Matthew Stevens

Major: business administration

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Study Abroad Program: Natrional University of Singapore Business School

If you want to study abroad in the New York City of Asia with amazingly diverse food, challenging academic experiences, four national languages, the ability to travel and explore all of Southeast Asia, and unbelievable unique experiences then study abroad at the National University of Singapore.  

I received the Phillips Ambassador Study-Abroad Scholarship when I was a junior during the fall of 2010. My major is Business Administration with a focus in International Business and Consulting at the Kenan-Flagler Business School along with a minor in Arabic. During the spring semester in 2011, I was able to study abroad on an exchange program at the National University of Singapore. While in Singapore I took four businesses courses – Principles of Marketing, Game Theory, Asian Business Society and Ethics, and Operations Management.

Although I have previously traveled across the Middle East, this was my first trip to Asia and I was excited to explore this new region. While staying in Singapore, I lived on campus along with many other study abroad and international students. The study abroad community comprises a significant amount of the student population at the National University of Singapore. While at the National University of Singapore I was able to meet many international and international students from all over the world.

Prior to arriving in Singapore, I did not know what to expect both culturally as well as academically. I heard many amazing stories about the food and how easy it was to navigate around the country. Even though Singapore is so small, it has a population of about 5 million people and looks like a mix between New York City and Washington DC. Only about a 20-minute metro ride to the center of downtown Singapore, NUS offered a great mix between big city feel and small town comfort. Adjusting to life in Singapore was extremely easy. I thought there would be a language barrier since Singapore has 4 national languages, but Singapore operates mainly in English, which made getting around fairly easy. You just have to be willing to learn the local English dialect and try to reduce your southern accent while speaking.

There was always something happening in Singapore and if you got bored from exploring the plentiful domestic offerings you could take a bus, train, or airplane to a nearby island or other Southeast Asian country. Since I studied in Southeast Asia traveling between other Southeast Asian countries was very inexpensive. If you were lucky and flew with a budget airline you could get a round trip flight to Kuala Lumpur for under $80 USD. Studying in Singapore is advantageous to any student that wants exploration to be a major component of their study abroad experience. During Spring break some UNC students and I traveled to Bangkok and an island off of the coast of Thailand. While on break, we also traveled to the temples of Angkor Watt in Cambodia.  

After my semester abroad, I wanted to get the most out of Singapore and my Southeast Asian experience that I could. I searched for internships in Singapore, but due to my passions in social business I worked with a friend on coordinate a Vietnamese research trip. We traveled throughout Vietnam and stayed in Da Nang to conduct research. We worked with the international NGO Children of Vietnam to assess the needs of an orphanage and to figure out if we, as college students, could help out. Together we established Project keo (know each other) and you can read more about our project here at www.projectkeo.posterous.com. You have the ability to shape your study abroad experience into whichever passions you may have and the Phillips Ambassadors Study Abroad Scholarship can help you do just that!