Linda Qin '20
National University of Singapore
Ask me about studying abroad as a STEM concentrator!
Because I went abroad...
I was able to experience a culture so completely different from what I could have ever encountered here. Having grown up in Boston, and going to college close to home, the New England way of life was all I had ever known. Even though I had traveled abroad for vacations, I, as a tourist, had not felt truly immersed in the local culture in the way that studying abroad allowed me to. At the National University of Singapore, I was able to live out a different college experience that Harvard was unable to provide, attending an extremely large university in a place that was sunny and warm ninety percent of the year. I met friends whom I will forever share a bond with because of this experience, and made memories that I will cherish long after my pset and exam knowledge fades. Study abroad also gave me a newfound appreciation for Harvard that being in the Harvard bubble prevented me from seeing – I return with a different outlook (hot take! The quad is not far away at all compared to the commutes other university students face) and ready to make the most of my last year here.
Ask me about….
- Getting a late start planning a term abroad
- Nearly backing out of study abroad (no regrets!)
- Studying abroad on financial aid
- Finding a church community abroad
- Getting involved in the dance scene while abroad
- Balancing student life with exploring new places
- Turning moments into memories with photography/videography
- Dealing with food poisoning/sickness abroad
Study Abroad Highlights...
- Group projects with local students: Group projects are usually nightmares, but being able to work closely with Singaporean students and witness the way their culture approaches their studies was both an illuminating and humbling experience.
- Learning under Singaporean professors: One thing I definitely did not expect was how different the education system in Singapore would be, from the structure of exams to how the homework system worked to how the professors taught the material. It was definitely challenging at first, but also all the more rewarding when everything clicked. Some of my favorite memories from NUS come from struggling through lectures with friends.
- Taking local courses: I had the privilege of taking a class called Changing Landscapes of Singapore, which taught about the history of Singapore as seen in its architecture and city planning. I thought that this would be an exchange-student-heavy course, but was pleasantly surprised to see the large number of local students who were taking it as well. Hearing about course topics from the first-hand perspectives of these students and their parents, who had witnessed so much of this new nation’s history, gave me not only a greater appreciation for the country and the class, but was also such a special experience that I would never be able to have otherwise.
- Exploring dance in another culture: Having attended dance studios in Boston and being active in several Harvard dance groups, I was excited to see how the dance scene was like in Singapore. I had the chance to train with a dance group in NUS, and was absolutely blown away – not only were they some of the best dancers I have ever seen, but even the dance community in Singapore was so different from the ones I have encountered, and oh so precious and unique. I told friends multiple times that this was the peak of my dance career (still true), and, looking back, Dance Blast is one of the things I miss most from my semester at NUS.
- 6-day weekends travelling to other countries: I created a schedule where I only had mandatory class on Wednesdays, so I spent the majority of my time relaxing, sleeping in, and exploring Southeast Asia with old and new friends
- Finding my squad: You know what I mean – your pack, your gang, your ride-or-dies – my experience would not have been the same if I did not share my memories and memes with these friends for life. We’ve already had several meetups in the short time since the end of the semester, and I know that, regardless of our paths in life, we’ll forever be connected by our shared summer under the sun in Singapore.
Other International Experience...
- Summer 2017: study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa