The New Skills That I Picked Up: Mei Xi

10 April 2018

The Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP) is a highlight for most TUM Asia final- year undergraduates. Students spend three to five months at the home campus in Munich, Germany, taking in many new experiences and picking up new skills along the way while completing their Bachelor Thesis. Tan Mei Xi, recently spent five months in Germany for OIP. From living with classmates, to traveling around Europe experiencing a new culture, we catch up with Mei Xi for a summary of her cultural exchange during her OIP.

Hi Mei Xi, congratulations on finishing the final lap of your undergraduate studies! Can you tell the readers how studying in Germany has been for you?

Mei Xi: There are similarities in the way our courses are conducted. The Chemical Engineering students have to complete two lab courses here, which are completed in groups and reports are written. The supervisors are very diligent with the coursework and sometimes they even ask us questions outside of the textbook!

Has your time in Europe shaped new perspectives on life?

Mei Xi: Some have said that the best way to experience a brand new country is by studying abroad. Now that I have been in Munich for over two months, I definitely agree with that statement. I learnt to plan my meals and do my own grocery shopping. Meals in school were also interesting for us since the cafeteria provided different menus each day.

Each student chooses a topic for the Bachelor thesis. Can you tell us more about your topic, in relation to
how it will affect everyday life?

Mei Xi: I will be researching on the functionalization of magnetic nanoparticles in a microfluidic reactor, of which a system for coating the magnetic nanoparticles will be developed, assembled and tested. This optimized process would be beneficial especially for applications in medicine, where the synthesis process has to be carefully monitored.

Many worry that living in Germany requires that you speak fluent German. Is this true for you?

Mei Xi: I felt that the basic German course we did in Singapore was helpful as I could communicate with basic words and phrases. I am still not very good with German but I can recognise the basic questions and words. They speak English so getting around is no issue.

Now that you are in Europe, what is one thing that you have learnt while being in the region?

Mei Xi: Many of us take time to travel since its our first time in Europe. We learnt to travel in groups of five, because the regional tickets are cheaper that way. I also learnt to manage my frustrations while it came to train delays. After a conversation with a local while being stuck on the train for nearly an hour, I found out that their regional trains have train faults as often as once a week.

As you move on to your career after completing your studies, what will be one special takeaway from your OIP experience?

Mei Xi: It will be the skills I picked up while being on OIP. My organizational skills have been put to the test. With plenty of things on my plate such as studying for our lab courses, completing reports, and finding time to travel, it can be challenging to balance it all. I had to plan,
prioritize, and organize my time. I have certainly learnt a thing or two from struggling to finish my reports in time. Moving on from here, I know that what I learnt during my stay in Munich would benefit me as I step out into the working world.

Mei Xi studied in the Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering with the Technical University of Munich. She studied in the Singapore branch campus (TUM Asia) and spent five months in Munich, Germany to complete her lab courses and thesis at the home campus of the university. 

To read the full interview with Mei Xi, it was first published in our DIGEST newsletter (Jan 2017). View the e-newsletter here >>

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