Ajay Pfister is a third-year honors business student from the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (AMSIB). He was born and raised in a suburban region near Amsterdam. He doesn’t consider himself fully Dutch, however. Growing up, his parents exposed him to both an Australian and Indian environment.
Ajay recently returned from studying abroad for four months in Singapore. Ajay is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a focus in International Business at Amsterdam University. His school selected Ajay and 10 others to study abroad as finalists. He chose five schools he wanted to go to. Ultimately, he wound up attending the Nanyang Technological University.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is ranked 11th in the world. Ajay was looking for an environment in which he could study abroad and could develop his cultural knowledge, while still being able to speak English. He chose to study in Singapore because of these great opportunities.
Why did you choose Nanyang Technological University over other universities?
“That is a good question. Well, to be honest, I had three universities in mind: RMIT Melbourne, Australia, the University of Ottawa in Canada, and of course the NTU in Singapore. I felt so unsure about my first choice I decided to fly out to Canada to see the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) for myself. I did not regret it. They were focused on sustainability, student life, and they spent a frequent amount of time on integrating the incoming exchange students. What made it even more attractive was that I would be able to study with one of my best friends. However, I did not end up at uOttawa, and it is not because I did not get my first choice.
On the day of the deadline, my friend and I decided to go for a couple of drinks after class to celebrate the end of the semester. We realised that she had not uploaded her top five universities yet. So, we rushed to the computers at AMSIB to quickly upload her top five. I had already selected mine weeks before (1. uOttawa, 2. NTU, 3. RMIT Melbourne), but I decided to suggest going to Singapore together, and therefore spontaneously adjusted my thoroughly-contemplated selections two hours before the deadline. When the results came out, I felt thrilled that I was going to share my first time in Singapore with someone I valued. However, one major thing was missing: My friend got her second choice – the prestigious LIM College in New York.”
What did you think of the application process?
“The application process at NTU was quite straightforward. Though, I do have to say that it was stressful at times. The reason why it made me nervous was because Singapore is a strict country when it comes to rules. I was afraid that I perhaps forgot to meet all the requirements. Luckily I was able to deliver all the info needed by the deadlines.”
Was there something different for NTU’s application process than with others?
“One of the aspects that differed at NTU from other universities is that they would take care of the application for the student pass, AKA the student VISA. This is something that is a necessity if one wants to study in Singapore. I had to depend on and trust others to take care of my student VISA.”
What part of the program were you most excited about when applying?
“In order to meet the requirements of my home university, I had to select at least four courses. These overall must cover all four criteria (marketing, business, finance, and management). Since I have a background in marketing and a passion for innovation and business development, I was surely looking forward to the Innovation Marketing course. Looking back on it now, I can assure you that it was definitely worth my time.”
What did you think of the study abroad program’s curriculum? And, what about the second year? What was the difference?
“The curriculum at NTU for exchange students is sublime. There is a wide variety of courses that range from Leadership in the 21st Century (which teaches soft skills) to sports like squash and yoga. If I have to compare it to the curriculum of my second year at AMSIB I would say that one major difference is the freedom to develop yourself in non-business related areas. While AMSIB does provide a wide range of ‘honours modules’ besides the curriculum that gives students the opportunity to develop oneself as a business student, it does not offer creative courses in the curriculum.”
How did your undergraduate program at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences prepare you for this experience? Are the classrooms and curriculum in Amsterdam similar?
“Since I transferred from a western European university to a top Asian university it was crucial that my home university prepared me for two major differences. The first difference was cultural. One way AMSIB tried to prepare its students for the culture shock was by teaching them the theories and practices of Hofstede and Trompenaars. I genuinely enjoyed these courses. Though, I have to say that it only enabled me to make a sophisticated bias.
The second difference was the difference in level. Since AMSIB is known as an applied sciences university, and NTU a top research university, level of education could have been a barrier. Although I do not think the curriculum of AMSIB prepares students enough for the difference in level, AMSIB does offer top performers among the faculty the possibility to follow honours modules besides their curriculum. Fortunately, I followed multiple honours modules, which made it easier for me to acclimate to the level at NTU.”
Did you participate in extracurricular activities while attending NTU in Singapore?
“I did, although I wish I did more extracurricular activities at NTU. I was part of the football team at the beginning of the semester. Unfortunately, I got an injury so I had to quit. While I recovered at the gym on campus, I was not able to find another activity.”
What was your favorite part of the program?
“It will sound like a cliche, but my favourite part of the program was the friends I made in the program. Looking back on my time at NTU I had the honour to meet the brightest people of my generation. However, more importantly, I was able to make friends for life.”
After living and studying abroad in Singapore for four months, what can you say about your decision to attend Nanyang Technological University? Looking back, do you think it helped you prepare for your future in your chosen profession? Why or why not?
“My decision to attend Nanyang Technological University was and still is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. In the four months that I studied in Singapore, I made friends from all over the world who taught me to enjoy every second in life. Also, the opportunities NTU provided me were endless. I was able to learn from the best when it comes to innovation. Since NTU has a good reputation, it will also open doors for me. On a personal level, I also learned to live on my own and take care of myself.”
Ajay would like to have a future career in innovative marketing. He will graduate in July 2021 and within that time he also will do an internship from September 2020 to February 2021. Then, he will write his thesis before his graduation in July 2021. We will check back with Ajay to find out more about his internship once he has selected it.