University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 2


Helloooo I am back!

I’ve been super unmotivated to update this space because blogging would mean I’d have to spend hours inserting pictures and ensuring quality in my content. But I’ll still try whenever I have enough time to spare since this blog is going to be a keepsake of my early adulthood 🙂

This is a second instalment of my University life. As mentioned on my first, I would document all the highlights of my time in NTU which hopefully would help or enlighten prospective students about the school’s culture and system. I am really delighted to know that my first University Freshman entry had helped a few incoming students and that probably spurred me to do more. 🙂 Please leave a comment if you need me to elaborate or explain anything not included in my entries. I will try to to the best of my knowledge!

The year-end school holiday after semester 1 ended way too soon so I felt like I hadn’t energised enough for semester 2 (moreover, my Chengdu trip was rather energy-draining, even though it was so-called a vacation, with all the early morning calls and harsh cold weather). Not feeling as enthusiastic as before. I kinda dragged myself to school. While everyone was being super chatty in the first lecture of the semester, I was craving for sleep. Really man, damn tired I was!! And this feeling lasted throughout the whole semester – no drive for projects, constantly giving more attention to entertainment until I felt like I neglected my studies. But thankfully it didn’t really affect my GPA. It did go down, however still acceptable by me. Haha.

But a small part of me was excited for school, because I only had 1 exempted WKWSCI module (CS2008) which also happened to be my last and I was also allocated 3 core modules, leaving me with little time for electives unlike last semester. This meant that I could finally (fully) experience being a WKWSCI student, attend WKWSCI lectures and get to know more WKWSCI students from my cohort. 🙂 Despite not being in WKWSCI most of the time in semester 1, I was (and still am) really lucky and thankful to still be in contact with one of my first friends I got to know during orientation week, so we did projects together whenever we could, saving me the trouble of finding team mates (which is so difficult in a cliquish cohort).

Add/Drop period this time had been really kind to me, allocating me to every module which I placed on wait list and those modules are the highly popular ones. I can’t remember how many times I cheered when I accessed my NTU e-mail account at 10.00pm. The feeling is akin to striking lottery la, seriously. But this probably attributed to me already placing my choices on wait list from the onset instead of from the second day of the add/drop period like last semester. Even though the school claims that the system is unbiased, I still think it is as it gives priority to those who express their interests earlier in the period (i.e. higher chances for those that put the modules on wait list earlier during the add/drop period as compared to those who put them later). But well, no concrete evidence to prove my hypothesis so it’s all up to you guys to decide!

* * *

I didn’t make any huge discoveries during my second semester so I’ve got nothing much to explain like my first freshman entry. But I do have reviews on the modules I took, which can aid you in your timetable planning for the upcoming semester.

1. AAA183 Life Drawing (UE)

One of the very popular courses offered by NIE but it comes with a rather hefty price tag of $60 for the art materials. You’d have to pay that amount by the third or fourth week of the semester to the NIE office. Being one of the oversubscribed courses, I only got this module on the second week.

It hurt my wallet but it was a good learning experience even though I did regret taking this up midway through the course simply because my peers were already pros at life drawing. Honestly they were a threat (please take this as a compliment) and it was seriously detrimental to my grades which almost costed me an S/U option. Drawing is supposedly one of the better things I could do (and score) but I felt extremely overshadowed by students from ADM who have compulsory life drawing modules during their first year, if I am not mistaken. It’s like, walao they are already SO GOOD so why are they not exempted from this module? They just have to splash random paint on a blank canvas and they’d produce a masterpiece. While I gritted my teeth, fretting over the correct drawing techniques, they just stood in front of the easel looking so at ease and could produce an A+ worthy art piece so effortlessly in just seconds 😦 But well of course there were a few talented ones not from ADM who progressively improved throughout 12 weeks.

With my art teacher :)

With my art teacher at the end of the final lesson 🙂

The teacher was Mr David Chan and he is really nice and humorous 🙂 However I am not sure if this module would still be available in the next semester because of budget constraints. Apparently the $60 each student has to pay is not sufficient to cover the cost of the art materials! (And we were pretty wasteful too, oops)

Also, being a NIE module, it is non-examinable thus no projects or assignments or whatsoever. Everything has to be done and assessed in class and.. this is not good news to those who occasionally cut classes.

2. AAI385 Voice (UE)

Another non-examinable NIE module added to clear my electives (I’m halfway there). I deliberately chose non-examinable modules because I had 4 written papers at the end of the semester – 3 of which were my CORE.

Anyway, this elective requires you to go for an “audition” before you could officially have it on your timetable. I put inverted commas because it’s not really an audition, but a briefing and direct selection process. I went to the “audition” without prior preparation and true enough the professor (and also the course coordinator), Dr Chia, was not expecting any performance from the students at all, hence proving that the selection was not based on anyone’s singing abilities. What he did was to go through the course overview frankly (so honest that a student left the room halfway) and enrol students based on their year of study at the end of the briefing. For example, if you are a graduating student, you are guaranteed a slot. Then he’d go down the list where the remaining slots would be given accordingly to the juniors (Year 3s), the sophomores (Year 2s) and then to the freshmen. There is a limit to the number he could take in (I think about 30 since this is the only Voice class he was conducting) so by the time he reached the sophomores, the freshmen stood no chance at all. I technically was a freshmen but thanks to my course exemptions, I have earned enough AUs to qualify as a sophomore. Hahaha so I got it, while other freshmen in the room left disappointedly.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, this module is not all about singing. Yes, you can choose to sing for your assignment but you can also choose to say a speech! Because ultimately the aim of this course is to improve your voice usage, and not to train you to be a professional singer. It’s really a very useful course if you tend to shout a lot (teachers, for example) or if you think your voice projection is your major drawback in presentations. What I like about Dr Chia is his dedication in improving your voice. He would assign a time just to coach you when nearing the deadline of your assignment and you’re really encouraged to attend. You can see everyone improving tremendously after 12 weeks of “drilling”. I also like how he speaks to students as if we’re adults and reasoning with us instead of shouting and threatening like some professors always do. I always have the impression that older professors who have many years of experience under their belts tend to talk students down but he is definitely not one of them.

This elective comprises of 3 assessments – the first requires you to say a 2-minute speech (can be an extract from a book, or a poetry or anything that you can find on the internet), the second can be any 5-minute item (speech or song) of your choice and the  finally, a 15-minute video of you doing the McClosky’s Voice Techniques (which you’d read about in the course). Dr Chia was really nice to not fix a submission date for the last assignment because he wanted to give us time to study for our finals. Of course he fixed a deadline, but he was always open to negotiations. So I submitted mine like, 3 days before he had to submit all his collated marks to the office because I had 2 papers in one of the weeks?? LIKE OMG HE’S DAMN NICE RIGHT!?!!? And no, no deduction of marks or any form of penalty for late submission. Seriously, he is THAT nice, he even sacrificed his Labour Day to grade us, when he could have completed the marking before because most of us submitted “late” of course. So relieved to know that such professors exist. :’)

Honestly, you can easily do well for this course and I really recommend this to anyone who wants to pull up his/her GPA because unlike Life Drawing, the probability of you having professional voice actors in your class is pretty low (with the exception of my class. I had one and he’s damn good because he does epic voiceovers for films. But that’s just ONE). You may sing well but that does not mean you use your voice well 🙂 Everyone there starts off as a blank piece of paper so you don’t feel as much pressure as in Life Drawing.

Oh, you would also be asked to purchase a McClosky book which you’d have to read before every lesson. It’s not compulsory though Dr Chia is going to say that you have to buy it, but it is going to be really helpful when you’re doing your last assignment, trust me on that. If you know anyone who had been to that class, you can probably get it from him/her. I’m not selling mine though 😛

I am also aware that Dr Chia teaches NIE Choir (another non-examinable module) and I am probably going to take that next semester!

3. CS0203 Media in Singapore (CORE)

One of my cores which I think I should have exempted from but thankfully didn’t because it was here I got to know an awesome professor – whom many people should have known by now – named Dr Cherian George. Just to digress a little, you would not be able to understand the disappointment and disbelief we felt when we learned about his denial of tenure if you haven’t been taught by him! He was my reason for always being punctual for his classes at 9 freaking a.m. because he could be so enlightening and yet politically neutral at the same time. This was evident as I gradually arrived late when other professors started rotating to give lectures. For the record I was never punctual for early morning classes since SP days. He was also entertaining and funny and this was one of the main factors that kept me awake during his lecture. His first few lectures happened to coincide with the Punggol by-election (not the actual day but the whole campaign, rallies.. you get the gist) and those were probably the most interesting ones where he talked and critiqued about all the parties. What he said made me ponder (no matter how sleepy I was) because he made sense. I thought he was doing a great job as a professor so I still do not understand why his tenure was denied.  I’m sorry WKWSCI juniors that you won’t get to experience his awesome lectures.

As mentioned briefly earlier, there were 2 other professors giving lectures on certain weeks besides Dr George. No group projects but there were 2 quizzes (all MCQs. Can be tricky. I didn’t really study much and I relied on what I remembered from my poly lectures), and a final written exam. I also had to do a term paper which did not have to be submitted but the topic I researched on would be tested in exams. Because of that I only did it half-heartedly at the very last minute (with my friend) because I had to study for my finals.

4. CS2002 Information Literacy and Interpretation (CORE)

The professor (or coordinator) of this module was actually my interviewer for my appeal for change of course last year. He is a very laid-back, impartial professor, everything also “don’t worry, you will be fine”. But hearing that somehow makes me even more worried. Haha.

He has the habit of not using the microphone in all his lectures because he could project his voice well – no doubt about that – but unfortunately not audible to me :\ So I spent a lot more time on studying this module because I just couldn’t catch what he was lecturing. But anyway all’s well because I did surprisingly well for this.

This course was the only one that required excessive use of clickers from me last semester. Participation marks were derived from clicker questions in lecture (no mini tutorial groups) and there would be 8 in-class clicker quizzes. Other marks come from term papers (done as a group) and the final paper.

5. CS2006 Visual Literacy and Communication (CORE)

The most taxing module thus far because well, it’s basically film-making and editing (and film theory), so don’t expect sufficient sleep if you are the video editor. You shoot and edit with little to no guidance from your professors since everyone’s concept is different so you are expected to learn everything on your own. Luckily for me, I am not totally handicapped since I have learned editing in Poly before, so I kinda led the team. But sadly I still suck at handling cameras because I still got the over-exposed shit !#%&$! Argh. And yes, I also wonder why I didn’t exempt myself from this module -_-

This module made me realise how poor the school’s inventory is, their lack of good filming equipments (seriously, only 5 clip mics?!) and how pointless the booking system is… because the person in-charge of the equipments never uses the booking system to check if you have indeed booked the items before allowing you to collect them (then anybody can wayang and collect right?!). We booked a clip mic and were very sure it was available when we did the booking, but was told they ran out of clip mics when my team mate went to collect the equipments! Luckily he insisted that we’d booked it and that pressured the guy behind the booth to search high and low for one (walao, still must search so thoroughly, never keep properly right?!). We got the very last piece in the end. Then right, the booth closes ON THE DOT or even EARLIER despite us telling him that we would return our camera on that day (because late returns would incur fines). We rushed to the booth to find it shut! Panicked, we told the technical people on the third level and managed to get hold of the person in-charge of the filming equipments on the phone. Still couldn’t return on that day since the person had left, so my poor team mate had to drag it to her hall -_- We were spared from the fine.

Anyway, we collaborated with a non-profit organisation for our film because we chose to do the topic on creating social awareness. We wanted to reduce the social stigma towards ex-offenders (something like Yellow Ribbon project) and we e-mailed to many many NGOs to express our interest to work with them, only to have them turned us down 😦 except for one! Highpoint Halfway House agreed to work with us without hesitation! We were soooooo grateful! They even provided us with real ex-offenders to interview. But we were only given one day to shoot thus there were no rooms for improvements or retakes – it’s do or die. But I must say that speaking to ex-offenders really enlightened me about their lives (why they committed the crimes, and the struggles they faced upon release from prison and many of them had been in and out of prison several times). It taught me not to judge a book by its cover and true enough, many of them have turned over a new leaf. What really surprised me was their willingness to talk to us about their pasts because they wanted to inspire others, and they were totally fine with being filmed. Of course, the video cannot be broadcast or uploaded online due to obvious reasons.

Many hiccups happened on the day of shoot. Due to the very limited time we had with our cameras, we only booked them out on the same day. However my team mate who went to collect the equipments were stuck in the morning jam on the way to the halfway house, so we were late in filming for about half an hour 😦 Felt so bad letting them wait. That was the first hiccup.

Second was what I mentioned earlier – the over-exposed scenes! Way too many of them because most of our footages were shot outdoors and I had to trash most of them. Sigh pie. Totally regret adjusting the ISO (lol 不自量力) and agreeing to shoot outdoors when the Sun was so blaring.

Third and also the most epic one… well, because we were making a short film on ex-offenders, I thought of adding footages of barb wires. I managed to find some really good ones during my recce in the vicinity of Changi Prison. I didn’t seek permission since I thought we were just going to shoot from afar and we weren’t sure which barb wires we wanted. So my team mate drove us around and we spotted this row of barb wires which looked SO PERFECT for the video. We got off the car, set up our equipments and we shot the barb wires for a good 10 minutes. But just as I was about to stop, somebody from behind the wires shouted at us.

“OI WHAT ARE YOU ALL DOING?”

He asked this question thrice and we just froze there.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“…Filming the barb wires..?” We answered timidly.

“THIS IS A PRISON. DO YOU HAVE A PERMISSION? YOU CANNOT TAKE VIDEO HERE.”

Wtf man we really didn’t know we were just right outside Changi Prison! We saw a shipping company’s name displayed on a building next to it so we automatically assumed that they were both owned by the same company! Then we were told to go to the guardhouse where one of my team mate’s particulars were taken down because he was the only one who brought along his identity card. Damn suay!! We had to delete our beautiful footages of the barb wires (it’s only the wires and the sky) in front of the guards. But the guard who shouted at us probably saw how nervous we were and he tried to play nice la.. telling us not to worry and we would not be charged for anything. They needed our particulars just in case the video got leaked somehow and they’d know who to look for. -_-

I was so depressed, not because we were stopped by the guards but because the barb wires footages were deleted! THOSE WERE REALLY PERFECT FOR THE VIDEO -_-

Back to my review. That was the second assessment by the way. I’m not sure if you guys saw this video about the happiness of Singaporeans that was floating around on Facebook a few weeks back, but it was actually done by one of the groups for this module. It’s amazing how a video for a school project could end up viral and being watched by people across the nation! 🙂

Anyway just to give a brief description of the course assessments, the first graded assignment was actually to curate your family portraits. Because of that I had to ask everybody for old family photographs and literally ransacked my storeroom. You’d also need to present your findings to the class and you’re only given 5 strict minutes to do so (my tutor timed. Yes, timed. She cuts you off at the fifth minute). Oh boy I really hated that assignment. The last assessment was of course the final paper which I don’t think I did well, hence a drastic drop in my final grade.

6. LS9002 Spanish II (UE)

My third and final UE in semester 2. I initially wanted to take French 2 instead since I have so-called passed my placement test but looking at the placement test made me super demoralised and fearful that I’d do badly for French. I am still interested in the language but I wouldn’t want to risk my grades for it, so I chose to continue with Spanish. Not a bad decision after all because my level 1 teacher was the teacher for this class! 🙂 It was great seeing her again!

Level 2 is a lot more challenging of course but I am able to understand and read simple Spanish words now.

Like level 1, you’d be graded through a 7-minute (instead of 5) oral examination where you’d have to carry on a conversation with your partner in Spanish, 2 bring-home assignments which weighs 5% in total (#whut), a listening comprehension, a class test and a final paper. It’s more or less the same structure as level 1 so if you’re keen to know more, do refer to my first freshman post instead!

With my Spanish teacher :)

With my Spanish teacher 🙂

My LS9002 classmates

My LS9002 classmates

I didn’t do as well as I expected but I will definitely continue with Spanish again 🙂

Okay that’s about it! As you can see I didn’t exercise my S/U option at all this semester and I am glad my decision didn’t affect my grades that much. 😉

Will blog about my long overdue Chengdu trip soon!

Read also:
University Senior: Year 4 Semester 1 & 2
University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 2
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 1

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11 thoughts on “University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 2

  1. Hi Fiona! I was doing some research on AAI385 and your blog came up on my google search results. I’m thinking of taking it this semester but I’m undecided. Could we talk? 🙂
    – Kimberly

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  2. Hi, I read this post after searching on google about AAI385. It sounded interesting to me especially since it is a non-examinable elective. But I do have a query – May I know what’d you get for AAI385 Voice? Are there any project work for this elective? Thanks a lot! 🙂

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  3. Hi! No project (as in essays, presentations) for this module. Just speeches and/or songs (if you prefer to sing). Are you asking about the grade? I got an A if that’s what you wanted to know 🙂

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  4. Thanks for your prompt reply! 🙂 I’m considering taking up this elective but is the professor/instructor strict about the grades that he gives? For instance, does he give better grades to those that can sing really well?

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  5. Hello again! Nope he is not very particular about how well you sing. In fact if you don’t think you can sing well, you can choose to say a speech instead. Ultimately this is not a singing class but one which teaches you some good voice techniques. If you follow the techniques well you shouldn’t be that bad in your singing too 🙂

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  6. Hola! I took Spanish I in my first sem and was wondering… is Spanish II a lot more difficult/ hiong? I happen to have 4 cores this next sem as well…

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  7. hola! espanol 2 is def more challenging but still manageable. you’re going to learn more vocab and grammar but the exams will not test u much on the vocab u learnt in spanish 1. since u have 4 cores, i’d advice u not to take this mod unless u have time to revise on a weekly basis and u intend to S/U it in the end. take it when you’ve lesser written finals 🙂

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  8. Hi Fiona! I have managed to add AAI385 this semester! Thanks to your detailed blog post, I was able to understand what AAI385 was all about! 🙂 And the professor, though naggy, was a very friendly teacher! Btw, are you willing to rent the Voice at its best textbook for photocopying? As I can’t seem to find any senior’s copy on the net. Thanks much! 🙂

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  9. hey Junie! glad I helped in a way 🙂 I don’t really do renting but if you want I can sell you my book! do drop me an email (fnomdeplume@gmail.com) if you’re interested 🙂

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  10. Pingback: University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1 | fionaseah.com

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