How I conquered the active volcano – Mount Rinjani

The sound of my alarm woke me at 1am. I woke reluctantly, watching through bleary eyes as the guides went around the tents, checking that we were awake before passing us our breakfast of bread spread thickly with marmalade and steaming cups of ginger tea. We gratefully gulped down the homemade ginger tea as it was bitterly cold, even when we were clad in layers of our thickest clothing. They made really good makeshift heat packs. We were looking forward to the summit climb, but not how cold it will be.

Continue reading

Furthering dreams: We built six classrooms for children in Laos

Over the past two years, 11 teams of NTU students had been hard at work during semester breaks constructing a school annex at the Hin Heup District in Laos, a three-hour drive from Vientiane, its capital.

Students from the NTU Welfare Services Club, hall of residence clubs and other school and student groups were part of the Nong Luang Village School Annex Project to transform the lives of the villagers.

Continue reading

8 ways to jump-start your start-up at NTU


Do entrepreneurs need a university education? After all, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of university. However, they spent much of their formative years in university, and, for some, made connections during this time that would be vital to their success. There is an even longer list of successful entrepreneurs, like Jack Ma, Elon Musk and Larry Page, who graduated from university with excellent grades, too.

I believe that university is useful for building skills and networks that will be helpful for building your future business. The good news is, there are plenty of opportunities in NTU that set you towards your goal.

Here are eight steps aspiring entrepreneurs in NTU can take to kickstart their dreams. Continue reading

I went to TED and this is what happened

Not the fluffy, cotton-wool, snoozy kind of dreams. Big dreams. Bold dreams. Beautiful dreams. Dreams that will change the world.”

This was how Chris Anderson, TED Curator, sparked our imagination as a prelude to the TED2016 Conference. For five days and evenings in February, TEDsters from all over the world converged on Vancouver for the now legendary annual conference often described as the ultimate “brain spa”. With over 80 speakers and performers and more than 1,200 participants, the week was bursting with inspiration, imagination and ignition, and it did not disappoint! Continue reading

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.


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

Continue reading

It’s philosophy, not chim-o-nology

‘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.

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

Chasing storms, bands and friends in the USA

A furnace. That’s what Singapore feels like after returning from a nearly five-month getaway in cooler countries such as the US and Japan. Although, to be fair, I was only in those countries during late winter, spring and early summer. I heard that summers in the US and Japan could be warmer than it usually is in Singapore.

The University of Missouri-Columbia

It had always been my dream to visit America some day. This is mainly because it has an individualistic culture that I can relate to better than Asia’s collectivistic culture. Also, it is simply a new place to explore. As I travelled alone, I relied on Google Maps heavily. Even though I’m back in Singapore, I now find myself consulting Google Maps even when travelling to everyday locations.

Sightseeing is typically the focus of a student’s post-exchange travels, but it was different for me. While I still went sightseeing, my post-exchange vacation was more social and musical. I’m an appreciator of heavy metal and its various sub-genres, and I have been writing about metal on and off for five years now.

Many metal bands hail from America, with Metallica being the most famous. (Although I’d argue they are a hard rock band.) And many fellow writers I’ve befriended on the Internet are from the land of the free, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks coffee, too.  Continue reading

Upside of being down under

During the last week of the summer holidays, I went on a research trip to Perth, Western Australia, under NTU’s University Scholars Programme (USP).

Last year, we went to Taiwan, with “culture” as the research topic. This year, the theme was “sustainability”.

In Perth, we were split into different groups and delved into topics like water sustainability, energy sustainability, sustainable tourism, and sustainable lifestyle practices. This year’s topics were more technical and thus much more challenging. Nevertheless, all of us did our best and put together a great end-product after weeks of research, discussion and editing.

Although it was a research trip, we had our fair share of fun.

As we were a big group of about 80 students and faculty, we arrived at Perth on four different flights. My group was on the third flight, and by the time we had landed and checked-in, all the shops were already closed. Unlike in Singapore, all the shops in Perth close by 5pm. However, that did not stop us from taking pictures of the wonderful city!

We took the free bus into town. The streets don’t look that different from Singapore’s, except that they are more cluttered with random buskers, but they still look beautiful. Or maybe the grass just looks greener on the other side?

G4_1 Continue reading