2019 New Colombo Plan Scholars - Bridget Smart

Bridget Smart portrait

Bridget Smart is currently studying at the National University of Singapore for Semester 1 2019. Bridget is studying a Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences (Advanced). As a recipient of a 2019 New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Bridget has been funded for her exchange in Singapore as well as an additional internship in Japan.

We interviewed Bridget after she had settled in at the National University of Singapore.

“On my exchange program I am mainly taking mathematics and statistics courses. I’ve been really enjoying all of my courses so far, as the courses which are offered at the National University of Singapore not only compliment my studies, but also allow me to explore areas which I may not have seen otherwise. I’m also taking a research based subject in applied mathematics, looking at creating accurate and precise models to assist in medical diagnosis in ICU patients.”

Bridget Smart Buddah Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Buddah Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore

We asked Bridget how she was enjoying Singapore so far: “I’m absolutely loving Singapore! I had very little idea of what Singapore was like as I had never been there, but have been delighted to discover a diverse country full of amazing places to explore.”

“The National University of Singapore has an amazing campus life and is always buzzing with activity – sport teams, bands and ensembles, people eating together, and of course studying! Singapore is also an incredible place to travel from – so far I’ve been able to visit Kuala Lumpur and Tioman Island in Malaysia, and I’ve just returned from a trip to Thailand.”

“There are four official languages: English, Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay. I have also been lucky enough to see so many Chinese New Year celebrations, and took part in a Lo Hei with my ultimate Frisbee team. My experience so far is that I couldn’t have chosen a better place to come for exchange! Singapore has proven to be an amazing place to live, explore, and study.”


NCP Scholars at Aus Day event

New Colombo Plan Scholars at the Australian High Commission's Australia Day event

Bridget’s average day at NUS: “I usually wake up, do some yoga, and then head down to the dining hall. The breakfast options usually include Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western, which always means the choice can be hard! Even though I live on campus, NUS is so big that it has its own bus system, so after breakfast I go and get the bus to class.”

“After some lectures and tutorials, I will head back to University Town to get lunch with my friends and do some study. I’ve joined the ultimate Frisbee team, so we will train in the evening to avoid the sun, and after training, get dinner in the dining hall together. If I don’t have training, I try to make the most of living on campus by going for a swim or to hang out on the lawn. Of course, on days when I finish early I will get the MRT (train) to go and explore new areas in Singapore. My favourite places I’ve been so far are Haji Lane, Little India, China Town, and the botanic gardens.”

When recalling the moment she found out she had been accepted for a New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Bridget said: “I was just heading back from collecting some printing and I checked my email – I managed to scan halfway through before I even registered what it was. Once I realised, I just stood in the hall rereading the first couple of lines to make sure. I was so happy and excited that I rang my family straight away before I realised I really had to get back to class!”


Bridget Smart elephant

Visiting elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand

“When I first started looking at exchanges I wasn’t considering Asia at all – but after an exchange talk hosted by the Maths department, I realised just how incredible the opportunities Singapore offers are! So once the idea got into my head, I knew I really needed to go and study in Singapore. I wanted to chance things up and step out of my comfort zone. It is a really lovely place to live, and while everyone speaks English (which makes living in a foreign country easier), I also get the chance to improve my Mandarin skills, travel around Asia, and enjoy the tropical weather.”

“Coming into university I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study. Every day I wanted to do something new, but I always knew that I wanted to study in an area which would allow me to solve complex, global issues in practical and creative ways. After I realised that every time I considered a degree I was trying to work out how many maths subjects I could do, I knew that I really needed to just start in a maths degree.”


Bridget Singapore gardens

Gardens by the Bay area in Singapore

“I think that during university students have so much flexibility and so many opportunities that an exchange makes the most of! I really encourage anyone interested in an exchange to start looking at the information very early and planning, because it definitely comes up faster than you think. It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world, travel to amazing places and experience life in other countries. So far, the experience has exceeded all of my expectations, and while there have definitely been some rough times while I settled in, the experiences I’ve been able to have are brilliant and I’m so grateful I decided to go on exchange so early in my degree.”

“I’m doing research with BIGHEART, a biomedical research institute, as part of my studies at NUS. We are currently looking into the application of artificial intelligence to aid in medical diagnosis. It sounds very far from my mathematical focus, but the modelling, data analysis, and research focus all tie in very nicely with my studies. It’s been great to work within a research group, meet people from all over the globe, and also to conduct research in a field I am passionate about.”


Bridget Smart Singapore city skyline

Singapore city skyline

“My exchange is exposing me to so many inspiring people in a variety of fields, and my experiences are giving me the chance to develop new skills and build valuable connections. Having an international network and so many diverse experiences will give me the tools to succeed in my chosen area. My NCP program is helping me see and engage with how maths can be applied to almost every area – something I have been told countless times, but never really experienced until now. I’ve spoken to people working in research fields, banking, business, and politics, who had maths backgrounds and use their analytical and abstract thinking skills to excel in their chosen careers.”

Bridget Smart overlooking Singapore

“I wish someone had told me to consider Singapore for exchange earlier. It’s such a lovely place to live and the campus life is very exciting. The weather is amazing, the cultural experience is incredible, and the travel opportunities are unique and diverse – what more could you want in an exchange destination?”

“The public transport is great and living in a big city is very exciting and there is always somewhere new to explore. The university is outstanding and living on campus gives an amazing community and so many social experiences. I think students who are looking for somewhere a bit different and who want to do a lot of travel but also want to live somewhere very friendly should strongly consider Singapore.”

“Coming to Singapore has helped me realise that I want to make the most of the flexibility of my undergraduate study. It has taught me that there are so many opportunities and experiences out there, even if you have to look around to find them. I’ve also always wanted to go on an exchange to Denmark, and being here in Singapore has made me even more determined to go before the end of my degree.”

You can follow Bridget’s experience in Singapore either on her Instagram @bridget_smart, or on our Instagram @uaoverseas.

If you’re interested in doing an exchange in Singapore, you can view our Singapore page here.

Tagged in New Colombo Plan, New Colombo Plan Scholars, Singapore, National University of Singapore, Exchange, Funding