Study Abroad Diaries: Maya Gilbert – post 3
Student experience 6th November 2019
In her latest update, Maya discusses midterms, labs and her travels whilst out studying in Singapore for the third year of her degree.
It is week 10 of my exchange in Singapore and my second set of midterms begin next week. It seems strange to almost be finished with the semester whilst my friends back home have barely started theirs! The first set of midterms I achieved fairly average results, I blame this partially to not being in a good enough mindset for studying since it took me a while to adjust to a new routine, but I can safely say that I now feel at home in the library.
During my time here I have been able to travel to a few other South East Asian countries, since Singapore is ideally located in the middle of South East Asia. Indonesia is only a 45 minute ferry ride, and Malaysia is so close it’s possible to take day trips there. The opportunity to travel is one that I am very grateful for yet it would be very easy to get carried away with travelling and forget about studying altogether.
It is very beneficial to make friendships with the local students here, as they are usually happy to help you with the work, and are very good at reminding you to study. A major difference between NTU and Manchester is the ‘bell curve’ system. Every mark you receive here gets compared against the rest of the class, and everyone’s marks are adjusted accordingly to ensure that a bell curve distribution is reached. The bell curve system fosters a fairly competitive atmosphere, as it is good for your grades to have somebody get a worse grade than you- this is something that I still haven’t gotten used to completely, and even with the bell curve, my course mates haven’t yet refused to help me with anything.
The lab course at NTU is very different to at Manchester, labs are graded solely based on a final exam and a pro forma or report that gets handed in the week after the lab, whereas at Manchester labs are graded based on preparation, performance in the lab, technical skills, data collected from the lab, and (on the second lab day), in viva voce, which is an individual oral exam, where the demonstrator examines understanding and background knowledge of the experiment.
I have mixed feelings towards the NTU lab style since I usually understand the experiment but do not successfully receive marks on the proforma (which is marked similarly to an exam), missing out on a few key words and I have often received C grades. I am still getting used to this style and my marks have been improving, but I am very nervous about the final exam since there are no practice papers available and I have never taken a similar test. I will need to do lots of preparation for it and will provide an update afterwards, but for now I am focussing on my imminent midterms!