From A-Levels to SMU: My Journey Towards Global Citizenship

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team

If you’re an A-Levels graduate reading this, chances are you’re in the midst of applying to university. But what exactly is the process like, transitioning from Junior College (JC) life to being a uni student? How does one make it through this journey and emerge with, not just a degree in hand, but also newfound confidence and global perspectives to succeed in the workplace?

When you graduate from SMU, your education comprises more than just the knowledge found in books and the classroom. With every SMU student guaranteed a global exposure opportunity, students embark on adventures worldwide, experiencing real-world interactions with other cultures while learning about themselves in intuitive ways — or even from home via virtual international exchange programmes and remote internships if travel is curtailed.

One such opportunity is the Global Innovation Immersion (GII) programme – a three-month overseas summer internship opened to all full-time SMU undergraduates returning for at least one semester of study after the programme. It is the ideal internship for those looking to gain working experience within the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems at high-growth companies.

We chat with Tay Huan Lin, a Year Three SMU Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) student, and alumnus of Victoria Junior College, to hear more about his transition from JC to SMU and how much his time at SMU has brought him closer to the rest of the world.



Hi Huan Lin, can you share with us about your JC education – how had it helped you to stand out when you applied for university?

JC has prepared me well in terms of the breadth of knowledge it provided. The depth of JC education also played a significant role in equipping me with the basic knowledge required for the technical courses in SMU, such as Computer Science, which I am currently studying.


Huan Lin (first from left) and friends at SMU Campus Green

Huan Lin (first from left) and friends at SMU Campus Green


Besides deep domain knowledge, what soft skills have you gained in SMU that will allow you to thrive in the real world?

The heavy emphasis on meaningful group projects has given me the experience of being both a team leader and team player when creating relevant solutions. Through this process, I learnt about effective communication and managing people. In addition, the culture of class participation has been pivotal in encouraging me to be more outspoken and inquisitive. When I embarked upon internships, I realised these skills are subtle yet essential when being part of an organisation.


What does being a global citizen mean to you, and why do you think being global-ready is critical in today’s world?

A global citizen can empathise with practices and cultures from different countries and can communicate with people from all walks of life — even if they come from unfamiliar places – especially in our increasingly complex environment.

With technology becoming more advanced, people are brought closer together physically and virtually. This gives rise to more opportunities to work and learn from one another. We can also learn from people of different cultures and hopefully pick up good practices they bring with them, enabling us to grow as individuals.


Huan Lin (first from left) and his teammates from SMU Athletics

Huan Lin (first from left) and his teammates from SMU Athletics


In what ways has SMU shaped you into a global citizen?

SMU has provided numerous opportunities to know more about the world through thought-provoking modules such as Big Questions and Asian Studies. Moreover, the heavy emphasis on collaboration and class participation encouraged my peers and I to speak up more, and it’s also pushed us to take an interest in global news and development so that we can contribute more comfortably.

The global exposure component in our curriculum has also contributed greatly to shaping my experiences as I work towards becoming a global citizen. I was supposed to visit Vietnam for Community Service, but we had to switch to a virtual format due to travel restrictions. Nonetheless, the virtual experience allowed me to get to know the villagers of Hua Tat through meaningful conversations. In addition, being part of SMU Athletics has also given me the chance to train and bond with students from all over the world when they visit SMU as undergraduate or exchange students.


Finally, with the uni application season upon us, what are some tips that you have for A-Levels students?

First, I would encourage them to ask current university students more about a variety of courses rather than make assumptions about a certain degree. Speaking to seniors during open houses and even during my time in SMU has helped me make well-informed decisions.

Also, do not be afraid to try out new or challenging activities; you never know what you can discover or what good friends you can make along the way. These experiences will shape your attitude even after graduating from university and take you to greater heights in your life and career.



Take your pick from among SMU’s partners in more than 180 cities in over 45 countries for your guaranteed global exposure experience. Applications are now open!