A vibrant and sophisticated country, Singapore is a multi-cultural country with ethnic Chinese, Malays, and Indians. It is a sovereign city-state and an island country in Southeast Asia with around 5.2 million people.
Besides innovative business, industrial community, robust financial standing and being a vital regional trading site and the world’s busiest port, Singapore is well-known for its high-quality educational system with a literacy rate of 96%. It offers a global environment combining the best of East and West but still instills values rooted in Asian tradition
Because of this, the Lion City has developed an international reputation as a center for first-class education. Thus, many students from different countries aspire to level up their learning and knowledge by enrolling in universities in Singapore.
It may be true that getting a chance to live abroad could be the best part of studying in Singapore. But before finally deciding to travel and study in Singapore, you must first have an idea what are the things that you have to consider and expect once you sign up for a study abroad program in this study destination.
Studying in Singapore: 10 Must-Know Guides
1. Student Visa
International study abroad aspirants who consider studying in Singapore must secure a valid Student’s Pass. The issuance of the pass is being handled by the Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). Just like in almost every other country in the world, one cannot study in Singapore by holding a tourist visa only.
A good thing is that processing of the Student’s Pass can be done online using the Student’s Pass On-Line Application and Registration (SOLAR) system wherein the relevant documents and requirements are submitted by both the applicants and universities. Once accepted, a letter called in-principle approval or IPA and the visa (if necessary) will be sent to you.
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Besides Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Osaka, Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to live in Asia. It surely has a high standard of living and students who would like to consider studying in Singapore should explore their housing options carefully.
With estimated annual living costs of S$4,700 for students, rent is often the highest spending of students in the country. Variety of choices are halls of residences, private hostels, and private housing.
- Residence Hall
Many schools offer on-campus graduate housing but the problem is that there are far too many foreign and local students who would like to avail the housing as compared to the number of the actual rooms. Thus, the rooms are usually reserved for full-time postgraduates and first priority is given to new students on research programs. You must also check the availability of residence halls to students as some universities offer campus accommodation for a limited time, mostly to first-year students.
- Private flats
Apartments or houses owned by the locals can be rented but the cost is usually expensive. The most costly can start from S$1,000 and go upwards. To minimize your spending, you can share a flat with other students. Usual share per person is around S$400 per month.
- Private Hostels
Price for hostels ranges from S$140 to S$440 per month, better the quality and facilities, the higher the cost.
- Housing Development Board or HDB Flats
If you want a cheaper housing, you can rent a room in an HDB flat or share an entire flat with your friends. Price per month is around S$250 (room) to S$1000 (whole flat).
3. Bank Account
It is not mandatory but opening a bank account is advisable if you want to study in Singapore and avoid unwanted fees when paying for your daily expenses. There are different banks and financial institutions to choose from. The usual requirements asked by the banks are your passport, student’s pass/visa, and proof of address. An amount of S$500 to S$1000 may also be required as a minimum deposit.
You must know that in Singapore, the official languages recognized are Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil. Aside from these, there are also 20 other languages that are being used by the Singaporeans.
There will be no issues with the language in school since English is the official language of instruction in the country. As for the everyday life, Singapore has a policy of bilingualism wherein domestic students are taught their mother tongue and English. 75% of their population also knows English, so communicating with locals will rarely be an issue.
It is vital to note that one major requirement of Singapore universities for non-native English speakers is to have a proof of language proficiency (like TOEFL or IELTS). It is important to have excellent language skills in order to pass the entry standards of the university wherein you applied.
Food choices can be cheap especially in University food outlets or if you cook on your own. Since the population in Singapore is dense; markets, specialty stores, and supermarkets are widely scattered in the city. Different types of food and fresh produce are offered in these stores at varying prices. If you will choose to eat out, restaurants offer meals that can cost S$10 and up.
Singapore boasts a comprehensive public transport system. It is easy for a foreign student to get around the city with the use of the metro system, buses, and light rail transit circuit. Fares vary according to the distance traveled and are paid electronically using a prepaid card. The card costs in multiples of S$10.
There is a 50% student discount that you can enjoy. A flat rate is also charged to students for any travel over 7.2 km.
Students, especially those from the west who are not familiar with the weather in Asia, should consider the weather before transferring to Singapore. The weather here is warm and humid. The average day temperature is 31°C while the temperature at night is usually at 24°C. Rain is common all throughout the year. Expect heavier rains in monsoon season months, November to January.
8. Part-time Work
For those who would like to earn some living while studying, part-time work is possible but restricted by certain conditions and subject to the approval by the university enrolled in. To apply for a job, a letter of authorization from your educational institution allowing you to work will be required by your employer.
When you come to Singapore for education, you get abundant time to explore the city and the nearby countries to unwind and have some mini vacation during weekends and holidays.
There are skyscraper buildings to visit, nature reserves such as wildlife, rainforests, and wetlands to sightsee, and historical monuments and heritage trails to discover. Shopping malls, museums, and a wide array of dining options and nightclubs are also scattered around the city.
Neighboring countries that you can travel to while in Singapore are Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and China.
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This country has the best reputation for its safety and for being crime-free. Murder, rape, and other major crimes are dealt with severely and speedily. Extremism rooted from religion or race is also not welcome in the country as strongly expressed by its government. Thus, Singapore is a fairly safe place for international students to study and live on their own.
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