I spent one semester studying at Singapore Management University (SMU). I chose SMU because: English is the main language spoken in Singapore, I enjoy Asian cultures, there were limited competing applicants, and there was also an attractive scholarship on offer. I enjoyed the experience and I learnt a lot -both academically and of the local society. The study culture is hypercompetitive and the heavily loaded -students and staff embrace this culture and are somewhat ‘proud’ of this fact. For example, many students wear T-shirts advertising they are a ‘Smugger’, that is, SMU combined with ‘mugger’ which means a person who studies very intensively.
I felt many students had little time outside of university to do anything but study, many local students agreed with me. I believe students are not entirely ‘self-driven’ but perhaps more-so externally influenced. I learnt employers inspect your academic grades very meticulously when choosing to employ you or your peers in jobs or internships. I also learnt that most blue collar jobs in Singapore are very low paid (in comparison to Australia) so, if you do not do well academically, you may not attain the socio-economic life style you desire. Although it felt at times like a relentless drive towards a limitless sky, I heard Singaporean employers are generally quite impressed by the heightened extraversion and skills of SMU graduates given the breadth of topics in each unit and the focus on active classroom participation.
SMU students and staff were usually easy to get along with and almost everyone is professional and polite. Singapore in general seems like a harmonious country to live. I would even go as far to say I felt safer in Singapore than in Australia. Further commenting on SMU students, it was not unusual for both male and female students to wear suit attire to class!