University Senior: Year 4 Semester 1 & 2


note: There is no update on Year 3 Semester 2 because I spent the entire semester doing my internship and i prefer to keep it private. i will be uploading the works i’ve done during my internship onto my portfolio page. please feel free to check them out! 🙂

H E Y   E V E R Y O N E !

Can you believe it? Four years of my university education have already passed in the blink of an eye and I have since collected my coveted degree scroll. As a child, I never thought I would ever don the mortarboard and graduation gown someday in my life, much less from a rather reputable local university amid the stiff competition here since academics were not my strongest suit. It feels like yesterday when I first documented my university experience during my freshman year which unexpectedly received quite a lot of attention (thank you ❤ ).

As you could tell, it’s been a long while since my last school update because my priority has been getting my beauty posts up. Due to time factor, I had wanted to discontinue this series of school posts but.. I hate to leave things hanging. There must be an end to every beginning so yes, I am, in a way, compelled to conclude this whole series 😆 Nonetheless, I hope this post will answer any burning questions you have in mind but have no one appropriate to consult either because you’re a solitary soul (me too! *fist bumps*) or a really shy person. Whatever the reasons, Fiona sunbae-nim is here to help! LOL.

In view of the ongoing course registration exercise, some of you may be at a loss of what courses to take. Well, wonder no more! Read on to hear my thoughts on the final TWO electives (yeah, shiok hor) I took during my final year in NTU and decide for yourself if you’re the right fit for them 🙂

1. DG9005 Magic of Voice in the World of a Singer (UE)

NIE electives are great for those who are bad at numbers or have poor working memory. But if you have already exhausted your options like me, ADM electives are your next best bet. Ask around and you will know that this course is one of the more popular ones offered by ADM and it is always oversubscribed because it’s pretty easy to score as long as you can sing well. It is a 3-hour, once-a-week lesson conducted by adjunct lecturer Leona who is also a qualified singing coach. It’s quite similar to the Voice module I took in my first year with the difference being that Voice would be more effective for improving your voice usage (in public speaking, for instance). In this course, however, you get to explore your vocal range during the weekly sing-along sessions. You’d be surprised to know that you can actually hit those high notes!

The first assessment (20%) was to perform a 2-minute song either on your own (solo) or with up to two people (duet or trio). Usually because it’s the first time you’re performing in front of an unfamiliar audience, you’d tend to want to do it with someone, so I sang an excerpt of Trademark’s Only Love with a new friend in class! We got someone to play selected parts of the piece on the piano (I tried to cut and put together different parts of the original instrumental music and it sounded horrible), recorded it and used it as an accompaniment. The microphones in the lecture theatre were not meant for singing, so there were bound to be some feedback. But generally, I think we did alright.

The second assessment (40%) was a solo performance of one of the songs that were practised in class (plus some other high-level songs picked out by Leona). You cannot choose you own song for this presentation but you can make a recommendation for future study 😆 Some of the chosen songs were Concerto Pour Deux Voix, I Dreamed a Dream, ‘O Sole Mio, The Prayer (by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli) and… *drums roll* Let It Go!

frozen-meme

Let It Go was the most preferred option because it is the easiest song to sing of the lot (but still has relatively high range of notes in the chorus and coda). I must have heard that song at least 30 times (including my own voice LOL) on the day of assessment. I got so sick of it, I deleted this song from my Spotify playlist so that I didn’t have to skip it when it plays.

You will be asked to join one of the four groups created on NTULearn (formerly BlackBoard) on the first day and the group you picked shall be whom you will be doing your final presentation (30%) with. The final assessment can be any 10-minute item but it has to cover at least one singing technique that is not taught in class. My team did a musical skit on a cappella, keeping quite closely to the plot of Pitch Perfect. Rehearsals were stressful (trying to synchronise with the rest was a huge challenge and we still failed in the end) but fun, and I was extremely lucky to be in a group I could comfortably goof around with. We had the entire lecture theatre to ourselves for our rehearsals and we always ended up singing karaoke (complete with working microphones and real-time lyrics from YouTube on the projector screen) 😄

Team Bel Canto

Team Bel Canto (Leona is the one in the middle next to me. I almost couldn’t spot her because she blends in so well in this picture hahaha)

The remaining 10% come from participation and attendance. Contrary to online reviews about this course, I felt that Leona was impartial in her assessment (or she might have reflected and improved on her grading system after all these years for all I know). I’m neither a terrible nor an exemplary singer and the grade she gave me (B+) was just and well-reflective of my singing abilities. Perhaps as long as you adopt the singing techniques she taught correctly in your performance, you should do fine. On top of that, you may also receive random notes of encouragement from your secret angel in class 😉

Last one!

Last one!

Most importantly, there is no written test for this course (there used to be). Hooray! Give your hands a break and let your diaphragm do all the work this time!

2. DD8002 Ways of Seeing: Exploring Visual Culture (GER-PE, AHSS) – S/U

Unless you’re very intrigued by renaissance art and whatnots, this course is going to be an absolute bore (I’m sorry, ADM readers). Blame it on my short attention span. I would go to school with a fully charge phone and exit the classroom after three dreadful hours with half the battery drained. What’s more, it was a 9.00 a.m. class. I’m really bad at mornings, but I had no choice. I needed to take this course (the only AHSS elective that I had a teeny weeny bit of interest in – or so I thought – and fit my timetable perfectly) or I wouldn’t be able to graduate! Aaarrrghhh *pulls hair*

This is a non-examinable course, which means there would be tons of group and individual assignments thrown your way throughout the semester – not a good idea to take this if you’re dealing with a Final Year Project as demanding as mine. The lesson begins with a short open-ended quiz (10 or 15% of the overall grade, I can’t remember) of about 10 questions on what was discussed the previous week (e.g. name of the artist that painted the artwork in question, name of painting, etc. – most of which are in Italian and you are expected to memorise their spellings).

The most memorable painting for me.. just because I did a presentation of it (credit: nonfictionminute.com)

The most memorable painting for me.. just because I did a presentation of it (credit: nonfictionminute.com)

Participation marks (15%) are derived from group presentations (I had 2, but there could be more if time allowed) based on a given reading material as well as your answers to questions hurled at you during class (mostly because you look like you’re dozing off. Me). The individual presentation and written assignment account for a bulk of the final grade. I stayed up the whole night to complete my 1,500-word essay (because I couldn’t understand the question regardless of the number of times I read it) and left for school to submit it without catching a wink. I was hitting the keys on my keyboard the whole time but I had zero clue what I was typing. I was on the brink of tears. I seriously thought I was going to flunk the course and repeat another semester. But when I saw my marks for that, my jaw dropped.

A- (?!!?!?)

DAAAAAYUM, so this is what art is all about? Creating things that don’t make sense to ordinary people? Okay ⭐

Even though I was happy with my essay score, I didn’t do very well for the other components. So guess what happened to my last S/U option?

If you’re still keen on this course despite what I’ve written above, it is now classified under General Education in Liberal Arts.

3. Final Year Project (CORE)

(WARNING: Extremely LONG STORY AHEAD)

Our FYP took place over a span of two semesters and we had the options of running a campaign, doing a written feature, a photojournalistic essay or documentary, or a research (although there seems to be more choices now). As an advertising major (or rather, what I considered myself to be), executing a communication campaign was the only viable option for me and I thought I was lucky to have found enough people to form a complete team until one bailed out on us. The rest of us were furious, not because we couldn’t find a suitable replacement but because the team might have to be split up if the group size fell short of the required 4 members. We had to appeal against the separation with valid reasons to remain as a team and it was troublesome as hell. Faced with the uncertainty of whether we would still be in the same group, we could not progress with our project. Fortunately, it all worked out in the end.

Immediately after my stint at MOE as a marketing intern ended in July last year, my group got down to business and tried to conceptualise our campaign in preparation for our first presentation to our supervisors when the new term began. The planning stage was the most tedious of all in my opinion because it was not as simple as just plucking ideas out of the air. The social cause had to be substantial enough to warrant an extensive campaign which was to be rolled out in different phases across 3-4 months.

Recycling of ideas wasn’t allowed by the school (I was very keen in public transport etiquette but a friend of mine had already done it two years ago) so day and night, we scoured online discussion sites and newspapers (forum letters are the best) for inspiration only to realise that most of the ideas were already used by the former cohorts. Finally, we decided unanimously on the idea of revitalising the use of Chinese dialects among youths in Singapore among others we had shortlisted (such as pushing for longer recess in primary schools, advocating student employment rights, helping foreigners integrate with Singaporeans, etc. – please give credits if you’re intending to use any of them 😆because being Teochews ourselves, we felt ashamed that we couldn’t even speak a word of our dialect. Moreover, this issue has also become a worrying trend among the younger generation and we wanted to reverse it.

father-tongue-final-logos-01

And thus My Father Tongue was born!

We racked our brains to come up with such a *cough* witty campaign name like this. It may seem like an effortless attempt at a play on the words “Mother Tongue” but there is actually more to it:

‘Father’ was chosen to reflect the typical association of one’s dialect with the ancestry of the father’s side . It also serves as a complementary name to “Mother Tongue” which portrays our hopes for dialects to coexist with the Chinese language in Singapore.

I have to admit I was rather doubtful that it would take off initially knowing that dialects are largely frowned upon by our policymakers, so much so that it had become a taboo subject over the years. Hence, I was worried that we might not be able to receive government grants to fund our campaign. During our FYP seminars, this idea was also met with disapproval with feedback like, “I’m your target audience but I’m not interested in learning dialects and I don’t think many will be too” from our classmates. Discouraged, we were this close to scrapping the idea (FYP carries 12 AUs so cannot play-play) but somehow or other, we persevered 😆 It would be impossible to promote every Chinese dialect in Singapore with just the three of us, so we narrowed down our choices to the three most-spoken ones: Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese.

Following the university’s green light through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to proceed some time in end November last year (the reviewing process took no more than a week for us), we conducted our primary research (focus groups, interviews and surveys) and embarked on our proposal frenzy, mass-sending e-mails to potential sponsors and partners whose values and mission tie in with our cause. We were optimistic about getting favourable response because we truly believed that our campaign was meaningful and impactful.

Tip #1

NEVER send sponsorship and partnership proposals to generic e-mail addresses. Always call the organisation to ask for a specific e-mail and to whom you should address the proposal. If possible, get the direct line number of the person you have liaised with to facilitate future communication and follow-ups.

Yet, only a mere 10% got back to us by the end of December. We were really panicking at this point because the campaign was slated to launch in late January with an exhibition to coincide with Chinese New Year. Apart from having to pay for a website, we had planned a lineup of activities including dialect classes and a roadshow but without any financial backing, none of them would be feasible.

My Father Tongue website

My Father Tongue website

Gradually, we saw light at the end of the tunnel as the good news started coming in (it must be the holidays). Not only was our National Youth Council’s Young Changemakers Grant application of S$3,000 successful (we were invited to pitch our campaign idea to the panel earlier), Chinatown Heritage Centre was also willing to have us on board for their reopening in the new year! Although that solves our location and financial woes for our exhibition and dialect classes, we still needed money to finance our now-defunct website (.sg domain registration, website building, maintenance and design), pay the designer for our marketing collateral and to get them printed. Those could already run into the thousands… and we had to fork out from our own pockets first.

Red packets (marketing collateral)

Red packets – I dare say we’re the first FYP group to have thought of giving out red packets as a marketing collateral *flips hair* Hahahaha it’s the only thing I’m proud of in this exhibition u_u

Don't underestimate the size of the exhibition. The exhibition at Chinatown Heritage Centre was the most taxing, expensive and time-consuming part of the whole campaign apart from the dialect classes. We had to make several trips down to take the necessary measurements, set up the booths and lay the exhibits and rehearse for the reopening ceremony. It was exhausting and I wouldn't want to do it again :|

Don’t underestimate the size of the exhibition. The exhibition at Chinatown Heritage Centre was the most taxing, expensive and time-consuming part of the whole campaign apart from the dialect classes. We had to make several trips down to take the necessary measurements, set up the booths and lay the exhibits and rehearse for the reopening ceremony. It was exhausting and I wouldn’t want to do it again 😐

A group shot with the guest-of-honour - Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran!

A group shot with the guest-of-honour – Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran!

Then, about a week into our campaign, we receive the most unexpected e-mail from National Heritage Board: we were awarded the Heritage Project Grant of S$7,500!!! OHMAGAHZ WE WERE SO ECSTATIC I could even hear the shrilling shriek of my group mate from 3,000 miles away in Tokyo! We felt like a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders 😀

Dialect classes were the highlight of My Father Tongue but because we were unsure how (poor) the response was going to be, we made them free for all. We sought media coverage by disseminating our press release detailing our free dialect classes to every online and traditional media outlet in Singapore. The New Paper and Lianhe Zaobao were among the first to picked it up, followed by Mothership (albeit not in a very positive light) and subsequently almost every other local news outlet. Prior to that, The Straits Times reached out to us to do an exclusive feature. We were interviewed by a journalist on a Thursday morning and even had our pictures professionally taken in the middle of Chinatown. But the story, which was originally planned for the Sunday edition, was subsequently dropped because The Independent had beaten them to it. It was a strange reason so my guess is that they didn’t want to be associated to websites that spread anti-government sentiments. *sigh* There goes our big break…

Cantonese class at Chinatown Heritage Centre (one of our venue sponsors)

Cantonese class at Chinatown Heritage Centre (one of our venue sponsors)

List of notable media mentions in chronological order
…if you’d like to read more:
(Note: ‘My Father Tongue’ was also mentioned by MP Baey Yam Keng and Mdm Ho Ching and on Facebook – our greatest achievement yet, lol!)

Just as what we had expected (and mentally prepared ourselves for), the reports on the campaign drew mixed reactions online, mostly lauding our efforts to preserve dialects. Some accused the government of hypocrisy for funding the campaign (but seriously, aren’t you glad they have finally relaxed their stance towards the use of dialects? Isn’t their strict language policy what you have been protesting against? Sort out your feelings please *pffft*) and we were also condemned by people who wanted to protect the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew. What can I say? These people read too much into an innocent campaign as it was never our intention to overshadow Mandarin with dialects. We only wanted to promote dialects as something you can consider adding to your language repertoire, nothing more than that.

Tip #2

The grade for FYP campaign is assessed based majorly on the written report, weighted at 90%. The remaining 10% is allocated to the oral presentation that would be carried out after the submission of the report. In other words, it won’t hurt not receiving any media coverage or getting thousands of likes on your Facebook page as long as you’re able to fulfill the evaluation criteria of your report.

But it’s always better to strive for more, right?

Tip #3

Update your report and appendices (especially your bibliography) as your campaign progresses. Do not leave them to the end. Or you will die.

Really. Don’t.

With so much attention surrounding the campaign, our Facebook page soon hit 2,000 likes. All our dialect classes were oversubscribed and there were requests to open more which we gladly obliged. But since most of our grants were provided on reimbursement basis, we had to sell stickers to fund the additional classes. We made a mistake not to collect a deposit from attendees (it was an administrative headache too anyway), so there were irresponsible people who failed to turn up for all three sessions. The attendance rate also tended to fall drastically towards the end of every class. *sigh* This is why Singaporeans don’t deserve free things.

Our cute lil' dialect stickers, illustrated by our designer Vanessa!

Our cute lil’ dialect stickers, illustrated by our designer Vanessa! (I have extra LOL anybody wants?)

Tip #4

If possible, charge a nominal fee for recurring events that require a minimum headcount to secure participants’ attendance.

We also held roadshows at NTU and NUS to build awareness for the campaign.

We also held roadshows at NTU and NUS to build awareness for the campaign.

Another reason for choosing this campaign idea was our presumption that we would get the unreserved support of local Chinese clan associations financially or logistically since our aim was to increase the relevance of the dialects they were trying to preserve in society. Their monetary contributions, if any, would save us a truckload of time on fundraising which could be better spent on strategising our next move.

But life ain’t a bed or roses – especially when money is involved. Our e-mails, fully written in proper Chinese, were ignored, our follow-up calls were responded with condescending tone of voice and we were also turned away at one clan association when we personally tried to hand-deliver our partnership proposal. With the exception of Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan that provided us with endless supply of informative books and even introduced us to a friendly Teochew veteran who could do an audio translation of our survival kit, many of the clan associations we approached were not receptive to collaborations and were very reluctant to loan us their existing resources and premises for a half-day roadshow, for instance, even after our campaign went absolutely viral. This experience made me believe that they’ve only got themselves to blame for their diminishing social standing because they’re just too reclusive and resistant to outside help..

My Father Tongue survival kit in Cantonese (PDF version)

My Father Tongue survival kit in Cantonese (PDF version)

We eventually had to pull strings through our supervisor (who very fortunately has a wide network of friends in the Cantonese opera scene) to get the necessary information to fill the void for our Cantonese and Hokkien segments. Without his assistance, this three-pronged campaign wouldn’t have been possible, so thank you Mr Ferry! On behalf of my team, I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, Chinatown Heritage Centre, National Youth Council, National Heritage Board, Naumi Hotels, Meykrs, Khong Guan, People’s Association, Iluma Design, NTU, NUS, SMU and other individuals (Sibey Nostalgic, Assoc Prof Lee Chun Wah, Vanessa, Ms Tien, Mr Siew, Mr Goh and the rest of our translators) who had given us their unconditional support and invaluable advice. We’re eternally grateful! 🙂

Us preparing for our oral presentation. It was NERVE-WRECKING

Us preparing for our oral presentation. It was NERVE-WRECKING (credit: WKW UG Students Facebook)

Done with our oral presentation! Look at our tired faces.. we could barely keep our eyes open. After slogging away our lives away and blearing our eyes with hundreds of academic literature for four months, all we wanted to do was to hit the sack and repay our sleep debt zzz...

Done with our oral presentation! Look at our tired faces.. we could barely keep our eyes open. After slogging away our lives away and blearing our eyes with hundreds of academic literature for four months, all we wanted to do was to hit the sack and repay our sleep debt zzz…

I don’t have any picture of our 362-page report because I was not present in school when my group handed it in. But if you’d like to take a look at it, the soft copy can be found on NTU repository (you need to log in to view).

Despite the fact that we were already handicapped by the shortage of manpower right from the very beginning and that our supervisors had warned beforehand that no three-member campaign team had ever gotten beyond a B+ grade for FYP, we managed to pull through with an A-. Thank you Cherie and Melissa for all your hard work! I really owe you one :\

Also check out other FYP campaigns done by the Wee-kids in my batch:
  • Love Every Body – a campaign aimed at minimising potential negative effects of media on children’s perception of body image
  • Don’t CB – a promotional campaign to reduce binge drinking amongst young adults in Singapore
  • Starting from Scratch – a campaign that aims to increase understanding of eczema and create a supportive environment for teenagers living with eczema
  • Breast-Feeding Friends Singapore – a nationwide initiative aimed at creating a more inclusive public environment for breastfeeding mothers in Singapore
  • Come, Let’s Eat! – a communication campaign that aims to use food to introduce young Singaporeans to foreign cultures.
  • Share the Care SG – a campaign calling for community support for family- caregivers of persons with special needs
  • OverComeD – a mental health communications campaign aimed at increasing awareness of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) among young people in Singapore
  • (In)visible Spaces – a home organisation campaign aimed at creating awareness of the effects of living in a cluttered space and ultimately promoting decluttering and organising of homes
  • Understanding Dementia – a public health campaign promoting dementia awareness
  • Hey Solo Sister – the first comprehensive and unbiased information platform tailored to unwed mothers to help them make informed decisions in their journey of unwed motherhood
  • Coming Home SG – a campaign to raise awareness of foster care among young adults, and promote volunteering opportunities as a stepping stone towards fostering
  • Savvy Silvers – a campaign to teach senior citizens aged 50 and above learn how to use their smartphones efficiently and subsequently, independently
  • More Than Dis – a campaign that seeks to showcase the capabilities of persons with disabilities at work to strengthen inclusion in the workplace
  • After Words – a social campaign that seeks to address the issue of verbal aggression among couples in Singapore
  • Familiar Strangers – a campaign that aims to bridge the social gap between low-wage migrant workers and Singaporeans
  • Strangers of the Night – a public awareness and informational campaign to champion the appreciation of night shift workers in Singapore
  • Get Your Bottoms Up – a campaign to address the widespread occupational prolonged sitting behaviour among desk-bound office workers in Singapore
  • Hello, Hygiene? – a campaign on smartphone hygiene
  • Down the Sound – a safe listening campaign for youths
  • Back to “I Do” – a campaign that aims to strengthen marital bonds among couples in Singapore
  • Art Detox: Unwind Your Mind – a campaign to promote mental wellness through art
  • Easy on Your Eyes – a campaign that addresses the issue of incorrect contact lens health among youths
  • Insid(h)er talk – a health campaign aimed at educating young women on the female reproductive system and empowering them to take ownership of their reproductive health
  • Cover a Brother – a health campaign to promote sun protection behaviour among men
  • Homemade (Cook it or Lose it) – a social culinary campaign encouraging youths to appreciate and learn their family dishes
  • Hard Conversations – a campaign to raise awareness of erectile dysfunction among female professionals
  • Paint the Town Red – a campaign that aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma about HIV among youths
  • Got it Covered – a safe sex campaign
  • Join the Current – an educational literacy campaign set against the global and local decline of news consumption among youths

With this post, I conclude my personal chronicle of university life as a Communication Studies undergraduate. My university journey at NTU had been a roller-coaster ride but I am glad I hung on and made it through! Thank you so much for your overwhelming support over the years and I sincerely hope my course reviews have helped a great deal in making your university life a breeze. Enjoy it while it lasts! 🙂

And congratulations, you made it to the end! Thanks for reading y’all! *blows kisses*

Read all NTU-related posts:
University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 2
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 2
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 1
Guide to WKWSCI Admission Interview
Second Attempt in University Application

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