Finally, homeschooler is homeschooler no more.
With some anxieties and worries, I began my freshman year in NUS in August 2017. It was a new experience, and I made preparations beforehand, arranging my workstation and preparing for assignments and tasks ahead. This is how my desk looked like before school started:
I bought a new computer (thanks Mum and Dad) a Surface Pro 4, and it turned out to a be real pal throughout my first year.
I did have my reservations about going to University, when I went for the open house before my National Service, I felt it was just a necessary evil to be gotten over and done with. Nonetheless, it was God’s will, and I had gotten a university placing.
I wanted to at least make it for orientation talk, (I wasn’t interested in the orientation camps as I didn’t want to be put in questionable situations.) but I missed it. Thankfully, I managed to catch the webcast and after going through it at x2 speed and painstakingly reading through the details of the modular paper, I decided I would have to map out my entire University journey, from what modules to take in the first semester, all the way to the very last. (Of course, this is subject to CORS bidding and pre-allocated modules)
So, like a very kiasu Singaporean, I went to CORS to check the module bidding history, and used NUS modules to look at modules I would like to take. I needed to finish my exams early as I had year-end camps to attend to in end November. I thus selected modules that would have early exams, and I managed to get all my modules! Thanks be to God.
But it would be a mad crazy ride to have 4 papers in the space of 4 days, though I would get to end my term basically at the start of exam week.
I picked my modules for the first year:
HY1101E – Asia and the Modern World
Module Components: Tutorial, Exam, Mid-term Exam, 1.5k Essay
I intended to major in history right from the start, so this introductory module was a compulsory one. I didn’t get the tutorial slot I balloted for, but I got allocate to another one, and it was a true blessing. My tutor was Professor Bruce Lockhart, an excellent teacher. (He’s a Christian too, and points out interesting facts, like the English King who sent the envoy to Emperor Qianlong is King James, he’s the same King James who did the King James translation of the Bible.)
HY2245 – Empires, Colonies, Imperialism
Modules Components: Tutorial, Exam, Mid-term 1.5k Essay, 2.5k Essay
I chose this module because the exam ended early, but little did I know that the empires that I would be studying would be on Britain and Rome! When the module description came out, I was really overjoyed as I did my Intermediate Essay of 1,500 words on the fall of the Roman Empire. My research essay during the module would center on the same subject.
I had an awesome tutor here too! Dr. Daniel Jew did the lectures on Rome, and I knew his office is at CAPT near Utown and thus opted for the Utown tutorial. He’s a Christian too, and even referred to the story of Jesus and rendering tribute to Caesar when talking about Roman coinage. He would also point out Roman historians like Tacitus who referenced Jesus in their writings.
Mid term: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AtAN7hsDWZgEg8AKDUGqc2nNOTOlMg
Research Paper: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AtAN7hsDWZgEgrNPyJe19Eq06iqosw
HY2210 – State and Society in Early Modern Europe
Modules Components: 2x 1.5k Essays, Exam, Tutorial
I didn’t actually plan on this module, and the content was really archaic, learning all about the complexities of Europe coming out of the Middle Ages. Full of wars, princes, princely lines, royal families. It was a rather complex module.
But again, the year I took this module was the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and it the Reformation was a special focus topic of the module. I really enjoyed learning about Martin Luther, the Anabaptists, and the Reformation in general. To make things better, the workload was very manageable.
For the second essay, I was very pleased to secure the book the lecturer used for the module from Central Library. It was really helpful. Though history seniors wished me ‘good luck’ with this lecturer and apparently he has a reputation for ruining grades, I did well, thank God!
GES1011 – The Evolution of a Global City State
Module Components: Tutorial, Open book Mid Term and Final Exams, 1.5 Essay
I chose this module because two of the tutorials were field trips and I wanted some variety. We got visit Fort Canning Park and for me, I visited the Chinatown Heritage Center. I felt it the module was really waffly and it didn’t help that the Professor went on for more than 1 1/2 hours non-stop, droned on about evolution and continental drift for the first two lectures, put Lim Bo Seng’s photo out and said it was a Japanese General (I pointed it out to him during lecture, the whole class didn’t seem to notice), and he also seem to be a leftist liberal who adored Karl Marx.
Oh wells, I felt I smoked the entire final exam. But I got the best grades for this module. (This was truly God’s work. I had decided to forego extra study for this module in favour of planning for the upcoming Children’s camp. I had less time to study for this open book exam, but the Lord did see me through and I did well.)
FAS1102 – Public Writing & Communication
Module Components: Pre-Course Writing, 1 Formal Email, 1 Blog Post, 1 Group Presentation, Tutorial
Oh boy, welcome to group projects. I had really good group mates for this module, 3 of us guys (two of us police officers) did a topic on the death penalty. Our blog here: https://blog.nus.edu.sg/druggedtodeath/
First off, I am all for the mandatory death penalty, even for drug trafficking. My tutor is definitely not. We chose a topic to argue for the death penalty, but it got disapproved. I felt it was pretty unjust. We were told to argue against social norms. Thus, we tweaked the argument. I could not argue against the death penalty as a whole, so the topic was adjusted. Didn’t have a good time at this module though the project mates were great, and I made friends through the peer reviews.
Blogging is my kind of thing, I had three blogs, so it wasn’t too difficult. As for presentation, guys being guys, we worked on our parts, collaborated on a google slide, and then 1 1/2 hours before the presentation, did our rehearsal. Thank God I reached school early, there happened to be a train delay that day. I was saved. 🙂
My group wrecked everyone else on the presentation during Q&A, and it was a marvel the three of us made it out alive. Haha! Certainly helped that 2 out of the remaining 4 presentations was on LGBT in Singapore and I am dead set against it so I had all the arguments prepared. Really interesting how one of the presenters took things so personally when I contested how 27,000 pro-LGBT people in our Singapore population of 6 million is not a majority. I was like, “chill, I thought we’re having a discussion? You don’t need to attack me or take it personally.”
All went well with the module, I got a decent grade for it, and I made one friend who would be in the same module as me in Semester 2.
Pre-Course Writing: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AtAN7hsDWZgEg8AQzPcMndg2P8tyMQ
Formal Email: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AtAN7hsDWZgEgqw97ysb9jUih6QZyQ
CFG1010: Roots and Wings
Module Components: 1.5k Essay, Weekly Quizzes, Other Assignments
A disaster as a module and a waste of time. There were some interesting parts on multi-tasking, interpersonal communication, as well as technology addiction, but they kinda wanted to interfere with your personal life and I don’t need school to teach me about life, thank you very much.
And they’re also high on this atheistic meditation practice, a.k.a. mindfulness. Full rubbish, I took short naps during the meditation sessions. Thankfully there were only two lectures, and it was conducted in an informal setting, and seating was assigned by them, they made guys and girls sit alternately, so you usually had to talk to a girl. Awkward. haha. When arranged in groups of 4, well, naturally you would just talk more with the same gender.
Anyways, first Semester was anything but easy, I had to go to school almost every day of the week, and sometimes it was just for one class, my forward and return trips were longer than the time I spent in school. But my tutors were great, God had planned it that way. I also learnt that Clementi route was faster for me than Kent Ridge, coming from Admiralty.
All my mid-terms were before the recess week, (I soon found out, everyone else’s was after.) It was crazy. I had basically:
- 1 equiz
- 1 800 word blog post
- 1 500 word ‘short answer’ question
- 4 1,500 history essays
- 2 peer reviews
- 1 exam
In a single week, and its week 6, I’m only 6 week old freshie, please save me. Thank God I did pretty well for all my midterms except for my History exposure module which I felt did not go too well. My family was also a pillar of support during this time, and with their support, I was able to pull through.
I also really thank God for helping me with my essay on the Fall of the Roman Empire, one week before submission, I barely had an outline. Getting into panic mode, I quickly booked a consult with my tutor, Dr Daniel Jew, who kindly pointed me in the right direction and basically said that my thinking was heavily based on old scholarship and referred me to some great readings. I did well on my research paper, though I did not expect much. (That’s Dr Jew in the picture below.)
My exams were crammed together so I would have a long holidays and it would not interfere with my year end church camps. I had long holidays, and my reading week was absolutely hectic and my 4 papers in 4 days was absolutely tiring. Never would like to go through it again.
I had a Saturday morning paper, Monday afternoon paper, and 2 papers on Tuesday, one in the morning, and another in the evening. Thankfully, the final exam was open book. But I will never forget, on my last paper, 5-7 PM, I ran out of ink on my pen that I had changed at the start of exam, changed the refill, and had a mental block on my last essay. It was 6:30 PM, and I remember, I looked up at the clock and thought, “30 minutes to the end of my first semester.” I was so exhausted. I was stuck at 2 1/2 pages. One more point left. The Lord gave wisdom, and I finished my paper on the dot.
I went to Central Library to finish up my equiz. Guess who I met? Professor Lockhart, well, he was doing research at the library and spotted me there, he came over to ask about the history exam in the morning, well he said, you should do fine.
It was a nice way to end the semester. And I heaved a sigh of relief, till Semester 02 came and hit me like a ton of bricks. But I shall save it for part 2 of this post.
Special dedication goes to my cousin who exposed me to alot of things and introduced me to the FASS ‘basket’ system, 5 pillars, bidding, and taught me how to walk through Engineering to Utown from FASS, a life-saving shortcut. We had a number of lunches, cos for the first time, cousins are schoolmates!
Sem 2, Year 1, Part 2 of this post, coming up soon. 🙂 Till then!