Home Away: Life as a Thai student in Singapore’s top university
Foreseeing her future career in the tech sector, Nichamon Han-ithikul decided to study for a master’s degree in data science and machine learning at the National University of Singapore, which is currently ranked as the best university in Asia and the 11th best in the world.
Previously, she studied software engineering at Kasetsart University and gained work experience in the same field. She chose to do further studies in data science and machine learning in Singapore, not only to expand her knowledge, but also because the country is known for being the “smartest city” and the “data hub” of the Southeast Asian region.
As this field is rapidly growing, there are also plenty of job opportunities for her.
“Finding a data science or machine learning job in Singapore is much easier than in Thailand,” she said. “Because Singapore is a data hub. Here, we have a lot of data centres, so many companies have their own data centres in Singapore and it’s like a hub for Asia as well. So, I think there are more opportunities here to work in this kind of field.”
After living in Singapore for almost a year, Nichamon feels that studying there is much more challenging, compared to her home country, due to its competitive nature, which forces her to be more disciplined. Nevertheless, Nichamon hopes to complete her master’s degree by the end of this year. She is also doing an internship and hopes to work in Singapore for a couple of years, to gain more experience.
“One of the things that I really like here is, even though the working style is pretty tense, I think it’s very challenging for me. I feel like, if I can understand and I can pass the work experience in Singapore, I can do any kind of job anywhere.”
Nichamon also noticed similarities between the two countries, particularly some aspects of the “Singlish” language
“Singlish is like a combination between English and Chinese, and I feel like the structure or the grammar of Singlish is pretty similar to the Thai language. So, they have words like “lah, leh, law, leao” at the end of sentences, which is similar to Thai people when we say “na, ja, ma, pa” and I feel like, when I speak Singlish to people here, I feel more comfortable talking to them.”
Thai students who wish to study or work in Singapore, should be aware of the competitive nature of the country, which means that people must be highly disciplined and responsible. Learning Mandarin would also be advised, as Nichamon thinks that a high proficiency in English is not enough to survive there.
“Studying in Singapore is very difficult. You must be highly disciplined, very responsible and you need to read books every day. You can’t come and study here without reading books and you need to take it seriously. If you want to prepare to come here, apart from reading books, you need to push yourself a lot, because coming here is very competitive. But it will be a good trade-off because, here [in Singapore], they also have a lot of opportunities if you try to grab them.”
By Nad Bunnag, Thai PBS World