3 reasons why any undergraduate should strive to travel with SMU
There are countless reasons that I can think of with regard to why you should travel with SMU. To keep it short, here are my 3 most important reasons that I have chosen based on my experiences so far:
1. It is the only time in your life that you can “YOLO” [You only live once]
Once you begin working, it is definitely much harder to find time to travel so extensively. Moreover, as a working adult, you will have to shoulder more work responsibilities, making it harder for you to travel without any burdens on your shoulder!
Hence, try to maximise your time as a student and travel as much as you can! This will be one of the best (or even the best) chances in your life to do what you really love!
2. It also allows you to embark on a journey of self-discovery
Most of us will need some time to grow as a person as we slowly transit to adulting life, during our “formative adult” years in University. You will be surprised by how much you can grow! Thus, travelling is also one of the best times to re-discover yourself and develop some independence. Only by stepping out of your comfort zone, will you be able to learn and grow!
3. Having more overseas and cultural experiences make you a more interesting person
Have you ever attended networking events and wished that you had more things to share? One potential conversation starter might just be about common overseas experiences! Hence, travelling could broaden your horizons and widen your worldview.
I feel that mentoring does help to create awareness (and hopefully lessens regrets) as it helps by highlighting some of the more distinct opportunities available. Having been a freshman, I did encounter moments when I wished that someone had told me about an opportunity earlier so that I could better plan my journey in SMU.
Opportunities should be shared within the community and made available to others so that everyone can benefit from the many interesting overseas opportunities that SMU has to offer! If others are able to benefit from this additional advice and make more informed choices, I believe that the role of mentoring has been fulfilled.
I am grateful that I have met very kind professors along the way, who have given me countless valuable advice throughout the 4 years of my SMU life. Through various networking events, I have also met alumni who have given me advice on career coaching. Indeed, I feel blessed to have met them and received their guidance.
Challenges when travelling with SMU
Signing up for trips might be easy but finding the finances to sustain it can be hard. Hence, you might be thinking: “oh dear, do all of these trips rake up high costs?” Before you start freaking out, perhaps you should know that most of these programmes offer some form of subsidy (well, less so for exchange but there are definitely still scholarships available). Moreover, you can also take on some part-time jobs that SMU offers or be a Teaching Assistant in order to save up for these trips!
The second question that comes to mind will be: “Is it very competitive to enter such programmes?” Well, in most cases, as long as you are passionate and able to convey your interest genuinely, you will generally be good to go. In any case, there’s always this saying “If you never try, you will never know!”
Advice for aspiring globetrotters
With a plethora of choices and the ever “clashing schedules”, trying to squeeze all these overseas school trips might be a daunting task for some! Here are some general principles that I live by which have helped me have 4 amazing years in SMU:
- Have an open mind!
- Plan in advance your schedules by spacing out the various school programmes across your 4 years in SMU.
- Don’t stick with the conventional path (or travelling route!).
- Be open to making new friends (you don’t always have to sign up a programme with a friend).
- Choose to engage in things that you are truly passionate in! Follow your heart!
With that, I hope that you will have a vibrant SMU university life and remember to have fun!
Photo credits: Lam Hui Yun
This article was updated on Sept 1 2019.