Ten ways that studying abroad enhanced my Geography degree

Ten ways that studying abroad enhanced my Geography degree My exchange friends

This article was written by Meera Ved, published on 25th October 2012 and has been read 6273 times.

Meera is a third year Geography student at King’s College London, and spent a semester of her year abroad studying at The National University of Singapore (NUS). Here are ten ways that studying abroad enhanced her degree...
I’m pretty sure all new Geography undergraduates will have sat through a 'What is Geography?' lecture at some point in their academic lives. After my semester abroad at the National University of Singapore I don't think I would be able to sit through such a talk without screaming out 'Studying abroad!!!'. Taking part in a student exchange encompasses the discipline throughout. 

The language of study in Singapore is English so there were no language barriers plus my grades counted as credits towards my degree so I did not elongate the time taken to complete my degree. Here are ten ways various experiences and opportunites gained through studying abroad enhanced my Geography degree. Even though Geography is awesome I do note not everyone studies it at university... some reflections highlight the advantages of studying abroad for any degree and are not Geography or language specific at all.

1.Varing perspectives on global issues

Academic institutions naturally adopt prioritities and theoretical approaches which mirror the interests of their geographic region. Most of my modules had elements of higher detail towards South East Asia. This was great at it enabled me to understand how a different society approaches global issues.

2.Global student life

Being an exchange student seemed like one of the easiest and cheapest ways to live in a different country, especially with regard to accommodation. The exchange student lifestyle also meant I was able to meet others from across the globe with similar mind sets towards exploring the world!

3. Increased global adaptability and understanding

Knowledge of how global stakeholders interact can be applied to any career sector. Studying abroad also shows you (and future employers) that you can adapt to, plus thrive in, unfamilar settings.

4. Greater cultural understanding

Living in Singapore for a semester enabled me to experience various festivals and celebrations; Spending Chinese New Year in South East Asia was brilliant as I felt I got the true authentic experience. On an academic note, spending time in a different country for a prolonged time can help improve understanding its public views and how these interact with national and international policy. This experience enabled me to become more sensitive to analysing circumstances and issues based on the situation and stakeholders involved.

Photo 2: Bhuddist temple during Chinese New Year
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5. Practicing the logistics of travel

In some ways studying abroad is like a field trip; just without teachers or lecturers telling you what is interesting to look at in an area. It was down to me to explore Singapore and other parts of South East Asia efficiently. This required lots of research, planning and a smidgen of luck but the feeling of achievement at the end was so worth it!Plus I was able to tailor my experience to specifically meet my needs and interests. It led me to practice dealing with new systems and policies; even applying for a visa can be a learning curve when you are abroad!

6. Two universities in one degree

Through studying at NUS I was able to experience things my home university could not offer, such as being a campus university. Additionally, most universities which offer exchanges are in or close to cities, and cities are the place to be for a multitude of exciting events!

Photo 3: 5am in Singapore’s Formula 1 pit lanes before taking part in the annual OCBC Cycle Singapore event (5am because it would be too hot to cycle during the day!).
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7. Region specific modules

Where better to take a module like 'Economics of South East Asia' than in South East Asia? I even studied Singapore specific modules which enabled me to get a detailed academic understanding of the country whilst also exploring it for myself.

8. Different approaches to study

Even though all lectures were in English, I got to experience different teaching and assessment styles. Consequently, I tried out different learning techniques and found new ones which I can now imlplement to my learning back at my home institution.

9. Getting closer to opportunities for global work experience

Some of my fellow exchange friends managed to secure internships or work experience placements for after exams ended. This was a fantastic opportunity for them to gain global experience which can be very attractive to future employers as it shows the ability to work well in new environments.

10. Regional ‘base’ for travel.

Studying abroad gave me a base for exploring South East Asia. Singapore acted as a springboard to hop over to other exotic countries. A weekend trip to Malaysia from London would sound rediculous but is a case of a few hours coach journey from Singapore. Simple joys of geographical proximity! It was also great to be able to suss out the region from Singapore, which is a very established global city, before venturing to other countries which are still undergoing development.

Photo 4: Sunrise over Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
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