Congratulations! I know that waiting to hear back from the study abroad office can be a nerve wracking time, so if you’ve survived it and ended up with one of your choices, then give yourself some time to breathe and most importantly, to celebrate!
Unfortunately, the hard work isn’t quite over yet, as moving abroad comes with many trials and tribulations and there is a lot of practical matters to consider while moving forward with your application. I’m sure many of these things will be old news to you, but it’s important to think about them again seriously now you know for sure where you’re heading.
- You will now have to go through the application process for your chosen university. For NTU this was relatively simple and well explained all the way through, although it took a while to hear back from them in the first place.
- Finding a place to live. If you want to live on campus, NTU has many different types of halls on offer and you can apply to them through the application process. Sadly, the kind you get won’t be up to you as this is entirely randomly allocated. As a GU student, the chances of you getting a place to live on campus is very high (I don’t know anyone who hasn’t). However, since no place is guaranteed, it’s important for you to know about other housing options that are off campus, in case you have to – or want to- live in your own flat. I know a couple of people who live independently from the university and they seem perfectly satisfied with how things have turned out. It appears most people found their flats, and flatmates, through facebook groups and online searches, and everything was ready for them to sign the contract once they arrived.
- Insurance. NTU comes with its own insurance, but you’ll probably want to back this up with some insurance of your own. This is especially true if you’re planning to travel around SE Asia as you’ll need one that covers multiple countries.
- Banking. Opening your own bank in Singapore is super easy. You can sign up with OCBC on campus and get your debit card the same day. To transfer money from your UK account, I would recommend going through the website Transferwise. It’s very easy to use, and cuts back on some of the exchange rate fees that you get when transferring directly through your bank.
- Phones. Since my old UK phone was horrendously broken and also had a locked sim, I decided to buy myself a new (cheap) phone for the year ahead, and went with one that had a dual sim so I could keep my old UK number while simultaneously using a new Singapore number. This has worked out pretty well, so if it’s an option I would totally recommend it! Although it is weird to still get texts from the West End Dominoes every now and then…
There are two main pay-as-you phone companies people on exchange seem to go with, and these are Singtel and M1. I’m with M1 because it also works in neighbouring countries (such as Malaysia and Indonesia) at no extra cost. Getting a sim card is super easy and can be done at any 7/11 (convenience store), including the one on campus. Side note: for some reason, they want to see your passport when you buy a sim, so make sure you have it handy.
- SMRT is the acronym for “Singapore Mass Rapid Transit”, in other words, the public transport system. You pay for both buses and Singapore’s subway system via a card which you can top up at any station or 7/11 store. Your student card doubles as one of these, so once you get yours you’ll be good to go! If you arrive early though, it’s easy enough to buy a subway card for the meantime (and also useful to have one spare in case you ever lose your student card, as I learned the hard way…)
- Flights. Book early to get the cheapest deal, and get excited, because you’re about to head off to an amazing country and hopefully one of the best experiences of your life! Have fun!
As always, get in touch if you have any further questions about Singapore, NTU, or studying abroad in general.