Lalitha Kunduru

Major: Chemistry

Hometown: Fayetteville, NC

Study Abroad Program: National University of Singapore, Science

Studying abroad in Singapore was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Excitement, anticipation, fear, stress, friendships, and adventure are all words that describe my experience abroad. Although I was placed in unfamiliar and at times difficult situations while living in a country that was way out of my comfort zone, I somehow managed to find comfort. I made new friends but kept in touch with the old. I learned something new every day. I studied, I travelled, I had fun, and I made memories. I became a more confident person.

I arrived in Singapore at the end of July nervous and not knowing what to expect. I initially hated my dorm in PGP, the hot weather, the loneliness, and the hilly campus. But I soon met others like me and it wasn’t long before I felt at home. I spent the first two weeks exploring the city. I learned that there was something new to see everywhere but also something old that can be found anywhere in the world. I learned that people live and think differently on the other side of the world, yet they are the same when it comes to the small things. I spent a lot of my time wandering and meeting new people, but I still left Singapore with the feeling that I hadn’t experienced it all.

One of the best things about Singapore is that it is a short plane ride away from some of the most beautiful beaches, wild rainforests, adventurous caves, bustling cities, ancient temples, distinctive cultures, and unique foods. Thanks to the Phillips Scholarship, I had the opportunity to travel to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I had not even been to that many countries during my whole life and now I had seen them all in less than four months.

I also experienced many firsts this semester. I learned how to eat with chopsticks, how to bargain, how to ice skate, how delicious a Milo dinosaur can be, how to apply for visas and travel to new countries, what foods to eat and what to avoid, how to live on my own, and many other things that will not fit on this page.

Believe it or not, I also spent time studying this semester. I took four courses, or modules as they are called in Singapore. In my Metabolism and Regulation class, I learned about carbohydrates, fats, and nucleic acids in relation to the body. In my Complementary Medicine and Health class, I learned about alternatives to Western medicine. In my Biodiversity and Conservation Biology class, I learned how to become more eco-friendly and went on fieldtrips to the botanic gardens and to a mangrove ecosystem. In my Hindi 1 class, I learned how to read and write in a new language. I cannot say if the classes there were harder or easier. It certainly seemed that the students there studied a lot more but the material seemed no more challenging.

Thanks to the Philips Scholarship, I have grown, learned, seen, and done a lot this semester. In only four months, I have made countless experiences that I will never forget; it has been incredible, and that is an understatement. I will miss Singapore and the friends I made there but I hope to return one day.