Nanyang Technological University Singapore. Marco Polo Report

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1 Nanyang Technological University Singapore Marco Polo Report Lisette Sikkens S

2 A General report 1. Host institution and exact dates of semester abroad The host institution is Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The first semester at NTU started at 4 th of August and ended at December 5 th. 2. Contact with home faculty, preparation and journey In February 2014 I got the message from the University of Groningen that I was selected to study at NTU. In April 2014 NTU sent information regarding all the arrangements that had to be made in preparation for my exchange. 3. Residence abroad - Arrangements visa/residence permit When following all the steps in the information documents that will be received by NTU, it is clear what has to be arranged in order to receive your visa for Singapore. When entering Singapore, you enter with the documents that you have received from the immigration. In Singapore, you receive a date on which you have an appointment with the Singapore Immigrations & Checkpoint Authority. They come to the NTU campus, where you can complete your application for you student pass. About two weeks later you can collect your student pass. In the period between the application and collection of the Student Pass, you are not allowed to travel. - Arrival and departure dates I arrived in Singapore on the 1th of August. In the week from the 4 th of August we had several information and introduction meetings. A week later the lectures commenced. The last exam I took was on the 5 th of December and I left Singapore the 11 th of December. The Student Pass was valid to the 12 th of December. - Accommodation NTU offers on-campus housing, but not all exchangers get a place on campus. About 30% of students gets a place, which is randomly assigned. I applied for on-campus housing and was lucky enough to get a place. I stayed in Hall 12 and paid around 175 euro per month. Students who do not get on-campus housing have to look for own accommodation. Most exchangers found apartments which they shared with several other exchangers, but this is very expensive in Singapore. Most students did have nice apartments (quite modern, pool, gym, etc.), but the prices were often around 600. Some found a little bit cheaper housing by renting a room from a family and some stayed at a long-term hostel. - Reception and introduction The introduction at NTU was nicely organized. In the first week, NTU organized an introduction meeting for all exchangers, and one specifically for business students. There is no buddy program, but there are several organizations that organize many activities and parties for exchange students in Singapore. Attending many of these events (especially in the first couple of weeks) gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of people. - Student life, culture and leisure 2

3 You can make a lot out of your student life in Singapore. There are many clubs, events and activities that you can join. When attending many organized activities (which I highly recommend) you have something to do all the time and you meet new people all the time. As Singapore is so conveniently located in Asia, you even have the opportunity to explore more parts of Asia during your stay. During weekends, the recess week or after your exams you have time to travel to other countries. - Language The languages spoken in Singapore are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Everyone at the university speaks English (as many of them have English as their native language). They do have their own kind of English (Singlish) with extra words and strong accent, but this just takes some getting used to. When working together with locals, you pick up their Singlish in no-time. 4. Grant For your study abroad outside of Europe, you receive the Marco Polo grant. Before departure you receive 700 and when you return you receive the remaining 300 (after submitting all the required documents). Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in the world, which you should keep in mind. As many people make a lot of trips to other countries, this will also be quite a large part of your expenses. It makes a huge difference whether you get a place on campus (which is cheap) or whether you have to find (expensive) off-campus housing. The food in Singapore is relatively cheap. Groceries are expensive but everyone eats at food-courts or the canteens on campus. Meals there are around 3 or 4 Singapore dollars (which is equal to around 1,80-2,40). 5. Study (general) The study in Singapore is relatively different than in The Netherlands. Singaporeans are very hard-working and motivated to get high grades. Due to the bell-curve system that they use, everyone gets even more competitive. This system means that your grade is based on the grades that all the other students receive. So your grade is not purely based on the amount of percent that you score correct on the exam, but is also weighted to what you scored relatively to the other students. The material itself is not extremely hard, the competitiveness is just what makes it difficult. So it is quite hard to score very high in Singapore, but with some effort it is certainly doable to get sufficient grades. I also experienced that it is hard to contribute in the group work that has to be done, as most local students do not really trust exchange students in their efforts and capabilities. It is worth making an effort to prove yourself, as you can also learn a lot from the local students. The challenge is to show them that they can also learn something from you. NTU is a good university and I experienced that the lecturers that I had were highly capable. They all had very good understanding of the material and had good teaching methods. Every course that I took had one class per week which was four hours long. There was no separation between lectures and tutorials, but they all were one class with around 40 students that was a combination between a lecture and a tutorial. 3

4 The lectures started in the week of the 11 th of August, and the examination period was from the 17 th of November until the 5 th of December. The courses I took were Investments, International Finance, Wealth Management and Talent Sourcing & Acquisition. It is not easy to get the courses you want at NTU, as their business courses are extremely popular and they actually do not offer enough courses for the amount of students who want to take the courses. If you are lucky, you get one or two courses that you prefer most. In the first weeks of the semester there is an add-drop period in which you can try to get the rest of your courses. As everything is so popular, you might get one or two courses that you do not really prefer. 6. Summary impression All in all, I had a very good experience at Nanyang Technological University. It takes some effort to have a good cooperation with the local students, but it is definitely worth it to make that effort. The teachers and subjects are all of high quality as well. My exchange period in Singapore was definitely an amazing half year. Not only due to the good university but also because of all the awesome activities and travels I could do next to my studies. 4

5 B. Specific report 1. Host institution and study period My host institution was Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The study period was Semester 1 of academic year 2014/2015, which was the period from the 4 th of August 2014 until the 5 th of December BF2201 Investments Lectures and literature This course has one four-hour class per week, during 13 weeks of class and one final exam. There is a book but the slides and assignments contain all content needed for the final exam. Overview of lecture program During each class, the lecturer goes through all the material of that week. During the lecture, the slides contain clicker questions. Every student has a clicker, on which you press the right answer. These questions account for 10% of your grade, but you do not have to have everything correct. These questions are meant to keep you attentive and to check whether the students understand the material. I found this very helpful in your own understanding of the material. Contents (From NTU website) This is an introductory level course in investments. The objective of this course is to provide business and accounting students with a broad understanding of investments and portfolio management. The course begins by describing the background for the study of investments which includes an understanding of the various investment alternatives, allocation of assets, the markets where securities are bought and sold, and how to manage an investment portfolio. The analyses and valuation of equity, fixed-income securities and derivative securities will then be discussed. Similar to investments in the real world, the course syllabus is dynamic and will be adjusted according to responses from the class and assessment by the Instructor. Lecture-related activities The course contains a group Excel-assignment, weekly clicker questions, four times a homework assignment (30 multiple-choice questions) and a final exam. It is a course that requires some effort, but you learn a lot. The effort you put in pays off. Relevance to Groningen study program This course is a Finance course, but it certainly adds a lot on to the International Business program in Groningen. The program in Groningen does not contain this much Finance concepts. Also, the course adds on to your Excel-knowledge. Study load The class itself is four hours per week. Furthermore, the assignments and homework took about three hours per week. Assessment in Groningen This course accounts for 7.5 ECTS. 5

6 BF2206 Wealth Management Lectures and literature This course has one four-hour class per week, during 13 weeks of class and a midterm and a final exam. There is no book, the slides and project contain all content needed for the final exam. Overview of lecture program This course is not the standard theoretical course. The teacher works as a financial advisor and teaches this class next to his regular job. This gives a lot of practical information. His aim is to teach you real-life financial knowledge. During the semester, you work in a group on a large project, in which you have to prepare a financial plan for an individual of your choice. If you are able to complete this project, you are also able to write the final exam successfully. I did feel that the course required quite some knowledge on all kinds of financial matters. As he builds upon a lot of basic knowledge, it is hard to keep up if you do not have this broad knowledge base already. Contents (From NTU website) This course provides an introductory study on different aspects of wealth management and it would provide a cutting edge treatment of contemporary personal financial planning. At the end of the course, the students would have acquired the conceptual knowledge and technical skill in planning personal finances from wealth management. Lecture-related activities The course is mainly built around the large financial project that you will do in a group. The project is about making a financial plan for an individual. There is a midterm and a final exam. Not hard to pass, but hard to get a high grade. Relevance to Groningen study program The relevance to the Groningen study program is that this course provides a lot of practical knowledge, obtained from real-life situations and the hand-on knowledge of the teacher. This adds to the mainly theoretical knowledge gained in Groningen. Study load The class is four hours per week, but the project requires you to work quite some hours besides class. The amount of hours depends on your group, but I spent around four hours per week on the project. Assessment in Groningen This course accounts for 7.5 ECTS. 6

7 BF2207 International Finance Lectures and literature This course has one four-hour class per week, during 13 weeks of class and a midterm and a final exam. There is a book as required literature, which you also have to use to make the weekly assignments. Overview of lecture program This course is a relatively basic financial course, which is not hard if you are in the International Business program in Groningen. During the class, the lecturer discusses the material and afterwards there are in-class questions with which you can get participation points with your group. Contents (From NTU website) Many companies engage in cross-border business and they face important financial questions beyond those found in a purely domestic setting. This course aims at providing the necessary understanding and tools to evaluate, finance, and manage international business. The issues and tools discuss are particularly relevant in the context of a country like Singapore which is a small and highly open economy. All Singapore companies have to somehow engage in international business. The course will first explain the global financial markets that facilitate international business and explain the key economic linkages among them. In the context of international finance, understanding foreign exchange rates is crucial. Therefore, this course will also explain exchange rates and those factors that affect the rates. We then examine the challenges for companies created by unexpected changes in exchange rates. We also discuss how, if at all, these firms should manage their exposure to currency fluctuations. Next, we explore the traditional areas of corporate finance including capital budgeting, cost of capital and financial structure from the perspective of multinational companies. The recent financial crisis and other contemporary global financial issues will also be explored. Lecture-related activities There is a four-hour class per week, in which there are questions at the end with which you can score participation points. You also have to hand in an assignment every week. There is a group project that requires you to write a report on a financial crisis and present this. The course also contains a midterm and a final exam. Relevance to Groningen study program The course is comparable to many courses in the International Business program, as it focusses on multinationals. So all courses related to international finance are related to this course, which makes it relatively easy. Study load The class is four hours per week. The assignment you have to hand in every week takes about one to two hours to prepare. The group project is only during a couple of weeks, in which we had a meeting of a couple of hours every week. Assessment in Groningen This course accounts for 7.5 ECTS. 7

8 BH2603 Talent Sourcing & Acquisition Lectures and literature This course has one four-hour class per week, during 13 weeks of class and a final exam. All the material needed for the project and exam is discussed during the lecture. Overview of lecture program This course is a Human Resource course. It is a very nice course to take as a first course in HR, as it gives you a lot of knowledge about the process of sourcing, recruiting, hiring and managing personnel. Contents (From NTU website) Any business needs employees. While firms differ tremendously in ways they recruit and select workers, those firms that do it better have a competitive advantage. To no surprise, most successful firms spend a lot of time and money to find (and retain) good employees. This course will provide you with knowledge and skills in the domain of personnel recruitment, selection and assessment. It will emphasize on scientific knowledge: Attention will be given to research studies appearing in management and applied psychology journals. And it will emphasize on its application in practice. You will learn about staffing strategies, job analysis, external and internal recruitment, various selection & assessment methods, and decision making processes. Lecture-related activities There is a four-hour class per week, in which the lecturer goes through all the material. The course also contains a group project in which you choose a company and specific position and prepare recommendation about their sourcing and recruiting process. For this project a report and final presentation are required. There is one final exam. Relevance to Groningen study program This course is not similar to a course in the IB program in Groningen, as there are no HR courses as this one. This is something I really appreciated, as it was something different from the courses I have taken before. Study load The class is four hours per week. The group project is during a couple of weeks in which you prepare the report and presentation with your group. Assessment in Groningen This course accounts for 7.5 ECTS. 8

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