Yixuan is currently a Year 2 Engineering student in NUS. She came to Singapore at 15 years old and studied in a local secondary school and junior college.
How did you find your experience studying in a local secondary school and JC?
I think my sec school experience was very unforgettable. I joined St Nicholas’ Girls’ School in Secondary Three, and that was my first time in a single gender school. My English was bad and I got E8 for my examinations, but my classmates and teachers offered lots of help. My English teacher would make time after work to help me and I truly experienced the warmth of campus life.
For Junior College, i studied in Nanyang Junior College. My school organized many events every year, and we were allocated a local buddy and guardian. Sometimes we would also have welcome dinners and school outings.
What are your thoughts on the education system here?
Generally, the Singapore system is quite different from China. I took a long time to adapt, and English was a major problem for me. I could not write good essays and I did badly for humanities subjects as well. Apart from the help of teachers, I also bought English novels and assessment books to practice. For subjects like Math and Science, the Singapore syllabus has more topics but the questions asked are easier.
What are some obvious differences between university and JC?
i think university has more opportunities for students. You can choose the major you like and select the modules you like. There are many student interest groups and you can also initiate your own in school, unlike JC where students have less autonomy. Other than that, as a student, i think the ability of self-learning becomes important in university. In JC, most teachers will keep an eye on you and hold consultations. Though university has that too, most are not compulsory and independence is important.
Something interesting about Engineering faculty?
There are many cool stuff, like machines and experimental labs. Last semester, I took modules which allowed us to design machines for quantum tunnelling. i could assess all the 3D printers in school and it was a fun experience. The canteen is very nice and the food is very affordable as well.
Is it true that people in engineering often wear slippers and shorts to class?
Not really, as there is a dress code for some modules, and I also prefer to dress properly for class.
You stay in Tembusu college in Utown. Can you share more about that?
Tembusu college is one of the Residential Colleges in Utown that offers modules you can take to replace General Education modules. I think for the modules, they are insightful and allow me to know more about our society and do self-reflection, change my own values and lifestyle.
Some students stay in hall while others stay in residential college. What is the difference?
Residential college focuses more on the academic through the modules, while hall has more activities and students usually participate in more CCAs in order to continue staying on.
What is something you like and dislike about being an undergraduate in NUS?
NUS offers us many opportunities, like the CCAs and student groups in the school. You can also initiate your own projects and choose as many elective modules as you want. It is very competitive however, and the bell curve is something I don’t like as it creates pressure for students. (Bell curve: Only a certain percentage of students can score A even if the whole class does well)