The Straits Times
Published on Dec 14, 2012

Student abroad fears losing touch with Singapore


MR TOMMY Lee ("Concerned by trend of studying abroad"; Monday) correctly summarised the main reasons I decided to leave Singapore to study medicine at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.

I was certain my A-level results would not get me into the National University of Singapore to study medicine; there were others who were simply more qualified. With my family's encouragement, I bit the bullet and pursued my studies in untested waters.

It has been tough, including needing to learn a foreign language, but I feel that every sacrifice I have made has paid off. One learns to be more independent, experience different cultures and, more importantly, appreciate home in Singapore.

I know of Singaporeans who have applied for programmes here in Germany and left barely one month after starting. An overseas education is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

What attracted me to Germany was the fact that the school fees here are nominal, at 500 euros (S$790) a semester.

Coupled with the freedom to decide where to go and what to do after graduation, the offer was simply irresistible.

Education in Germany may be cheap and of impeccable quality, but it comes with a serious caveat - be prepared to be expelled if you do not meet the mark.

Maybe Singapore should consider further subsidising tertiary education. The German government has been extremely kind to extend such an education to foreigners and for that, I am very grateful.

SingHealth and KK Women's and Children's Hospital have also been kind in allowing me to complete my internship here.

However, whenever I am back home, I always feel out of touch. I may speak fluent Singlish, dialect and the occasional Malay phrase, but I feel that home is getting a little too crowded.

As such, while I harbour thoughts of returning to serve fellow Singaporeans, I also worry whether I will, in the end, return to a Singapore that I may neither recognise nor identify with.

Isaac Lean