So, I've been receiving questions on university life and competitiveness about my school. Instead of repeating things over and over again, I have decided to do up a (hopefully helpful) blog post.
- Dress code
I used to think that we had to wear formal wear for all lessons before I came here. I couldn't be more wrong.
I believe that 1 in 5 NBS student wears the NBS shirt. Like, SERIOUSLY.
Really. It's like a staple and once you start donning them, you can no longer stop. It's so convenient and you don't have to think about what to wear. At all.
Anyway, you can basically tell if a person lives in hall or otherwise from the clothes he wears. Discounting hall jerseys and all that, a person usually dresses casually when he lives in hall. T-shirt and shorts and slippers, that's about it. If he bothers to wear long pants, then he probably stays far away.
Slippers are also rather fundamental in NTU, and this is especially so during the rainy season. REALLY.
We have internal shuttle buses and we can check arrival times on some website that you should set as a default homepage. The red bus takes forever so you should probably board the blue one unless there isn't a choice. This is valid unless your class is before 9.30am then you are better off walking to class because the bus takes forever.
Also, they have tiny coloured cards to signal the bus line that the bus is serving. One would expect the entire bus to be green if it's serving the green line bus, but no. A green bus can serve the blue line and you're supposed to squint at the faraway, miniscule blue bus card to tell which line it is serving.
Strange, I know.
Many incoming freshmen of NBS would be wondering how this school is like. Well, they say that Nanyang Business School is a competitive place, and I would agree that the bell curve is rather steep. In line with that, the bell curve god is often worshipped because an A might still drop to a B in the event that everyone else is smarter than you. On a side note, I have a friend who sets the bell curve god as his background photo.
Truth be told, I believe that you determine the extent of competition that you want to be exposed to. It is not about how suffocating it is or how statistics is ridiculously difficult for an arts student like myself. It is about how much you are comparing yourself with the others. It is about how desperate you are to get that shimmering First Class Honours that everyone is hyping about.
But yes, the bell curve is indeed steep cause everyone is smart and of course we cannot have everyone scoring 5.0.
Okay, this is a tough one because it's genuinely subjective.
I think that NBS people are generally more outspoken than the rest. Maybe not in comparison with Wee Kim Wee communications students or Literature students but yeah, you get the general stereotype thing. This means that if you are quiet or you can't make presentations well, you'll probably lose out in terms of class participation and, well, presentations. For the erstwhile, you have to ask questions even if you have absolutely no queries at all. This means that even if you are some smart elite, you still have to contribute to class by answering questions or asking questions. As for presentations, there are presentations for nearly every course that I have thus far. This means that you should get a set of formal wear and not wait until semester two like me. You don't need to get a suit though (by the way I think the last episode of How I Met Your Mother is fine.) Unless your marketing group wants to be super professional then perhaps you can borrow form your friends.
Oh, makes friends your own size.
Moving on, I feel that NBS guys are a lot more gentlemanly as opposed to the rest. Then again, most of my friends are from NBS so this is, I emphasise, a biased view. For instance, I realised that NBS guys tend to help the girls clear their tray more often. I'm not saying that I don't want to clear my own food after I'm done, but this is an observation that I find to be quite true. I think that it's also due to the aftermath of camps. During camp, the guys had to help us carry our bagpacks (in my case, a luggage) and be generally nice to us. So yeah. Perhaps it's just a culture thing. I think they tend to hold doors for girls more often too.
Then again, there are people who say that NBS people are fake and all that. Claiming that friendships are unreal and we only care about rich people who are valuable connections. I'm sure such people exist too. But I haven't met them personally. I feel that the general culture, or at least the culture of people who went for NBS camp, is healthy. The sharing of notes isn't an issue, for one. And I have never encountered a situation where one is unwilling to help me if I don't know a solution to a question.
There are also people who hate us for wearing the NBS shirt because it's kind of like act yi ge (snobbish elite kind of thing) I admit we do wear this as a symbol of identity sometimes but frankly speaking, we are just way too lazy to think of what to wear. This is all the more true for days where we have a two hour class only. I also have friends who buy all the faculty shirts ranging from EEE to FASS to everything else.
This is really hard to summarise. You know how you have loners and overly enthusiastic people in the same class? Yeah.
If you're looking forward to a vibrant school life, then I really really really suggest that you join camps. When school starts, you'll realise that people often sit in lectures with their Orientation Group members and stuff. Aside from senior's notes and connections built and all that, the most important thing is that camps allow you to forge friendships that will make your university life meaningful. Of course, many choose to stick to their old but gold friendships forced in secondary, poly and JC. But it's always interesting to meet new people. You also get to meet people from your course of study unless you for Sports camp or Union camp, which is like an everybody-goes kind of thing.
I got accepted into four camps basically, so if you really have an entire month with nothing to do, just go for the camps to burn time and make friends instead of lazing at home. Or you can find a job, whatever floats your boat. However, camps are rather expensive (and more so for the guys. So save up around $80 more) and you have to be more or less an enthu kia to survive the entire camp without being an awkward turtle. This entails random, insane and loud cheering as and when required.
If you went for camps and want to contribute back as a facilitator, you can always come back as a Chief programmer or a Chief Group Leader. (Or as a Senior Attached, if you don't want to be involved in the planning process) Basically, university is really different. It is a lot easier to join things. Ultimately, I feel that it boils down to your level of willingness as opposed to your capacity to perform such tasks. While votes matter and experience helps, I personally think that you can clinch the position if you want to. Be prepared to be talked about if you choose a position despite being unable to lead.
I have heard stories about politics in such arenas so proceed with caution. Then again, there are politics in any form of organisation so it isn't that big of a deal.
I don't mean Zouk, I'm referring to student clubs. You can always join student clubs such as Investment Interactive Club if you want to learn more about the applicability of such things. Otherwise, there's a whole list of activities such as Taekwondo and cheerleading for you to join.
If you are lazy, you can attend one-time-off events like the NBS Dragonboat Day and receive tank tops with you-know-what-I-mean slogans such as "Ride My Dragon" or "Grip Tight, Stroke Hard". There are really numerous things to do and it's all about time management.
If you're really enthusiastic about meeting new people, then I suggest you stay in hall. There are really a lot of things that you can run for in hall. You can be the 'higher-ups' like the JCRC or you can join the main committees.
I really think that hall grants you a truckload of freedom. If you are active in hall events, chances are that you will end up destroying your body clock. Like really. BIG TIME. Before hall life commenced, I heard from seniors that they sleep at 3am everyday which honestly shocked me a lot. Thing is, I sleep at around 3am now too, and it's on a daily basis as well. Over time, there will be supper calls and random chats (Heart To Heart Talks) to push your bedtime back and this gradually turns habitual. With assignment deadlines coming up, you're bound to burn the midnight oil. Frankly speaking, it is not the workload in university that is time consuming. I think that so long as you are doing your tutorials (homework) regularly and you pay attention or have senior's notes as aid, you'll do fine. The reason as to the late sleeping time and the inability to keep up with tutorials really boils down to play and general laziness and procrastination. It's the entire culture that drives late nights.
During the Inter Hall Games training period, you'll be really busy too. If you join cheerleading or dance, you'll train till 3am or so nearing the competition date. It's really quite crazy, depending on the hall that you are in. If you are really thinking of representing your hall for the competition, then be prepared to train hard. This is all the more valid for halls better known for sports achievements.
Having the right roomie is really important. If your schedule does not coincide with your roomie, then chances are you'll end up waking each other up at 8am although only one of you needs to be in school. If your sleeping time doesn't match, then perhaps your roomie might need an eye patch to block out the light. Or you can cease all typing and all calculator-pressing after 12am. There needs to be a consensus on cleaning duties too or your room will end up really gross. This is especially true for girls. I don't know about other people's hair but I drop a lot, and I do mean A LOT of hair. As for guys... Just make sure that you know where your things are kept.
If you're planning to cook, then be sure to have a basket to hold all your tools in place. A small chopping board, a small knife, basic condiments and free salt and pepper from McDonalds are just a few of the essentials. If your hall uses those non-fire stove, remember to get a stainless steel frying pan.
If you want to mug, then don't bring your PS3 or Xbox over. Seriously.
There are so many things to write about. All in all, just know that your level of involvement in hall determines the extent of fun so don't expect a vibrant hall life if you don't contribute. Of course, it also determines if you get a secured place next year.
- No more spoon feeding
If you want to go on exchange programmes or really good internships, you have to apply and plan all of that by yourself. A lot of initiative is required alongside a decent GPA. It's really taxing and administratively cumbersome and you have to wait for another semester or two if you missed the deadline. Considering that NBS is a three year programme, you can't miss much.
Also, it is insanely easy to skip tutorials in university. While it affects your class participation marks, you still have the liberty to choose if you want to attend the tutorial, or lecture for that matter. Personally, I find that university lessons are comparatively sad juxtaposed against JC. In JC, you forge bonds with your classmates and your teacher. You, or at least I, felt that it's really easy to approach teachers for consultation. In university, you don't get to interact with your classmates as much. Besides, you have different classmates for different courses. You see your teacher once a week and there is no time for the teacher to talk about his or her personal life during class. There isn't any genuine connection in general.
Back in JC, I had a teacher who was extremely nice and I would always do his homework because he was, well, too nice. For instance, instead of lecturing me for reaching school late, he would ask if I was sick or something. And he never ever scolded the class, EVER. He would simply shake his head and tell us to please quieten down in the most polite and most caring voice ever. So yeah, that drove me to do my homework.
In university, initiative and self directed learning are more preached. So like I said, there isn't much connections formed despite the connections (contacts) gained. How odd.
- Other Interests
For the people who are more chill, you can always choose to not drown yourself in the GPA race and focus on other things in life, really. And you should be. However, if you're interested in writing (like myself) it is a lot harder for you to find related competitions in NBS. While there are general newsletters sent to your e-mail (e.g: Campus Buzz), I often have to source for writing competitions such as the NUS Annual Creative Writing Competition 2014 by myself. I'm saying this because I know that not everyone who wants to be in Business or Accountancy (or double degree holders) will end up being passionate about their future job. Practicality drives decision-making and different people have different preferences. Some want to chiong while they are young and retire early. Others want to love their job so that they don't ever spend a single day working. For myself, I prefer to love my job (which is why I'm planning to specialise in Marketing) because I can never excel in something that I don't quite like.
So if you're really interested in something else such as drawing or writing but still insists on coming to NBS, be prepared to source for your own materials. If you love taxes, capital structures, accounting expenses in income statements, then good for you.
- Economics, or not?
If you aced H2 Economics in JC, there is an option for you to be exempted from Ecnomics in NBS. People often have a dilemma to decide if they should be exempted or otherwise due to the belief that they will ace Economics again and in turn, pull up their GPA. I would strongly recommend you to exempt yourself from it because there are so many stories of people scoring poorly despite acing Economics in JC. The thing is, all your JC notes will be condensed within a few lectures and the examination format is vastly different. Still, it's a choice.
- Career Preparedness
Career wise, I think that NBS really trains and embed the notion of securing a job in your head since day one. When I went for the freshmen orientation camp, we were told to have fun and enjoy while making connections. Throughout the course of study, I would receive newsletters and notifications on opportunities to craft your resume and embark on internships. Frankly speaking, most of us (by us I mean my friends and I) cannot be bothered to capitalise on such resources. But you can if you're really keen to. There are also a million talks to go to if you want.
In short, you determine what kind of university life you want. It is all about priorities and give and takes. You gain some, you lose some. Ultimately, university will probably be the most fun time in your life. You would want to reminisce on the friendships forged and the little inside jokes made when you move on with life. Corporate life.