20 Things I learnt from University

By Ricky and Ted

University life is when we transform from being an adolescent to an adult. We learn not just about E=mc2 anymore, but about life. It is also when we come face to face with quarter life crisis (it is never too early) and grow as a result. Find out what are our top 20 learning’s cruising through a world class university in Singapore:

1. Before university, I played with my classmates, laughed at one other and cried over poor academic results together, but when I entered university, all my classmates became hi-bye friends. I finally learned that we come to and leave this world alone, therefore its only right to focus on ourselves.

2. When I first joined university, I bought a Toshiba laptop and a friend said that it sucked. I took a cool elective and another friend commented that it was the most boring subject ever. I applied to Germany for an exchange program and a senior advised:“Don't waste your time”. But I am happy with my Toshiba, enjoyed the elective lesson and Germany was the most beautiful country I ever been to. So, I realized: Feel free to take in the opinions of others, but ultimately its your own decision to make.

3. Before university, I envied those little couples in the campus, holding hands lovingly whilst walking along the corridors. And I was always alone. After entering university, they broke up because of immaturity on both sides, leaving behind painful memories forever etched in their minds. My good friend cried miserably in front of me. While I am still the lonely me, but I believe that someone who really loves me is waiting for me.

4. In university, I have seen more than 1 person going for 2 degrees, 3 overseas programs, 4 internships, 5 business competitions and 6 networking events, just to secure a good job. At first I wanted to keep up with the competition but doing so caused me much unhappiness and stress. Eventually, I decided that perhaps its better to take a step back and let others move forward.

5. In year 1, I had diarrhea, I called my mum and cried over the phone. In year 2, my roommate got a big cut and 4 stitches on his head. I asked him if he told his mum. He said no because he did not want her to worry. So I began to understand, its time to be a grown-up and take care of my own problems.

6. All EEE core modules come with lecture recordings. It makes me uninterested in going to lectures since I can watch the recordings anytime anywhere. Somehow, forced myself to attend them all. A week before the exams, when I started review the recordings as part of my revision process, I found out to my horror, that a handful of them showed only a pitch black screen with a line in the center that says: “Due to the unforeseen technical problems, the recording is not available for this lesson.” There and then, I understood out that technology is never always reliable,therefore it is still best to count on oneself.

7. There was once when I managed to make it to a morning lecture. I saw one of my classmates listening to the lecture with eyes as wide as that of an owl and sitting up as straight as a mountain. I asked him: “Don't you feel sleepy at all?” He said no. My jaws dropped when I found out that he was not even staying in a hall, and he commutes daily to school from his house in Punggol. Then I realize that some of us conveniently make up too many excuses for ourselves when things do not get done, yet others willingly go about their routines without the least bit of complaining.

8. After A level exam, I swore to my teacher and even posted on Facebook, “I will never ever take any maths-related subject in my life after the A levels, period.” Due to my mediocre results, I was only accepted into NTU EEE. I realized: “Don't be over confident. It will make my future tough, and my friends laugh.”

9. I enrolled into NTU EEE because I was pretty good at Maths; mum and dad also said that I would be able to earn a good income as an engineer. Well, actually its mainly because EEE was at that time pretty much the only course I could get into, other than nursing, history, arts etc. After my internship and about 4 semesters of torture, I knew that this wasn't what I wanted to do in life. I still don’t know what I want, at least I know what I don’t want. I learnt that life is a continuous process of finding ourselves through trial & error.

10. I changed from “I wish to study overseas” to “I wish to study in local university with overseas exchange experience” to “Forget about overseas, I will be happy to pass all my modules”. After I started work, I changed from “I want to be a millionaire” to “I hope to retire early” to finally, “I just want to get a stable job”. I realize that sometimes we need to be realistic rather than idealistic.

11. When I went for the overseas exchange program, I made friends with people from Japan, China, Korea, Sweden, Chile, Germany and America. Upon discovering that we were from Singapore, they exclaimed and asked : “ Why can you speak English so well ? Where and what is Singapore? “ I proudly shared the things I memorized from my secondary school history textbook. It was the first time I felt so proud to be a Singaporean.

12. Last time, when a teacher wrote or spoke something wrongly, we would point it out to him/her. However in university lectures, no one will bother to mention anything. Some sit too far for comfort, some think the lectures are a joke, some have no guts to raise their concerns while most don’t even know what the professor is rambling on about. When we grow older, we become less inquisitive and questioning.

13. My parents carried all things big and small for me when I first moved into the hall. My overzealous mum made sure I did not miss out any item of living necessity. I met my foreign roommate. He did everything on his own, occasionally texting his mum in their hometown. I told him: “Your parents are not always on your back, how I envy you!” He replied that while was I yearning for the independence he enjoyed, he was jealous of me having such caring parents. At that time, I learnt : “Be satisfied and appreciative of what you do have, remember there are always others who would love to be in your shoes.“

14. I went to volunteer at a kindergarten and I saw something puzzling. Whenever the teacher asks a question, 90% of them would raise up their hands, eager to give the answers. At the end of class, the teacher asked if they have any questions and 90% of them would again raise their hands. Imagine my amazement when I found out from the teacher that no class participation marks were awarded. I learned that we stop being genuinely curious as we grow older.

15. During the A level exams, I dreamt about paradise beckoning to me in university. When I was in university, I can’t wait to go out to work and earn my own money. When I finally started working, I began to wish I was still in school without a demonic boss taunting me all the time. I realized the hard way that I have not been enjoying each stage of my life at all. I learnt that a goal should exist not for us to ignore the present, but to motivate us to work harder.

16. Before university, I read the entertainment and sports columns in newspapers. In university, I started reading up on fashion while my professor went into discourses about world news and politics all the time. Now I know why the newspaper has so many categories; it is to cater to different needs.

17. Before the A levels, I thought: “Come on! at least let me join a local university.” When I joined university, I told myself: “Come on! at least let me pass the module”. When I graduated, “Come on! at least let me find a job!” After going through a series of interviews and rejections for a period of 6 months, I got a job which I was left with little choice but to accept. I began to realize that if you have lower expectations on yourself, so do others have of you.

18. Before University, I envied the athletic and smart guy in our school who was the chick magnet, while I was the nerdy me no girl wanted to be with. I tried playing basketball but the ball played me instead. Later, I came across the stories of the world’s richest people : Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg and Larry Page, and found out that all of them were geeks in schools. I learnt that everyone has their own unique strengths, learn to appreciate yourself.

19. When I was still a teenager feeling rebellious, I argued with my parents and left home to seek refuge with friends. But when I grew up, I would return home just for a hug with my parents whenever I felt sad. Fledgling wings always look forward to flying away; but when we do soar, we miss our homes.

20. When we were young, we cried over not getting good grades, not being the hottest person in school and not getting the things that we wanted. When I joined university, I sobbed when I was leaving my hall, cried when my dad lost his job and wept when I was feeling homesick. We know we are growing, when we shed tears for the people around us, rather than for ourselves.

This article first appeared on Digital Senior. It is reproduced with permission.


NUS assistant professor faking academic credentials

Great Aspirations

Private University Degree: Postponing Disappointment