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Singapore Kopitiam

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    (Original post by hubble)
    Am thinking of sending some of my stuff over to UK by way of sea freight. Any recommendations for reliable and cheap service?
    I only manage to find out the cheapest airmail package cost ~sgd$200 and a b|+ch 71 working days to reach. That's almost 4 months!!! When my coldwear reach me, the climate would have turned warmer and my powder would have harden! How can i survive 4 months without my lovely Za!!!!!

    Anyway, keep me posted when u found out something, i will do the same too!~
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    Well, there are different kinds of educational "events" you can go to. But they are not all compulsory. Most of the time you only need to sit the exam and pass. But in many cases you NEED to attend to scrape a pass. I think we've got a different concept here..

    There are lectures, which are "lessons" following the (in my opinion stupid) method of frontal education. There is a professor standing in the middle of an auditorium, filled with (at some German unis, such as the LMU) up to 500 students, and talking about things, whilst YOUR job is to sit and listen and take notes.. they often conclude in exams.

    The proseminars are mainly for first years because you learn about the methodology and such like of your course. They end with an essay and a presentation.

    Then there are seminars, which serve the purpose to go "deeper" into a "special topic" in groups of 10-20 students. And here you actually learn something new. They conclude in you writing an essay and holding a presentation.

    Additionally, there are "project seminars" in which you do research of your own into a topic you may choose out of a selection.

    Sadly, I don't seem to be able to find an English course overview. Otherwise I'd copy you a link.

    And as for the fact that your supervisions seem to be geared more towards making everyone understand than anything else: it probably is that way because each university student in the UK spends a lot of money on her/his education. If the course were so hard that the student would not cope anymore (as very often is the case here! In fact that even is the strategy of the unis here: they want to make sure that their students really want to do what they are doing and don't just study their subject because they follow a whim or because they want the academic prestige. Which is why they are "sieved out" by overly harsh exams, courses, projects in the first few semesters. So yes, many German students fail.), the student would have to stop studying and thus the uni would lose money.
    I found it extremely weird that all international applicants at the uni of edinburgh received an offer - well all of them would have paid the largest sum for their education.... maybe that is not the explanation for that phenomena, correct me if I'm wrong. =)

    And contact hours vary from "event" to "event".. each "event" leads to a certain number of "credit points" (either 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9 for my course). Most of the time one "event" takes up 2-4 hours a week, and apart from some "events" which are compulsory, you may pick the others freely. The only criteria you need to fulfill is that you need to have filled 180 credit points at the end of your education, according to plan three years, but many students don't manage to meet this set time limit. A good friend of mine added another year because he was interested in too much to be able to cover everything within the time an average student is allocated.
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    Somehow i have the impression that the British education system is the same as ours - emphasising on rote learning and being exam smart.

    And because of that, excessively high grade inflation is a norm in the UK now. Like A* was only recently introduced and almost all top uni are asking for straight A*.

    Something is really wrong.
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    I think the problem is that Singapore as well as the UK have got to call elitist societies and meritocracies their own.. that's the way they differ from some other countries and vice versa..

    In Germany all you need for a top history uni is a pass, that is: straight Ds.

    And the systems actually are hard to compare because whilst we do have some good and some not so good unis, the extremes are not akin to UK standards at all.

    It's subject specific, rather.. only a fool or somebody who is bound to the region would study history at the RWTH. If the same person would want to study engineering, however: bull's eye!
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    (Original post by Vikitora)
    Well, there are different kinds of educational "events" you can go to. But they are not all compulsory. Most of the time you only need to sit the exam and pass. But in many cases you NEED to attend to scrape a pass. I think we've got a different concept here..

    There are lectures, which are "lessons" following the (in my opinion stupid) method of frontal education. There is a professor standing in the middle of an auditorium, filled with (at some German unis, such as the LMU) up to 500 students, and talking about things, whilst YOUR job is to sit and listen and take notes.. they often conclude in exams.

    The proseminars are mainly for first years because you learn about the methodology and such like of your course. They end with an essay and a presentation.

    Then there are seminars, which serve the purpose to go "deeper" into a "special topic" in groups of 10-20 students. And here you actually learn something new. They conclude in you writing an essay and holding a presentation.

    Additionally, there are "project seminars" in which you do research of your own into a topic you may choose out of a selection.

    Sadly, I don't seem to be able to find an English course overview. Otherwise I'd copy you a link.

    And as for the fact that your supervisions seem to be geared more towards making everyone understand than anything else: it probably is that way because each university student in the UK spends a lot of money on her/his education. If the course were so hard that the student would not cope anymore (as very often is the case here! In fact that even is the strategy of the unis here: they want to make sure that their students really want to do what they are doing and don't just study their subject because they follow a whim or because they want the academic prestige. Which is why they are "sieved out" by overly harsh exams, courses, projects in the first few semesters. So yes, many German students fail.), the student would have to stop studying and thus the uni would lose money.
    I found it extremely weird that all international applicants at the uni of edinburgh received an offer - well all of them would have paid the largest sum for their education.... maybe that is not the explanation for that phenomena, correct me if I'm wrong. =)

    And contact hours vary from "event" to "event".. each "event" leads to a certain number of "credit points" (either 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9 for my course). Most of the time one "event" takes up 2-4 hours a week, and apart from some "events" which are compulsory, you may pick the others freely. The only criteria you need to fulfill is that you need to have filled 180 credit points at the end of your education, according to plan three years, but many students don't manage to meet this set time limit. A good friend of mine added another year because he was interested in too much to be able to cover everything within the time an average student is allocated.
    This sounds like quite a good system - you actually get to explore and find out more about a topic you are interested in - as opposed to getting the information via lectures. Unfortunately - for my University at least - this is limited to some third year and fourth year modules - which are not even compulsory.

    I agree that my supervisions seem to be geared more towards making everyone understand than anything else - but my personal belief is that supervisions need to have different pacing in different years. In short, if you are a second or third or a fourth year student, you really *ought* to have studied on your own / read up instead of asking easy questions. My gripe is that if your question is something that can be answered in your own lecture notes, OR via google, or by substituting numbers and checking, DON'T ASK IT. You are wasting everyone's time.

    I have found with the increasing university fees - there seems to be some discontentment amongst some UK students - they want more contact hours, expect to be spoonfed at these supervisions, and want an easy exam. The more senior lecturers ignore them, the less senior (because they can't afford to get negative feedback) sometimes pander to them. Which sucks. For example, even as a student, I have been flamed for bluntly telling someone to google something simple or look at the course website for being rude, despite the fact that I've told them nicely a few times before I snapped.

    I would certainly like the opportunity to do more research on topics that interest me, and I guess, if *cough* students who waste time / expect material to be given to them are kicked out after the first year, it might be a better (although more stressful) environment.

    It appears that in this post, I've pointed out quite a few disadvantages of the UK university system. However, I don't really see it as one country's education system is "better" or "worse" than the rest - there certainly are advantages and high points of my course

    I guess it's really what you make out of it. If you really want to, you can pursue interdisciplinary courses in the UK, and learn more, but it boils down to being active -i.e. you'd really have to make some effort to do it. Otherwise, you can simply scrape through. Whereas perhaps in Germany and the US say, that is the system - you are placed in it, and are expected to go through the process.
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    (Original post by fellowjoe)
    Somehow i have the impression that the British education system is the same as ours - emphasising on rote learning and being exam smart.

    And because of that, excessively high grade inflation is a norm in the UK now. Like A* was only recently introduced and almost all top uni are asking for straight A*.

    Something is really wrong.
    Unfortunately, this is true for the sciences. Probably not so for humanities - essays are subjective after all, and usually double marked.

    However, I feel that unless Universities are financially independent, this will continue to be the norm.

    Why?

    1. High fees - students feel they are entitled to a good grade / more support - without any independent learning, and they voice their opinions.
    2a). People take notice of these opinions. Internally, if lecturers get (sufficient) negative feedback, action needs to be taken. For senior professors, they don't care, because nothing can affect them (can't be fired, demoted, etc). For junior lecturers who want to advance, they have to pander to students.

    Example: Last year, I had a new lecturer teaching a measure theory course. Conceptually difficult - impossible to learn during lectures, you NEED to put in effort. He did not adapt a spoonfeeding style, and gave little exercises along the way. He had a lot of negative complaints - and people viewed the exercises as negative - wanting the lecturer to actually do them and give the answers - some even asking for an "easy" exam because they felt the lecturer didn't do much.

    Best part of the story - one fourth year student this year submitted in a feedback: "I wish we were told how important measure theory was" to an external liaison (these things are conducted to find out how student feedback at Universities are like by an unbiased person), and I felt like going: "You were. But you thought you could get away with complaining..."

    2b) There is the National Student Survey which students need to take in their final year. More positive replies means the higher the ranking of the University. So the goal is to get "positive replies" from students, for the University to be ranked higher. An easy way to get positive replies is making the courses easier.

    3) Students are trained to do exams, instead of learn. Very common in modular A levels. So what? Well, you do a science module in the University, you go to the library, and take out the last 20 years of exam papers. I guarantee you that any question asked in an exam will be of the similar form to all the questions there. Why? There are finitely many types of questions you can ask - just relatively more at University level. And two, exam setters sometimes get lazy and set (same) questions from an old paper.

    4) Time. My guess is why most instructors / lecturers set more assessed coursework - eg essays / research projects, is simply the time needed to mark and read it through. Most profs aren't hired as profs - they are hired to do research. And if you pass them over to a TA to read (an essay? you sure?), you'd not only need to ensure the TA knows English (surprisingly, a high proportion of PhD students are international from certain countries), and pay them well. $$ is a factor again.
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    well, there are shortcomings of German unis. I'll tell you about them later today as it's two o clock here and I'm on a study break.
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    (Original post by yawnandshrug)
    Edinburgh? Interesting, I'll be there too. You can get by on about a hundred quid a week.
    Are you there for study? Does your budget includes accommodation, etc.? If it does, what is the budget for general expenses alone, leaving out the amount for catered accommodation lifestyle.
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    Are you there for study? Does your budget includes accommodation, etc.? If it does, what is the budget for general expenses alone, leaving out the amount for catered accommodation lifestyle.
    Yes, I will be studying at the University of Edinburgh. 100~150 quid should cover your weekly general expenses barring catered accommodation.
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    (Original post by Narev)
    This sounds like quite a good system - you actually get to explore and find out more about a topic you are interested in - as opposed to getting the information via lectures. Unfortunately - for my University at least - this is limited to some third year and fourth year modules - which are not even compulsory.

    I agree that my supervisions seem to be geared more towards making everyone understand than anything else - but my personal belief is that supervisions need to have different pacing in different years. In short, if you are a second or third or a fourth year student, you really *ought* to have studied on your own / read up instead of asking easy questions. My gripe is that if your question is something that can be answered in your own lecture notes, OR via google, or by substituting numbers and checking, DON'T ASK IT. You are wasting everyone's time.

    I have found with the increasing university fees - there seems to be some discontentment amongst some UK students - they want more contact hours, expect to be spoonfed at these supervisions, and want an easy exam. The more senior lecturers ignore them, the less senior (because they can't afford to get negative feedback) sometimes pander to them. Which sucks. For example, even as a student, I have been flamed for bluntly telling someone to google something simple or look at the course website for being rude, despite the fact that I've told them nicely a few times before I snapped.

    I would certainly like the opportunity to do more research on topics that interest me, and I guess, if *cough* students who waste time / expect material to be given to them are kicked out after the first year, it might be a better (although more stressful) environment.

    It appears that in this post, I've pointed out quite a few disadvantages of the UK university system. However, I don't really see it as one country's education system is "better" or "worse" than the rest - there certainly are advantages and high points of my course

    I guess it's really what you make out of it. If you really want to, you can pursue interdisciplinary courses in the UK, and learn more, but it boils down to being active -i.e. you'd really have to make some effort to do it. Otherwise, you can simply scrape through. Whereas perhaps in Germany and the US say, that is the system - you are placed in it, and are expected to go through the process.
    One thing is that many German universities are very overcrowded. Because it is as easy as I described to actually get a place for most degrees, the first couple of semesters are all about sitting in front of the computer when the lecture is open for booking and pressing that "book" button repeatedly, in fear that you might not get into it. At some unis, where there are around 40000 or more students, the lectures are even distributed by drawing lots.

    There actually are unis where certain students are unable to complete their studies within the normal timerange because they did not receive a place in the for them necessary lecture.

    This is a phenomena known as "Massenuni" - "uni filled with masses".

    There sometimes are ratios of 90:1 and therefore a lack of guidance at certain unis.

    Another shortcoming is that there still are some feudal structures at our unis. During the lectures it is allowed to ask questions, but nobody does because some students even are afraid of the prof, or overrespect him.

    Additionally, these professors are, similarly to yours in Warwick, primarily there to do research. And some professors seem to make that quite clear.

    I think if you want to understand the background of German universities and the educational system in general, you ought to google the "Humboldtian ideal". That probably also is the reason for the non-existence of "supervisions".

    So, yeah, there are ups and downs of both systems.. in England, you seem to be gettinge more guidance, whereas you don't in Germany where this lack of guidance seems to be the defining strength....
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    Out of curiosity, do German students complain about this? Or rather, is there a large voice speaking out against this? I seem to recall that education in German universities are free for both local and international students, and this seems like a natural side effect.

    I know that in England (and quite possibly Singapore?), there is more guidance given, although (the cynical) part of me believes that guidance is not taken during normal term time, and is only fervently sought near exam time. Quite possibly this is due to the culture of studying last minute / doing work at the very last minute - something common to an increasing majority of students. Doesn't help that being exam smart usually gets you a 2:1 in most exams.

    An interesting point - if Gordon Brown had succeeded in his target of getting 50% of British students into higher education, would British universities have to follow the Humboldtian ideal, not because they believe in it, but because it would seem the best way given overcrowding? Sieve out the elite, so to speak - 50% could enter, but far less than 50% could graduate.
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    If only you knew.... there have been mass protests in many federal states.

    This is not only due to the mass of students and the - often - lacking capacities; it also is because of the feudal hierarchies which still exist. These are underlying problems which resurface into public consciousness everytime there is a change to the German educational system.
    For instance, until a couple of years ago, we did not have BAs, BSCs or Masters.. we had diplomas, magisters and Staatsxamen ("state exams" for teachers, medics and lawyers, still in place for lawyers and doctors; for teachers only in certain federal states). The diplomas, magisters and Staatsexamen were the equivalent to your masters degree. There was no bachelor. Because of the "Bologna process" and the insecurity it meant for future bachelor students (as you now do not study towards your magister or diploma, but only your bachelor at first, which means that it is uncertain whether you actually get the grades for a masters degree (2.5)), as well as the massive workload and the - compared to earlier times - more prescribed courses, people protested. Additionally, the bachelors degree prevented the students from travelling around from city to city and deepening the own studies by travelling from the faculty in Munich to the faculty of Heidelberg because they specialise in different things.
    Another trigger of protests was the introduction of university fees a couple of years back. Compared to international standards you might deem these ridiculous because the unis "only" demanded 1000€ p. a., but there is an underlying ideology. Education ought to be free and available for everyone. Because this was not guaranteed anymore and because thus a financial selection process came into play - so they argued - fees should be abolished again. By now the only federal states which hold onto them are Lower Saxony and Bavaria.

    The thing is, I think - and again: correct me if I'm wrong - that the universities in Britain are selective before admitting students to a course. In Germany, universities are selective whilst the student is on the course....
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    (Original post by Vikitora)
    If only you knew.... there have been mass protests in many federal states.

    This is not only due to the mass of students and the - often - lacking capacities; it also is because of the feudal hierarchies which still exist. These are underlying problems which resurface into public consciousness everytime there is a change to the German educational system.
    For instance, until a couple of years ago, we did not have BAs, BSCs or Masters.. we had diplomas, magisters and Staatsxamen ("state exams" for teachers, medics and lawyers, still in place for lawyers and doctors; for teachers only in certain federal states). The diplomas, magisters and Staatsexamen were the equivalent to your masters degree. There was no bachelor. Because of the "Bologna process" and the insecurity it meant for future bachelor students (as you now do not study towards your magister or diploma, but only your bachelor at first, which means that it is uncertain whether you actually get the grades for a masters degree (2.5)), as well as the massive workload and the - compared to earlier times - more prescribed courses, people protested. Additionally, the bachelors degree prevented the students from travelling around from city to city and deepening the own studies by travelling from the faculty in Munich to the faculty of Heidelberg because they specialise in different things.
    Another trigger of protests was the introduction of university fees a couple of years back. Compared to international standards you might deem these ridiculous because the unis "only" demanded 1000€ p. a., but there is an underlying ideology. Education ought to be free and available for everyone. Because this was not guaranteed anymore and because thus a financial selection process came into play - so they argued - fees should be abolished again. By now the only federal states which hold onto them are Lower Saxony and Bavaria.

    The thing is, I think - and again: correct me if I'm wrong - that the universities in Britain are selective before admitting students to a course. In Germany, universities are selective whilst the student is on the course....
    Wirst du auch nach Singapore zu studieren umziehen? Ich nehme an, dass du eine Deutsche bist, da du viel über deutsche Universitäten kennst?
    Und ja, die britische Universitäten sind sehr auswählisch, wenn du bewerbst. Besonders jetzt, dass die Regierung Zulassungquantum einführt hat. Ich kenne, dass Edinburgh Uni eine Geldstrafe gegeben war, bis sie die Zahl der Studenten reduziert hat.
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    No, I'm not going to study in Singapore. I see that you are going there for a year. And whilst it is a fascinating place to be for tourists, to live there is an entirely different matter.. you could read up on Singaporean politics, if you like. They and society there are pretty much the factors which prevent me from moving back to the place where I received the beginnings of my education.

    And yes, I live in Germany. And according to my ID card, my "nationality" is "German". If you look at history, however, you come to realise that "Germans" are not all of the same "nationality" because "Germany" is, as such, not a nation. There are Bavarians, Prussians, Saxons.. but "Germans" are a figment of their imagination.
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    (Original post by Narev)
    Out of curiosity, do German students complain about this? Or rather, is there a large voice speaking out against this? I seem to recall that education in German universities are free for both local and international students, and this seems like a natural side effect.

    I know that in England (and quite possibly Singapore?), there is more guidance given, although (the cynical) part of me believes that guidance is not taken during normal term time, and is only fervently sought near exam time. Quite possibly this is due to the culture of studying last minute / doing work at the very last minute - something common to an increasing majority of students. Doesn't help that being exam smart usually gets you a 2:1 in most exams.

    An interesting point - if Gordon Brown had succeeded in his target of getting 50% of British students into higher education, would British universities have to follow the Humboldtian ideal, not because they believe in it, but because it would seem the best way given overcrowding? Sieve out the elite, so to speak - 50% could enter, but far less than 50% could graduate.
    Oh yeah.. and about the Humboldtian ideal of education. It's less about "sieving people out". It's more about the all encompassing study of a subject and about providing people with a general education. Other factors are the individual liberty through the use of reason and a cosmopolitan approach: An individual ought to be confronted with the big questions of the world. Individual liberty can also be propagated by allowing the person freedom over what he or she wants to study at university level and connected with this is the independence of universities from the countries they are in. Additionally, British universities are following it to an extent because the unity of research and education is a massive factor.
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    (Original post by Vikitora)
    No, I'm not going to study in Singapore. I see that you are going there for a year. And whilst it is a fascinating place to be for tourists, to live there is an entirely different matter.. you could read up on Singaporean politics, if you like. They and society there are pretty much the factors which prevent me from moving back to the place where I received the beginnings of my education.

    And yes, I live in Germany. And according to my ID card, my "nationality" is "German". If you look at history, however, you come to realise that "Germans" are not all of the same "nationality" because "Germany" is, as such, not a nation. There are Bavarians, Prussians, Saxons.. but "Germans" are a figment of their imagination.
    Aye, I know that the government is a hell of a lot more authoritarian over in Singapore. However they do at least make it a requirement for you to relevantly educated to hold a government position there e.g. a doctor of economics to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer equivalent. Only a year though, always good to see a different lifestyle anyway And not quite as totalitarian as China anyway

    And don't worry, as someone who is Scottish but holds "British" citizenship I can understand your qualms with the idea of nationality. No country is completely homogeneous though, from region to region will continue over a spectrum.
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    You are right in that it is very interesting to experience something as different as Singapore. (Whereas the gradient of difference always depends on what you already have experienced and where you are from.)

    And China is insane.. I've been there before and the average person (also university students) there has not heard of "anarchy" before. Would be very dangerous I guess.

    I just remember that when my Singaporean aunt came over to visit us, she found it fascinating how openly we can communicate. It is necessary to know the bit of background knowledge that she works for a major Chinese-language newspaper and edits the front page. She adores Lee Kuan Yew.

    I think it is important to know that Singapore has not experienced the same history as europe.. and not the same philosophical movements as the western world. This might be a reason for the conditions there.
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    Any current student whose parents have followed you when settling in school?

    How/what did you arrange for your parents while you are attending the freshers' week?
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    (Original post by kenryou)
    Any current student whose parents have followed you when settling in school?

    How/what did you arrange for your parents while you are attending the freshers' week?
    How many days will your parents be there for?

    My parents will be with me when I settle in as well. I'm thinking during freshers they can just travel around themselves?
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    (Original post by kenryou)
    Any current student whose parents have followed you when settling in school?

    How/what did you arrange for your parents while you are attending the freshers' week?
    It very uncommon for a university student to have their parents accompanied to settle down at a new country...needless to say the said country is S$2k flight away. (assuming you're going to the UK) However, I do have a friend who flew to London with their parents. But that was it, they parted on the 3rd day for their Europe Trip.

    Tbh, I wouldn't recommend you to bring your parents along unless they have some kind of plans themselves. Because, really, this is not Kindergarten anymore.

    p.s. I was practically "dumbed" by my parents to Penang boarding school when I was young. Indeed, it was bitter, but you'll survive.

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