10 Things Singaporeans should do after graduation and its full images can be seen as it was originally published at TheSmartLocal.com
Graduating from university can be a scary thought. You're close to your mid twenties, or as most guys in Singapore will be, 25. Some of us will have in mind what we want to do in life. Yet for others, deciding on a career path to take is like an experience of Déjà vu; "I chose junior college because I didn't know what I wanted to do in life and it was the easiest way to get into a university"... Sounds familiar? The dilemma is back again.
Looking back, university has been a time of exploration for me, both inside and outside of classes. However, most students, including me, only had four years of higher education — and it goes by quicker than you think. As I wallow through my quarter-life crisis, allow me to share my list of 10 things every Singaporean should do before graduation.
1. Study abroad
Monument Valley - Read more on my USA study abroad blog here!
Nothing, I repeat, nothing other than for the most serious of reasons should you ever turn down an opportunity to study abroad. My 5 months abroad at University of Minnesota in the US came at a huge price; I saddled myself with over SGD$20k worth of debt, which makes graduating a woe.
BUT, the experience I got in return, was priceless. My eyes were opened and for the first time in my life, I had to live, eat, cook, wash and literally survive for 5 months more than 15,000km from the supervision of my parents (minus national service, that wasn't counted). It was the best decision I made in university. Just ask anyone who went on a student exchange programme, they will tell you the same thing.
I encourage each and every one of you to study abroad before you graduate. I promise you, you will not regret it.
Remember, money is a small price to pay for the experience. As the saying goes, when there is a will, there will be a way. Fight for it.
2. Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat.
I know I am getting too old to stay up through the night when I take 3 days just to recover from sleeping at 5am on a Saturday morning. Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat, do not only apply this just to clubbing and music festivals. It could represent your nights out with friends as well.
Once you graduate, the amount of responsibilities that are piled onto your shoulders as a working adult will be exponentially increased. Weekends become precious and our bodies do not have as much energy as before to do marathons through the night. While you're still in university, always remember to take sometime to unwind. Spend more time with yourself and friends. Learn to chill out.
This includes playing Dota till 5am, singing kbox till 5am, watching soccer till 5am, partying till 5am, having supper at 5am, drinking till 5am... the list goes on.
As a valedictorian once said in a famous high school speech, "If you fail to chill out, you will burn out."
3. Say "Hi" to a stranger
Personally, I am still working on this. It takes a lot of courage at times to say hi to someone whom you barely or do not know, especially someone of the opposite sex whom you are having a crush on. At the same time, you can't help but gush about how awesome it will be to be able to be friends with someone like that.
I must say though, of all the times that I worked up enough courage to introduce myself, most of them turned out fine. I made many great friends along the way. Bottom line is, if you want to talk to someone, just do it. Spending time debating about the pros and cons means you will likely end up not doing it at all. Easiest solution, think of a simple conversation starter. For example, "Hey, I recognise you from my ______ class, I'm _______."
Guys, I know it's hard, don't think so much, just do it! And girls, if a guy ever walks up and says hi to you, please be nice to him :)
One of my favourite quotes comes from the movie We Bought A Zoo:
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
And if the if the situation ever gets awkward,
remember there is always a way out.
4. Crash a school's event.. For the food
I hate the feeling when I'm sitting in a group project room and someone outside is having an event with a buffet line. The smell, is just plain distracting. As Singaporeans, we love food. Better yet, we love free food. Remember the mad queue when Gordon Ramsay came to Singapore? Or when McDonalds gave out free burgers? I can't forget the days in US where every event we went to has free food!
Call them shameless, call them cheapo, but this is what some students do just for the thrill of it. Literally smuggling food from the buffet line back to the project room. That cheap thrill when you make it back to the room without getting caught. I'm guilty.
Remember, "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." - Muhammad Ali
5. Getaway for the weekend
A short day trip to Johor Bahru for the weekend or a 2D1N stay at Batam could do amazing things for your soul. A simple Bak Kut Teh meal in Johor, or even having cheap seafood for dinner in Bintan does wonders to rejuvenate a tired mind or a stressed out body. If you need more nearby getaway ideas just check out these 15 beautiful beach getaways just across the causeway.
As the saying goes,
"So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being." - Franz Kafka
Embrace the carefree spirit of exchange students at least once a semester, say goodbye to your project mates and just let loose for a weekend.
6. Learn a 3rd language
University gives you various opportunities to pick up a new language, the easiest being picking a 3rd language as an elective. Most schools offer the more popular languages such as Japanese, Korean, Spanish and French. Never underestimate the benefits of picking up a new language.
Be it helping to strengthen your resume for relevant jobs in the future, helping you communicate easier while studying abroad or even winning the attention of that hot exchange student from France.
As Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."
7. Do an overseas community service project
My time spent in China was nothing short of incredible. I was shown how fortunate I was as compared to the children living in that village in China. I realised how simple things could easily satisfy them while we ourselves were not contented unless we had the latest or newest in everything.
An overseas community service project could change your outlook in life. Trust me when I say it has a far more lasting impact on your learning experience than doing a local one. I've learnt to take less things for granted, be more grateful about things I have as well as treasuring the relationships around me. Just like studying abroad, an opportunity to go for an overseas community service project should never be missed!
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi
8. Bid for a class alone
This used to be a freaky thing to me. Up till my junior year, I never had the experience of entering class on the first day of the semester not knowing anyone. However, choosing a second major that deviated away from the norm meant that I had to pick classes alone at some point in junior year.
I'll like to encourage everyone to at some point in your tertiary life, bid for one or two classes alone. Being alone in a new class pushes you beyond your comfort zone to reach out to people around you. Sometimes, you find others in the same situation as you and you make new friends!
Plus, it is also a refreshing change doing project work with different people. It paves the way towards honing your interaction skills and you will learn to adapt to working with different team dynamics, which could prove useful during your career life.
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new." - Brian Tracy
9. Crash your friend's university
I know many of my friends do this. NUS students who study at SMU for convenience sake, SMU students crashing NTU halls etc. I've visited NUS's campus frequently for their cheap food and the popular Laksa Yong Tau Foo stall. But behind the visits for cheap food and interaction with friends lie an implicit experience that I only realised upon my reflections on tertiary life.
I discovered that my stay at a friend's hall for the night as well as study trips at a "foreign" university allowed me to gain insights into the culture of a university other than my own. It led me to make dreamy comparisons of the things my own university could have done better, or give thanks for the things they did right.
In essence, I begun to look around me and got a better picture of the strengths and limitations of each university. With this knowledge, I guess it was easier to be grateful for the things I got to experience and to be more forgiving of the things I did not.
Some might say the grass is always greener on the other side. But someone once told me, the grass is greener where you water it.
So pay a visit to another university campus if you can, and have fun experiencing something different.
10. Do crazy, stupid things
University is a time where you experience the greatest independence in your education life. You are no longer spoon-fed, you don't have your mum saying "Oi, don't make so much noise" in the room next door.
You do what you want, you go where you want to go and you get to make many choices that will more or less affect the person you eventually become. Yet you don't have the responsibilities of a full-grown adult and most of the time you are still allowed to make mistakes without severe implications.
Don't be afraid to try crazy, stupid things. Sign up for random events, meet new people, set up a bell curve God altar, skip classes, tell your professor you dislike the country he comes from (just kidding), sleep overnight in the library, party on Wednesdays when you have a Thursday morning class etc. Be as carefree as you can be.
Remember, everyone has their own agenda. If they want to be grade driven, it's their choice. The point is, everyone is the driver of their own life and each one of us will discover, just as I have, what we really want to achieve out of our 4 years in university.
At the end of 4 years, I hope you can look back with no regrets and say, that was the best 4 years of my life.
Know something that every Singaporean should do before they graduate? Comment below and let us know!