The time has come for me to hang my undergraduate boots (as for other Year 4 students of course). As I write this, I can literally count in hours the time I have left until I spend two and a half months waiting for my graduation ceremony in the first week of July. On the 26th of April at 3pm, I can choose to do two things in the examination hall: shout “no more school”! or put on a sombre face realising the best 4 years of my life are behind me. I’ll probably do the latter. I don’t know how to make this article as non-cliched as possible. A common theme emanates from most stories about one’s undergraduate life in university; that of reminiscences, nostalgia….maybe even regret. But I’ll soldier on.
I remember it was March (or May) 2011 and my mother told me the big news that I had gotten into NUS. I was in National Service at that time. I didn’t know how to react. In fact, I can’t remember how I reacted at that time. Having not studied for two years, I was initially intimidated by the academic life of university. Writing a ‘GPish’ paper hardly got you anywhere, especially in Arts and Social Science and I learnt that the hard way. Dare I say, like most students, I quickly became pre-occupied with grades. I created an apocalypse inside my head for every assignment I was about to get back. The first year for me was all about adapting..adapting to the academic culture of university in general, not just NUS. The ever rampant stereotype/fact of NUS students being competitive did get to me during this time, but I chose simply to not care, at least from my second year onwards.
Knowing very well how boring this article will be if i just talk about my academic trials and tribulations, I’ll remember the friends I made in NUS. No, I’m not talking about assignment buddies, lunch buddies, I-have-nothing-better-to-do-so-let’s-meet-up buddies; I’m talking about real friends. People I could open up to, people who made time for me when they didn’t have to and etc. I have one in mind but I won’t mention his name because as I learnt in my SC3221 class, the people in your writing should be anonymous. I consider myself lucky meeting this person; I still do. He played a large part, unknowingly, in changing my approach towards university and challenged me to not be too dark about grades. It worked damn well.
I tried hard to not be part of the NUS system. To not worry about the arbitrary deity that is the bell curve because your attitude towards grades easily translates to your attitude outside university. After four years, I learnt that grades matter but it should be at the bottom of my hierarchy of worries. Greater worries are what kinds of people and friends I want to associate myself with, what I want to do with my life, career wise. So far I enjoy doing research. I’m leaning that way at least.
I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learnt after four years is that quality is more important than quantity. You don’t need to have a lot of friends. If you can count the number of friends with your own two hands, that’s perfectly fine.