As summer gears up, Case Western Reserve University students are pursuing a variety of different experiences before a new academic year begins. And for some, those opportunities are found abroad. Whether studying death, dying and euthanasia in the Netherlands; exploring archaeological sites in Rome; or conducting biology field research in Costa Rica, CWRU offers many opportunities for students to get up close and personal with their passions—and find new ones along the way. Curious what their experiences have been like? The Daily is putting the spotlight on students who are studying—or recently traveled—abroad.
This week, we’re featuring David Silva, a rising pre-med fourth-year double majoring in cognitive science and psychology. Since January, Silva has been studying abroad at the National University of Singapore—a country he said “just seemed like the perfect option” to further his interest in Asian studies.
“From the lack of a language barrier (as most people in Singapore speak English), to the great unique classes offered, to the wonderful food they have and close proximity to other Asian countries, I felt like Singapore was the perfect option to head to,” Silva explained. “Singapore is also known for having a melting pot of cultures, which I was excited about.”
1. You shared a photo with us about your travels. Can you give some background on it?
The picture was taken at one of the most popular areas in Singapore called Gardens by the Bay. This specific area was the Chinese gardens and it provides an amazing view of the Marina Bay Sands, one of the—if not the—most iconic sights in Singapore. This specific area I believe provides an amazing view of the Marina Bay Sands, something that became an important part of my Singapore experience as I would almost always catch sight of the building. This picture is significant because it was taken on a day where I spent the whole day exploring the gardens and the Marina Bay area, and it was a day where I truly felt in awe of the beauty around me.
2. What has been your favorite part of studying abroad?
I would say I have two favorite things about studying abroad, and I really can’t pick one over the other. One is simply meeting so many new people from so many different places. Not only did I get to meet many local Singaporeans, I also met and befriended many other exchange students from across the world, from Europe to North and South America to Africa! It’s always so exciting to meet people to learn more from them, and it’s one of the things I love the most. The other thing I love about studying abroad is how it allows you to travel to other nearby countries, and it expands your possibilities of travel. For example, I’ve been to Thailand and Malaysia, and I’m currently traveling around Indonesia, The Philippines and, soon, Vietnam!
3. What is something you’ve learned about yourself since being in Singapore?
I’ve realized that I really enjoy traveling, and how eager I am to learn about other cultures and their differences. Whenever I had the chance, I would ask local Singaporeans so many questions about life in Singapore, from the mandatory two-year military service to the unique education system. It’s not so much what I learned about myself but what I learned in general, how to be more organized and on top of things and aware of potential scams or dangerous situations.
4. Do you encourage other students to study abroad?
I totally would recommend studying abroad to anyone, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where you are immersed into a whole other world you’re not used to and get to explore and meet so many new people. You also get time to be independent and really discover yourself in different ways because you’re in a completely new environment. It also is simply just very fun, and you make memories that you’ll never forget. It’s one of those things you’ll back on in the future and be so grateful that you did.
5. How has your global perspective changed since being in Singapore?
My worldview has expanded so much, as I’ve now truly met people from all over and learned about how different (but also similar) many countries around the world are. One of my fondest memories from my exchange was when I did a potluck with a group of Europeans, where we each made food from our culture and then we had a picnic together to eat everyone’s food. It was just so amazing hearing everyone explain the food they made and the significance to their culture, and it is a memory that has stuck with me.
Traveling around Southeast Asia has also further expanded my global view, as I’ve met many locals from Thailand and Indonesia, sharing their food and experiencing their kindness first hand. It’s one thing to hear about other cultures and people, and another thing to see it and experience it.