Guide to ASEAN Scholarship #2

Sunday, July 11, 2010
You can read Part 1 here, where I talk about how to get the scholarship.

Now that you know what’s required of you for the scholarship, here’s the pros on cons of this scholarship, seen from the viewpoint of an almost scholar. I know many were surprised by decision to terminate my scholarship, considering that it’s one of the few scholarships that has no bond, and would sponsor your education completely.

But I left anyway.

Let me attempt to justify that.

Pros and Cons of ASEAN Scholarship


Pros
  • The ASEAN scholarship doesn’t have a bond. Meaning, you will not have to work for the Singaporean government after completing your education. It’s basically free money because right after you complete your scholarship, you’re free to go wherever you wish. It’s rare that there are good scholarships like these so it’s one of the major plus points as to why this scholarship is so sought after.

  • Opens up opportunities. Many people end up doing things they never thought they would once in Singapore. For example, Wen Wen, a scholar, who after 15 years of life in Malaysia where she refused to partake in BM speech competitions, she ended up in Singapore, playing Taboo in Malay and berpidato-ing. Thai scholars like Itsawat ended up in Indian dance.

  • International relationships. The moment you accept the scholarship, you are accepting to the fact that you will be meeting people of different cultures, religions, race, and backgrounds. You’ll meet Thais, Indonesians, Burmese, Laotians, Filipinos, and even scholars from China. Although they all pretty much look the same (except the Laotian scholars who are teeny tiny), their national language, accents, behaviours, favourite fast food joints, it’s all different and such a joy to discover.

  • Freedom. Singapore’s public transport system has the whole island country pretty much connected. This makes it really easy to get around on your own once you figure out how MRTs and public buses work. So, no more having to wait for mummy and daddy to send you someplace, you can just go there on your own! But with great power comes great responsibility (teehee) and you have to make sure you get back to your hostel on time.

  • Hostel life. You live with a whole bunch of friends. It’s pretty much like an endless sleepover. Whee!

  • Scholarship has good terms. The ASEAN Scholarship not only pays for your meals, boarding, and school fees, they also include an allowance. Of course, your parents would need to add on to that allowance but as you do not have to pay Singapore anything after, it’s a pretty good deal.

  • Seniors. As the scholarship has been around for many years, you’re pretty much guaranteed a senior to the school you will be posted to. If you’re lucky, your senior will be accommodating, kind, and very helpful. Be sure to mix around with scholars from other schools as well and your Singaporean experience will be enjoyable.

  • I won’t talk about Singaporean education cause it’s pretty redundant considering how you’re going to Singapore for the education and should know the gist of it. But I will explain bridging. When you receive the ASEAN Scholarship, you’re either bridging or non-bridging.

    Bridging is basically an intensive course to help you bridge the gap between your country’s syllabus and Singapore’s. If you’re a non-bridging scholar, kudos to you because that means you’re up to Singapore’s standards. I was a bridging scholar and I have to say it was one of the best experiences ever. Although it’s pretty insane that they try to teach you a year’s math syllabus into a period of about 2 weeks (if I recall correctly), the bridging time is good to build bonds between scholars and learn to navigate around Singapore. They provide loads of orientation courses during this time to help you assimilate into the Singaporean system.

Cons
  • If you’re a bridging scholar, you will basically have to give up your year end holidays to attend the bridging course. Mine began in October and I had to arrive in Singapore two days after finishing my PMR exam. Actually, if you’re a scholar, a lot of your holidays throughout the whole scholarship course will have to be given up due to the fact that your school will have compulsory bridging. 

  • Having terminated my scholarship before I could attend school, I don’t have a first hand experience of Singaporean schooling. However, I heard from my scholar friends that it is really stressful there. There are a lot of expectations in Singaporean schools, especially on scholars. 

  • Everything is really expensive. For me. Because I’m cheap. And Malaysian. The Singaporean currency is continuously rising, much like the number on my weighing scale, and due to that, in comparison, everything feels crazy expensive. Everything is dollar to dollar and with the Malaysian currency pretty much stagnant, watching a movie in the cinema can set you back about RM25. 

  • Hostel life. Depending on your roommate, hostel life can either be great fun, or torturous hell. Also, sometimes.. you may end up in not so pleasurable hostels. Some hostels have been given monikers like Parry Hell & Dog House. Also, some hostels have strict curfews and cranky dorm managers. But, depending on your luck, you may either be on your way to TORTURE or FUN! Okay, I was exaggerating about the torture. But, really, some hostels which at first, seem horrible, end up being wonderful. Take McNair for instance

  • Cliques. Completely common in schools, as a scholar, you’re generally under the clique of ‘scholars’. Although at first it may seem as though the Singaporeans are aloof and unwilling to become friends, they’re pretty much the same as you and I except that it may take a little more effort to get them to warm up to you. After all, you are intruding in their country. You are taking away their tax money. And you are intruding onto their academic rankings. 

  • Lack of opportunity. Although it does open up options for many, as a scholar your options although varied, may also be quite limited. Most schools have “Singaporeans only” events where ASEAN Scholars aren’t given the opportunity to participate in contests. Even if you are given the opportunity, the spots may be limited. Like, only 5% of ASEAN Scholars are given places in so and so. 

  • Homesickness. Because of bridging and having to give up your holidays, this means that a lot of the time when you have this strong uncontrollable urge to go back home, you can’t. Most of the scholars I know have cried at least once due to homesickness. Your schedule will be tight – you’ll be really really busy. The stability of the internet at your hostel is questionable and your laptop is being really slow. You try to have a video call with your parents but all you see are moving mosaic patterns of them and all you hear is static. Calling is expensive, because in Singapore, you not only pay for outgoing calls, but for incoming calls as well. So if they call you, you both pay. If you call them, you pay. Either way, you pay. I left my phone on the study desk and when I came back, I swear the phone sucked up my prepaid money on its own. That’s how horrid it is. Anyways, the point is, you will get homesick and it will be hard to contact your family and friends.

    There are options like signing up for an international call plan or arranging with your hostel mates as to who would monopolize the internet. Also, being around so many friends who can relate to you helps.

  • Singaporean’s competitive system. Despite having taking JC in Singapore, it’s still almost impossible for an ASEAN Scholar to get a spot in NUS or any of the other great Singaporean universities unless you’re exceptionally brilliant. The whole system is competitive and everyone will be fighting to be the top. Although healthy competition is good, it isn’t uncommon to hear of the competitiveness taking control of a person. Some scholars end up hiding each other’s notes before exams. Some Singaporeans even threaten the scholars. It’s a rare case but a case nonetheless.

That’s pretty much what I can come up with at the moment. If I can think of anymore, I’ll be sure to post it up. If you’re a scholar and know some I’ve missed out, share them in the comments. :)

How To: Make A Paper Boat (With Pictures)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In conjunction with the Paper Boat Project* which will be carried out tomorrow, the 9th of June (Which is also the school’s first Green Friday*), I shall be teaching you, my dear readers, how to make a paper boat.

* If these terms are unfamiliar to you, do not fret for I shall bring you enlightenment soon in another post. But here’s a hint:

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What you need:
Rectangular paper.
Recommended size: A4.
I highly encourage you to make these boats out of used paper or paper you have no other use for.

Steps:

1) Firstly, lay the paper flat on the table.

2) Fold the paper in half.

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3) Then fold in triangular flaps. Ensure that the openable side is at the bottom.

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4) Fold those bottom flaps upwards on each side.

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5) That should leave you with something like this.

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6) Fold in the flaps over the triangle. First start on one side and fold it over the triangle. Then flip it to the other end and fold it over again. You should be able to see something that looks like this.

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7) The triangle must be openable at the bottom.

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Press it down and you will get something like this.

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8) Then, fold up the flaps on each side till you get a triangle shape.

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9) Then, repeat step seven. You should be left with this.

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10) Pull open the sides and you have a boat!

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It’s very therapeutic. But I think I got a little carried away…

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