By Karista Khoo, SMU School of Economics
Thinking back, SMU had never been my top choice for university. I really wanted to enjoy the ‘hall Life experience’, and despite having the Prinsep Street Residences, the distance from my house to SMU was not far enough to justify the cost of staying in the hostel. However, following a surprising turn of events, here I am!
A Different Admissions Interview Experience
While this might not be the case for everyone, out of all my university applications, my SMU admissions interview was the last to come in; and it happened while I was travelling in Korea.
As I was unable to come down for an interview, the admissions office offered me the flexibility of a skype interview, instead. Despite it being a long-distance interview between three professors and myself, it was, unexpectedly, very comfortable and casual. I was really able to connect with the lecturers and clarify any doubts that I had about attending SMU. In contrast to my other interview experiences, SMU’s interview style was more of a stimulating, intellectual conversation rather than the typical “pitch yourself in 5 minutes” type. Post interview, I was also invited to visit SMU to take a look at the seminar rooms and get a feel of the campus. The approachability and ‘chill vibes’ I received really changed my perspective about SMU and I was pretty convinced that I would have a fulfilling and vibrant student life.
Freshmen Camps: A Cautionary Tale
When it came around to freshmen orientation week, I only managed to join two freshmen camps, much to my regret and ‘FOMO-ness’. I’d strongly recommend for all SMU freshmen to join the faculty camps as it is the best place to meet fellow freshmen who are taking the same degree path as yourself. And who knows, you might really meet your new best friend during that camp! At the end of the day (horrible sunburn aside), I had tons of fun at the camps—although I wish I could have made it for the sports, arts and ICON (international connections) camps, as well!
One final word of advice: slather on that sunscreen, especially if you are going for beach day!
Making New Friends
A common misconception about university life is that the people you meet from your classes are just “hi-bye” friends whom you work with for one semester and never again. Au contraire! I’ve actually met some solidos burritos who have added rainbows to my first semester. I would say that keeping an open mind goes a long way, especially in SMU where we not only learn from the lecturers, but also our peers.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
One of the biggest takeaways from my first semester would have to be joining the SMU Dragon Boat team. After 13 years of formal education, I was pretty weary of the whole ‘CCA’ thing. In spite of that, I decided to follow my gut instinct to join SMU Dragon Boat (SMUDB).
Thus far, every training has been kicking my behind, but it has been so very rewarding with all the friendships forged and tiny milestones crossed (still waiting for the day that I can do a pull up on my own, though). There are times when it is truly tiring, but alternating between studying and a CCA helps to balance out the university stress—and as a plus point, I get to see a bunch of genuine and amazing people every week! SMUDB can be said to be the very first family I’ve found in SMU, and I am looking forward to our training camp next week!
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Adding on to the memories of my freshman year would be the overseas community service project that I went on called Project Gazaab Nepal IX. From taking ice cold showers to watching shooting stars together and eating suspicious-looking foods, it is a trip that I would not forget. But, more importantly, it was especially humbling watching the Nepalese children try their very best to learn as much as they could from us despite the language barrier. It reminds me how much we take for granted living in Singapore, and that I should cherish every opportunity that I receive.
It has only been six months in SMU, but I feel that I have grown up so much and broadened my perspectives greatly. From the memories made in this short span, I am so very excited for what’s to come in the next few years, and how much more I can learn and take away from this enriching university life!
Learn more about SMU’s Bachelor of Science (Economics) programme today.