Written by Ho Koi Foong, SMU School of Social Sciences
A final-year law student from Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali (LUISS) Guido Carli, Rome, Italy, Guendalina came to SMU for an exchange programme in 2012-2013.
We spoke to her and found out what made her four months in Singapore the best moments of her life!
1) Hi Guendalina, we loved having you here! But tell us, why did you choose to come to SMU among the many universities in Singapore?
I’ve always wanted a study experience in Singapore and I heard that SMU is a new and innovative university. I took three modules at SMU: company law, trade and investment law and information technology and the law. Since I’m a law student, it was more difficult to find courses that would have been recognised by my university. For those that were available, I chose the ones I found most interesting and didn’t have the possibility of taking it in LUISS.
2) Was there any selection process and what were some of your preparations before coming to Singapore/SMU?
Yes, there was a selection process. It’s based on our GPA and English-proficiency level. There were just two places available for SMU and I got the first! I didn’t know what to expect in Singapore so I didn’t prepare for anything specific, just the ones everyone will usually do before going for a long trip far away.
3) Can you describe a day in your life, here in Singapore?
An international student in Singapore has to be ready for anything. SMU’s teaching method is pretty different from European ones, including the fact that the semester is shorter and that attending class is strictly compulsory. It means that you have to attend classes every week and partake in all the other activities the university offers to you: sports, conferences, debates. Singapore offers many events like concerts, many kinds of shows and different places to wind down. Last but not least, Singapore has an excellent geographical location that gives everyone the possibility to travel a lot around Southeast Asia. My days in SMU were very different because I tried to do the most I could each day. Although I had classes just two days a week, I was always hanging around school every day and spending time in the library, gym and the food court! I was living a hostel in Commonwealth with the other exchange mates. At the end of the day, we usually meet to have dinner or go out together.
6) Any memorable experiences you’ve had?
I dearly remember The International Peace Day on 21st of September; the ceremony was awesome and there was a night performance at the Campus Green in-between SMU buildings. It also featured a concert and a piece by an Argentinean group. Another impressive experience was at the end of the semester where SMU put together many booths representing different countries in the world with their most significant items, such as food, clothes and objects.
7) What have you learnt out of this exchange program?
I have learnt many things, but I think that the most important is the appreciation of cultural differences. The exchange period in Singapore gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. They all have different habits and perspectives. The chance to experience a different teaching methodology (smaller classes and stronger contact with the professor) was refreshing. I have learnt that sometimes, even if you are sure about something, someone else can give you a different point of view and this makes you a richer person who is able to interact and live with everyone else better.
8) Were there any challenges?
I was more worried about challenges related to my coursework. Personally speaking, I’m from a country where the method is completely different and I was a bit lost at the beginning, but after the first couple of weeks, I started to appreciate the challenges and even began to prefer SMU’s method. Professors here make things very clear and local students are likely to help you.
9) Any words of advice for other international students who would like to come to SMU for their exchanges too?
Don’t think twice, go and enjoy every single experience that is offered to you! It is going to be the best experience of your life!