Better late than never.
Be warned, I’m not as succinct as I like to pretend to be.
I knew I wanted a poly education ever since I was in Primary Six. Not just any poly, but specifically, Singapore Polytechnic.
The primary reason was simple – because both my brothers studied there. They used to tell me how wonderful poly life was. Students were graded, not based on their academic abilities but rather, their technical, interpersonal and presentation skills. I now know that poly was not both my brothers’ first choice. They really wanted (but failed) to get into Junior College. And perhaps were only self-consoling when they were praising SP. Hm. But whatever, poly sounded like heaven to me. Especially so when I was sitting for PSLE then.
The secondary reason was… pretty ridiculous, now that I think about it. I didn’t want to follow the crowd. I wanted to break the norm. I just wanted to be the kid who could enter JC but chose poly instead (LOL, don’t punch me please). Guess I was once pretty hip.
Secondary Four was the darkest period of my life. Every day, I hated myself for the amount of text I had to memorize and the mathematical functions I had to solve but just couldn’t. I wanted to escape. And what better way to do so than to die? I then started drawing up plans to get hit by cars. You see, I didn’t even have the balls to end my own pathetic life (Not that it isn’t a good thing after all, haha). Even when planning my own getting-hit-by-a-car death, I knew it cannot happen while I was breaking any traffic rule. I was convinced that if I were to die in a jaywalking accident, the insurance claims that my family were entitled to would become null and I would have died in vain. I’m a very considerate suicidal person, don’t you think?
Besides, what were the odds of dying in a car accident while not jaywalking in Singapore?
On days when I’m feeling more positive, you can find me day-dreaming about starting poly. A whole new beginning! A fresh page! No more memorizing! New friends! Those were the pictures I painted in my head with the brush and ink my brothers gave me.
O levels were over. I was so relieved that I managed to survive and even more surprised when my Primary Six vision came true. My grades could easily get me into a decent JC but I knew I would really die in the face of A levels (haha). So here were my 12 choices for the next phase of life.
Design was actually my initial choice.
“That can’t get you anywhere unless you are the best”
That was what I was told. Coupled with the lack of self-confidence, I took that piece of advice and went for a ‘safer’ option, which was, as you might have realized, science.
(It is also pretty evident from the picture above that I REALLY wanted to get into SP, LOL)
With great expectations come greater disappointments. Year one in poly wasn’t what I thought it would be. Whatever happened to practical skills? We were still swallowing lecture notes and regurgitating them out during exams. Studies aside, I also didn’t click with my classmates very much nor make as many friends as I thought I would (._.”) And I blame Dover MRT for that. Ha. Thankfully, I found a group of people in my class which I call Rojak – Jolene, Kow, Riju and Michelle. At least I had friends to sit with during lunch and lectures and practicals and group presentations. I felt grateful for their existence :’)
At the end of our first year, we were required to choose our specializations:
1. Cardiac Technology
2. Biomedical Research
3. Medical Technology
You had to be a people-person to enter the first so I knew I had zero chance (haha). Besides, I wasn’t mildly interested in the heart anyway. I ended up in the second option even though I knew I didn’t want to be a researcher. I chose it merely because I was promised case-based learning, journal clubs and presentations and I was lucky enough to be one of the eighteen students chosen for this option.
Year two semester one was like a looooooonnnngggggggggggg tunnel where you couldn’t see the light at the end but was forced to walk through it because it was impossible to turn back. Instead of the promised case-based learning and stuff like that, we were greeted with seven modules which required hardcore memorizing. Help. I felt like I was back in secondary four all over again. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I had a totally new class. I no longer have Rojak too :(
Semester two became the turning point. I made new friends in my new class – Daiqian, Gretel and Wenjin. We were finally presented with CASE-BASED LEARNING! (Yes, I’m obsessed). We even had our own fixed classroom and iPads! Working in groups set by the lecturers was a whole new experience as well. I learnt how to work with people whom I’ve never even spoken to before – Basil, HongZheng, Janna, Junfeng & Thamil. People skills, ya? I enjoyed myself immensely despite the endless presentations to prepare for.
Year three came our eight-months long internship cum final year project. I got to experience the life of a true researcher. Although I further confirmed that it wasn’t the job for me, I still had a really good time there. Researchers’ San Francisco trip was up next! Having not seen one another for six months combined with an overseas experience, our class bonded like superglue (I think?) :D
After returning from the trip, we were left with a month to prepare for our final reports and presentation. It was indeed stressful having to churn out triplicates of all results (read: western blot, cell proliferation assays, etc.) but with the entertainment from the Buddy Chat and the companionship I received from Melanie during weekend OT sessions, the process of report-writing was made a trillion times more bearable.
For most, the preparation for FYP would be the most stressful part of their entire poly education but the final week of preparation for our presentations back in SP was the best time of mine :)
The last chapter of this journey was the final three modules. The library replaced The Exchange as our classroom and we were thrown into new groups for the last time. Working with Basil and Melvin was quite a breeze too (despite my initial fears, hehe). I believe we kicked ass for Dr. TTL’s journal assignment. Hohoho.
Although I didn’t want to pursue a further education in science anymore, I don’t regret having entered this course. My lecturers, classmates and CCA mates that I’ve met, they all shaped me into who I am now. And I cannot thank them enough.
(1163 words. Told you I was never as quiet as you thought I was, hehe)