4 Secrets for 4 Years of Happy SMU Life

Happy SMU student

Shared by Ivy WAH, SMU

A lot of people raise their eyebrows when I declare that I love my university- SMU, with its competitive environment, sometimes crushing workloads, and presentations where students try harder than getting their bf/gf to marry them (with sometimes entertaining pressie results). But before you write me off as a sadist/elitist/nerd/some other equally nasty label, here are some 4 tips that have helped me maneuver SMU life, which might be useful for you too. 2 are DUH, 2 are a bit uncommon, starting with:

 Do NOT aim to stay overnight in the school library.

aka don’t perpetuate stereotypes. I sometimes do Jackie Chan faces at Facebook posts that go:

Jackie Chan face

Unless they are naturally nocturnal creatures (as many SMU students are, for other reasons…), having to stay overnight to mug in school seems like a mismanagement of time to me. Besides, it is also unhealthy to stay up all night and mess up sleep cycles. Sometimes there’s no choice (5 mods where the profs collaborated to make it due on the same day), but what worries me are peers and juniors who think it’s cool to accumulate so much work that they have to mug overnight. I think it’s symptomatic of an unbalanced lifestyle. Avoid if possible.

 JOIN a CCA and/or an OCSP.

This is where the best friendships are formed. There is nothing like sweating through killer training sessions / endless dance rehearsals / planning large scale events / enduring 10 days of unsanitary conditions in a foreign country together that can bond people together. (NS men would know even better.) 3 hours of class per module every week isn’t going to cut it, and projects can downright create enemies out of group-mates. At the end of the day, when you graduate, it would be the CCA/OCSP who have been with you through 4 years of thick and thin, who you will think of (and shed a tear for) when you sing Au Lang Syne.

Google “SMU graduation” and this is what I get.

CCAs are also essential because they give students a life outside of studies. Without CCAs, university life can be reduced to merely studies- going to school for class, and going home after class. Let’s face it- not every hardlyany classes are that exciting enough to motivate the 1.5-hour journey to school (yes, I live in Woodlands) without friends to hang out or talk cock with afterwards.

Learn the Art Math of Class Participation.

There is a misconception that in order to score an A in The Most Subjective Component In The World, one has to become Class Part Prostitutes. Otherwise, just settle with a B or below. But active participation in class actually make classes fun, and more importantly, prevents one from falling asleep/logging onto Facebook. The sweet spot (A+) is actually somewhere between turning up in class and hogging air-time.

Hermione would love this shirt.

The Class Part W****’s problem is that he/she probably has the mistaken impression that participation = talking. In truth, participation is actually equals to talking PLUS listening. The second part of the equation is often neglected, but even if one is not very vocal, active listening is an important skill set to have in order to get the most out of lessons.

As a guide, I try to speak up at most thrice every class, and shut up and listen before/after that.

Be Grateful.

This sounds DUH but it is truly Greatest Advice You’ll Ever Receive. (GAYER)
Gratitude can be applied in all areas of life, but I’d like to share a story that makes this especially poignant. Flashback to Year 1, I was an overly dressed-up Freshie (eventually you graduate to singlet, shorts and slippers uniform) caught up with assignments, projects and CCA trainings. And I was whining my head off to a senior.

She listened patiently to my rant about how “everyone’s so competitive, there’s so much work, classes are fluffy, etc etc”, and then said,

“Whenever I feel like complaining, I just remind myself that in order to be here, I have taken the place of another student who could have really, really wanted to be in SMU.”

And I was just Stun for a while.

Do you know anyone who really wanted to get into SMU, but couldn’t? I do. My BFF. We had made plans even before A levels to choose SMU together, do projects together, graduate and get great jobs together.

But when results were released, we were unfortunately separated.

I was lucky enough to end up in SMU with the course of my choice. And there I was, whining about the environment in a city campus, no lectures, where seminars encourage discussion, where professors are willing to have coffee with us instead of sitting in their ivory towers. Where, if I wanted to be a leader, opportunities are abound instead of being limited to the elite few. Where, if I disagreed with the professor, I can feedback immediately. Where, if I wanted to know people from the industry, they’re right there in the campus. Where, if there’s something I want to do and there’s no CCA for it, I can just start it. And, if I wanted to do freakin’ yoga, I can.

Check out our gym’s fitness classes.

At SMU, there is no lack of opportunity, if we are determined to grab it. But that’s the thing, we have to actively look for opportunities, instead of waiting for it to fall into our laps. I hope the above tips have helped, and if you liked it please do share with your fellow SMUdents.


Haters gonna hate, but I love my university.

\m/ xo
aka The Happy SMUdent
*This post originated from TheHappySMUdent and has been republished with permission


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