Student-to-student Tips: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

By the SMU Social Media Team

Stepping out of your comfort zone and embarking on a new phase in life can be an extremely unnerving experience. Universities, in particular, can be exceptionally intimidating not just with the increased workload, but also with the amount of events, activities and the constant meeting of new people in new classes each semester.

Daunting as it may be, you might just reap the benefits by taking a leap of faith out of your comfort zone. That is what Bachelor of Science (Economics) graduate, Sri Saravanan Sithiasagaran realised after choosing Singapore Management University (SMU).

Being a self-proclaimed nerd and introvert, Sri wanted to take the first step out of his comfort zone and pursue his tertiary education in Carnegie Mellon, MIT or Yale. However, a humble family background prevented him from going overseas and he decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics locally.

“One other key reasons I chose SMU was that one of my friends was already in SMU, and she was a completely different person compared to me. She was happy, excited about life and full of confidence, and she did not strike me as someone like that when I first knew her. Perhaps, on a subconscious level, I was looking to shed away my introverted self to be someone like that and truly explore an option that might make me happy,” Sri recalled.

“Apart from that, I was also starting to mature and realise that there was more to life than just books. The diversity in SMU, both in terms of students and in terms of faculty, seeded a deep feeling within me to be bold and to express myself more.”

The first year in SMU was, for Sri, a personal year of trials and tribulations. Looking back, he is thankful that SMU was his choice, where there was freedom for self-expression.

“While I was excelling in my modules [during the first year], I was not happy. I had always had an interest in theatre and the arts, and I felt that I was not fully taking advantage of the SMU culture, which was nurturing and encouraging. Furthermore, I was concerned that there was not a strong bonding among the Indian community within the school.”

“Both local Singapore Indians and Indian students from overseas were very talented but we were not supporting one another and building a warm, welcoming culture. After the first year of hoping that someone will start SMU Indian Cultural Society, I decided to set up the Society in the early part of my second year in SMU,” recalled Sri.

 

 

Starting the SMU Indian Cultural Society was probably one of the best decisions Sri made as it became a stepping stone for him to learn more about himself while leading a team of people with the same passion and conviction. The society was a window for him to receive feedback from peers, society members and even fellow students from other universities about his strengths and weaknesses.

“I was truly astonished when it dawned on me that people trusted in me leading a change.
It was a life-changing moment—one that has defined my success to date,” Sri said.

Sri was glad that SMU had the opportunities for him to further his passion in theatre and the arts. Being a member of the SMU Malay Cultural Society (now named the SMU Malay Language and Cultural Club) and serving as the Technical Director for the club’s inaugural Bangsawan production—a traditional theatre play—had been a rewarding and life-changing experience for him.

“I had absolutely no clue about the language, let alone the intricacies of the poems and idioms used in the theatre play. Nevertheless, I was the one calling the shots on each and every action that needed to take place at backstage or in the lights and sounds studios, et cetera,” he added.

“The entire Malay Cultural Society trusted me to make this happen and I did. The experience taught me that nothing is impossible. Attitude is more important than aptitude, and where there is a team of committed people, dreams can come true.”

Aside from the activities that Sri was involved in, he also appreciated the way lessons were taught in SMU.

“In National Junior College, I was truly dreading lectures as I often found them to be an extremely laborious journey into boredom. Thus, the fact that the lessons in SMU were taught in seminar style was refreshing,” Sri mused.

Sri observed that seminar style encouraged participation and brought students together to push each other as they build on each other’s thoughts. Moreover, he was also grateful for the diversity of faculty members and their depth of expertise. He noted that each of the faculty members had a significant level of experience and were masters in their own fields, imparting students with the knowledge and the application of it in the relevant fields.

Despite being a bookworm, choosing SMU has given him the opportunities to bring out the best in himself, spurring him to leave his shell and into the outgoing, confident individual he is today.

 

Sri attending his graduation at SMU Commencement

 

“At the start of year 2, I was called upon by the dean of economics and he shared with me that I will be awarded with the SMU Scholarship. I was also offered the chance to study another degree in tandem to which I chose to do the Bachelor of Business Management with a second major in Law. Life was hectic and full of adventures, and I am grateful for every moment of it,” he said.

“The one piece of advice I would give myself would be to take part in more SMU events and to meet more students and faculties. In terms of people, faculty, talent, thoughts and ideas, the diversity in SMU is simply brilliant! We can learn so much from one another and we can build on our ideas and thoughts to build something truly ingenious!”

 

Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our undergraduate programme today.

 

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