Summer Stories 2015: My Global Summer Programme experience

This year, SMU launched the inaugural Global Summer Programme. In this four-week intensive Asian-focused initiative, students from around the world converged on Singapore for a power-packed combination of high quality academic learning and transformative cultural experiences. We previously published a blog post by an SMU student who took part; in this companion post, find out how the Global Summer Programme provided an eye-opening experience for Ana, a Latin American student.

By Ana Teresa Rodríguez, ITAM School of Business, Mexico City

My experience at SMU’s Global Summer Programme (GSP) was a total modern-Asian engagement. It was my first time in Singapore and at SMU, so in order to be prepared, I did research on the country and the university. Indeed, the city-state lived up to its reputation and SMU exceeded my expectations.

In my opinion, Singapore as a country is well-organised; the city is thoroughly connected, the infrastructure is modern, and it has an entrepreneurial feeling to it. Yet, there’re plenty of outdoor and indoor activities like nature reservoirs and diverse museums.

I was amazed at how the SMU campus is perfectly integrated with the city – the layout is open, and divided into a basement passageway and buildings. Amazingly, the MRT has an exit right into campus! The classrooms are technologically well-equipped, and it has one of the most study-friendly libraries I’ve ever been to.

To me, the best thing of all was discovering that that Singapore is a food lover’s paradise: there is an abundance of cafés, hawker centres, markets, and restaurants that cater to cuisines around the globe but especially Asian delicacies. At SMU, the cafeteria and the neighbourhood around campus are no exception to the rule: since the university is located downtown, you have easy access to different food stalls and food courts within walking distance.

During the GSP, I took two courses, (i) Asia Pacific Business and (ii) Market, State, and Society in Asian Economic Development. The courses were dynamic: they integrated group work, presentations, and fieldtrips. For example, in the Asia Pacific Business course, we visited a start-up launch pad and business development centre, where we got to observe the entrepreneurial environment of Singapore.

Another aspect that stood out about the GSP is the teachers. They were experts in their areas, absolutely approachable, open to share their experiences and ideas, and willing to answer all our questions. I’ll always remember Ms Judy Tan, the Asia Pacific Business prof, who spoke of her different business experiences in countries such as Pakistan and Paraguay. Also, Dr Chung Wai Keung, who taught Asian Economic Development: he spoke of his predictions of the Chinese market meltdown when the Chinese stock market headed for a crash.

Nonetheless, the best part of the GSP was my classmates! There was such a global diversity – everyone was knowledgeable in diverse areas, people were friendly, open minded, business-oriented, and enthusiastic to learn from each other. There where groups of students from India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Australia, and other lone students from China, Canada, Brazil, Europe, Indonesia, Taiwan, among many others.

As one of the only two Latin Americans in the programme, it was fun sharing different points of view and learning about the Asian perspectives of business and economics. I feel that I’ve learned equally from the courses and from my classmates alike, and I’m glad to say that I’ve made good friends with whom I will definitely be keeping in touch.