Around the World in 4 SMU years: Going Global with Lam Hui Yun

By The Mentoring Circle

As we start the new academic year, we begin this new series of short article interviews of recent SMU graduates. We dive into how they felt coming to the end of their journey with SMU and what they look forward to in the future.

To start off this series, we have Lam Hui Yun from the Class of 2019, a business graduate from the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business. This piece is special because Hui Yun approached us to share her experiences out of a heart of giving back. Hui Yun has travelled to many places in the world and she wishes to share some of her most memorable experiences with all aspiring SMU globetrotters today.

 

A little about myself

Recently graduating from SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business in 2019, I felt that one of the things I am most grateful for in my SMU life would be the many overseas travelling opportunities that I’ve had. With my passion for travelling, I have taken part in 10 overseas school programmes with SMU. Some of the more memorable countries that I have travelled to include the Republic of Fiji (leading an overseas community service project), Israel (during an Accounting Study Mission) and Switzerland (for an internship with a Swiss start-up).

During my time in SMU, I also joined SMU Eagles Inc., where I dabbled with the entrepreneurial scene and helped to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem. My passion for entrepreneurship has also landed me various travelling opportunities with SMU such as the AYEP (Asian Youth Entrepreneurship Programme) conference in South Korea and the SMU-PEELI Rural Entrepreneurship Programme in China.

 

 

What fuelled my interest in travelling

Back then in junior college, I had the urge to study abroad as it seemed fun and enticing. As many of my close friends decided to study abroad and they had greater travelling opportunities, I started to feel a little envious. However, I decided to stay in Singapore and study at SMU.

As I embarked on my SMU journey, I recalled what my friend once told me: ‘It’s not where you are, it’s how you determine your experiences’. Hence, with that in mind, I decided to make the best out of my 4 years in SMU and travel the world! In fact, my global exposure in SMU turned out to be much more fulfilling than I thought!

 

My internships and exchange experiences

Internship: EIP Entrepreneurship Immersion Programme (now rebranded as GII) – Switzerland, Year 2 Summer (10 Weeks)

 

 

Honestly, this felt like a preparation for an exchange! SMU’s Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE) offers a programme called the Global Innovation Immersion (GII), where students get to embark on an overseas internship (country of their choice) with a startup for 10 weeks. I decided on going to Switzerland, where I had the chance to work with an education-oriented startup. It was definitely a whole new experience learning to live independently, working overseas and looking after oneself! Occasionally, there were weeks where we got to attend lessons to equip ourselves with the necessary business knowledge. The GII programme is one of the programmes not to be missed!

 

Overseas Exchange – Canada, Year 4 Semester1

 

 

Yes, we are now finally on to the most discussed topic—exchange! It was indeed a fun and enriching experience, but being away from home for long can be tough too! One of the biggest takeaways from exchange would be learning from an entirely different teaching pedagogy. It was “life-changing” if you are truly passionate about learning!

During my exchange in Canada (Ontario, Kingston), I took up Existentialism, a philosophy module (yes, you can clear it as a GE). This was definitely a refreshing twist from my other business modules! Hence, my advice would be to have fun and take up any other whacky courses you’re interested in because this will be your only chance to do so.

 

 

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.

 

Mentoring Moments

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:

  1. Have an open mind!
  2. Plan in advance your schedules by spacing out the various school programmes across your 4 years in SMU.
  3. Don’t stick with the conventional path (or travelling route!).
  4. Be open to making new friends (you don’t always have to sign up a programme with a friend).
  5. 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.

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