13 European countries enlighted Singaporean students on opportunities to study in the region at the annual Study in Europe fair held at Suntec City on Saturday 30 September 2017. Each country had a booth equipped with a ton of informative materials, funny gadgets, and patient representatives to answer questions on everything, from costs and housing to weather and social community.
Both Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden were present at the fair and the Scandinavian corner was well-visited by the local students. This year is the 11th time the event takes place and the purpose is the same as always:
“Study in Europe fair reinforces the strong educational links between Europe and Singapore. It aims at connecting international students to universities, research opportunities and scholarships offered across Europe,” Mr. Pierre-Louis Lempereur, Deputy Head of Mission, European Union Delegation to Singapore, writes in an e-mail.
A Singaporean’s experience from studying in Denmark
Besides booths, each country gave individual 30-minute presentations on what to expect from studying there. The Danish presentation was held by Christopher Chee, a 26-year old Singaporean student, who studied a semester in Denmark as an exchange:
“In Denmark, lectors are guiding students, rather than teaching,” Christopher said, pointing out the casual and liberal class environment he met, where students are encouraged to participate in class discussions.
Studying abroad, did not only give Christopher Chee different perspectives on his studies, he also met a different culture outside of the classroom. The bike became his number one choice of transportation form, he got acquainted with the term ‘hygge’ where good friends gather for a nice time, and he got introduced to the Danish humor, which took him a while to get familiar with. Like he said: “people are not rude, it is just their sense of irony.”
These new experiences Christopher gained from his semester in Denmark are important, according to Mr. Pierre-Louis Lempereur:
“By studying abroad, students broaden their horizons and get a global outlook. They gain the skills, knowledge, and experience that employers value.”
However, Christopher did not only gain knowledge on the Danish culture in those six months he spent in Copenhagen, it also brought him closer to his own:
“When you want to frame other people’s culture, you have to understand your own. So being abroad I learned a lot about Singapore too.”
Europe is the obvious choice to study
At the study fair 2017, the parents were often interested in the costs and opportunities for scholarships in the given countries. Each year, for the past 30 years the programme Erasmus+, one of the European Union’s most well-known scholarship programs, allows millions of students, researchers and academics from around the world to study or work in Europe. This year, four Singaporean students have been awarded the Erasmus+ scholarship. However, a lot of European universities have reasonable or even no tuition fees, and so Europe is an obvious choice of place to study abroad, according to the Deputy Head of Mission of EU Delegation:
“In today’s interconnected world, where an international profile is becoming the norm, Europe has a lot to offer. With strong international business, creative, and research sectors, students can take advantage of global opportunities that appeal to their particular areas of interest.”
EU-Singapore relationship is strong
Today, there are over 7,500 Singaporeans enrolled in European universities. Singapore is the EU’s most important economic partner in ASEAN, and the EU is the first investor in the region, which bodes well for the future collaboration, Mr. Pierre-Louis Lempereur states. This year is also a historically significant year in EU-Singapore ties, as the EU is 60 years old, ASEAN 50, and the EU-ASEAN mark 40 years of relationship.
“There is a renewed momentum in EU-Singapore ties and a mutual recognition that a fragile international environment calls for much deeper engagement,” the Deputy Head of Mission, EU Delegation to Singapore, writes.
An ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2018-2022 has recently been formulated, where people-to-people ties, and enhancing cooperation in education, academic and cultural exchanges are focus points.