managed to sit down with one of the alumni speakers, Leonard Lim, for a more in-depth interview of his experiences. His perspectives are as follow:
1. What was your most interesting experience in SEP?
Politically Correct Version: “I think that the most interesting SEP experience I had was during the time I want to Cuba with my exchange university. Over there, I had to learn quickly to be very careful during my interactions with the locals, as many of them were very poor, and virtually every one of them was trying to con me! From the experience, I learnt that it is extremely crucial for every student who is going SEP to be at least somewhat aware of how the society of the country they are going to functions, so that they do not get a rude culture shock upon arrival! Also, it was truly enriching and a wonderful experience for me to be able to make so many new international friends from my exchange university.”
Actual Version: [Edit: The following content has been deemed as excessively explicit by the writer, and has been subsequently removed]
2. From your personal experience, would you recommend that students should go for SEP alone or with a group of friends?
“I would say that it is not necessary. You just need to know the people (preferably from NUS) who are going to the same university as you. If you really do not know anyone at all, do drop an email to the NUS International Relations Office (IRO) to ask them for the contacts of students going to the same place as you. After all, it is better to get lost in a foreign country together rather than alone!”
3. What advice would you give to students looking for an exchange university?
“Most importantly, you must know your purpose in going for SEP. Do you want to go overseas for the travelling experience? Or is it because you value a certain foreign university’s academic programme? You need to be clear on this, as the way you will apply for SEP will greatly differ as a result. For example, if you are just going SEP for the travelling experience, my suggestion would be to not apply for the more competitive schools, as that would greatly reduce your chances of getting into SEP.”
4. Now that you’ve pointed out to us the two more obvious reasons for going SEP, which one would you recommend? Studies or Travel?
Politically Correct Version: Choose studies, as it is good for you and your future. It is important for you to build an adequate network of contacts to survive in the working world.
Actual Version: Duh, travelling! You can always earn back the money you spend while travelling. Experience is something you can get only once in a lifetime. Absolutely do NOT lock yourself in the room and spend most of your time at exchange mugging. After all, your CAP will be frozen. Going overseas is all about the experience!
Thank you seniors for taking the time to come down and providing us with such useful advice!
[ Disclaimer: The views or information provided by the seniors may be outdated, as by the time you go for exchange, it will be 3 – 4 years after they went. Use your common sense people! ]
Photos courtesy of KE Vision.