I had one of the most intensive days ever yesterday. 3 classes, with two breaks in between, then went to celebrate Singapore National Day in the evening with Singaporean food catered by Singaporean club!

*Ok, I get a lot of comments saying “Oh, it doesn’t make sense to mingle with Singaporeans when you’re studying overseas cos a huge part of the experience is mingling with the locals and other international students from all over the world! How interesting it will be if you’re just stuck in your comfort zone?” And I know how much sense it makes. However to me, I joined the club hoping to find a home away from home and yaknow, peer support to keep me rooted and grounded in my own culture.

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We had foods like BakKutTeh, curry chicken, fried rice, noodles, Braised chicken etc. It was really good. I was telling my friends I was craving BKT and didn’t expect to see them catered during the event! I went them (friends I made during orientation) and then met another 2 Singaporeans during the event. Our conversations are usually very hyped, talking about our courses, where we live, how long have we been here and how well have we been settling in hahaha.

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Then they decided to livestream NDP! Was so happy hahaha but didn’t watch everything in the end. Classes were okay. My first lecture was a International TV lecture, followed by a web design class, and a International TV tutorial. All these happened earlier on and I can’t really remember much of what happened during the day…my life has been pretty eventful so far. Even a simple thing like going to class can have really all sorts of interesting discoveries (stumbling upon rare species of birds, flowers, getting lost in the huge campus etc) and a boring thing like attending class could be SO HAPPENING (meeting people with different accents, having a guy that looked like Zac Efron sit opposite me, having really interesting teachers from USA, London etc). What I can say is, I’ll probably not experience all these things to such a great extent if I remained in Singapore to study. I’m a person that really hates routine so I guess this really works for me, I’ve been telling myself to go to class with an open mind!

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International Tv lecture was okay except that I was late for class. Again. Like I could count how many times am I not late man. I am so annoyed with myself and how I always estimate the time wrongly. Didn’t really understand the lecture but it’s okay. The next two tutorials were fun! I didn’t really have any friends inside my classes (most of my friends are doing different courses, we met during orientation) but I do have a lot of classes where I walk in and…know no one at all.

After Monday and Tuesday I got really frustrated for being so quiet and so Wednesday during web design class I forced myself to say “hi” to this girl and I think I came across as too desperate HAHAHA. Suppressed myself for too long😂 Thankfully, she was nice and helped me with web design (plus I’m so happy she’s so freaking good at it!!) Popping pictures every now and then of my school seems like a good idea so dont mind me—the campus is really beautiful by the way!

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I am required to do web design for two of my modules can you believe it. IT & society and interactive web design. I didn’t even know IT&society requires web design, so when I found out I was internally screaming. I’m doing PR & advertising too. I can’t believe what I signed myself up for hahah. I am taking the very modules I was WORST at in SP and I thought I was finally done with them. I am so wrong.

Surprisingly, I started to take on a new perspective and was actually quite excited for this chance to brush up on my weaker modules back then, especially when I didn’t get to do advertising for FYP. I am actually enjoying web design! We were all kinda forced into it last time but strangely I am beginning to like it now. Maybe it’s because of some girls around me that has been so passionate about it. Eg. Karlie Kloss, who can code perfectly and I’m just SO INSPIRED by her man. Like if she can love web design, it must be something really interesting! I need to motivate myself haha.

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Anyway, the class I went for in the afternoon—it was so. smashing. challenging. I thought they were going to go through HTML & CSS but NO the lecturer went SO FAST Im not even kidding. The students just opened their laptops and immediately started typing furiously on their laptops, coding and IM SO SHOOKED. This is just the first lesson and what’s going on? Everyone’s coding already? After that I found out EVERYONE in the class had prior knowledge of HTML & CSS while I’m just a rusty brainer sitting there 🙂 The lecturer went like “oh this class is teaching Javascript and jQuery you’re supposed to know HTML & CSS beforehand and I’m like-” 😅

SO, because of this, you know what? I have A WHOLE MODULE WORTH OF STUFF TO COVER within a week, before class starts in Week 3. Apparently this class did another module last semester talking about the basics of HTML & CSS but I missed that, so the lecturer suggested me going into the iLearn portal to revise EVERYTHING taught in that other module, from week 1-8, in order to understand this module & not be left behind.

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After that was international TV tutorial! I grouped with a group of students from China that didn’t understand what was I saying fml. They would discuss the project in chinese and they don’t know much english which means I’ll have to tank the whole project?? I’m seriously worried. It’s a group presentation and if they don’t know English or can’t speak it well then how are they going to present with me?? I wouldn’t want them to pull down my marks lol. I’ll really have to help the group 😫😩

One thing I absolutely love about studying in an overseas uni is the school culture. They are very, very different from Asian school cultures and the campus is much more vibrant in my opinion. Unlike Asians, the students there focus less on ‘mugging’ and more on all-rounded education and developing life skills. I’ve listed a few points!

#1: Self-initiated learning is very common
We have to take responsibility for our own learning. NOBODY, and I stress, nobody cares. We are given A LOT of freedom. In my opinion, students in poly will have a much easier time adapting in this area compared to students in JC because in poly you’re pretty much on your own already. Just that this is far more “students taking charge and in control”—you come and go as you wish, no discipline committee, no attendance taking, you plan your own timetable and own class timings—I’m also given a lot of freedom to choose the modules I want to take and customise my own learning schedule. Of course there are core modules I have to complete, but luckily for me, my major allows me to choose a number of electives.

#2: Work-life balance is tip top here.
I’m so happy to see students here strike a balance between study and play! Even though the library is always full (even during week 2), but the University actually organises A LOT of events all throughout the week. One thing that is really different from Singapore is that the University (not hall, University) actually organise partying gatherings with alcohol and stuff involved. And the other programs have so much variety! Like chocolate fountains, sports afternoons, and in the atrium I’ll see artsy people hanging out and dancing etc, it just appeals to me of how much this place is bursting of creativity.

#3: Global issues is the main focus.
International viewpoints. Global Leadership Program. Student Exchange. Professional and Community engagement International. All these activities and programs and readily available in my university and students are so encouraged to join by teachers, and so enthusiastic about it themselves. I wished they had more stuff like this in Singapore especially when it’s such a small country and with the onset of globalisation. But NO. Compared to Australia and other Western countries, Singapore is still much more academic, no wonder everyone’s dying to get out of that little red dot. I would say Singapore is improving, but still not as good as Western culture where the education focuses more on personal developmental skills like confidence (ever notice that Asians are usually more shy?), being work ready, public speaking etc rather than just good grades.

Ok, I would say there were opportunities for me in SP for global exposure but then again there weren’t that many opportunities and options. I wasn’t spoiled for choice. I had to go out of the way to source for my opportunities and then petition for it or something. But yeah, the overall feel I got from Singapore’s education system is that it is too boring and routined. It is too go-by-the-books and not out-of-the-box, especially for secondary school and JC (based on my friend’s experiences). It got so bad that I would have to consult the teacher’s opinions/seek instructions everytime I do something, if not I would not feel at ease. You know? Cos we’re so used to playing by the book?

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To end off, yesterday was the first day that I had cold air coming out of my mouth while talking. I’ve always watched those dramas filmed in cold/snowy regions and thought it was so cool I’ve never expected to experience it like that! The temperature dropped to one of the coldest for me last night. I went home late and it was already night time by the time the National Day gathering ended. I was afraid to walk home (full story on my house another time) but two of my friends offered to walk me home.

 

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I was very touched that night. As I was walking I was telling them how thankful I am for this offer and one of my friends said, “Yeah cos we’re in another country mah, we feel like taking care and looking out for one another. I mean if we’re in Singapore we probably wouldn’t have this sense of cohesiveness.” Which is quite true, because if I’m a malaysian or korean you’ll probably be less motivated to help me right?

In a foreign land, the people is what feels like home. You guys, are truly my comfort zone. The gesture means a lot to me because I am very scared to walk home alone at night, especially in the dark. As we said goodbye we hugged, and this is the best National Day gift I could ever receive.