Venturing into Wanderland

By Pham Vu Minh Ngoc, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

My “lovable” Singapore

I really love the multi-cultural aspect of Singapore, where people from all walks of life come together, share ideas and live in harmony. I have been in Singapore since I was 14 years old and the people I’ve met here have been so welcoming in helping me adapt to the new environment. I’ve been so fortunate to have made so many wonderful friends in Singapore and to have had opportunities for so many shared memories with them.

Another thing is the public transport system in Singapore. It is so robust and efficient compared to the less sophisticated public transport systems in other countries such as even the US! I can’t imagine myself getting around day-to-day without the sheer convenience of it.

Choosing SMU

Why did I choose SMU amongst all the other local universities? One big factor is the myriad of international exposure opportunities that are offered. SMU provides a wide variety of exchange programs, ranging from semester exchange programmes, summer school programmes to summer internship programmes. The emphasis on encouraging undergraduates to venture to other countries to gain global perspectives definitely sets SMU apart. Besides, I was very impressed by the interactive seminar classrooms in SMU, and wanted to study in an interactive environment where I can share my ideas and air my opinions freely.

 

Being the Peace Ambassador for Vietnam during Peace Day 2014

Being the Peace Ambassador for Vietnam during Peace Day 2014

A learning experience in serving the less fortunate

Two years back in December 2014, I found myself embarking on an overseas community service project to An Giang, Vietnam. Together with a group of fellow undergraduates, we made the trip to this remote rural area in Vietnam with the task of teaching the poor students English. The experience was amazing and taught me so much more than I had expected.

Learning English as a second language is tough, especially in this rural area where the use of English is considered to be “strange”. I still remember during the first lesson, the students here couldn’t understand even the simplest of grammar concepts and stumbled over basic vocabulary. It was pretty amazing to see these young children having such tenacity and determination to learn and keep learning. Their persistence made me realise that problems are not meant to be avoided, but to be solved. The basic, no-frills way of life for the villagers also taught me how to truly appreciate and enjoy the simple beauty in life.

 

Picture with a student during my OCSP in Vietnam, December 2014

Picture with a student during my OCSP in Vietnam, December 2014

My journey to entrepreneurial land

I had the opportunity to take part in an Entrepreneurial Immersion Programme to the US earlier this summer of 2016. On this programme, I did an internship with DecisionLink, a start-up in Atlanta Tech Village focused on value-selling optimisation to help service vendors deliver more efficient processes to clients. It was an eye-opener with many valuable insights into the US start-up culture. I have learnt how open people in the US are to new ideas and how passionate they are in developing those ideas into real products or services.

 

Ngoc Internship in Atlanta

With my colleagues at Atlanta Tech Village, the US in Summer 2016

This opportunity of doing a summer internship in the US enabled me to gain exposure in a completely new business setting and have a better understanding of how differently start-ups in the US operate. Furthermore, I gained a wider perspective of western cultures and find myself more receptive to different cultures than before. The experience of living abroad was really great, especially with the companionship of the new friends I met on this trip. I really am thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow during the course of my SMU experience!

 

Ngoc at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in Summer 2016

To learn more about SMU’s Undergraduate Admissions, visit admissions.smu.edu.sg

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