Something Xtra: Overseas Trips

by Oliver Tan

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Students from the School of Film & Media Studies at Waseda University, Tokyo. PHOTO: Travis Chan

Students share their experiences regarding their different overseas trips organised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s (NP) tagline, Always That Something Xtra, means differently to different people. To some students, that x-factor refers to the numerous overseas programs that the school provides.

These overseas trips expose students to a myriad of learning opportunities that range from the mundane to the insane. With such a wide range of trips available, students are able to do things that they would never be able to experience in Singapore.

Overseas school trips in NP range from immersion programs to community service trips. Immersion programs last for a few months, allowing students to immerse themselves in a country’s lifestyle and culture, while simultaneously clearing a module, providing students with a strong portfolio and memorable experiences to bring back home. General study trips explore culture, industries and attractions in a country.

For students who are more ambitious, they can take on an overseas internship that opens countless doors for their future career. There are also community service trips that aim to better the lives of the underprivileged, for students who are looking to extend a helping hand to those in need.

“I had such an experience, which I don’t think I would have had if I had chosen to study anywhere else.”

– Simon Gay

Final year International Business student Benjamin Neo, 19, says that during his study trip to Paris and Geneva, he was given opportunities to “meet various companies and learn more about their operations in France, [which included] a networking session.”

He states that these opportunities are near impossible to come by on a personal trip. Networking with professionals in the industry is an opportunity given only to students who participate in overseas internships.

During his overseas immersion programme to China, Benjamin gained some impactful memories, which includes “interacting with the students, playing basketball and studying at Xiamen University.”

Regarding his community service trip to India, Simon Gay, 19, final year Animation and 3D Arts student, says, “The trip really makes you mature as a person, think about looking out for yourself, and makes you empathetic and thankful for what we have.”

According to Simon, he would choose a community service trip over a study trip because “while the America [study] trip was fun, the India [community service] trip held a much more meaningful experience.”

“[In community trips], you get to have many enriching moments and will learn life lessons that you will keep with you for a long time,” says Simon.

Final year Mass Communication student Travis Chan, 19, shares this sentiment. Having gone on a community service trip to China, he experienced rural farm life and taught English to village children.

Travis says, “The most memorable incident was watching the children give a little performance for us based on what we taught them. It was amazing to see them singing the English song on their own.”

Zenas Lim, 19, a final year Engineering Science student, participated in a different overseas experience. He went for an overseas merit fellowship trip (OMF) to Denmark, organised by The Christieara Programme, NP’s talent development programme. Zenas had the chance to meet “people in the parliament and many niche companies.”

Zenas also believes that the exposure provided in an OMF trip surpassed that of both his study trip to Japan, as well as his community service trip to Libon, Philippines.

“OMF, unlike the other two [overseas trips], really stretched and challenged me as an individual. Beyond the mental aspect, there was a physical and an emotional aspect as well, [such as daily lectures and building lasting friendships],” shares Zenas.

Overseas trips are often the hallmarks and highlights of a student’s journey in NP. One of the reasons why Simon does not regret joining NP was the community service trip to India.

“I had such an experience, which I don’t think I would have had if I had chosen to study anywhere else,” Simon reveals.

Students’ testimonies have revealed that community service trips enrich their lives in a way that study trips often do not aim to accomplish.

“It all depends on what you want to take back from the experience. For me, I’d much rather return from a trip feeling joyful that I’ve done something good and meaningful [as compared to the fun and learning provided in a study trip],” says Travis.

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