What University has Taught Me

[Been There Done That – UniLife]

by Celeste Chia (UniLife Columnist)

In university, you meet all sorts of people, and their unique individual experiences make you realise that ultimately, we are insignificant individuals with self-proclaimed significant experiences. Back in JC, with a small pool of friends, certain things would make shockwaves— people taking a gap year, travelling around Southeast Asia (SEA) on their own, even people who study overseas without a scholarship.

I’m currently a buddy for an exchange student from Canada, who went to Rwanda alone to teach English for 5 weeks, and is going to Cambodia and Indonesia while on exchange in Singapore. There are so many people like her – I’ve met tons of people who have travelled around SEA on their own. Gap years are so commonplace here. One of my classmates took Architecture for 1 year, decided he didn’t like it, took a gap year, and ended up in Business. Need I mention my peer mentor who decided not to take up 2 scholarships, spent 6 months in Paris, is juggling USP + a major in Business (already competitive enough alone) + minor in Life Sciences (simply because he likes it), and is working part time in the American Chamber of Commerce whilst managing his studies? How about my friend who has probably been to every club in Singapore and met a fair share of interested cuties but doesn’t boast about her experiences, and got presented with Tiffany’s one Valentines’ Day after knowing the guy for only a couple of months? And then there’s this honest-to-goodness geek with a double degree in Math and Computing, who learnt Hebrew all by himself because he is a devout Christian and wanted to read the non-translated Scriptures in their original form, not the watered-down versions of the Bible people would usually settle for.

These are the people I personally know. Can you imagine the wealth of experiences I’ve yet to hear?

People often like to blow things up “why are you taking a risk with a gap year?” “isn’t it so brave of ______ to travel around SEA alone?”, but they don’t realise that these seemingly #YOLO life events are actually shared with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. It’s not sufficient to boast to your limited social circle that “My life is meaningful because I did _______________” anymore.

2 takeaways:

1) Take that brave step and do something with your life. Do not compare your life with the typical Singaporean and be satisfied with that criteria.

2) Do things for yourself and not to show off to others. Do things not because you can use that as a bragging right, because in this age and time, almost everything ultra-cool would’ve been attempted by thousands of people. Your anecdotes could make a good story to tell your social circle, but if you look deeper, you become a mere statistic.

All in all, just do what truly makes you happy.

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