My SMU Social Sciences Freshman Year: Chelsea Cheng

By Chelsea Cheng, SMU School of Social Sciences

Coming from School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA), it strikes as surprising to many that I have chosen to pursue the Politics, Law and Economics (PLE) major under the School of Social Sciences here at SMU [Read also: Blog article on PLE]. Like the majority of people I’ve met, you might question, why the sudden change?

Well, visual arts was merely one of the eight subjects I took in SOTA. My dominant interest remains grounded in economics by virtue of my affinity with numbers and technical concepts; and thus, by the age of 16, I was highly certain that I wanted to pursue economics or a related study in university. My interest in politics and public policy was only later realised when I was researching extensively on Singapore’s political climate for my visual arts practice.

With that, I was naturally drawn to the PLE major when SMU first introduced it in 2016, which came across as a perfect encapsulation of my interests. While I did apply to other overseas and local universities for similar courses, all aspects considered, it was SMU’s PLE that stood out as the preferred choice. I have always been a firm believer in holistic and interdisciplinary learning, which I knew SMU was able to offer due to its broad-based curriculum, interactive pedagogy, and vibrant school culture and environment. With PLE being a relatively new course, many were uncertain if I should apply, expressing their concerns that I would be part of the “guinea pig” batches—but that was, honestly, the least of my concerns. For me, it is imperative that I’m pursuing what I desire, and to consider the suitability of the learning pedagogy alongside school culture.

Fast forward to my admissions interview, it actually turned out to be quite an experience. While I did my research and sought seniors’ advice regarding the interview, I was nonetheless feeling very overwhelmed right before I was called in. I expected the interview to be your typical interrogation session and saw myself frantically trying to bring my point across against the five other interviewees. Nope, nothing of that sort. Au contraire, it turned out to be an engaging discussion that was gradually built upon everyone’s insights regarding an article and the various topics discussed. It was quite a humbling experience and I certainly had many takeaways. The professors were approachable and were certainly more interested in the students’ intellectual curiosity and ability to think incisively alongside collaborative engagement with other students, than, say, a grand showcase of one’s plethora of knowledge. Pro Tip: Be confident and genuine with your responses, and enjoy the process.

Assimilating to a new environment is never easy, but my first semester here at SMU has been nothing short of amazing. Participating in the various camps before school even started definitely helped to ease me into the new environment and culture as I got to learn more about the school and made new friends. The academic workload has been manageable and I actively involve myself in various school activities.


SOSCIETY Freshmen Camp 2017

SOSCIETY Freshmen Camp 2017


SOLID Sports Camp 2017

SOLID Sports Camp 2017


I was very fortunate to be able to kickstart my semester with a visual arts installation showcase done in collaboration with some of my seniors during the SMU Arts Festival 2017, as well as be involved in the event organisation.


SMU Arts Festival 2017

Artists of Molecules: A work in 3 parts under the SMU Arts Festival 2017


Besides the arts, I’ve also always kept involved in sporting activities but have never really gotten the chance to try out a watersport. So now, I’ve also taken on the challenge of joining SMU Dragon Boat. Albeit rigorous, I truly enjoy every single training with my team and look forward to growing stronger with everyone.


SMU Dragon Boat (Girls Team) at Singapore River Regatta 2017

SMU Dragon Boat (Girls Team) at Singapore River Regatta 2017


My first semester in SMU has been a blast! While stress and setbacks are inevitable, it is always important to embrace challenges and turn them into invaluable experiences. That said, I am grateful for the experiences, opportunities and friendships thus far and am definitely excited for what’s to come for the rest of my time here at SMU!


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Join our Bachelor of Social Science programme today.


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