What To Expect for University | ZULA ChickChats | EP 59
She texted me and she’s like, “Oh my God, sorry I didn’t do the project tonight. I was in the club.” Oh my gosh. (laughs) Hi, I’m Gabriel. Hi, I’m Vanessa. Hi, I’m Kimberly. Hi, I’m Leah. And this is ZULA ChickChats! So in the previous episode of ChickChats, we talked about what to expect when you go for university camps, so today we’re here to talk about what to expect when you go to university itself. So for you guys, what university did you come from? I’m from SMU (Singapore Management University) School of Economics. I’m in my final year of Wee Kim Wee at NTU (Nanyang Technological University). I was at SIM (Singapore Institute of Management) School at Buffalo, [studying] communications. I was from NUS (National University of Singapore) Business. So moving on, the next question would be, what was your [university] experience like? So the first one, we can talk about your social life, and what do you think about the entire
culture in school. For me I have a lot of groups of friends, because I wanted to get back hall stay. So I joined like hall softball, I joined hall dance, joined hall this and that. But eventually I guess you just mingle around a lot, but you’ll just find [those] few friends that you really click with, and you just stick with them. For me, I didn’t really have a social life. (‘All By Myself’ by Celine Dion plays) Because I was- (laughs) I was training, so it was like school, training, school, training. Did you make like a group of friends at school? Oh yeah, I did! Sounded so sad, like, “I’m just alone.” I mean, I have a great, great circle of friends okay. Shoutout to my Math gods, because Econs is a lot of math. I’m thankful that I met them. I had two core groups, we were together since the first semester. UB (University at Buffalo) people are very, very friendly, and it was wonderful lah. Actually for me, my friends were mostly from hall/residential college, if you stay in University Town in NUS. Because I didn’t go for like camps and stuff in my faculty right, I didn’t really have that core group of friends. But I did find friends along the way, of course. The social life aspect of it, like the culture of it in school- Like you see your friends almost every single day, it’s very draining a lot of the time. Personally you need to know when to prioritise certain people and when to prioritise yourself. In SMU, everyone basically studies in the library, it’s always full. So the group of people you see every day, you all study together. I guess that’s bonding in a way. Fair. I think for me, partying was a big part of my freshman and second year. There’s a lot of people who don’t drink but they still go, and it’s okay because then they’d just drink water or like coke. I think you just don’t conform to peer pressure in that sense. I mean like, if you don’t want, just say “no”. Okay so I think now, the most important things is academics. So what do you think about the whole entire (academic) structure in university, and how did you cope with it? I know for my school it’s quite different from NTU and NUS, because we just have seminars, like 1 professor to 40ish [students]. I feel there’s a lot of class participation lah. You’ll have to display your name, so if you don’t say anything, they’ll be like, “Excuse me, what do you think about this?” And then the whole class will look at you. But I think it’s a good skill that they made us have, so when you go out you’ll really know how to talk to people, and you know how to present yourself. We had class participation, it was like 10% of the total grade for every single module. But actually now that I think of it right, most of the students in University at Buffalo, they already take the initiative to speak. That’s quite good leh. Yeah, I found that amazing. I kena forced one leh. Like I’m always just like, every class I’m like, “Oh my God, think of something to say.” “Think of one thing to say, just one thing and don’t sound stupid.” I would say workload was manageable, but because I had a lot of extra activities outside of school, it became a bit harder to focus on school studies. Mmm, that’s true. So a lot of times, I think it’s about managing your time and expectations. From JC I already know how to… You know, I have training and school, so technically I did the same thing for university. For me, I’m just very thankful that all the friends I made in university, they all were very very understanding of my training schedules. When I first went to university, I was assigned 5 modules, with 1.5 hours per module. It doesn’t seem that much right? It was a few modules per day, every day, except for Friday, when we only had a 12.00pm class. Even then, just these 5 modules already killed me. But I pulled through that first semester. Second semester onwards I got more used to it. You really, really need to plan your modules around the stuff you want to do every day. In my second year, first semester, I joined council and dance, but I had to leave dance a few months in, because it was tough. Actually, meeting seniors is very important. Because a lot of times, they’ll teach about what modules you can bid for, what modules you should choose. Which ones are easy to score in. And what you can learn from it also. Or like the professors. Yah, the professors. Overall, the academics thing right, I think it depends on the structure of your school. A lot of it is heavily focused on class participation and group work. Yeah, I think that’s most likely the rough structure of the modules. So what was your experience with doing extra-curricular activities? For me it’s like, if you don’t join a CCA, you can join to [facilitate] a camp. For NTU, there’s so many options available to you. If you like acting, there’s like hall production, there’s also school production. There are a lot of activities in SIM: theatre, dance and sports, sociology and psychology club. There’s an anime club. Every semester they will take out one day, and make this place with like sofas all around, into like a Japanese tea party restaurant. So cute! It’s supposed to be like a full-on Japanese anime cosplayer café. So I think in general, there are a lot of activities for all the different schools, be it private or local universities. These different activities have different commitment levels, so choose what you want based on that. I think one factor when it comes to deciding universities on where to go to, is the hall factor, whether you can stay on campus and stuff like that. Freshies are guaranteed a 2-year hall stay from the start. It’s really fun because you can hang out whenever, wherever, at all hours. 2.00am, someone would be like, “You want supper?” Then you’d be like, “Okay let’s go.” That’s commitment leh. Then she like cannot, she’s like, “I need to sleep at 10.00pm. How can I go eat supper?” I think the hall experience was really, really very fun. It’s one of the best things that I agreed to do. Yeah, and I stayed in like a suite, so it was like six people, you have a shared common area and a shared toilet. And there were a lot people who made the effort
to have a cohesion. Did you get to like choose your roommates? Oh you can’t actually. But at same time you can be very lucky to end up with people that- you’ll be very close to for the rest of your life, I guess. I guess for NTU, because we have double rooms only, we don’t have like suites, so a lot of people they’d always worry in their freshie year like, “Oh if I don’t have a like a roomie or a friend already, will I get a terrible roomie?” And I’ve heard stories of people who found good roomies, and I’ve heard people who’ve had terrible roomies. SMU doesn’t really have like a hostel per say. It’s like a residential area away from school, so you have to walk. I’ve also heard like people who go in together as friends, and then they end up not liking each other. Yeah, that happens too. The next question is, when you first entered university, did you get any like culture shock? Not really, but like the only shock to me was that I had to [do] class participation. Like you know it got so bad right, that there was one time, I was gonna raise [my hand] right, so I raised, then I got back cramp so I put my hand down. But then it got better, it comes with practice. I think for me, I didn’t have much of a culture shock, since I went to poly it’s kind of the same. But I think one thing about NTU was that it’s huge. I was quite lost, and I’m still quite lost now even in my final year. Yeah, actually that’s true for NUS also. I wouldn’t know how to go all these places. Yes, because the campus is huge. And I think one important thing about university is- a lot of it is dependent on yourself. So no one is going to tell you to do things. Actually the culture shock about being independent was real. Because the only reason why I didn’t go for camp- is because I thought they’re gonna send me a damn email, to invite me into this camp and it never happened. So I was like, “What the hell, where is this camp?” Then turns out, I had to go for some matriculation thing, find out about it from there, which I didn’t know about it, so I was like, “Alright…” I was from JC right, I went there thinking that I’m going to be with a lot of people who are from poly, and the poly people are already used to doing things in a group setting. So I thought I had to be prepared for that. I’m not saying that poly people are a certain way, and JC people are a certain way. What I’m saying is that I met people who really, really refused to do any work whatsoever. There was this one girl. She wasn’t a friend of mine, but we were acquaintances
because of the group [work] thing. 3.00am in the morning, I was still doing the project. She texted me and she’s like, “Oh my God, sorry I didn’t do the project tonight. I was in the club.” Oh my gosh. I was picking up all the pieces, thinking that someone would actually come- and have the initiative to help me finish the project. But that’s not the case, which is fine, because like you guys said, I think independence is especially important. I think for me the culture shock was that it was very, very competitive. Alongside with the class part thing right, I was like looked down upon by so many of my peers right, for not studying or putting in the same amount of effort. My acquaintances, they just like, “Oh you just every day like work there, and never study, is it next time you just want to work retail ah.” Then I’m just like… *deep breathing* Just because I’m not studying, doesn’t mean that I can’t get a job in the future. And when I worked right, I did work that would help me in the future, or doing things that I liked. So I like fashion, so I worked as a stylist. So this was something that could’ve helped my portfolio in the future ah. I did pass and I did do my work, I wasn’t like those group mates who didn’t do my work okay, hello. You may face that kind of like social pressure to conform to- only studying, or only hanging out at hall activities, or only doing certain things, but do what is like best for you I guess. So I think there’s this common misconception I would say, that you have to choose between academics, social life and sleep. So it’s 3 choose 2. So is it accurate? For me yes, because I already like took out social life. I mean I have friends, but like when I go find my friends it’s like for lunch. So that’s my social life. I think for me, I joined a lot of activities. So, sleep. I didn’t sacrifice anything. I managed to study well, I managed to socialise well, and I slept well when I wanted to. I would say I sacrificed academics, because I worked part-time. So when I work outside right, it takes up a lot of time, away from studying obviously, or like resting in general. What are some maybe go-to do’s and don’ts for people who are heading into university? Go and do your research. Like which modules you have to bid for, how many modules you need to complete for core,
this and that. Oh my, that’s something that a lot of my friends faced also. Do check your emails, because a lot of stuff go into your emails. And do try out new things while you can, because university is like the last academic phase of your life- before you enter the working world. Don’t latch onto other people who clearly have the ability to do work- proper. Don’t do that. Be independent, manage your own things, obviously manage your own work, because after all if not shared, it’s obviously your own work as well. And to be patient- with people who may not seem interactive, or may not seem like they have a lot of initiative yet. I also think like, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Class part is one thing, but after the thing you don’t understand, you can ask your professor, like email [them]. Usually, they are very nice. They will really go and help you. I think to be independent, that’s the most important thing. Also like what Kim said, like do your research about it. And also I feel that, don’t be so caught up in the whole academic side of it. Ultimately, university is a place where there [are] many, many opportunities, whether it comes to internships,
work, CCAs, activities right, there’s so many things you can do there. You have more time in university, and you don’t have to do a 9 to 6 everyday. Do take advantage of that time to learn things that will benefit you for your own skill, and also have fun with your friends lah. So today we talked about our university experience, and we concluded that, make the most of your final few years of studying. So if you guys have any questions about university or any stories to share, feel free to leave it in the comments, and also let us know what else to talk about next time. And don’t forget like, share and subscribe. Bye!