Shanru Xu, a fourth-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering at H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), recently got the opportunity to participate in ISyE’s Summer in Asia program.
Xu embarked on a journey that had her visit several South Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Her itinerary encompassed visits to well-known destinations such as Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, as well as exploration of cities with substantial historical and cultural significance.
The Summer in Asia program facilitated Xu to form closer connections with some of her classmates. Traveling to new countries, living there, attending classes, and exploring empowered Xu to experience a different lifestyle. She gained perspective about the variances in the lifestyles of individuals in the Southeast Asia region, further enriching her international education experience.
When asked about her decision to choose Asia, Xu explained, “Most people, when they opt to study abroad in college choose Europe, and Asia is a less popular destination. Seeing different places in Asia was eye-opening to me; it was intriguing to see how differently people live. I think that was a really big thing for me and added to what I learned throughout the summer”.
From Classroom to Homeland
Xu took a total of four classes during the Summer in Asia program. With her roots tracing back to China, Xu had taken a course titled “Asia in the Modern World” under the guidance of Professor Hanchao Lu.
This course dived deep into the rich history, culture, and heritage of Asia. Upon completion of the program, Xu decided to visit her family in China. During her visit, she astutely recognized and appreciated the subtle nuances and facts about China that were unbeknownst to her prior to the class.
Data Analysis of Singapore’s economy
The second class titled “Financial Data Analysis” instructed by Professor Xiaoming Huo, drove Xu’s perspective into Financial Analysis. This class enabled her to correlate theoretical knowledge with practical experience.
Another takeaway from the class that Xu found particularly fascinating was the professor’s capacity to draw connections between financial analysis and more technical concepts such as machine learning or algorithms.
Indoctrination into Sustainability
Xu's interest was notably sparked by the "Energy and Green Economy" course, which was conducted by Professor Ang Beng Wah. This academic endeavor held a special allure as it was taught by a seasoned professional.
The course involved extensive research concerning cars in Singapore, revealing how government regulations have made car ownership a luxury within the country. Additionally, the class provoked Xu to think about the differences between Singapore and the United States.
Analyzing and Mitigating Risks
"Decision Model & Risk Analysis” led by Professor Kim Leng Poh was Xu’s final course in her Summer in Asia program. This course centered around concepts of Risk Analysis and Mitigation, where Xu gained a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental concepts of Risk Assessment and Decision Modeling within projects.
She fondly recalls this class as her favorite, thanks to its pragmatic and realistic approach to risk management for various projects.
Throughout her trip, Xu had several unique experiences. One of the highlights was her visit to Angkor Wat. Upon visiting, Xu was immediately struck with the ambiance difference of Angkor Wat in comparison to the other cities she had traveled to.
While other destinations resembled a hustling and bustling metropolis, Angkor Wat provided a serene atmosphere and a sense of calm. The highlight of the trip was witnessing the sunrise over the ancient Buddhist temples, casting a golden glow on their unforgettable journey.
Vietnam holds a special significance for Xu as it was where she had her inaugural experience with motorbikes. “I think that was cool and interesting to see because there are more motorbikes than cars there, so it was super chaotic. It was also exciting because the motorbikes would squeeze in between the cars and go on the sidewalk sometimes.” Xu said.
While exploring Kaula Lumpur, Xu recalls her experience at a street food market. Contrasting significantly with American street food scenes, the market in Kuala Lumpur not only showcased diverse culinary delights but had a unique methodology for on-street advertising and marketing.
The promoters of the establishments had a knack for distinguishing the tourists from the locals and employed attention-grabbing techniques like shoulder taps or spontaneously handing menus to prospective customers, enticing them to indulge in the local flavors.
Program’s Transformative impact
When asked about the impact of the Summer in Asia program on her post-graduation aspirations, Xu professed her desire to obtain some practical experience by working in one of the countries she visited during the program.
In the future, Xu hopes that more students at ISyE will elect Asia as their preferred destination for the international program. She believes Singapore is an excellent location for students to enrich themselves with a new culture and way of thinking.
Furthermore, studying in Vietnam offers a unique and distinctly contrasting experience from studying in the United States. Students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Vietnam’s rich culture and embrace a lifestyle that is vastly different from the one in the U.S.
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Author: Atharva Anand Dave, Writing Assistant