My Marco Polo adventures

China has always been on my travel bucket list. So when an opportunity came up to go on exchange with a university there, I was definitely not going to let it pass. In a regular meeting with my professor one day, he asked if I would like to go for a short exchange programme to study at Hefei University of Technology. For a split second, I thought he was kidding, so I jokingly said “yes”. Little did I know he was serious and three weeks after that meeting, I found myself boarding a plane to China.

As a first-time traveller in China, I experienced many new things during my exchange and also ran into a few hiccups.

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I climbed up to the school’s rooftop and was rewarded with this beautiful view.

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What’s buzzing at The Hive?

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I am very proud of our new learning hub, The Hive, and at its official opening last week, I shared in a speech my thoughts on why it is not just an eye-catching building but will soon become an icon of the future of learning.

Not your regular modular building stacked up like Lego bricks, it redefines university buildings with its unusual shape and use of space for learning in the 21st century.

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Why critical thinking matters

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As an undergraduate at NTU, I have found that critical thinking is encouraged in classroom discussions. In theory, the goal of critical thinking can be said to make you a devil’s advocate. No opinion or argument is flawless; you can and will, seemingly for its own sake, find fault with anything a person says. Of course, this sounds like a surefire way to gain unpopularity.

However, by moulding you into an independent thinker, critical thinking brings benefits that far outweigh its initial drawbacks.

Here are three reasons why critical thinking matters: Continue reading

Relax, don’t cram

Hello, everyone! First things first, here’s wishing you a Happy “Goat” Xi Fa Cai. Do excuse the bad pun, just wishing everyone a happy and good Year of the Sheep! It’s a new year and a new start – our chance to do better, keep our heads up and move ahead.

One of the biggest lessons I learnt at the School of Art, Design & Media (ADM) last semester is don’t cram all your studio modules into one semester. You will NEVER have the time to finish all of them. So a heads-up to my ADM juniors! 😀 But apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the last semester, especially my Applied Drawing and Art History classes. They made learning all the more interesting.

During my lessons in Applied Drawing, we were taught to notice the smaller details and capture what we see in a different way. For example, sometimes when we draw an object, it can look a little weird. Try a different approach by drawing the “negative” shapes instead. By doing so, we capture the forms around the area, rather than just focusing on the object itself – another way to achieve the end goal. Continue reading

Something happened in year three

We cupped our ears and squinted our eyes; the horrendous din was reminiscent of a ghoulish scene from Dante’s Inferno

That’s what it felt like as my friends and I returned to NTU to do some admin work after our graduation in August. We looked at the freshmen in their camps and had this moment of sage-like wisdom: “Ah freshmen, how little they know…” Then it dawned on us: four years ago we were in those same freshmen camps.

Something happens as you transition from being a freshman to a sophomore (year two) then a junior (year three) and finally a senior student (year four).

Suddenly, what used to fascinate you as freshman or sophomore doesn’t intrigue you anymore. Other things become more interesting and you find that freshmen start to look at you like some wise, old person. Secretly, behind your wizened demeanour, you marvel at how they can stay up till 4am and not be absolutely burned out the next day. You are amazed at how they can shout and scream and run and still have so much energy. You are amazed at the muscle-ripping figures they have, and wonder whether you ever looked that ripped in your prime. Don’t look as if you don’t know what I mean (especially the guys)! By year three or four you probably started building a tummy pillow around your waist, which I’ve always had. Well, at least I maintained the rest of my figure.

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The day I entered Miss Singapore World


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I never imagined myself in that world of big smiles, perfect hair and tiaras – let alone one of Singapore’s “Big 4” pageants – but this September I found myself in a neat line of girls in gowns, on that very stage, at Miss Singapore World.

It still feels a little surreal. I’d woken up one morning to a Facebook message inviting me to join Miss Singapore World. It was one of those “What if?” moments – they had already completed a pre-judging segment, and the night itself was only a few weeks away, but I decided to go with a “Why not!” and put my best stiletto-ed foot forward.  Continue reading

Learning to learn

Break’s out, school’s in and it’s time to start studying again.

Do I hear groans?

This post is going to be for those of you who want to learn how to study smart. I’m going to take it for granted that you’re in university and want good grades.

In a previous post, I mentioned about having no regrets and not working too hard, but that doesn’t mean your grades shouldn’t matter. So, assuming you want to be able to get good grades and fully immerse yourself in the NTU experience, what exactly do you do?

Here’s what I’ve learnt about learning over the last few years. Continue reading

It’s philosophy, not chim-o-nology

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‘By Michael Biech (Philosophy) / Wikimedia Commons’

Philosophy is often misunderstood. Many NTU students tend to see philosophy as a chim (profound) subject because when they think of philosophy, they think of or remember how difficult philosophical text can be to understand. For example, here’s a quote from the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida in his essay, Différance: Continue reading

Overweight luggage? Check. Missed the bus? Check.

Post-exchange travel rarely happens smoothly, especially if it’s also your first time travelling alone, like it was for me. All sorts of problems can materialise: delayed flights, missing an interstate bus, leaving something behind, overweight luggage… the list is endless. For me, my constant worry was about luggage weight or missing an interstate bus or flight.

While travelling in the United States after my exchange at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I mainly rode the interstate bus, Megabus, from state to state. Besides the lower cost, it’s better than flying as you get to admire the scenery zooming past. Like planes though, interstate buses in the US have weight limits on luggage, set at 50lbs (about 23kg). Because I had just spent a semester on exchange in Missouri and accumulated a pile of school notes, university merchandise and band T-shirts from metal concerts that I attended, I constantly worried about being denied entry when boarding the bus.

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My dorm room the night before I left the University of Missouri-Columbia. Notice the remaining items that still need to be packed into the almost-full suitcase. Continue reading