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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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

Do it, don’t regret it

I’m in a reflective mood. As a member of the graduating Class of 2014, seeing a chapter of my life come to a close gives me pause to reflect.

Once you leave the confines of the University, there are no more modules, no more exams, no final grades, just a daily series of life assessments with no end. The day you graduate is the day you’re admitted into the postgraduate course of life, where as a working adult, you’re no longer given as many opportunities to make mistakes.

I believe that the working world is an opportunity to find greater meaning in life though, and I look forward to becoming a freshman in the “institution of life”.

What I want to focus on in this post is: regret. I don’t know why working people reminisce about the beauty of their university education, but I have a feeling it’s because they had more freedom then.

In an article in The Guardian, a palliative nurse describes the five most common regrets people have at the end of their lives. None of them are about worldly achievements:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

How does all this relate to your four years in university? Continue reading