Student Exchange Programme Pre-Departure Briefing for CANADA & MEXICO. International Relations Office 3 December 2015







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Student Exchange Programme

Pre-Departure Briefing



International Relations Office

3 December 2015


2 2

International Relations Office (IRO)

Foster international partnerships

for transformative global engagement


Who Are We?

NUS – A leading university for quality student

global engagement and partnerships


First, a little introduction to IRO…

Our portfolio includes

Student Exchange Programme


Summer Programmes (iSP)

International Internships (iIntern)

International Research attachments (iRAP)

Special Programmes (Sino-Sin, TF LEaRN, YVISP)



three groups of students

– outgoing, incoming

and returning exchange students!

We are the front office for the

university networks


NUS has membership in and we also work with

governmental ministries


external agencies


We organize


(such as International Exchange Day)

and produce


(such as Step Out).

We manage the

Peer Advising Programme


conduct information sessions.

We manage and facilitate

scholarships and awards

pertaining to international programmes.


First, a little introduction to IRO…

Financial Aid:

General Awards / Loans:

NASA (NUS Awards for Study Abroad)

Overseas Student Programme (OSP) Loan Fund

Destination-specific Awards:

NUS-UBC Lee Foundation Student Exchange Award

(specific to students going to UBC for SEP)

Young Talent Programme (YTP) - Market Immersion

funding from IE Singapore (specific to students going on

SEP to emerging markets – including Mexico!)



Do 1 or 2 semesters at an overseas partner university

Do full-time study with credit transfer

Pay only NUS tuition fees

Partner university gives tuition fee waiver

Pay own airfare, personal expenses, health insurance, books

and other individual costs


Student Exchange Programme

Gaining independence & a sense of

responsibility and purpose

Getting first hand knowledge of another culture, exploring

differences between countries, understanding traditions and


Learning more about yourself, friends and family, even a

better understanding of homeland

Discovering abilities and limitations that we don’t even

know we have

Building connections between countries


8 CANADA 1. Concordia U 2. McGill U 3. Queen’s U at Kingston 4. U Ottawa 5. U Toronto • St. George Campus • Scarborough Campus • Mississauga Campus 6. U Waterloo 7. U Guelph 8. Western U 9. U Alberta 10. U Calgary 11. Simon Fraser U 12. UBC • Vancouver Campus • Okanagan Campus 13. U Victoria 14. York U MEXICO 1. Tec de Monterrey • Queretaro Campus • Guadalajara Campus

• Mexico City Campus

• Santa Fe Campus

• Monterrey Campus


University-wide SEP Partner Universities


Three Campuses of U Toronto:

• St. George Campus (downtown campus) very limited housing for exchange

students. Campus and student life can feel a bit more disconnected.

• Mississauga Campus* – west of city center, more researched focused, great

for Science students.

• Scarborough Campus* – east of city center, more business and

community-service focused.

*easier to secure on-campus housing although not



labeled in the picture.

3) Which city hosted the 2010 Winter


2) What is the capital of Canada?

Vancouver Ottawa


1) Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world (behind

Russia) in terms of area

Canada: 9,984,670 square kilometers Singapore: 710 square kilometers

Interesting Facts about Canada:

2) North America’s lowest temperature was recorded in Yukon Territory on 3 February 1947: -63 degrees (c)


What else do I need to DO? How can I ENJOY my SEP?


What else do I need to DO?

(before departure)







1. You should have already selected modules to be taken at the host university.

2. Obtain an approved and confirmed study plan from the Dean’s Office before leaving for SEP. Prepare alternative modules just in case.

3. Keep a list of relevant contacts of course coordinators for course approval.

4. If you are overseas and realize that

• the module which you originally mapped is not offered or

• there is another module (originally not mapped) that you would like to read,

you can obtain approval from the relevant department via e-mail.

Please include detailed course description, contact hours, modes of

assessments etc in your e-mail. Once approval has been obtained, e-mail the final approval and amended study plan to the Dean’s Office as soon as






What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d


 Check that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your return date. Most countries will not allow your entry if your

passport is close to expiring.

 Make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from the original when you travel.

 We recommend that you leave a copy with your family member at home. This will speed up the replacement process should it be lost or stolen.



Embassy Of Mexico

152 Beach Rd Singapore 189721 6298-2678

High Commission of

Canada to Singapore

One George Street, #11-01 Singapore 049145


Official advice is to check directly with the Embassy

or High Commission for all immigration matters



Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with a valid visa.

***Please apply for your eTA before your exchange!***

Useful Links:

Immigration Matters What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d


Less than 6 months -> don’t need a Study Permit (however, some universities recommend their exchange students to get it)

Longer than 6 months -> Study Permit is required.

 With a Study Permit, students are allowed to work (15 hrs per week)


Immigration Matters

Study Permit (Study Visa) Visitor Visa (Entry Visa)

 Certain passport holders will require a Visitor Visa to enter and/or transit in Canada. Please check Canada’s Immigration and

Citizenship website for official advice.


Fill in the customs declaration forms and arrival-departure


on the plane!

The following documents should be carried with you and not packed into your checked baggage:

Passport with visa (if applicable)

Study permit (Letter of Introduction)

Evidence of financial resources (bank statement)

Small amount of Canadian cash/traveler’s checks

Insurance card & Health documents

Address in Canada and important contacts

Letter of Acceptance and other important documents from your host university in Canada




 Research your flight options and obtain quotes, but don’t confirm or pay for your booking until you have received the acceptance from your host

university and visa

 You should plan to arrive before the study period starts and attend the orientation programme. Refer to your acceptance package for more details

 Consider a round trip ticket and ask about student fares as they are often cheaper

 Sign up for frequent flyer mile program to accumulate mileage

 If you need to take a train/bus to your final destination, please ensure you are not rushing to catch the last train/bus

 Check if your host university offers arrival reception services and inform them your arrival time. If not research the local transport and prepare to pay by cash in local currency


 Liquids, Aerosols and Gels must be in containers (maximum capacity – 100ml each), if more than 100ml, will not be accepted, even if the container is partially-filled

 Containers must be placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag (maximum capacity – not exceeding 1-litre). These containers must fit comfortably within the transparent re-sealable plastic bag, which must be completely closed

 Only one transparent re-sealable plastic bag permitted per person

 Liquids, laptops, shoes, belts, jackets must all be placed separately in a container for examination at the security screening point

 For more details, visit Changi Airport’s security webpage @



 The regulations on weight and size of baggage can vary between countries and airlines. Check with your airline for specific regulation

 Any foodstuffs, spices, plant, animal or wood products you intend to bring must be declared on the Customs Declaration form given to you on the plane

 Otherwise, they may be confiscated and/or you could be fined. The Customs Officer will decide if you can keep anything

 Declare everything on the form, as it will be too late to tell the Customs Officer at the airport

 If in doubt, declare it




 Consider getting vaccinations (i.e. for influenza, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B etc.) and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination

 Please obtain professional advice on what other vaccinations to take or medication to bring at NUS UHWC or your GP

 Get the jabs at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for the vaccines to take effect

 Get your prescriptions and jabs, glasses changed, teeth checked, etc here!

 Health issues? Consider staying closer to home

 If you are taking medications, please continue





 Make sure you have applied for accommodation – sometimes applying for SEP does not mean you have applied for housing

 You may be allowed to check-in only during working hours, so do find out prior to arrival

 If housing is only provided during the semester, find alternative lodging during the periods before and after term

 Check if school hostels provide daily/weekly/monthly rates outside of term time

 For off-campus housing, other than the facade (external and

internal), do check out the charges for internet, telephone, electricity, water etc. Ensure that the locale is a safe one. Avoid signing any

contract until you are agreeable to all the terms



What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d


 Obtain professional advice on the vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases you might be at risk for at your destination

 Arrange for a health check-up with your doctor, dentist and optometrist before you go

 If you have chronic health problems, you may need to work out a health management plan with you doctor. Make sure your medications are available at your destination or arrange to take them with you

 If you are taking medications, please continue

 It might be wise to take an adequate supply of prescription medications to last the period of stay


 Many Canadian Universities require you to buy their own student insurance – check student guide or website

 It is essential to have both travel and health insurance for the duration of your stay abroad

 Ensure the policy fits your need. The travel insurance often cover change of flight dates due to illness, reimbursement of lost luggage etc.

 Familiarise yourself with your policy’s coverage. Note the clauses and disclaimer in your policy. Report accident/loss at the earliest possible opportunity. Have the policy and relevant contact numbers with you.




What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d

 Knowing about your destination will help you in your pre-departure decisions such as what to pack, how to get around, what to expect etc.

 Climate and time difference

 Exchange rate and cost of living

 Regional map and local transportation

 Common cultural differences

 Health and Safety

 Meet & Greet Services

 Living and studying at host country

 Activities for exchange students at host university




You should work out a budget covering

accommodation, food, transport, clothing & entertainment.

Estimated cost of living:


S$1500 – S$2200 per



S$1400 – S$1500 per month

You can save money by shopping at local supermarkets,

buying tickets in advance and taking budget airlines.


 Valid passport with current student visa

 Letter of acceptance from host university

 Study plan

 Housing confirmation letter

 Return air ticket

 Receipts of payments (housing, administrative fees etc.)

 NUS transcripts (to facilitate module registration)

 Medical Records

 Forms of identification (driving license, identity card)

 Photocopies of important documents (letter of offer, I/C, passport, credit cards, insurance polices etc.)


What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d

Please make copies of all important documents and keep separate sets in different places. It is also a good idea to leave one set at home so that these documents can easily be sent to you in the event that you lose those with you.


• Toiletries, alarm clock, hairdryer, clothes, footwear

• Take note that the products you are used to may not be available overseas, or may be very expensive

• Digital camera

• Photos of friends and family • Souvenirs from Singapore • Recipes or “food mixes”

• These will help you to show others what life in Singapore is like





What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d

 Sufficient cash to last you until your bank draft is approved

 (at least 1 month’s expenses)

 Medication for personal use (prescription drugs should be kept in their original packaging with your name on it, and be accompanied by a doctor’s note)

 Travel adaptors and multi-plug adaptors

110/220V in Canada & Mexico

 Laptop, camera and cell phone chargers




 Valid passport and visa

 Proof of acceptance at PU

 Study plan

 Proof of financial support

 Proof of accommodation

 Insurance

 Bank draft/credit card/cash

 Confirmed flight ticket

 Emergency Contacts

 Vaccinations and checkups

 Register with MFA

 Appropriate clothing

 First aid kit

 Medication

 Adaptors and chargers

 Umbrella/raincoat

 Toiletries/alarm clock/ hairdryer

 Footwear

 Digital camera

 Photos and souvenirs

 Foodstuffs

 Passport photos


• Singaporeans should register themselves with MFA at:


–In times of emergency, MFA would be able to provide you with consular assistance.

• For NS men, please notify MINDEF on your trip, and/or apply for the Exit Permit if you are going away for more than 6 months


• For NUS International students, IRO will register on their behalf with Singapore MFA. However, we recommend that you should contact with your country’s diplomatic missions at the host country.

What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d




Lessons well be conducted in a variety of different venues, from state-of-the-art lecture theatres to traditional classrooms.

Differences to expect

-• Lessons WILL start on time!

• No talking when the lecturer is talking

• Professors expect class participation (do the readings before class!)

• Professors can have strict rules – no phones, no laptops etc.

• No lecture notes (bring pen and paper!)


What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d ACADEMIC CULTURE

Hands on learning – making




• Most universities in Canada offer Academic Help in the form of:

• Writing Centres

• Professor Office Hours

• Subject-specific Tutoring Services


Different institution = Different

Academic Expectations

A lot more continued assessment in

North America


What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d LIFE ON CAMPUS

Sports are very big part of school culture in Canada.

Join intermural teams!

Learn a new sport and meet new people: Ice skating and hot chocolate @ Calgary




Most students staying on campus will be required to have a meal plan.

Living off campus typically doesn’t require one.

Say ‘good bye’ to canteens

Meal plans / systems work differently at each institution

Credit system –

• #of entries to destination dining halls

• # of points/dollars to use campus-wide


What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d LIFE ON CAMPUS

On-campus accommodation is not too common for exchange students.

Residence Halls tend to tight-knit communities with lots of events.



There are three housing options for incoming exchange students: 1.On-campus accommodation (spaces are very limited)

2.Off-campus accommodation in private apartment

3.Host Families - An incredible way to get to know Mexican culture first hand, and to improve your Spanish language skills!

Check out Tec’s Host Family

Programme Info

Video – featuring Singaporean


What else do I need to DO? (before departure) – cont’d LIFESTYLE

 Be prepared that things may be done in a different way and speed than what you are used to

 For eg: Canadians generally:

 are very proud to be Canadian, however, they won’t flaunt it (will take strong offense to being lumped together with Americans!)

 are very polite and apologetic

 very respectful of others

 are punctual and expect others to be

 are very friendly on first meeting

 are quite informal in most situations


What do I need to know?


What do I need to know?

(upon arrival)






 CALL HOME! Ensure that your family members can contact you and inform them if you are going to travel - we do not want them calling us about your whereabouts

 Follow the instructions on your offer letter

 Attend the orientation for exchange students

 Acquaint yourself with the student services

 Update your contact details at myISIS

 Singaporeans should register themselves on the MFA website, other nationalities should contact their country’s diplomatic missions.

 Find out who you should call in times of emergency – police, ambulance, or campus security

 Let people know when you leave campus and where you’re going



What do I need to KNOW? (upon arrival) – cont’d

 Coping with JET LAG: Drink plenty of water (avoid alcohol/

caffeine), walk around and stretch while on the plane, get plenty of rest on the flight, be exposed to daylight.

 Familiarise yourself with your new surroundings

 Keep yourself updated with the daily local news

 Talk to new people – don’t keep to yourself

 Please don’t just stick to Singaporeans!

 Take note of your exam dates. If your semester overseas overlaps with the new NUS semester, start making alternative

arrangements to sit for your exam early or do assignments in lieu of the exam. If neither option is possible, apply for an extension of

your leave of absence from NUS

 Check NUS email frequently for new announcements and other




 Anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within an entirely different cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country.

 1. Honeymoon Phase

 2. Negotiation Phase

 3. “Everything is ok” Phase

 4. Reverse Culture Shock

 Recognise and talk to friends or counselors about it

 Be open-minded, and prepare yourself well by reading up about your host country beforehand

 Make friends with the locals

 Maintain contact with your friends and family back home


What do I need to KNOW? (upon arrival) – cont’d


 Be prepared that things may be done in a different way and speed than what you are used to

 Respect others and act in ways to be respected, too



 Be safe – don’t wander around alone at night

 Even if you’re lost, walk purposefully

 Look out for nearest security posts/police stations near home

 Beware of pickpockets – guys should keep their wallets in their front pockets and girls should keep their bags tightly clasped under their arms

 Be mindful of your surroundings and aware of scams

 Don’t leave your valuables lying around

 Don’t leave large amounts of cash in the room

 If confronted, give up your valuables and do not resist

 Ask locals about any dangerous areas or locations that should be avoided


Once you are there– cont’d


Understanding the situation in Mexico, and exercising caution, can help settle fears about


50 If you encounter a threatening or an unsafe situation along the street or in public area:

 Get away from the incident site immediately.

 Move immediately and quickly into a crowded area if you are being stalked or threatened.

 Approach any police officer in sight, or go to any police post/station in the immediate vicinity.

 Seek help from the locals.

 If you are unable to get away from the incident site, hide yourself at a safe place.

 Call the local police for help as soon as possible whenever there is an opportunity.

 Contact the local sponsor/office/supervisor for help.

 If all fails, call Campus Security Hotline, or NUS faculty/department/ office, or your supervisor.


 If you are unfamiliar with the road situations in a foreign country, always take the public transport

 Always keep to the speed limit if you must drive

 Plan your route in advance

 Travel in groups and with locals if possible

 Call the ambulance (if someone is injured) and police

 Ensure your are covered in auto insurance.

 Ensure you have your medical insurance with you at all times.

What do I need to KNOW? (upon arrival) – cont’d ROAD ACCIDENTS


 Move away from disaster areas

 Contact Singapore Consulate Office in the country for assistance

 Inform your family, NUS emergency hotline and host university as soon as possible

 Provide your contacts if possible

 Follow MFA’s guideline to evacuate the country if necessary



What do I need to KNOW? (upon arrival) – cont’d ALCOHOL, DRUGS, PARTYING ETC.

 Be comfortable and don’t be pressured into anything

 Be smart - know now what is ‘not smart’ so you recognize situations before trouble arises

 Know when to say no

 It’s not okay just because everyone is doing it

 Always know your limit

 Something that is legal there may not necessary be acceptable in Singapore

 Something that is ok in Singapore may not be acceptable there



“If I can’t do it here, can I do it



Misuse of Drugs Act (Chapter 185)

Consumption of drugs outside Singapore by citizen or permanent resident


(1) Section 8(b) shall have effect in relation to a person who is a citizen or a permanent resident of Singapore outside as well as within Singapore where he is found as a result of urine tests conducted under section 31(4)(b) to have smoked, administered to himself or otherwise consumed a controlled drug or a specified drug. [20/98; 2/2006]

(2) Where an offence under section 8(b) is committed by a person referred to in subsection (1) in any place outside Singapore, he may be dealt with as if that offencehad been committed within Singapore. [20/98]



“If I can’t do it here, can I do it



 Finding out as much as you can – the more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be

 Talk to people who have done the same thing. Learn & adapt – don’t copy

 Be open-minded and make the effort – to explore, experience new culture and places

 Takes two to clap

 If a problem arises, try to resolve it. Good for you!

 But also know when to approach others for help

 After your time abroad, be inspired!




 Say your goodbyes and thank you (including the

International Office)

 Confirm your returning flight details

 Bid for next semester’s modules in CORS

 Apply for NUS on-campus housing if necessary

 Upon your return, please remember to fill in the SEP Student

Feedback Questionnaire

 For NASA award holders, please submit your report

 Look out for re-entry session

 Send us quotes on your SEP experience & nice photos

 Sign up for the Peer Advising Programme

 Leave useful tips for future participants by blogging on


Peer Advising Programme

“To build a community of Peer Advisors (PALs) consisting of students who have been on SEP and are keen to contribute”

How the PALs can help you?

 PALs are returning students. Link up

with them to find out more


 And when you get back, don’t forget to become a PAL!


 Make your own list of emergency contacts

• Embassies/High Commissions:

• Local emergencies number: 911

• Credit card and bank tel numbers

• NUS Emergency Contact +65-6874 1616 • NUS International Relations Office

• List of SEP Co-ordinators & Administrators


• Singapore International Foundation




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