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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University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1

Hello everyone!

Time really flies, doesn’t it? I’m already in my third year at NTU and very soon, I’ll be decked out in my robe and mortar board and receiving my degree scroll on stage! I vividly remember how jittery I was on the very first day of school, worried that I would not be able to adapt to the challenges thrown at me. But I survived it all and I am truly thankful to those who have helped me in any way.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the end of this semester because I will be embarking on my 6-month Industrial Attachment (IA) at the Ministry of Education in January. That would mean having to make a tremendous change to my lifestyle, sleeping and rising early everyday. 😥 But I’m sure it’d be a fulfilling experience!

And no, I won’t be interning as a teacher if that’s what you’re thinking. I will be there as a Recruitment Marketing Executive to assist in their recruitment campaigns. So any MOE marketing collateral that you chance upon next year could possibly be designed by me. Hehe *excites* 😀

fionaseah-internship-application

My choices for IA programme

I went for a couple of interviews during my recess week and was subsequently accepted by MOE as well as MediaCorp. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t manage to score an interview with L’Oreal because it was one of my top choices. But I doubt L’Oreal even got back to anyone at all because nobody was allocated to the cosmetics giant in the end. Even if they did, most of the students would already have a placing somewhere by the time they start their selection process since there was an acceptance deadline for any existing offers.

I was offered a position as a Production Assistant at MediaCorp Channel 8 and I reeeally wanted to go for it. Argh, how I wish I could accept more than one offer haha. But I had to choose one, so I picked the one that’s nearer to home (MediaCorp is currently located at a godforsaken place and it’d probably stand a better chance if it has already shifted to Mediapolis) and would allow me to humbly display my prowess. MediaCorp, as every Media Studies student knows, accepts interns in batches so it’s gonna be difficult to stand out from the rest. And of course not forgetting the long working hours and meager pay. These, my boyfriend strong disapproves 😐

Enough of the internship talk. It’s now time to review the courses I took this semester! Only 3 courses though, so it’s gonna be a very short one.

1. CS4002 Media Law, Ethics and Policy (CORE)

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source: freeimages.com

I requested for an exemption from this course because I had studied something similar in Poly. But it wasn’t granted since it was an upper-level course. The course however turned out to be totally different from what I had expected because Dr Mark Cenite, the course coordinator (and my newfound WKWSCI idol after Dr Cherian George’s departure), included U.K. and U.S. law and policies (which are absolutely bizarre in my opinion) into the syllabus. Hence the lessons didn’t feel like a repetition to me at all. Also, with Dr Cenite’s witty sense of humour, his law classes were never boring nor draggy. I really like that he used current cases (e.g. Roy Ngerng’s defamation suit, the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement and etc.) to illustrate his points. They kinda kept me updated about the latest news. Haha.

Conducted in two 2-hour lectures per week, this course has no written exams but there is a collaborative (discussion allowed, open-book) quiz at the beginning of every session. The quizzes constitute 10% of the total grade and the remaining 90% is divided equally among three closed-book midterms (all of which are MCQ questions). Aren’t you glad that more profs are moving towards the pragmatic approach of not having exams? To me, exams are never the best gauge of knowledge and they should be abolished.

Anyway, this semester was the last time this course would be offered due to a curriculum revamp. It will now be a lower-level CORE available to the first-years.

2. BU8541 Sports Marketing – The Marketing of Champions (GER-PE, LS)

cristiano_ronaldo_2013_photo_13

source: tourismupdates.com

I added this course mainly because the tutorial time slot fit perfectly into my timetable and it was the only LS elective that appealed to me. This course basically teaches you about the various marketing tools (e.g. sponsorship) for sports products and how non-sports brands infiltrate into the sports market. Lessons can get pretty dry as I found myself hard to stay awake sometimes. There were 2 time slots for this course (only a 3-hour tutorial each week) and mine was on every Friday morning.

You would be allocated to a group with whom you’d be doing your major project (30% of total grade) and an article analysis (20%). The other components are an individual report based on the article analysis (10%), class participation (10%) and an open-book final exam (30%). The major project just involves studying any sports marketing related aspects of a chosen organisation (e.g. Netball Singapore) and presenting your critiques and recommendations. For the article analysis, you’d only need to select an article related to sports marketing issues. My team did on one that discussed about the partnership between Formula One and Singapore Airlines.

bu8541

From left: Captain who just got demoted to First Officer (coz one of his stripes went missing HAHA), some F1 Racer, 3 unknown Air Stewardesses with crappy and unsexy uniform and lastly, a Flight Officer.

We kinda set the benchmark for the attire because we were the only group that bothered to dress up. For our first presentation, we added a pre-flight safety briefing in the beginning and an arrival announcement at the end for comic relief. The ladies had to do some silly hand signals to mimic the flight attendants so it was pretty embarrassing. But it’s all in good fun 😀

All in all, the course was only enjoyable because of the group projects. My other gripe is that we didn’t manage to go on any field trip (as proposed on the weekly schedule).

I’m not certain if I’d do well for this course so I am still on the fence whether to S/U this one.

3. CM8002 Forensic Science (GER-PE, STS) – S/U

Forensic_Heroes_2

Source: Wikipedia // because CSI is so overrated.

I finally had the chance to take this course because Wednesday afternoons for me were previously always packed with classes I couldn’t drop. Over the years I have developed a keen interest in Forensic Science from watching crime TV series (most of them are from Hong Kong because I find that they’re more realistic and relatable to as compared to Western ones). If you’re like me, always wondering how actual murder cases are solved, then this is the course for you. It also teaches you how to reconstruct crime scenes like a pro. Haha!

This course provides every essential information you need to know about Forensic Science with topics on finding out the time of death, blood, DNA, fingerprinting, polymers and fibres, firearms, narcotics and toxicology. Each topic is accompanied with a few real-life cases (mostly based overseas) to demonstrate how these investigative techniques were used. And they are all very, very enlightening. I had personally spent additional time online reading up on some intriguing cases that were featured in lecture.

However, all lectures are pre-recorded and posted on this education platform called Coursera on a weekly basis, spread over 8 weeks. You would only need to go to school for Forensic Science after this period to hear guest speakers (actual forensic scientists and law enforcers) from various organisations such as HSA and SPF. If you’re not disciplined enough to watch the online lectures, you can always read the transcripts (which was what my friends did). The lecture notes are also quite comprehensive on its on.

There would be weekly assignments on Coursera (just 15 MCQ questions based on the topic covered that week) and 3 graded assignments (short-answer questions) over the course of 8 weeks. All these form your e-learning activity, which constitutes 5% of the total grade. There is also a midterm (15%) and a closed-book final exam (80%).

I’ve decided to exercise my S/U option on this because this course is extremely competitive so getting a good grade won’t be easy. By the way, this class is so huge that they have to conduct the lessons at the auditorium.

Okay that’s all from me for this semester! Do drop me a comment if you have any burning questions.

Talk to you guys next time!

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

University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 2

Hello fellow schoolmates!

Hope you’re enjoying your 3-month break thus far! I just wanted to get this post up before the course registration period begins on 23 June so that you get a better idea of the course structure of those that I took in the last semester. This is already my fourth instalment and I’m really glad it has guided many of you with your decisions!

Contrary to my last sophomore entry, I didn’t take any NIE modules this semester because I realised I have cleared most of my UEs already (and also all of them clashed with my tuition timing)! I am actually reserving the remaining credits for courses which are relevant to my specialisation track. Speaking of specialisation track, I may be specialising in interdisciplinary concentration to broaden my knowledge since my degree certification would not reflect what my track is. So yeah, while I’m still in school, I thought I should learn the ropes of as many trades as possible to make myself more marketable in the working world (which is just 1.5 years away omg time really flies!) Of course, designing/advertising is still what I like best!

This semester I began life as a THIRD YEAR student in NTU because I had accumulated enough credits. But I’ll refer to myself as a sophomore to avoid confusion. For those who are new here, I was enrolled in 2012 which makes this year my second in NTU. I was one of the few in my cohort who stayed put instead of going on exchange to enjoy ourselves and meet new people in another part of the world. Moreover some seniors were also doing their internships thus the school was relatively quieter and emptier haha. But it was cool – I got the chance to meet and befriend many foreign students who were in NTU for exchange! Yay!

Now, on what I took this semester… I’m afraid this post wouldn’t be of much help to you unless you’re from WKWSCI because I only took 4 courses and all of them are offered by my school. Yes, 4. Was I underloaded? Hahaha.

BUT WAIT! Before you close this window, one of the modules was actually a GER-PE which ANY of you can take so uh-huh, keep reading, won’t you? 😉

1. CS2058 Integrated Marketing Communication (Major PE) 

Lectured by one of the nicest and most prominent professors (Dr Lee Chun Wah) in WKW, it was my only course with a final paper. Having said that, it was also one with the least workload for me with only a term paper and a set of powerpoint slides (with presentation) to submit for grading. All these were done in groups. You wouldn’t need to spend a lot of time on them coz Dr Lee loves information to be concise and straight to the point, and it’s only a 10-page term paper which can be easily done with 4 members in a group.

However both his early-morning lectures (1.5 hours each but they usually end within 45 minutes lol) made it really tough for me to get out of bed. It wouldn’t be that bad if I was still staying at Bukit Batok but I shifted in February to a location so remote that it would take me 1.5 hours to reach school -_- If this was Poly I would have already gotten my first warning letter for poor attendance lol. The number of times I went for his lectures can be counted with 2 hands.

Despite my irregular attendance, I was never worried for my finals coz I realised that whatever he lectured wouldn’t be tested in the end lol (nor were they used at all in our assignments which explains why the number of attendees fell greatly towards the end of the semester). I would say that the finals was a breeze coz the questions were given beforehand and all we had to do was to do our own findings and then vomit them out on our exam script (closed-book). Seems pretty easy but I’m sure getting an A would be tough. Moreover, the exchange students in NTU this semester really went all out!

2. CS4029 Advertising Creativity and Copywriting (Major PE)

My most time-consuming course this semester with an individual graded assignment due every week, or every Thursday to be precise, so I usually had to work very late into the night on Wednesday since ideas only come to me at the very last minute.

Assignments are usually ad mockups (90% of the time) or copy writeups and honestly they are not that difficult to do if you’re a naturally creative person (not implying that I’m one la). The instructor is also very nice and encouraging and he gives the most valid criticisms ever. Even though I suffered from sleep deprivation owing to this module (never failed to sleep at 5am before submission), I still enjoyed it coz there would be prizes awarded to the best designs picked by the endorsers (HPB and Infiniti in this case) which gave me the extra push LOL. Though I didn’t win any of them, the sense of satisfaction when the instructor commended my efforts was enough to make me want to take this course all over again!

I must say that the imparted knowledge from Mr Tim Clark had definitely improved on my advertisement designs over time. Now looking at my previous works I feel deeply embarrassed coz all of them look like crap lol. If you happen to be in his class, be sure to save all his lecture notes as I believe they will come in handy if you intend to pursue a career in the advertising industry.

These are some of the best works I’ve done during the course. Note that these are not the final version which I included in my portfolio assignment. The final product can be found under the Portfolio section of this blog 🙂

A random assignment for any fruits I picked avocado.

A random assignment for any fruits – I picked avocado coz I was craving for avocado fruit juice from Alexander Village. Actually writing about this makes me want one too -_- Anyway, I’m not gonna lie – this is my most brilliant idea LOL and the idea came to me after drawing like what, 7-8 rough sketches?! Everyone who saw it loved it. So glad so glad! Did a series of ads based on this concept! Do check out my portfolio as well for this 😉

For Health Promotion Board's Anti-Smoking campaign

For Health Promotion Board’s Anti-Smoking campaign

For an Infiniti car (a brief endorsed by the company itself)

For an Infiniti car (a brief endorsed by the company itself). Apparently this brand is one of the main sponsors for F1, which explains the use of an F1 car in the mockup.

Storyboard for Health Promotion Board. To view the rest, please view my portfolio! :)

(Group project) First part of the storyboard for Health Promotion Board. We were supposed to collaborate with film students from another course to have this shot but due to time constraint, the plan was abandoned. To view the rest of the storyboard, please view my portfolio! 🙂

As you can see, having basic designing skills and designing software is necessary for this course. If you can’t design for nuts… well, it’s not that difficult to learn a trick or two from YouTube 😉

Anyway, the assessment components for this course is 60% individual creative assignments presented in class (some of what I did above), 30% final portfolio submission (pick your best 3 ads and expand one of them into a campaign, making a total of 5 ads to submit) and 10% attendance and participation with NO written exam. There is a weekly 2-hour lecture and 2-hour tutorial, giving you 4 academic units upon completion.

3. CS8070 Creative Visual Experience and Design (GER-PE, LS)

This is for anyone who’s still looking for a GER-PE Liberal Studies course to take.. especially if you’re from ADM coz as the course title suggests, it values design. Or rather, the prof for this course appreciates anything with elaborate design. But he can be really stringent with ADM students as you know, they are more skilled in this aspect. Haha. So if you’re not from ADM but are good at making your report stand out in terms of packaging, this is definitely the course for you.

Yup, this course requires a written report (30% of total marks) on your experience in becoming someone you’re not (for my batch) and no, he doesn’t want it to be in the usual A4, bound in plastic binder kinda report (even though it’s stated on the requirements). He likes it to be in an unconventional form that would blow him away (25% Composition, 25% Creativity, 25% Design, 25% Presentation, mind you). One student even photographed his process and turned his pictorial report into a (thick) flip book OMG OK WAIT WHAAAT. Don’t say the prof la… I myself was also amazed. It must had taken him A LOT of time to do it so he definitely deserves an A. Everyone applauded when the prof showed his work. Good job guy, if you’re reading this (and he’s not from ADM ok. Power la!!!)

Besides the individual report, there was also a group assignment (40% of total marks). Groups were created randomly using the randomizer on Edventure and I was grouped with 4 other girls from other schools. We were given one of the 5 weird topics (Worthy Words) to work on and had to do our presentation in front of a lecture hall of over 100 students using a mic omg. Because everyone in the group was reluctant to present first, I volunteered myself as the first speaker although I have mild stage fright lol gey kiang. Being the first presenting group in a morning lecture, I had to set the tone and be all enthusiastic and chirpy when I was also quite sleepy myself. But THANKFULLY I overcame everything and didn’t choke on my saliva as I spoke hahaha.

Once you’re done with your group assignment (if you’re lucky enough to get to present first), you’re pretty much done with the course but you’d still have to be present for class as attendance takes up 20% of your grades. This course is a 3-hour weekly lecture.

4. CS4088 Advertising Practicum (UE)

Last but not least, a UE which I reckon can be taken by anybody. This is a new course and I was in the pioneer batch and class size was really, really small (barely meeting the minimum number to start a class) probably due to a glitch on STARS planner. Apparently if you try to add that course, the planner would prompt you to fulfill its prerequisite first (which I think is CS4029) when in actual fact, there isn’t any prerequisite at all. Thus I wasn’t registered to the course until I showed up on the first lesson and was manually added by the course coordinator (i.e. the awesome Mr Tim Clark). The course is instructed by a WKWSCI alumni, Alvin, who now heads an advertising firm called The Alchemy Partnership.

With just 8 people (4 locals, 4 exchange students) in the class, we were easily separated into 2 groups of four. In my team were 3 other fun ladies whom I absolutely enjoyed working with. We did so MANY crazy things together in the name of getting a good grade which you can see from here. In fact, I must say that the whole class was a joy to be with la! They made my Fridays the happiest day of my week!! (omg as I’m typing this at 4 in the morning, Alvin texted us through Whatsapp to inform that he misses us HAHA awwww I miss everyone too 😦 )

Throughout the course, we had been on 2 industrial visits to VHQ Media, a post-production, animation and visual effects house and Yellow Box Studios, a sound post production facility. Both were equally enriching and I only hoped there were more of such excursions. Haha.

Derping at Yellow Box Studios

Derping at Yellow Box Studios

Folks Like Us image!

Folks Like Us imagine!

Of course, we also had hands-on experience as we were given a chance to work on real projects with the guidance of Alchemy’s Account Director. Some of the brands we worked on were Makisan, Ford, Ben and Jerry’s and Red Bull.

Our final individual project was to produce a viral social media campaign for one of given brands. I chose Makisan’s Instagram campaign as it was something I thought was the most feasible (the rest were making videos, or interviewing celebrities O_O I cannot la) and this was what I did:

Makisan Instagram campaign

Makisan Instagram campaign. Do you see what I did there? Haha.

You can view the actual images here.

There isn’t really a lesson structure since it’s a practicum. All you need to know about this course is that it carries 4AU and has a 4-hour “tutorial” every week 🙂

On our final lesson (the week before Good Friday), we met up at one of the country clubs that Alvin frequents 😛 It was at ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa.

Tai-Tai moment with Atheena!

Tai-Tai moment: sipping those fine red wine..

With the only final-year student in the class, Atheena!

With the only final-year student in the class, Atheena!

Group shot! Loooook at the yachts behind us!

Group shot! Loooook at the yachts behind us! (ok you can’t really see but yeah they’re there)

Our very own groupfie

Our very own groupfie

With Fengjia

With Fengjia

With one of the exchange students, Toni, from the Philippines

With one of the exchange students, Toni, from the Philippines

With exchange student from America, Ariel who was also my groupmate :)

With exchange student from America, Ariel who was also my groupmate 🙂

With exchange student, Cody, from Hong Kong

With exchange student, Cody, from Hong Kong

And with Swede heartthrob (not mine but I believe many girls couldn't get their eyes off him on the streets LOL), Robert.

And with Swede heartthrob (obviously cannot say it’s mine coz boyfriend reads this blog but many girls couldn’t get their eyes off him on the streets), Robert.

Awww I miss everyone 😥 It had been an awesome 12 weeks! All of the exchange students have returned home and I sincerely wish them the best in everything they do! Really hope we cross paths one day 🙂

Okay that’s about it for this semester!

Good luck with your exam results on Friday, everyone!

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

Guide to WKWSCI Admission Interview

Hello everyone!

The time of the year is here again, when prospective students frantically scour through the internet for tips to ace their college/university admission interviews. I hope what I documented prior to my acceptance to NTU help shed some light on how the interview works. I have also received numerous e-mails pertaining to this so I thought I should share some frequently asked questions here for the benefit of those who’re too shy to approach me.

Please bear in mind that I’m merely a student of the school and not some ambassador who is authorised to speak on behalf of WKWSCI, so everything that is written here are merely my thoughts. It’s always advisable to seek second opinion before forming your own judgement 🙂

You can still e-mail me at askme@fionaseah.com should you have queries not answered here. I’m always very happy to help prospective students!

I also appreciate feedback about the accuracy and helpfulness of this entry! Do share your joy with me if you succeed at your interview as well! 🙂

Before I begin the FAQs, there is ONE thing you’d need to know about WKWSCI before you go for the interview because it’s one achievement that we’re so damn proud of and it’d be a shame if you don’t already know it:

According to the 2014 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject, NTU’s Communication & Media Studies is ranked 6th in the world…. NTU said the subject Communication & Media Studies jumped an impressive 17 positions within two years since QS started ranking this subject, to become No 1 in Singapore and in the Asia-Pacific.

Source: TODAYonline

Interview FAQs

1. I do not come from a Communication Studies (CS)-related diploma programme. Is my chance of getting accepted into WKWSCI slimmer?

I had received tons of emails about this which makes this the most frequently asked question. This is very subjective so my opinion on this is: yes and no. ‘Yes’ because you may not have relevant portfolio to show that you’re suitable for the course and ‘No’ because you MAY not need to even produce any portfolio (with exception of NAA), thus categorising you with the JC applicants who also have no experience in this field.

In fact, I think that people with CS background stand a slightly lower chance of getting in because they’d expect higher standards from us. When I went for my interview, I had to make a short impromptu speech on top of producing my portfolio which showed my designing AND writing capabilities even though I already expressed my interest in the advertising field clearly from the start. Some of my friends who graduated with Business diplomas on the other hand got it way easier – they didn’t have to produce any portfolio because the interviewers refused to see them so all they did was talk. Of course, a handful of my DBA (a Business course offered by Singapore Poly) friends briefly showed what they did to a different interviewer so it all really boils down to the one(s) interviewing you!

But if you want a definite answer, I think it’d be a ‘No’. I always have the impression that WKWSCI assesses every applicant fairly. They don’t shun people with no CS background nor do they only favour those who have. However, you definitely need to possess 2 sets of IMPORTANT skills in order to be considered, regardless of the specialisation you intend to pursue. They are writing AND public speaking. If you don’t have these skills, CS is probably not the course for you.

2. What should I do if I do not have any CS-related portfolio to show?

First and foremost, I recommend that you decide what specialisation track to pursue if you were accepted into WKWSCI as doing so makes you seem less indecisive. WKWSCI offers the following tracks to concentrate:

  • Journalism
  • Broadcast & Cinema Studies
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Communication Policy & Research
  • Inter-Disciplinary

 

For me it was, no doubt, advertising like duh… I spent my entire Poly life trying to perfect my advertising/design portfolio hahaha. I had no problem answering any advertising-related questions. What stumbled me was the interviewer’s request to view my writing because I had just too many design works that didn’t show my writing proficiency at all.

Having a track in mind makes your more focused on improving on your portfolio. You can modify it according to what you want to pursue. For example, if you want to be a journalist/PR, you should have more write-ups than anyone else to show your flair for writing. Or if you want to be in the advertising field, you should have some mockups WITH COPY (learn from my mistake). They DON’T have to be perfect/professional because if you’re so good, then why are you applying to University? You can start working already! FYI that was exactly what my interviewer told me -_- I was repeatedly shot down by him when I answered that my works were amateurish. “No no no! What is there to improve on? These are very good! You shouldn’t waste your time here! Go apply into SUTD or SIT!!!111”

Since having good command of English is what makes the cut, producing anything that shows your proficiency in the language should be sufficient in that aspect. Personally I think you can show reports you had done during your Poly course (or GP/History essays done in JC), or you can do a write-up/essay about anything that interests you. I believe the interviewer (typically a professor) will be interested to read about your thoughts. If you were part of a CCA in Poly that required you to write (a writer for the school magazine or something), you should also include that in your portfolio. Once again, it doesn’t have to be of top-notch standard and LONG but it has to be grammatically correct. I showed my copy for a newsletter (about 5 lines) and the interviewer seem pretty satisfied with it. Haha.

During the application process you would have already indicated your course of study in Poly, hence the interviewers would most probably know that you do not have anything really CS-related to show. Just show what you did during your 3-year course and if possible, select those that are closely related to CS (e.g. event planning, marketing plan etc.).

Always, always bring something to show to your interviewer(s) even though they MAY not look at them (it depends on how lucky you are). Going there empty-handed = bo chup, okay?

3. Since I do not have any background in CS, would it be difficult for me to keep up with the lessons?

NO OF COURSE NOT. You basically start from scratch in Uni and study the fundamentals of everything media before you choose your specialisation. That means you have to, at least once in the course, design a newsletter, write a press release, shoot a short film, study media law, study the history of media and other not-so-fun stuff. The only difference between one with CS background and one without is the ABILITY TO EXEMPT FROM COURSES and end your programme 1 semester earlier. But there are MANY people I know who came from Mass Comm in Poly who chose not to accelerate the programme because the graduation ceremony will be held on the same day anyway.

4. What were some of the questions thrown at you during the interview?

Okay I hope my memory doesn’t fail me. I am not feeding you my responses because if you guys are passionate about the course, you should have your own answers!

“Why did you choose WKWSCI and not elsewhere?” (elsewhere – if you get what I mean)

“What do you like to do?”

“Why do you want to apply into WKWSCI and not enter the working industry since you already have so much experience?”

“Why not SUTD and SIT?” 

“In WKW, we value good writing and public speaking skills. Do you have anything to show your proficiency in writing?”

“Now, give me a 3-minute speech about someone who inspires you or someone whom you look up to.”

And lastly… “If you can’t get in this year, try applying again next year okay?” to which I replied, “This is my second application.” He was a little dumbfounded. “Oh..”

5. What should I wear for the interview?

Anything not too formal, casual, fanciful and revealing. For girls, just be donned in a knee-length dress and for guys, short sleeves top with long pants should do the trick. Jeans are fine too.

6. How long must I wait for the interview results to be out?

I waited for close to 2 weeks but that was during the appeal period. If you had your interview before that, it should be faster.

 

Other WKWSCI-related FAQs

1. What are some essentials I need to have?

There are no needs per se because the school has almost everything. As long as you’re a student there, you get free access to the computer labs and printers (have to pay but through credits). Of course, your life would be much easier if you have the following:

  • Macbook
    … but I’m still coping very well with my HP laptop. Go Windows!!!
  • Adobe Design and Web Premium
    … Basically all you need from there are Photoshop, Dreamweaver and InDesign. Contrary to popular beliefs, it is not expensive to own the authentic Photoshop. You can get the Adobe Design and Web Premium at student price from mine.com.sg.
  • Final Cut Pro (FCP)
    … to edit videos but it’s only available for Mac. Windows users have to edit their videos in school 😦 The authentic copy can cost you thousands of dollars though so usually students get it by other *sinister look* means.
  • Sony Vegas Pro / Adobe Premiere Pro
    … Another alternative for FCP. Sony Vegas Pro and Adobe Premier Pro are also Windows-supported. Likewise, you can only get them by other means.
  • Microsoft Office
    … For report writing and creating presentation slides. MO isn’t that important now that we have Google Drive. But nowadays students also like to act cool and 一个 artsy fartsy and use Prezi instead for their presentation. Huh why? I find Prezi too complicated and error-prone. I have never encountered any group that managed to go through all Prezi transitions smoothly without exclaiming, “Oops!” and then clicking several times before getting to the right frame. I get massive headache just by looking at the slides zooming in and out in fast motion.

 

2. I missed the Freshmen Orientation Camp!!!!! O SHIT WHAT SHOULD I DO!?!?!

NOTHING. Relax and let nature takes its course. If you’re intending to stay in hall, you don’t have to worry at all. If you’re not, you can still meet nice people through group projects and elective classes! Or if you’re free, through clubs and other CCAs. Please always remember that you go to school to study okay, not to be the most popular person or something. Life will still be equally awesome with just 432 Facebook friends and 3 likes on your statuses LOL. Life will still be equally fantastic even if you have to eat, travel and study alone sometimes.

To read more about my friend-making process, click here.

* * *

That’s all from me 🙂 I will update this post as and when I have new questions but please don’t ask me about FASS because I don’t think it’s fair for someone who know nuts about the NUS/FASS to answer them.

Thanks for reading!

Some useful WKWSCI-affiliated links:
WKWSCI Official Facebook
WKWSCI Facebook (student-run)
Wee Write (campus news)
Wee Shoot (compilation of videos shot by the Wee kids)

 

University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1

Hello guys! Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been really busy with both work and school and only managed to find time now that my finals are over.

I’ve noticed a sharp increase in unique visitors to my blog especially during NTU’s course registration period and the jump kinda scares me LOL. However I am both glad and heartened that my course reviews helped many of you one way or another. As the title suggests, this is going to be the third instalment and I’m sorry I couldn’t get this out before the registration period started. Hopefully it’ll come in handy for Add/Drop period instead!

Ever since I left my job at a tuition centre in March, I’ve been giving tuition to primary-level students while juggling freelance design assignments (P/S: I have updated my portfolio section). Hence last semester was a little bit of a struggle for me especially when one of my core modules had a test every 4-5 weeks. I am just so relieved that my first sophomore semester finally ended.

No modules were pre-allocated to me since I’m longer a freshman so I had to go into (STARS) war like everyone else and add modules (including CORE) myself. I eventually got all the modules I wanted because shopping at Love, Bonito probably trained my fingers fast enough in mouse-clicking -lol so I didn’t have to go through the painful process of the Add/Drop period. Like the previous semesters, I had a four-day week so that I can sleep in to save on transport costs. Being one who absolutely loathes written exams, I chose modules that are more project-based. Hence out of the 5 modules registered, only 2 were examinable. Of course, there were pros and cons la. One of the cons being lesser free time for myself because I’d be loaded with projects throughout the whole semester but I’d rather spend more time applying what I’ve learned to reports than memorising them for the finals which I’d definitely forget after the paper is done.

Talking about finals, I had my worst this semester not because my papers were tough but because, oh my god I NEED TO RANT, I freakin’ fell down the stairs of bus 179 which braked so suddenly (and I wasn’t in time to grab the pole), gotten the biggest bruise in my life on my thigh and was subsequently late for my first paper despite reaching school early. Thankfully I alighted after Lee Wee Nam stop so the bus wasn’t very crowded (actually if it was, I probably wouldn’t have fallen so badly) and not many witnessed the fall. It was so awful that both my shoes flung out of my feet and a good Samaritan had to retrieve my shoes for me. I arrived with a slight limp at the examination venue 15 minutes late (also partly because I couldn’t find the venue) and one of the invigilators had to niam (nag) at me for not being punctual which I pretended not to hear and walked away…….. So irritating please. People late very anxious already, you still want to nag and affect their mood even further omg. Luckily for me, despite the loss of time, I still managed to finish the paper on time.

* * *

As always, my review on the courses I took as follows. I realised most of the reviews are only applicable to WKWSCI students but if I remember correctly, some are also UEs/GER-PEs for non-WKWSCI students.

1. AAI383 Choir I (UE)

I have been dubbed the NIE girl because I register for NIE electives every semester without fail since discovering their goodness (non-examinable and no bell curve if I am not wrong) in my second semester. The upcoming semester is no exception LOL.

Like Voice, Choir requires an audition before you can be registered to the module. But unlike Voice, it would be an actual audition i.e. you have to sing (in front of other students) and you must be above-average-to-good at it. You have to be in tune with the piano and the rest of the members. So yup, if you’re intending to go for the audition, pick a song that you know you can sing well. I didn’t know I had to sing so I only decided on my song just before my turn (and I was unfortunately the first. Lol I was so amazed how brave I was). After you’re done with your song – it does not have to be the full song (I only sang the first stanza, not even the chorus) – the judge will play a note on the piano and you’re expected to sing it. My advice: don’t rush into humming the note. Take a second or two to think and decide first. If you go too sharp or too flat, then you’re out. If do well, you’re in, and then you’d be assigned a voice part – either soprano, alto (for ladies), tenor or bass (for guys) – according to how you sang. I sang pretty low-pitched so I went into Alto. Many times I wished I was in soprano because alto’s pitch could get pretty low and boring at times. But yeah, soprano’s could get really high too and the possibility of going off-tune is higher.

The downside (or upside to some) of Choir is that you need to know how to read musical notes or better yet, sight-see (bonus if you know how to play the piano) because your lecture notes will all be in musical notes. OK maybe you don’t NEED to know, but knowing it would be helpful unless you can sing by ear. Even so, there are so many different voices singing at the same time so it can be difficult to identify your voice part unless you listen really closely to the person standing beside you (and she may be wrong too lolol). Of course, the conductor would go through the song several times so alternatively, you could record the lesson on your phone and listen to it again at home.

This module is not as simple as you think it is. It prepares you for a mini concert held on the last week of the class where you’d be watched by real audiences. You would be taught about 8 songs in total and that’s not it. You are also required to form quartets (4-6 people) and sing some of these songs chosen by the assessors. So don’t have the silly thinking that you can get away lip-syncing in Choir and get a good grade. You have to sing and be heard in the quartet especially when you’re the only soprano/alto/tenor/bass there and it’d be very obvious if one voice part is missing. Those songs are not those popular and modern ones you hear on the radio so most of the time you won’t know the tune before that. Also, because you won’t have the conductor directing you in your evaluation/assessment, you have to decide on the pace/harmonise and this is very challenging in a group.

On top of singing, you’d also be taught how to warm up your voices and yes, this will be evaluated. It’s not as easy as Do-Re-Mi okay.

I enjoyed my Choir session though, even more if not for the quartet 😦

Oh, and the conductor is not the professor teaching Voice in case anybody is wondering.

2. CS0900 Communication Strategies for Sustainability and Social Change (GER-CORE)

One of the more tedious modules this semester in terms of the number of readings you have to do (the other being CS2007). Many people will be shocked to know that even though I’m a Communication Studies student, I actually dislike reading. A lot. But I will still read if required, like for this module *sigh*

As you can already tell from the module name, this class is all about saving Gaia and saving the world. It discusses case studies about the problems faced by third-world countries, some major environmental issues faced generally around the world and the strategies used to address them. No doubt it’s an interesting class but what kept us going for lectures is actually the professor – he’s so humorous and engaging in his lectures. It was also his first time taking this class full-time and trust me, he’s extremely enthusiastic. It’s so hard to fall asleep in his class unless you didn’t sleep the night before.

There is no tutorial for this class but there would be two 1.5-hour lectures in a week. In previous years CS0900 was an examinable module but thanks to Dr Rosenthal (the prof of this module), it now has no finals! Whoopeee!! In exchange for that though, there would be 3 (MCQ) tests across the semester each weighing 20%. I didn’t do well at all for all of them so I’m depending on my group project which weighs 40% to give me a decent grade. For group project, you can either do a video or an interactive website featuring one of the strategies discussed in lecture. For mine, I did the latter 🙂 If I can find a web host, I’d upload and post it up here.

3. CS2007 Communication History and Theories (CORE)

Just by looking at the module name is enough to make you sleepy and indeed, there wasn’t a lesson which I would not doze off to. The lesson was pretty dry with many terminologies to remember and it’s not uncommon to have the lecture hall only 1/4 occupied – I’m serious! And there isn’t any lecture recordings for this course (actually almost every CS modules I know of do not have recordings) The only time, I swear, when the the class received almost-full attendance was when we had our mid-term test. It also didn’t help when both lectures were held at 9am. The prof was kinda boring too but that’s just my opinion because I know people who found him interesting.

The only thing I regret doing for CS2007 was buying the textbook. It’s so ridiculously expensive and bulky. There is actually a soft copy version floating around the net so please don’t waste money on a book which you’d only use for 12 weeks or less.

Like CS0900, reading the required text is essential, not only because it will be tested in the final paper but also because you wouldn’t understand a single thing on the lecture notes.

I’d have to admit, though, that after reading the textbook, some communication theories appear to be interesting. I especially love the one on Genderlect by Deborah Tannen. But on the whole, the textbook is just a platform for communication theorists to argue against one another and hopefully make a name for themselves for something (i.e. theories) we don’t need to know. (Ok I’m just being biased here because I’m not a fan of theories to begin with)

This module comes with, as mentioned, a mid term test of 30% weightage, a term paper of 20% (which the entire cohort did VERY badly in general. Some even failed like whaddahell how can you fail a midterm paper? The effort and all.. down the drain) and a final exam of 50%. You do not have the luxury of choosing your own group mates for the term paper because according to one of the theories we learned, “you work better with people you’re not familiar with” -_- So yeah, I didn’t know who my group members were at all until one of them added me on Facebook. It was a rather hilarious sight to see members in other groups describing to one another what they were wearing and where they were sitting prior to their first meeting hahaha.

Also, don’t bother getting notes from your seniors in the cohort before mine (12/13) because it’s a totally different syllabus now. We had nothing to practise on for our finals because past year papers were all tested on the now-defunct syllabus -_-

4. CS2025 Image and Sound Production (Major-PE)

The MOST physically tedious module because all its assignments involves filming. This is one of the modules I had to take if I were to go on Advertising track and probably the last production module I’d ever take in NTU. The good thing about this module is that it has no exams at all (but there are 2 tests and they are NOT easy). YAY I’d do ANYTHING to have the final exams scrapped. Lol.

It’s pretty ironic that the prerequisite of this module is CS2006 (another CORE production module taken in year 1) which I presume is supposed to give you a head start on filming and teach you all the technicalities of film-making and editing but I actually learnt nothing much from there. Almost every lecture towards the end of the semester for 2006 was just additional time to edit your footages but in 2025, every tutorial is an extension of the lecture and you’d definitely be doing hands-on activities like sound recording and lighting. I feel that 2025 is a better option if you’re really interested in film-making. 2006 is really a waste of time as compared to this.

The course is assessed by 2-minute dramatic narrative silent film (15%), a 30-second TVC (20%), a 5-min short film with written report (30%), class participation (10%) and test and quizzes (25%). It seems like a rather heavy module but strangely I didn’t really feel any pressure. Luckily for me, I was still able to find time to shoot amidst my hectic work schedule and my group members were also very accommodating. Probably I didn’t feel stressed out because everyone was very cooperative and all of us know our roles and responsibilities well. No one in the group was a freeloader *phew* and I’m extremely thankful for that. We forged close bonds after being through so much and surprisingly we never had any disagreement on set. From getting cast, approval to shoot at public areas and props all at the very last minute, I’m so glad we managed to pull through!

I was mainly the editor and director for the videos. I enjoyed being the editor more though because I like to work on software. Here are our work:

Assignment 1: Silent narrative film

Basically a film that has no dialogues because we’re not allowed to have any. I racked my brains for a concept and we only decided on this on the week before submission (prior to that we had 2 other ideas which I though were quite difficult to execute). We are the last minute champions man. This video stars Andrew and Amanda, our resident actor and actress (you’ll know why later) and other supporting actor and actress. They may not see this but I am very grateful for their help. They were more than willing to make a trip down again for a reshoot when asked to. Plus, they acted really well so do engage them if you have any acting gigs okay.

Assignment 2: TVC for Health Promotion Board

This assignment is a collaboration with Health Promotion Board to promote early (proper) sex education. The board will pick the best 3 and reward them prizes so it’s kind of like a competition as well. We didn’t really bother about the prize and only picked the concept (by students from another module. Our job was just to execute it) that we thought was the easiest to work on. Surprisingly this idea wasn’t very popular and only 2 groups (including mine) chose it.

The main actress was my group member, Sheena’s friend. She looks like a secondary school girl right? But she’s actually in JC now. Sheena is like the lobang queen for actors in the group. Andrew and Amanda were also sourced by her. And best, all of them is can act one la!

We had a hard time getting that drop of tear at 00:18-19. We tried putting eye drops but too much of it can be bad for the eyes so we made her sit in front on a moving fan with her eyes wide open LOL. But nothing happened to her except her eyes turned extremely dry so we resorted to wetting her eyelids. I can’t remember how many attempts it took to create that tear but it sure took us a long time! I felt so bad making her go through all these. She was very nice about it though.

As for the pregnancy test kit, no one dared to purchase it over the counter lor -_- So the fearless me had to get it alone… at Changi Airport HAHAHA. I got it while waiting for boyfriend’s plane to touch down. And after we used the kit, nobody wanted to keep it in case of reshoots because there were already 2 red lines drawn on the test strip (for the unaware, it signifies PREGNANT). Everyone had the same concern of being questioned if anyone at home sees it. So guess who brought it home? -_- I’m not very good in hiding stuff so I really hope no one chanced upon it while I was out. LOL!

Our video was first runner-up in the competition! We were pleasantly surprised. Like, finally some recognition in our work. We’re like a *cough* diamond *cough* in the rough waiting to be discovered. 😛

Assignment 3: Short film

Our best production out of the 3 but sadly the one with the lowest mark 😦 We love this because of the morbid storyline. For this assignment we are allowed to come up with our own plot.. but there’s a catch. We’d have to incorporate items provided by another group in our video (and we’d provide items to another group too. My pregnancy kit was still lying around in my room and I thought it would be a waste if I threw it away 😛 So yeah, you know what happened to it). Items we got were a wet wipe (which was already dry by the time we received it), a polaroid picture, a colourful hair tie, an envelope with a “Lorem Ipsum” letter in it and a packet of water. Can you spot any of these in our video?

This was shot at numerous locations with approval at the very last minute as well and we didn’t expect to be given green light to shoot at an actual funeral parlour (Singapore Funeral Services), cemetery (Ying Fo Fui Kun Memorial) and a doctor’s clinic (NTU Medical Centre). SFS was really kind to assist us if we needed any help. We asked for their company shirt and they loaned us without hesitation. THEY WERE REALLY NICE AND SUPPORTIVE BEYOND BELIEF 🙂

All in all, it has been a good experience working with new people. We must really thank our lucky stars for the smooth-sailing filming process despite being super late minute. It was very risky and this video wouldn’t be possible if the locations weren’t secured. So everyone, please do not follow in our footsteps.

Back to the module, one thing I dislike about it is that we had to critique every group’s video and then grade them. Although the grades students gave would not affect the actual marks given by the instructor, I feel that by doing so only sows discord among groups. Sometimes I feel that the grade we received from another group wasn’t justified as we had previously given negative criticisms for their video. I’m probably being overly sensitive here but I really wondered at times if they were just out to get back at us. It might not be the case but I believe things like that is inevitable? I also did feel that some feedback were a little biased to begin with.. No doubt, there are students who are really good in film making but I think it’s really unfair to assume that their videos are perfect before even looking at them. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and I just feel that this critique session is flawed. I am perfectly fine with giving comments but grading is really unnecessary. It lowers morale sometimes especially when you receive marks as average as 70 while others receive crazily-high scores like 95. And these videos are really, in my opinion, not exceptionally good. -_- Like seriously man, 会不会有一点太夸张?

But anyway, the above is just my thoughts so please don’t take offense to that. I’ve got to admit though, that through this module, I realised that there’s a huge disparity in preference between me, the class and the instructor. What I like may not be what they like and vice-versa. Take the HPB TVC for example. I really didn’t like the concept and it’s actually my least favourite video. But guess what? My instructor loved it and it even bagged an award LOL. #okaycan

5. LM9001 Malay Language I (UE)

My timetable is never complete without a foreign language. I stopped taking up Spanish because the timeslot was really unsuitable for me and I think it will go on like this for a long time (because Spanish level 3 is not that high in demand so they put it at the least popular timeslots).

I chose Malay because it’s easier to learn and it is also applicable to Singapore and Malaysia (supper paradise). However what I learnt was formal Malay and not the colloquial Malay we use among friends. Jadi saya tak bercakap dengan kawan-kawan saya 😦

If you’re looking to take up a foreign language which does not consume much of your time, I’d recommend Malay because from week 1 to week 11, there wouldn’t be much to do except for self-revision. The tests only start coming in from week 12 (yes, the final teaching week). There’d be homework given occasionally but they aren’t very difficult to do (plus it’s not graded).

Since you’re in Singapore, you can practise by conversing with your muslim friends in Malay. I started eavesdropping on makciks‘ conversations ever since I took the language LOL. After all, being Singaporeans, we never form proper sentences when speaking so you should be able to understand a little even at level 1. 😛

Like Spanish, I enjoyed my Bahasa Melayu classes a lot. My classmates were a funny lot, always cracking jokes in class and making everyone else laugh with their silly comments. My cikgu would also play along and laugh together with us.

The exam structure for Malay is somewhat similar to our primary/secondary school English exam – reading aloud, conversation, listening comprehension, written exam and short composition. There would be a written test (with oral) before the finals which carries 50%. The remaining weightage would then come from the final paper. Don’t be alarmed by the composition. It only requires a minimum of 50 words for goodness sake! And I believe Malay is the only language to have English translation for the composition topic.

If you have time to study every week, an A+ shouldn’t be difficult to obtain. Even if you don’t, a B+ is not unachievable too.

Okay that’s about it from me for this semester. Hope I’m not too long-winded. Did it help? As always, let me know in the comments below if you have any questions! Alternatively, you can ask me through my formspring. It’s getting a little too quiet there so make some noise for me please. 😛

‘Til next time!

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

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

University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 1

(Wordy post ahead)

Phew! I finally got the time to blog now that the semester has officially ended! Actually my last paper was 2 weeks ago but procrastination got the best of me as usual 😛

Anyway I hope I am able to document every semester at the end of it because this is probably my last education stage if I have no means to further my studies financially (unless I decide to join the teaching force, that is!). And hopefully it’ll give a very good insight of University life especially for those who are gunning for a spot in NTU.

If you have followed my stories on University application, you would have figured that I had missed out on orientation camps or other freshmen activities planned way before I was admitted. That did not bother me since I am not a camp person to begin with, so even if I had the chance to go, I’d most likely not attend as well (haha). But to be honest, I was a little jittery when I went to school for the very first time for an orientation programme because I knew no one there. And to make it more awkward for me, the orientation started off with a lunch reception, so imagine my horror when I discovered myself surrounded with cliques who knew one another from camp. But I knew the feeling would be temporary, and I was right!

I forced myself to mingle (man I’m amazed at myself sometimes). I took some food and attempted to look for a table with a space big enough to fit me in. Unfortunately each clique was rather big so many tables were fully occupied! But then I found a table that had only 3-4 students.

“Can I sit here?” I asked.

So took the seat after getting approving nods from everyone at the table. Then one of the girls (a senior just there to mingle with the freshmen) there spoke.

“Do you know one another?”

And surprise, surprise! All of us shook heads! I count my lucky stars! Apparently I was at a table with.. how can I put it? Rejects? Nah, just people who never went for camp! That was how I made my first batch of Uni friends 😛 Very impromptu right? Oh and also at that table, I know one from Singapore Polytechnic too! But 2 years my junior 🙂

So you don’t need to go through torturous days of camp to make friends. In fact I never went for orientation camps in my entire life, haha! If you are thick-skinned enough, you should be able to make friends during orientation programmes (and group projects) too!

The first 2 weeks in NTU were a blurry mess to me but I figured everything out all on my own without the help of any seniors. I practically read up on STARS, STARS Planner, AUs, subject exemptions for Poly graduates and other NTU jargon when I’m at home most of the time because it is just so different in Poly! Now I have to be fully responsible for my timetable and the planning part of it really takes up a lot of my time -_-

Because I understand the pain and confusion freshmen go through during their first semesters, I shall compile a detailed list of what to take note of for the benefit of (potential) NTU freshmen who have no one to seek help from! 🙂

1. Add/Drop Period

The first 2 weeks of the semester are the second most important period (apart from exams period of course!) because that’s when you have to register for courses and apply for exemption of courses (if you are from Poly like me). The former is also what we call the Add/Drop period because you are able to add courses to your timetable and drop them if you don’t like them subsequently after attending the lessons! You can do so during these 2 weeks without any penalty and after which, any courses that remain in your timetable would be your confirmed ones throughout the semester. To me the Add/Drop period is like 2 weeks of trial lessons, hahaha! I once wrongly registered for a Translation class without realising that it was conducted entirely in Mandarin! I was in a state of shock throughout the 1.5 hour-tutorial and immediately dropped that course when I went home. But do bear in mind that lessons are conducted as per normal during these 2 weeks, so do not have the silly thinking (like me) that the lessons would be all introductory during this period! Hence it’d be good if you read up on the previous weeks’ lecture notes or watch recorded lectures before turning up for the next (and your first) one so that you know what’d be going on in class. If there are no recorded lectures (or if you do not have high perseverance level to watch the 1.5-hour long video), it would be better to print out the powerpoint slides.

I am sure many have heard of NTU’s very own STARS Wars, right? Basically it’s a system (named by NTU students) whereby courses are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis, so the fastest fingers always get their desired courses. However with effect from this academic year (I think), courses are now allocated randomly on a daily basis (hence the name is now Add/Drop instead of STARS Wars hahaha!). So it does not matter if you are the last to register the courses on that day because ultimately the system would CHOOSE by drawing lots -_- You only know if you get the course(s) after the Add/Drop system closes for the day, perhaps around 10pm, through e-mail. I personally prefer STARS Wars though because response is immediate.

2. Planning your timetable

Prior to that, students usually plan their timetable first and then attempt to add the courses on the first day of the Add/Drop period using the STARS planner with just a click of a button. The list of courses on the planner (which you can select directly from) are not exhaustive as some may be left out, so I’d usually refer to this list which has a more comprehensive description of each course. If I like what I read, I’d copy the course code and paste it into the empty field. If it is a valid code AND is offered in that semester, you should be able to choose your preferred time slot (i.e. index number) under the drop-down menu after clicking “Plan” (unless there is only one available time slot). Otherwise, the drop-down menu would not show anything! Also ensure you have fulfilled the prerequisites (if any)! Usually Poly graduates are the only freshmen to have fulfilled them in their first semesters 😛

I took 6 courses in Semester 1 and it was quite manageable (apart from having to take 5 papers). So I guess 6 (18 AUs) is the norm? And just because NTU offers foreign languages as electives for free like that, I wouldn’t recommend loading your timetable with more than 1 foreign language because 1 I already cannot tahan. It really takes up a lot of your memory space!

3. Your pre-allocated courses by the school before Add/Drop period

If you are a freshmen, you would already have certain CORE courses allocated to your timetable so that you won’t begin the first week of school with no classes to attend. You can check what courses you have been registered for here (under Print/Check Courses Registered) and they should already be reflected on your timetable before your orientation programme (so that you can use it as a common topic/ice breaker when mingling around LOL SERIOUS). Of course, you may drop CORE courses and take them again in another semester. But I wouldn’t do it in exchange for non-CORE ones la.

4. Course exemptions for Poly graduates

So anyway back to course exemptions for Poly graduates. The deadline to apply for exemptions is NOT on the last day of the add/drop period. If I remember correctly, it should be at the end of the first week or in the middle of the second. You have to download a form from the WKWSCI website (if you are going there. Otherwise it should be on your faculty’s website?) and submit it to the in-charge via e-mail. It can be done even before the first week of school and of course, you can also submit the hard copy to the office. But before submission, you’d also need to contact your Poly course coordinator and request for a course syllabi to be sent to your school as well (or to you if possible) because they’d need it to determine if you can be exempted. Oh and not forgetting all your Poly transcripts! Don’t ask me why they need the copies again… Do be sure that you had attained at least a B+ for that module you are matching against!

I tried matching  my Poly modules with the list here (only Year 1 and Year 2 courses though) and I was eventually exempted from 8 modules (4 of which are CORE) worth 24 AUs. The maximum number of AUs you can exempt from is 32 but subjected to approval. But even so, I went all out and tried to match as many modules as I could because there is no guarantee that I’d be exempted from all! What I didn’t know until 5 weeks ago (-_-) was that this course exemption exercise is not restricted to courses just in WKWSCI. In other words, if you have gone through a Business module in Poly for example, you can also match it against a Business course in NTU which would eventually be your exempted elective! Sigh, I could have exempted from more courses if I knew about this earlier! Because all exemptions have to be done during the first week of your first semester 😦

EDIT (6 May 2015): With effect AY2015/2016, polytechnic students can only be exempted up to 12 AUs (instead of 24) for GERPE/UE type courses only. In other words, you can no longer get exempted for CORE modules even if you have gone through something similar in Poly. [source]

5. Academic Units System (AUS) and other NTU jargon

Also, exempted courses are not graded and would not be included in the computation of your cumulative GPA. But the AUs tagged to your exempted courses will be awarded to you 🙂 However do note that you’d need at least 69AUs of graded courses AND 128AUs in total to graduate! So you cannot exempt like shiok only (actually it’s also not possible since the max is 32AUs, LOL)

With effect AY2011/2012, all Year 1 students admitted to the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information will adhere to the following curriculum structure. CS students MUST complete a minimum of 128 AUs (CORE- 47, Major PE/CORE Elective- 24 AUs, GER-CORE – 12 AUs, GER-PE/GER- Electives – 15 AUs and GER-UE- 30 AUs).

– WKWSCI website

  • CORE are compulsory courses required to satisfy programme requirements. To know what the CORE are in WKWSCI, click here by concentration or here by year of study! Technically the CORE in Year 1 are CS2002 Information Literacy, CS2005 Speech and Argumentation, CS2006 Visual Literacy and Communication, CS2008 Fundamentals of Research. The other CORE are GER-CORE which are also CORE to us la somehow.
  • Major PE/CORE Elective are courses for specialisation in a particular degree programme (e.g. journalism). You can also refer to the two lists I’ve hyperlinked above pertaining to this.
  • GER-CORE are courses relating to Communication Skills (CS0201 Foundations of Communication Studies, CS0204 Basic Media Writing), Singapore Studies (CS0203 Media in Singapore) and Environmental Sustainability (CS0900 Communication Strategies for Sustainability and Social Changes)
  • GER-PE/GER-Electives are courses that can be outside of WKWSCI but has to be one of the sub-areas of studies – Art, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS), Business & Management (BM), Liberal Studies (LS), Science, Technology & Society (STS).  In other words, you need to have at least 1 GER-PE from AHSS, BM, LS and STS categories. You can find out the categorisation from the STARS Planner!
  • GER-Unrestricted Electives (or just UE) are ANY courses around NTU, such as foreign languages and other japalang courses which may interest you. Some courses can be opted as either GER-PE or UE. It’s totally up to you!!

6. Getting to your classes

The best way, I swear, to familiarize yourself with the school is by getting lost. I get lost everyday ALONE on the first 2 weeks because NTU is so damn huge (but after awhile it doesn’t look that huge anymore), getting caught in the rain and subsequently late for my class, missing my stop, alighting one stop earlier.. Wow, hahaha

But of course, you should do some research at home first, like finding out where the nearest bus stop is, where the classroom is nearest to, so on and so forth. Maybe give yourself 30 minutes of buffer time. And if you are really lost, ask any passers-by! These are times you really shouldn’t bother about people thinking that you’re a freshie because really no choice ma!

The next thing to know is the shuttle bus service around NTU which is VERY VERY useful for days which you have classes all around NTU and walking would take like 15-20 minutes? There are 4 shuttle buses (including Weekend Rider) in the school and one of them goes to Pioneer MRT station but because it’s to the train station, the bus does not go to every bus stop in school to prevent overcrowding! More details on the shuttle bus service here (it looks less cluttered and more user-friendly on mobile but if I’m not wrong, the stops are not sorted in order on mobile). Not forgetting that the service is free………….. Okay not really la, you pay through your school fees.

7. NTU culture

Another difference in culture between Poly and NTU is probably how we identify/call the courses. In Poly (not sure about the others), we call the modules by their initials (or rather, acronyms) like for example, we call Mass Media Research MMR for short even though they also have module codes tagged to them. But hor, in NTU I don’t know why everyone likes to call the courses by their code number, like CS0900 Communication Strategies for Sustainability and Social Changes, they call it 900? Why, is it because the acronyms are too long?? Being mathematically and numerically-challenged, I find it so difficult to adapt. Even freshmen automatically get this habit after awhile. I once tried to identify to someone a course by its acronym and all I got was a blank look, followed by a “You mean 2005?” a few seconds later.

Also, don’t expect scoring rubrics for projects you are tasked to do, because THEY DON’T HAVE THEM! 😦 So sometimes you really don’t know which part of the project to beautify and put in more effort on because you just don’t know how the marks are allocated. Oh well I guess NTU just wants its students to put in effort for every single thing la!

8. Using clickers

NTU is so cool we have to use clickers in some lecture theatres. I’m lying it’s not cool. I actually hate it.

Anyway every freshman is given a clicker (together with your matriculation card) just in case you’d need it la. But it’s on loan. HAVE TO RETURN ONE once you graduate!! So I really don’t know why some people go and bling it..

How to use the damn clicker:

If you’ve been to any NTU lecture theatre, you would see some numerical digits printed on a white paper pasted near the projector screen. That is the channel of the lecture hall. You have to set the channel first before you can respond through the clicker:

  • Press and release the “Ch” button (“GO” for the older model).
  • While the light is flashing red & green, enter the 2 digit channel code (i.e., Channel 1 = 01, Channel 21 = 21 and so on).
  • After the second digit is entered, press and release the “Ch” button.
  • A steady green light should appear. If not, repeat steps 1 to 3

NTU Clickers Website

Then comes the next and final part which is not mentioned anywhere! WALAO Because of this I lost 25% of my marks for one of my courses which required clickers!! I am so so pissed. More details later.

So to respond through the clicker, you just have to press the button with the number that corresponds with the option number of the answer! THAT’S IT! JUST ONE BUTTON. IT’S SO EASY BUT I DIDN’T KNOW. You know what I had been doing? I followed the same steps as channel setting! Actually how would anyone know!? GRRRRRRR.

9. Getting your textbooks (or required text)

I won’t say that it is compulsory (unless your profs decide to be difficult and test you on the content of your required text) to buy textbooks if you pay attention in class and jot down notes diligently, but they will definitely come in handy when you do your revision. University textbooks, especially for specialised subjects like Art, Design and Natural Hazards, are hardly ever available in the school’s bookshop (used to be Yun Nan Bookstore until mid 2014. Popular has since taken over). To get them, you often have to place an order with the shop and the books would only be available in a few days’ time. Sometimes it could take weeks.

However, textbooks are mostly very expensive because they are not like your secondary school books that are written and printed locally. They are authored by renowned experts and a lot of them are imported from somewhere far away. But I don’t find it worthwhile to spend so much on something that you’d only use for one semester. The solution? Get a photocopied version (some campus bookstores may do it discreetly but you gotta find out which yourself), find an online free version or buy a second-hand one. Before you do so, do ensure that the book is in the correct edition.

Here are some platforms which students use to sell their textbooks:

Carousell (app)
Hardwarezone
Bookfishing

If you can afford to wait, sometimes even sites like Amazon would offer your textbooks at a relatively lower price.

10. S/U option

If you find yourself doing not so well for courses you have added and confirmed, you can exercise your S/U option (which stands for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) on them! Once you have converted them to S/U grading, you will only be graded S (if you pass or even if you get an A) or U if you fail or if I’m not wrong, get below a C? These grades will not be included into your GPA so it’s like you’re taking the courses for fun (but still must pass la otherwise you’d have to retake I guess and it won’t look nice on your transcript). But of course good things come with a limit. You can only use this option 4 times in your 4-year course (and 3 for 3-year). 😦

This option is available 2-3 weeks before your final paper so you’d have plenty of time to consider and evaluate after getting your marks for your first few quizzes for example! Otherwise, you can still decide after sitting for the paper as the declaration period lasts ’til the final examination week. Read more here.

With effect from academic year 2014, freshmen can automatically exclude up to six courses for Grade Point Average (GPA) computation, if they do not attain a pass for their first attempt in their first year. They will retake the exams for those exempted courses and the grade for the second attempt will then be used to compute the student’s GPA. These changes were made to ease the freshmen’s transition into university. [Source]

11. Bus 179/179A

I thought I have to add this in because like many freshmen, I didn’t know the difference between 179 and 179A when I was in my first semester. All I knew was both buses go to NTU from Boon Lay interchange.. so, what’s that ‘A’ for? Seeing 179A buses drive past and refusing to stop despite getting flagged down at the bus stop opposite Pioneer MRT station never failed to puzzle me. It happened too many times to be ignored so one day, I took out my phone and Googled it on the spot.

Apparently, bus 179A does not stop at any of the bus stops outside NTU, hence making the journey faster especially during the morning rush hour (9.00am classes) when almost every bus stop is packed with people waiting for the bus. Thus, you can only board 179A from Boon Lay bus interchange (just 2 berths away from the 179 queue, on the left near the exit) but the service is only available until 9.30am. Any time later, you’d have to take bus 179. This service is not available during weekends, public holidays and NTU holidays.

Do not be alarmed if you see terribly long queues for bus 179A in the morning because it’s really not as bad as it seems. With the surprisingly high frequency for 179A and its amazingly short intervals (one behind another), be rest assured that there’ll be enough buses to carry everyone in the queue! So don’t be deterred and join the queue for 179 instead which is a really stupid decision because it’s such a waste of time.

Having said that, bus 179A does ferry students from the campus to Boon Lay bus interchange during the evening peak hours even though they don’t pick anyone up from the interchange itself during that time. Likewise, they skip all the stops outside NTU and go straight to the interchange. So, please ah, don’t be a suaku and press the bell for the bus to pull into Pioneer MRT bus stop. Everyone immediately knows that you’re a freshie if you do that and trust me, it’s super embarrassing.

* * *

Okay now let’s talk about what courses I took in Semester 1! Some courses.. really ah. I must WARN you all first before you register them. Don’t say I didn’t tell you guys! (-_-)

1. AB0603 Business Gone Green (UE)

This is a course from Nanyang Business School and a CORE for business students. The best thing about this course is that it’s NON-EXAMINABLE! So it’s purely graded based on your coursework which include 2 essays, 2 group presentations and other individual tasks. This is a relatively new course and I was in the pioneer batch! Because it’s non-examinable, I really didn’t pay much attention in class honestly (also because the lessons were super profound) and I just relied on the seminar notes when doing projects and I did okay! 😀 The class was fantabulous, full of energy and so-ever enthusiastic and I made a couple of friends from there. All groups tried so hard to make their presentations creative and interactive so there was a stiff competition! I actually added this course LAST because I wanted 6 courses and this was the last option. But I never regretted my decision!

2. BU8301 Fundamentals of Business Law (GER-PE, BM)

Let me just say that I loved this course so much (even though I may not get an A) because the content is so interesting and the professors are really engaging (with the exception of 1….). I have learnt so much from this course to the extent that I’m even applying what I’ve learnt in real life! I believe this is one of the more beneficial courses which really teaches you something. This is also a rather relaxed course because the final grade is dependent just on your class participation (20%) and your final paper (80%). No projects and no presentations! Just do your tutorial diligently every week and volunteer to answer them in class and you’d get your A+ for class participation! 😉 Oh but some tutorial groups replace their class participation with group projects (as in every week one group is assigned to present their answers for a tutorial and in my opinion, that’s super hard to score). However I believe the weightage for the final paper is a little too much ah.. So that’s one bad thing about it. But it is an open-book examination 😉

3. CS2023 or COM223 Publication Design (Major PE)

This is a course supposedly only for second year students because there is a prerequisite! But because I am exempted from the prerequisite course, I was allowed to take this. This is a very project-intensive course which uses InDesign very heavily, as well as a little bit of Photoshop. There is homework every week and 3 assignments spread out across the semester. The last assignment is a group project which involves creating a 20-page school newsletter. So.. perhaps take this if your design skills are not too bad? And even though there are design tutorials, you really need to do your own reading and research too because not everything will be taught in class! Oh and a Macbook is really recommended for this course because you’d be taught how to create eBooks using a software that can be only installed on Mac unless you don’t mind going back to the lab to complete your assignment. The final paper is also an open-book one!

4. DV2003 History of Graphic Design (UE) – S/U

I have a love-hate relationship with this course. Love because I enjoyed doing the group project and I am very sure I did pretty well for that. Hate because I flunked all my (pop) quizzes and I dislike the professor’s teaching style! No lecture notes would be provided and you would be expected to pen down the key points the professor said from scratch (and I am not very good at this). Because it’s conducted in the school of Art, Design and Media (and also its students’ CORE), I feel so overshadowed by their overwhelming knowledge in art. NOW I KNOW WHY I DON’T DESERVE A SPOT IN ADM. So as you can see, I didn’t do as well as I expected so there goes my first S/U option. The final paper is in essay format and requires a lot of memorizing to do well. Kinda reminded me of Social Studies..

5. ES8001 Natural Hazards, Climate Changes and Society (GER-PE, STS) – S/U

Whenever I tell a non-NTU student about this module, I’d always get a positive response because the name already looks cool on its own. But looks are definitely deceiving because I hated this course from the very first lesson. I couldn’t catch up on the lecture (it is a once-a-week, 3-hour lecture which covers 2-3 topics every time) because when I joined the class on the third week, it was already on the SEVENTH topic. There would also be in-class clicker quizzes worth 25% of the overall grade at the start of the lecture (so if you’re late, you’re dead) hence you would need to spend at least 1 hour watching online lectures before going for class. It was so time consuming and despite feedback from students, they still refused to change the structure of the assessment! Moreover, I wasn’t very familiar with the clicker so somehow my response for the first 5 quizzes didn’t get recorded and I got ZERO for them. Informed the course coordinator (or rather, his assistant) and was promised a solution but until now, I have not heard from her. I even followed up with her during my recess week and I even went up to her during lecture to voice my concern) and she assured me that she had not forgotten about us (apparently it wasn’t only me who was wrongfully marked zero). But it seems like she has indeed forgotten about us! -_-

There is no way you could understand the lesson without watching the videos because the notes were all pictorial with little to no text. -_- And don’t expect this course to be like the Seconds From Disaster documentary because it is NOT. It is so dry and technical. Can you believe that my very first lecture was on tectonics or measuring of earthquakes? :\ Calculations are totally not for me man.

There are 2 papers for this course – one mid-term and one final paper. Mid-term has a weightage of 25% and the final one 50% with 100 MCQs. Yes, even though the exam questions are all in MCQ, they can be really tricky too :\

But as much as I hated this course I couldn’t drop it because my first class was after the Add/Drop period 😦 So I had to S/U this! I’m probably the only freshman to have S/U two courses in her first semester!! But even though I had already S/U this, I probably will not even get an S 😦 Sigh, *fingers crossed*

6. LS9001 Spanish Language I (UE)

I wanted to continue with my French study but was denied the chance because I missed the placement test (couldn’t take the lowest level because I already learned a little of French in Poly). My next choice was Italian but because it was a highly popular course I couldn’t get it in the end. Thus I settled for Spanish, and I never once regretted my decision! I enjoyed the lessons (1.5-hour, twice a week class) so much that time passed so quickly when I was in the class. I really liked my Spanish teacher because she is engaging and really cares whether you understand what she teaches. Her name is Arancha (her real name is longer than this) and she usually teaches  the Tuesday and Thursday 12pm/1.30pm slots in case you’re wondering 🙂 There are in total 4 levels of Spanish language offered in NTU but they are still not enough to prepare you for DELE (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language) though.

Knowing a little of French really did help me grasp the Spanish language better because they are rather similar. But because it is a completely foreign language altogether, you’d really need to spend some time practising and memorising vocabulary for example otherwise you would be lagging behind in class. But even though I like the language, I don’t think I did well for the final paper because the comprehension portion of it killed me. :\ You’d be tested through an oral examination (25% weightage. You and your partner have to converse in Spanish in front of the entire class and it was very stressful HAHA), a listening comprehension (10% weightage), 2 bring-home assessments (10% weightage each) and 2 test papers (total of 25%, one of which is the final paper) which cover Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar (conjugations) and Composition.

And that’s about it!

In less than 2 weeks’ time I would be getting my final grades for this semester (will be looking at my mail all the way in China) and I am really praying hard for a Pass for my Natural Hazards course! I have been hearing a lot about the bell curve and its horror stories but I am not a victim of it yet. Hopefully the bell curve does more good than harm to me 😦

Ok I really hope this post has benefited you in one way or another. Do drop me a comment if you need to know anything else not mentioned here! 🙂

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 2