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 crises (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 each other and cried over the poor results together, but when I entered university, all my classmates became hi-bye friends. I finally learn that we come to and leave this world alone, it’s time 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 is the most boring subject ever. I applied to Germany for exchange and a senior advised: “Don’t waste your time”. But I am happy with my Toshiba, enjoyed the elective lesson and Germany is the most beautiful country I ever been to. So, I realize: Take in other people’s opinion but make your own decision.
3. Before university, I envied those little couples in the campus, holding hands lovingly walking along the corridor. 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. And I am still the lonely me, but I believe that someone who really loves me is waiting for me.
4. In university, I see 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 to be very unhappy. Eventually, I decided that perhaps it’s better to take a step back and let others move forward.
5. In year 1, I had diarrhoea, 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, it’s 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, I never did and it dragged till 1 week before exams. When I started to throw myself into the recordings, I found out to my horror, that a handful of them showed only a pitch black screen with a line in the centre saying “Due to the unforeseen technical problems, the recording is not available for this lesson.” At that time, I found out that technology is not reliable, count on yourself.
7. There was once I manage 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 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 is not staying in hall. Instead, he stays in Punggol. Then I realize that sometimes we make up too many excuses for ourselves.
8. After A level exam, I swore to my teacher and even posted on Facebook, “I will never ever take any maths subject in my life after A-levels again”. Due to my mediocre results, I was only accepted into NTU EEE. I realized: “Don’t be overconfident. It will make my future tough, and my friends laugh.”
9. I enrolled into NTU EEE because I’m pretty good at Maths and mum & dad said that I can earn a good income as an engineer. Well, actually it’s mainly because EEE is pretty much the only course I could get into, apart from nursing, history, arts etc. After my internship and about 4 semesters of torture, I knew that it is not what I want. 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 a 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 knowing that we are from Singapore, they exclaimed and asked: “ Why can you speak English so well? What is Singapore? “ I proudly shared the things I memorized from my secondary school history textbook. It was the first time I feel so proud being a Singaporean.
12. Last time, when the teacher writes or says something wrong, we point out to the teacher. But in university lectures, no one will mention anything. Some sit too far, some think its a joke, some have no guts and most don’t even know what prof is talking about. When we grow older, more things stop us from being right.
13. My parents carried all the big and small things for me when I first moved into the hall. My overzealous mum made sure I did not miss out on a single item of 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 I drool over his independence, he is jealous of me having such caring parents. At that time, I learnt: “Be satisfied with what you have, there is someone who will 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 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 again raise their hands. I thought any of them would make it to the dean’s list if they were in SMU. So imagine how amazed I was when I found out from the teacher that there are no class participation marks given to them. I learn that we stop being genuinely curious as we grow older.
15. During the A-level exams, I dreamt about the paradise beckoning me in university. When I was in university, I couldn’t wait to go out to work and earn my own money. When I finally started working, I began to wish I am still a student without a demonic boss haunting me all the time. I found out 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 about entertainment and sports on newspaper. In university, I start reading on fashion while my prof talks about world news and politics all the time. Now I know, why the newspaper has so many categories.
17. Before 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 have no choice but to accept. I began to realize that if you have lower expectations of yourself, so do others for you.
18. Before University, I envied the athletic and smart guy in our school who is the magnet of the opposite gender, while I am the nerdy me. 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.
Read also : 5 groups of people you will see in university
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 go back home just for a hug with my parents whenever I feel sad. Fledgling wings always look forward to fly; but when we soar, we miss the home.
20. When we were young, we cried over not getting good grades, not being the hottest person in school and for not getting things that we want. 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, only when our tears is for people around us, not for ourselves.
University life is an experience that money can’t buy, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You have the time of your life, learn independence and make innocent friendship (or relationship). If you are in university, cherish your time now and if you are out of university, spend some time reminiscing and I’m sure you will smile at those bittersweet memories.
Author: Ricky and Ted
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Undergraduates sharing their personal stories at The Sharing Corner