Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Amsterdam School of International Business

Life@AMSIB with Ajay Pfister

8 Nov 2019 11:41 | Amsterdam School of International Business

For this month’s Life@AMSIB we interviewed an ambitious honours student, Ajay Pfister, currently on exchange in our partner university NTU in Singapore. What is student life like in Singapore? Did he get his first choice? Read on with us to find out!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to go to Singapore? Why was it your final choice?

A: That is a good question. Well, to be honest, I had three universities in mind RMIT Melbourne, uOttawa, and of course the NTU. I was so unsure about my first choice that I decided to fly out to Canada to see uOttawa for myself, and I did not regret it. They were focused on sustainability, student life, and they spend a frequent amount of time on integrating the incoming exchange students, and what made it even more attractive is that I would be able to study with one of my best friends. However, I did not end up at uOttawa, and it is not because I did not get my first choice. What actually happened is that on the day of the deadline, my friend and I decided to go for a couple drinks after class to celebrate the end of the semester, and we realised that she did not upload her top 5 yet. So, we rushed to the computers at AMSIB to quickly upload her top 5. I already selected mine weeks ago (1. uOttawa, 2. NTU, 3. RMIT Melbourne), but I decided to suggest going to Singapore together, and therefore spontaneously adjusted my thorough-contemplated selections 2 hours before the deadline. When the results came out, I was thrilled to see that I was going to share my first time in Singapore together with someone I value. However, one major thing was missing: My friend got her second choice – the prestigious LIM College in New York.

Q: Now that you are actually there, what is your favourite thing about your experience so far?

A: Well, I do not want to spoil Singapore for you, but I can ensure you that the (Asian) food here is sublime. Coming from a country that seasons its meals with salt and pepper, it is like heaven in here. There are at least 100 different types of meals in Singapore containing rice. It genuinely blows my mind. Another experience I certainly cherish is my first day at NTU. A local noticed I had a hard time finding my room. So, she decided to drop her tasks and show me around. The reason why I appreciate that moment so much is because it resembles the mindset in Singapore. She believes that we all go through the same things in life, and therefore the least thing one can do is offering them their help.


Q: Any cool cultural differences that you would like to share?

A: I will spare you the Hofstede rigmarole, but the major difference I noticed in Singapore is that it is socially accepted to hack and spit on the ground, a sign of hygiene. The original reason why (Chinese) Singaporeans spit onto the ground is that they believe it is vital to keep your body clean and healthy.


Q: Where are you from, and are there any differences that are challenging to you? Both culturally and/or academically.

A: I was born and raised in the Netherlands; however, I am exposed to an Australian, Indian environment at home. Personally, Singapore has been good to me. I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing a culture shock, and I do not believe I will get one either. The only issue I face is with chronemics. Although the jetlag disappeared after the first week, the sleeping/study culture in Singapore is affecting my regular sleeping routine. Academically, I would say it is more challenging. Not particularly difficult, however, closer to my interests and therefore challenging me to do more.


Q: What reasons led you to choosing your other exchange options?

A: Since I pursued a career at Ticketmaster Australia, I believed that doing my exchange in Australia, and therefore exposing myself to the country would benefit me. Also, the fact that I am half Australian, however never touched Australian soil gave me another motivation to choose RMIT Melbourne over other partner universities. As for uOttawa, besides the impressive experience I had there and the fact that my friend studies there, I fell in love with Canada. The locals are hospital and open for conversations at most times, and the food in Canada is delicious, though not particularly healthy. Perhaps, the best part about Canada is nature. It is full of waterfalls and forests – uOttawa was definitely a solid plan-B in disguise.


Q: Would you recommend the exchange experience to your fellow students?

A: Personally, I would say it depends per person. Whilst I am having a great time in Singapore and seriously considering doing my minor at NTU, it may be that others have a terrible experience in Singapore. The only thing I can say is that it is a fact that Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world with food that is cheaper compared with the Netherlands. It also helps that it is easy to travel to surrounding countries for a low price and that NTU hosts a significant number of Exchange Students on-campus. Whether the experience in Singapore can be stated as good is up for personal discussion, but I can ensure you that individuals who choose NTU will have a unique and memorable time.