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Tips on going for exchange from a senior

Before heading to Australia for a six-month exchange programme at Swinburne University, communication student Sergul Toh pings his senior, art student Muhammad Jafri Bin Jaafar, for some quick advice

Sergul
Jafri

Sergul: Jaf, heard you just came back from exchange last sem?

Jafri: Yup, I went to the University of Hertfordshire in the UK!

Sergul: Wah UK! Must’ve been shiok to travel so far.

Jafri: Yup it was great! Managed to snag several good shots on my travels as well.

Sergul: Wah haha sick shots man. Expected nothing less from an ADM student 😛

Jafri: Thanks haha!

Sergul: I'm actually gg on exchange next sem and I need some help. Can I ask you sum questions?

Jafri: Sure, fire away

Sergul: Well first up, I'm going to Australia and I'm v confused by the module matching thingy. How many mods did you manage to clear?

Jafri: Oh, I managed to clear two cores and two major PEs in the UK. But different schools have different restrictions so you should check out the requirements that you need to meet.

Sergul: Ooo but were you able to match the modules with ease tho?

Jafri: I wouldn't say it was easy, but still rather manageable. You can check for courses that have already been matched by seniors, or you can submit a new request through iNTU. I was also able to explain my overseas module to my NTU prof, who eventually accepted one of my matching requests.

Sergul: Oh wow didn’t know you could do that. What about your accommodation? You stayed in hostel or...?

Jafri: Yup I chose to stay in the hostel. There are pros and cons. The upside is that it is a reliable form of accom and that you are closer to your classes. If you even go for classes, that is 😉. I also got my own bed and toilet, and there’s a kitchen in-flat.

Sergul: I see, but I heard hostels are more expensive?

Jafri: This is true for my case, not sure if it’s always true though. Hostel cost me like $6k for five months. I know other students who went to the UK as well, and spent like $2k for five months through Airbnb. BUT they had to share a room with twin beds and also the toilet so it’s really based on your preference.

Sergul: Wow, that's quite a diff huh. I get what you mean, it's nicer if we don't have to share a bedroom and the toilet and all LOL. Any other tips ya got for me?

Jafri: Hmm, there were a few things I could’ve done to save some time and money. Over there, I needed to take a coach to travel quite frequently. Turns out I could’ve saved quite a bit if I’d gotten a coach concession pass 😢. You should calculate if it’s worth it for you when you’re on exchange too.

Sergul: Oki will do that man!

Jafri: Oh and bring a photocopy of your passport, visa and student admission letter whenever you travel.

Sergul: Oooo why the emphasis?

Jafri: My seven hour journey became a 13 hr one because one of us didn’t have our admissions letter and the customs officer was very strict…

Sergul: LOL that’s some serious delay right there!

Jafri: Yea haha, and it’s always good to have a photocopy of your passport so you can give that for verification instead of your actual passport.

Sergul: Mmhmm I get it. Did you get to travel a lot? Like how did you find the time?

Jafri: Yea I was able to get a three day weekend from my timetable and I took a short trip every week or fortnight 😂

Sergul: LOL that's hardcore wanderlust man

Jafri: I’d suggest travelling more during breaks in the sch term instead of post/pre-exchange travel so that you don’t have to carry your luggage around.

Sergul: Right... Didn’t think about the luggage part.

Jafri: Yup, some trips I went to class straight from the airport, just like that. In the end I was able to visit around 20 countries on exchange.

Sergul: WTH LOL 20. That’s a lot! Don't you have to keep changing money?

Jafri: For me I brought British pounds to change at those places to save admin fees. If you withdraw at ATMs through Visa or Mastercard, they charge a fee. Sometimes you can’t even make the withdrawal bcos they may ask for a Visa/Mastercard pin and the cards in Singapore don’t have that.

Sergul: Mmhmm, I've never heard of this Visa pin thingy before...

Jafri: Alternatively, you can try using the YouTrip card, quite convenient.

Sergul: Some international currency card right?

Jafri: Yea, you can change your money to diff currencies and store it in your “wallet”. The rates they offer are actl pretty good. I even went to check the rates every day and changed the currency when the rates were good.

Sergul: Wah that’s some dedication right there! Seems like there’re so many things that I should take note of. Ngl it's a bit shag for me haha

Jafri: Haha just relax and experience the new environment, you’ll create some really good memories there. For me I flew my grandma down to the UK because I knew she always wanted to visit a cold country. We could walk down touristy spots, shop and eat ice cream together. It made my entire exchange worthwhile 😁. Go and create your own experience!

Sergul: WAH bro solid ah you

Jafri: Don’t worry man, everything will eventually fall into place and before you know it you’re back in NTU again. Then you'll miss exchange...

Sergul: Rrrrrroger that, thanks a lot my man!

Glossary:

Module matching: Also known as the Online Course Matching Updating Module, it is used by students going on exchange to ensure the course credits obtained from the module they plan to take at the overseas university can count towards their NTU degree.

PEs: Short for “Prescribed Electives”, which students must complete in order to fulfil the requirements of their degree programme.


Sergul Toh

HEY! student writer
Sergul is an avid basketball player and a minor gym rat. He aspires to rid his procrastination habits, but let’s talk about that another day!