Among the myriad of study abroad opportunities available to students, UNC and the National University of Singapore offer a joint degree program that allows undergraduate students to explore a new culture and learn from top professors.
Unlike other study abroad programs, the JDP requires students to spend two semesters at the opposite university. When it is time for graduation, students will receive a joint degree from both institutions. The program currently offers seven UNC majors: biology, economics, English literature, geography, global studies, history and political science.
“You have a deeper access to their academic resources, faculty and lab space which gives you more continuity to your experience so you eventually become more familiar with the environment and you’re immersed into the culture,” said Jing Liu, the Asia-Pacific and U.S. program director for the Study Abroad Office.
With a full year at a different university, students are motivated to challenge themselves in many courses each university offers. Being abroad, students are immersed in a new culture and have time to develop a more personal relationship with their peers and new environment.
“The biggest benefit of the program is having a longer period of immersion in the country abroad, which has allowed me to see more, do more and meet more wonderful people. Academically, though, it is challenging as we have to keep our grades up,” said Danial Zaini, a student from NUS.
Living in one of the most dynamic cities in Asia, students that go to NUS are exposed to the four official languages of Singapore: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. However, Zaini said English is the country's language of business and education.
“(Singapore is) a small city-state, but it’s a financial hub — a great hub for traveling and a great place to explore Southeast Asia in general,” Liu said.
She visited the UNC students at NUS last March and many told her they had visited seven other countries since coming to Singapore two months prior. With flights, Singapore is only a couple of hours from other countries in Asia.
One of the biggest challenges many face is being away from friends and family, Zaini said.