Imagine packing up your entire life, only to unpack it again in a country and environment unlike your own. Such is the journey of the international students at TUM Asia, choosing to step out of their comfort zones to enter a whole new world, as they pursue their higher studies. We hear from Tobias Farwer, one of our European students, on his one year journey in Singapore.
Q: Hi Tobias, will you give our readers a brief introduction of yourself?
Tobias: I am from Germany and completed my Bachelor Degree in Business Administration. I was in Singapore for an internship previously, where I was first introduced to TUM Asia through another intern at my company, who was writing her Master Thesis then.
Q: Cool! Can you tell us when and how did you start preparing for your graduate studies?
Tobias: I started very early, about 1.5 years ahead of my move to Asia. It was important to me to evaluate the curriculum, the study environment and the career prospects in the Logistics field in Singapore. I used the material available from the TUM Asia website and also reached out to seniors. By following the news in Singapore, I gained a good impression on the Logistics sector and its possible development. Another important part was the financial planning on my part, to survey the scholarship and loan options, as well as to raise as much capital as possible through part-time jobs.
Q: It is not easy to decide to move abroad for your studies. How did you manage your fears about moving to a foreign country?
Tobias: I have to admit that I did not have many fears or worries, mostly due to the fact that I was already familiar with Singapore. Being prepared for the studies also helped to ease any worries.
Q: You speak like a true pro who has mastered the art of being a foreign student in Singapore. Europe is so far away. What adjustments do you recommend other European students make in preparation for Singapore?
Tobias: What really helps is to start early enough and try to inform yourself about Singapore ahead of time. Food will not be an issue at all, as Singapore has an amazing variety of all cuisines that will suit everyone’s taste. Plus it is pretty much available 24/7 and food is not that expensive! Transportation is convenient, with an extensive and affordable MRT (train) and bus network, for which you simply have to buy an ez-link card once you reach Singapore. If you are unsure how to get around in the beginning, I highly recommend using smartphone apps such as Citymapper or LTA MyTransport.SG, or the various available bus timing apps and also the website gothere.sg.
Q: How did you adjust to living in Singapore and to the class schedule at TUM Asia?
Tobias: I arrived in Singapore early enough, so I could settle my accommodation and all the other small things, and was then ready to attend the matriculation briefing as well as orientation day organized by TUM Asia. It would also help to get familiar with your area, the way to school and the campus itself. For school, it is good that the schedule for each semester will be released in the first weeks, so that you can plan ahead for the entire semester. As most modules are done within two weeks, it is vital that you ask any question you might have and clarify anything you do not understand while the professor is still there – by the time the exam period hits you, it will get very cumbersome to clarify last-minute questions.
Q: What are some experiences that your juniors should consider?
Tobias: Take time to enjoy Singapore! Besides the obvious tourist spots, there is a lot more to do and discover. If you like café hopping, do pay a visit to the Tiong Bahru area. Bugis Street and the Arab quarter offer nice food, as well as small shops away from the usual malls. If you want to go out into nature, I recommend cycling on Pulau Ubin (an island off mainland Singapore), along East Coast Park or the Punggol Waterfront and Coney Island, or taking a hike along the Southern Ridges or MacRitchie reservoir. The Botanical Gardens are also nice to explore and the entry into the Orchid Garden is complimentary for students.
Q: Any final words of advice for the next cohort of freshmen?
Tobias: Besides enjoying free time, make sure you attend the lectures as you will have the chance to learn from industry experts and leading researchers in their respective fields. If they see you as an active and curious student, they might also help you with a recommendation letter or maybe even provide contacts which will benefit you greatly when it comes to finding an internship.
Tobias Farwer is a student enrolled in the TUM Master of Science in Transport and Logistics programme. The programme allows students to add a 6-month extension for a Minor in Railway Engineering. More about the Transport and Logistics programme here >>