The Happy SMUff

It’s been a little over a year since I officially joined the working force. As fate would have it, I found myself back in SMU as a happy SMUff (SMU Staff, get it??… Nevermind), and I could not be more delighted.

A fair few of my friends have been asking about the status of this blog, to which I truthfully answer “dead”. Despite being in the midst of vibrant campus life, I find myself less able to relate to the concerns of current students, and thus, unsure of what to blog about. Nevertheless, I miss being able to write something that isn’t an email or marketing blurb. So here’s a little piece that somewhat combines student life and what I am doing now- a few observations about the Differences Between Uni Life and Work Life.

1. Work Life vs Social Life
work socialDuring university, my social, work and private lives were more or less integrated. Most of my friends were on campus (social), my main occupation of studying is conducted in the same place (work) and I sleep overnight in school (private). Ok, I kid about the last point. In any case, I did not really need to give much thought to carving out time for friends outside of work because I was surrounded by them, and could easily meet them before, after or during lessons. But once I started working, my close friends were dispersed around the island, and usually have much less time to travel for meet-ups. Even if I got some free time, I feel tempted to head straight home for sleep after a long day of work. Maybe it’s the age, or maybe it’s the work, but it certainly takes a lot more effort to dedicate time for friends.

2. Routine of the 9-to-5routineAfter 4 years of designing my own schedule (and purposely avoiding Friday and morning classes), it took a little while to get used to setting my alarm to 6.30am, Weekdays (and 6.35am, Weekdays, and 6.40am, Weekdays, and so on till 7.00pm, Weekdays) to go for full days of work. It took a while to adapt to the fact I can’t run off at 4pm for a “rejuvenating catch-up with friends” and continuing my work after dinner time till 11pm. (Well technically I could, but I don’t think my boss will like it). Luckily, I love my job and my colleagues, so time passes really fast and lunch times are always a great period to look forward to.

And oh my god weekends are SO precious now.

3. Taking Charge of Our Own Learning

learningAs a student, my job was to learn. I assumed the learning will continue automatically when I enter into the workforce- after all, people always say the school of life is where you learn the most, right? What I found was: it was so easy to get caught up with completing my task list, clearing my inbox, and going for meetings, that it could descend into a case of me simply following the motions without gaining insights. For myself at least, I learned best when I took time to reflect and process my experiences. So, since reflection isn’t a mandated part of the curriculum anymore, it is my responsibility to set aside time for my own learning.

Work also doesn’t make a conscious effort to be “broad-based”, so if I really wanted to know more things outside my job scope, such as economics, politics or a new language, I have to do it in my free time, lest I plateau in personal development. That’s one of my fears, really. But I’ll like to make a disclaimer that I am gaining a lot of valuable experience on work-relevant stuff- marketing, corporate communications, events management- whatever I say on my LinkedIn basically.

4. Financial Independence!$!!

I wish.

I wish.

The best part of entering the workforce is of course the moolah, and being able to decide how to spend the entirety of it. There’s a sense of freedom and empowerment that came with a salary (and responsibility of course), including being able to cover my family’s expenses. And having interned at the Office at Advancement as well (the office which fundraises for scholarships and bursaries), I am also exposed to the joy of actually being able to give money away- but that’s a story for another time.

And that’s all for now! If you are a student, treasure your time in school! There’s no other job with a schedule like your class timetable. And if you’re one of my FB friends, hey, thanks for reading! We should catch up outside of work!



Cap-and-Gown Updates!!!

Further updates on Cap-and-Gown Day- day 1 was a blast, I had a really good work day introducing batch-mates to the Senior Class Gift! And so far the response has been pretty good, hopefully we will be able to give more scholarships to needy students next year. Lion plushies going fast- I got one for my BFFs as well. ^^

So the information I gave yesterday wasn’t complete, my apologies- the FULL procedure would be:

1) Update your new alumni profile at the stations outside the room,

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 11.35.59 PM

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 11.36.08 PM

2) Make a contribution to the Senior Class Gift (that’s where I will be stationed!) There’s a hassle-free pledge back option, find out more tomorrow. 🙂  You’ll also receive a form here for collection.

2a) If you have already made a donation, proceed straight to the express station to receive your Gift of Appreciation!

3) Sign up for Alumni Association if you haven’t.

4) Collect Cap and Gown: Hand in the form you received at station 2, and collect your cap and gown. There is usually a queue for this. You can’t try on the spot to prevent congestion, but you can try it at level 6 where there’s free food, drinks and mirrors!

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 11.36.21 PM5) Collect your Commencement invites! 2 per person.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 11.36.32 PM6) Collect your degree and transcript if you haven’t.

7) Official photographer– a really good promotion for family and individual portraits by Werkz, our official photographer: I signed up for the package cause they do seem very nice and the $250 promotion they are offering seems like a great deal.

That’s all! I’m really tired from the day so I’m gonna conk out to arrive there at 830am tomorrow. Hope this all helps! Remember the tips:

a) Arrive early! 

b) Bring CASH! The vendor only accepts cash. If you wish to also make a contribution to obtain the luggage tag/plushie/powerbank do prepare some cash as well, but we accept debit/credit cards, cheques and pledgebacks (up to $50) as well. 

Depending on the queue, you might need to put aside 20-30 minutes to enjoy the whole process. See you all tomorrow!



Why I’m giving $50, no, $100 back to school.


One little, two little, three little SMUlions~

So, I have inside information on Cap-and-Gown Day that is happening tomorrow and Saturday!

I have been working at the SMU Office of Advancement and Alumni for the past 2 months. (Why? Because I love SMU so much I can’t bear to leave it. Just kidding, I am happily serving out the bond for my study award before starting my full-time job.) The Office of Advancement is in charge of securing and stewarding funds and donations to the University, and it’s through this that I have been inspired to give back to the Senior Class Gift (which goes to providing a few lucky, deserving juniors with scholarships next year).

The main reason is because this nugget of wisdom has been thrown my way: Only when you have given it away, will you realise you have always had it. Think about it. Most of us have enough of most things. Certainly not a lot, but we do have enough- enough to eat, enough to study, enough to even afford that $8 latte. But we never feel like we do, because we have been taught to earn more, chase more, be more. As I am entering into the workforce and about to be fully responsible for my own income, I am making a donation as a gesture to remind myself that even as I strive hard, I have enough, enough to even help others. 

The second reason is because I have been extremely lucky to have been supported by various people who believed in my education- my family, my previous company which gave me a scholarship and an internship, my donor, and various organizations set up by people who believed in giving back. The gift they have given me is so much that I could never possibly repay them- so I’m paying it forward. I am hoping that my small gift will help future batches experience the university life that I have been privileged to have- and not be hindered by financial concerns.

So I decided, after they sent the third email, to get off my lazy ass and make that donation of $50. But today I’ve decided to up it to $100, because…


I can get a freakin’ powerbank!!!

Ok, this is admittedly a selfish reason, but also not really, because I also found out that the government will match my gift dollar-for-dollar. That means, I am not only topping by $50, I’m doubling by another hundred dollars, since the total contribution will be $100 (from me) + $100 (government matching) = $200.

So yah, it’s actually very enticing. And it turns out, there’s a gift at every level of donation too!


Ta-dah!!! Customised powerbank (good for two full charges at one go!) for $100 and above, lion plushie for $50 and above, and an alumnus luggage tag for gifts above $10.

LOOK AT THAT LION PLUSHIE isn’t it incredibly cute??? That’s the token of appreciation for $50. But I decided it was only going to collect dust if I brought it home, so I will leave it to some other deserving alumnus. *sniff*


This post is full of these SMUlions.

By the way, I swear I’m not being paid to write this, I just felt really compelled to share my revelation as I was setting up the booth today. (Though they really should. Like, give me another day off at least. Hehehe.)


1) Online, then you can get the tokens of appreciations at an express queue tomorrow.

Pros: Takes only 2 minutes, no queue (can donate on your bed), can get present faster tomorrow, etc etc, if you have internet banking this is the best option really.

2) Gift in cash or credit at Cap-and-Gown Day itself.

Takes a little longer to process but you feel the immediacy of your gift. Pros: You get to see me, because I’ll be the one processing your gift. Haha. #bhb

3) Pledge with your Gown deposit. 

You will be given a form to pledge $10 or $20.14 (Class of 2014, geddit?) of your gown deposit to the gift. The deposit is $100, the actual rental is $37.90, and you’re supposed to get back $62.10. If you pledge, they will just deduct the amount from the $62.10 when you get it back. Hassle-free.

Last year, they were able to give out TWO scholarships. Previous years were able to give out THREE. Won’t it be great if our batch can own all of them and give FOUR? (Because we are the class of two-zero-FOURteen, afterall).

So anyway, I did promise that I have the information on what to expect tomorrow, so here’s what’s gonna happen:


Step 1: Come to Admin Building Level 4

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.38.11 PMRegister and go into that room. But expect queue to be quite long. Because, you know, 1000 people graduating.

Step 2: Go into that room

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 10.42.01 PMThere are 3 stations. At station 1, you will be briefed on the senior class gift. 1a is for all those who have already pledged or donated, they can skip this queue and get their luggage tag/SMUlion/powerbank immediately.

Station 2 is where you can sign up for the SMU Alumni Association. Can evolve your card from white to gold version.

Station 3 is the actual gown collecting area. That’s all I have for now.

AND by the way, even if you do not wish to give to the senior class gift, the Alumni office has still come up with THE KEY TO SUCCESS:

Metaphorically. But hey, 8gb shiny thumbdrive!

Metaphorically. But hey, 8gb shiny thumbdrive!

Which everyone is gonna get. So nobody’s gonna walk away empty handed. 🙂


1) Avoid lunch time because there’ll be a long queue
2) Bring at least $100 CASH because the gown vendors only accept cash. Donations can come in all forms.


SEE YOU TOMORROW (or Saturday).



THS gets a New Look!

Whoop! So I have finally gotten round to tidying things up around here.

  1. New theme in which I get to feature the best project group I’ve ever had and my trademark manic face as the cover photo! Photo credits to Ooi KS!
  2. Added a list of popular posts! Hurhur. I have no control over it though, leaving it up to WordPress.
  3. Categorized my posts so you can find them easier.
  4. Included the archive to access my older posts instantly instead of scrolling. Both on the side bar!
  5. Updated my About Page since I GRADUATED finished my final lessons at SMU.

And I wanted to write another post after this but I shall leave it for another day. Life interning at SMU has been good so far! Sleeping in on a weekday tastes so sweet after waking up at 6.30am for the past few days. I think I might actually like working life too.

The Happy SMUdent Grad lo!


Passing on…

Watching Year 4s go through their final semester is like watching the last lap of a 4x400m race. Some of my peers have zoomed through from laps 1 to 4, finishing at the top of the podium as have always been expected. Some have struggled through the first 3 laps, but the final runner decided to make up for the rest of it by giving a stunning performance.

As for me, my fourth runner needed to be dragged past the finishing lines by her fellow runners, and thrown like a heavy sack of rocks past the finishing line. But I finished the race, nonetheless.

I guess each of us can think of our Year 1,2,3 and 4 selves as the respective runners in the 4X400m race. Each runner performs his/her best and passes the baton to the next runner. Every student has his or her own varied performance: the very best, of course, had been fast and steady, the ones we admire.

But if you are like me, you’ve probably experienced some laps where you performed much better.

Some laps where it’s a drag just to take the next step.

Some laps on fire.

And, some laps where you dropped the baton, and disappointed everybody.

Year 4 has been sort of like that for me. Thankfully, I had gotten a pretty good head start in Years 1-3: being in Muay Thai, doing decently enough in academics by a combination of strong motivation, hard work and very good luck. But Year 4 has been a struggle: a lack of purpose, and anxiety about the future. At least, luck remained by my side by granting me exceedingly wonderful group mates, who have been my main source of motivation this semester (pictures later on).

On this side of the finishing line, it feels much better. My head has started to clear and my heart beat has started to go down. I can look back more clearly now. And I know, perhaps, my final semester has been disappointing… but you know what?

We finished the race.

And so have many others around me.

My friends’ graduation photos and thankful dedications can’t help but smile. Some have flown off on their well-deserved graduation trips and I have just come back from mine (in JB. Still counts). Each of us have come a long way, and we don’t know the full story of how each of us have travelled. The ones who were steady all the way remain inspirational. The ones who’ve struggled through deserve respect. The ones who won some, lost some- why, they are just like most of us, even if we didn’t know their struggles.

So as I sit here on the track, panting and recovering from the race I have just run (being one of the last to cross the finishing line on the very last day and time slot of exam possible), I smile and give thanks to this wonderful journey I have been privileged to go on. I have many coaches (professors), team mates (friends) and supporters (family) who have made the completion of this marathon possible. Now that I have the luxury of time, I hope to catch up with each of them in person and give thanks.

So, what’s next?

I will be starting work as an intern at SMU’s Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations on Monday. Ya, go figure right? I’m like some overly attached girlfriend to SMU. That’s not it, I’m serving my bond for my final year scholarship for three months. So I will still be hanging around the glass campus for a while, albeit enjoying the view from the Admin Building. Haha.

Personally, I feel, that once I’ve had enough rest, once I’ve celebrated enough, it’s time to get back in the race- and help the next batch along. I will be starting some archiving work on this blog soon, so that my posts are easier to access. Will be clearing the backlog of ideas I had meant to put out there but never had the time to- when you’re down in the dumps it’s pretty hard to help others up. And then after that I will probably just leave the blog as it is.

No matter which lap of the race you are in, Year 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 (respect), do enjoy the race as much as possible. Being Year 4 is overrated- it is as enjoyable as any other year, depending on how much effort you put into it. There are some perks, but also some trade-offs- which can be said for every other year.

Ok so now- pictures!!!


Thank you Lee Kong Chian for making my school possible!!! I’m sorry for calling the school SOB for years instead of LKCSB…


Special shout-out to the one of the best project teams in my 4 years who ended the semester with me. From L-R: The Thai, The SMUdent, The NUSdent, The German, and The Singaporean Son. Much diversity. So SMU. Wow.


Sometimes I judge my group mates…


… but we still have lots of fun together!!!


Mandatory SMU Jump Shot!

"Honey, Look!!!"

“Honey, Look!!!”


K lah proper group photo.

 Photo credits to Ooi K.S., the handsome gentleman on the right-most of the group pictures (A result of running over from the self-timed, remote control camera).

FAQ about SMU

Recently I have had someone asking me some questions about SMU, so I thought I might as well post it here to address anyone’s queries. This is a supplement to To SMU or Not To SMU.

1. Is there ample space around campus for the various CCAs? Or do most really have to travel away from school? 

We are definitely more space-strapped than the other universities, but it all depends on which CCA you join. Arts CCAs have no problem finding spaces, and Muay Thai trains in the concourse. Soccer or Touch Rugby might have to find other fields to train in though. We find creative ways to cope.

2. Are the profs as approachable as they say? I’ve heard people talk about how they’ve been having meals/coffee with theirs, and think that’s really cool and something I’d really like.

Most profs are, but it also takes initiative on the students to ask them out. I think it might be the same in other universities, but because our prof-student ratio is much smaller, it makes them much easier to approach after class compared to after lectures.

3. I’m interested in a double degree in business and social science – Do a lot of people do double degrees, and is the workload manageable (eg social life still possible)? Also, Continue reading

To SMU or Not To SMU

Dear prospective juniors,

Welcome to the blog of a final year SMU student! You have probably heard a lot about SMU: is it really that competitive? Do students really stay overnight in school to study, earning the nickname SMUggers? Are the workloads, projects and class participation manageable? Here’s the low-down from someone who’s survived 4 years of SMU relatively unscathed.

Seniors, this is probably a good time to re-evaluate why the heaven we chose SMU in the first place.

Before we start, here is a disclaimer:

I am not being paid to write (I wish), I merely want to offer an insider’s view of what life in SMU is like, so that juniors can make a more informed decision about whether SMU is the right university for them. Here we go:

#1. F*** lectures!: Seminar-style pedagogy

If you look very closely, you can see the Prof teaching in the background.

If you look very closely, you can see the Prof teaching in the background.

To SMU!: Each module is conducted in interactive, 3-hour seminars (with breaks in between) per week, and the average student takes 4.5 modules per semester. Final exams make up a maximum of 40% of the final grade, with the rest coming from a combination of group projects, individual assignments, quizzes and class participation. Say goodbye to lectures forever- This is the dream!

Not to SMU: BUT… it could easily be a nightmare for those who prefer OTOT. SMU adopts the American seminar-style system, but through most of our lives we have been accustomed to British system of lectures and examinations. For those who prefer more flexibility throughout the term, SMU might not be such a good idea for you.

The Happy SMUdent says: This is honestly the #1 reason I chose SMU. To me, I get my money’s worth in education because of the face time I have with professors in a small class, the incentive to stay engaged, and the continuous assessments to keep me on my toes throughout the semester. If I had chosen a lecture-style pedagogy- well, let’s just say I’d probably get my face very, very acquainted with the lecture table surface. Zzz.

Continue reading