Academics: Singapore Management University
As my academic semester at Singapore Management University(SMU) comes to an end, I have had the amazing opportunity to participate in school clubs, group projects, and befriend local students. My host university is located in downtown Singapore, and all the campus buildings are connected by a lively underground passageway that has food courts, restaurants, gardens, and areas where students blare music and show off their latest dance moves. Recently, I attended the Cambodian Cultural Club for their Shadow Puppet Making Workshop. Shadow puppetry is an ancient Cambodian form of storytelling that involves cutting out intricate shapes and holding them between a source of light and translucent screen while a story is told. At the club workshop, I tried several types of tasty Cambodian desserts, learned about Cambodia’s history, and met several Cambodian International Students.
Classes at SMU are called ‘modules’ and they differ from my traditional classes at UMD because each module only meets once a week for 3 hours and 15 minutes. This semester I took a total of 4 modules, spread out over the days of Monday and Tuesday. One significant difference in my modules here at SMU is that most classes have no homework, no quizzes, and no online weekly assignments. In fact, my final grade for all my classes is based mostly on participation, a heavy group project component, and a heavy final exam weight. Although there is more weight on these components, this structure also allows me to better manage my time between traveling and focusing on school. Most weeks, I spend Monday – Wednesday focusing on school, meeting with group projects, and from Thursday – Sunday I travel to nearby regions. I have found that group projects at SMU are much more intense than any of my group project experiences at UMD. For example, it is not uncommon for my groups to meet at midnight and on weekends. In addition, there is a sharp contrast in presentation styles; while at UMD students are encouraged to make their PowerPoint presentations as clean and minimalistic as possible, students at SMU are encouraged to include 3-4 graphs, descriptive paragraphs, and many images on each PowerPoint slide. Overall, I feel as though I have learned a lot from my fellow classmates who have been friendly, welcoming, and eager to help make my transition as easy as possible.