To study abroad, or not?

(This post by Miss Stacy Wong first appeared here on Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts on 19 September 2013.)

By Stacy Wong

Having an overseas college education is what most students dream of, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to live the dream. Many of my peers in local universities envy my overseas experiences, but a part of me yearns to understand the Singaporean university culture as well. The fact is that in whatever decision we make, there are always gains and losses that we have to deal with. Studying overseas may not be for everyone, because not everyone can withstand losses like weakened relationships or the lack of family and familiarity, and neither might everyone gain as much because that depends on how far an individual pushes himself out of his comfort zone to maximise the resources and life overseas.

Thinking back, though I was hit by a small wave of anxiety prior to my departure, I am thankful I left because my whole experience was worth it. My gains were more than my losses. In particular, my experience in the States helped me grow up as an independent individual with a more open mindset. Among all the possible gains, if there is one thing I could take away from the States, it would be the American passion to actively pursue their interests. Their drive goes way beyond what the average Singaporean student perceives as passion, which means much further than the CCA records and competitions. I have witnessed my roommate drop out of school to focus on dancing; I have worked with a seventy-year old founder of an NGO who did not let age tie her down; I have been asked multiple times to participate in petitions and protests and the list goes on. But I made some losses too. Some friendships waned as we led increasingly varied lives with different social circles; less time with family meant that there may be difficulties in understanding the new me when I returned for good; the ever-changing Singaporean landscape and the contrast in culture made me feel more of a tourist each time I was back. Four years on from when I decided to venture into the unknown, I guess the heartening fact may be that as much as I grew to love the lively yet chill New York culture of people-watching at cafes or watching Broadway shows, I grew to appreciate the comfort of living in Singapore too – mundane perhaps, but with an excellent and affordable transport network, clean streets, loads of greenery, and like all Singaporeans, YUMMY FOOD.

On studying overseas or not, I feel that if you have the courage as well as the mental and financial support from your family to do so, go for it. There is never going to be a better time to experience student life abroad than now. A semester exchange still puts you slightly in your comfort zone because you know that you will be back soon, but completing your undergraduate degree overseas entails stepping out of familiar territories and charting your new life.

A whole world of opportunities awaits you beyond the little red dot. So fight for it, cherish it, and live it.

About The Author

Stacy has been a part-time A Level geography tutor since 2009. She graduated from New York University with a BA (Hons) in Environmental Studies, and recently completed a MSc in Population and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Keen on spreading her passion for geography, she established a website to share educational resources in geography with A Level students.

Visit her website at


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