Sunday, July 11, 2010

Guide to ASEAN Scholarship #2

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. :)

52 comments:

  1. Urm dude you do know that the Malaysian currency has been increasing steadily these past few months right? It's no longer stagnant and it's surprising but it's also very true.

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  2. @CT orly??? O.o

    ahahaha...hiding people's notes?? isn't that abit....overboard?? imo from what i've read from this post the cons overweighs the pros lol.. :P the only good thing is that ur education is free, you end up doing what you never thought u'd do and meeting different kinds of people :P and is it even possible to cram 1 year syllybus into 2 weeks?? like... do you even remember what you've studied after you pass the exam or etc... lol coz that kind of thing is cram, do exam, forget xD

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  3. It depends on which school you're going, like mine, isn't that bad. :) But not very good also. I think school-based scholarship is better than ASEAN scholarship. :)

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  4. Really insightful post. Good work! However, I know of many ASEAN scholars who have been awarded the ASEAN undergraduate scholarship in NUS, SMU and NTU. As long as you manage to obtain 2 A's in your A-Levels, the Singaporean government will be happy to give you a scholarship.

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  5. i beg to differ..the scholarship is awesome :)

    i'm going for quarterfinals of malay debate this saturday haha... last saturday i went berpidato-ing again hahaha...

    anyway..ASEAN dance is coming up..wanna fly down to attend? theme's rendezvous au clair de lune :)

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  6. Chienteng so knowitall lolol.

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  7. WEN WEN: ITS CLAIR DE LUNE!!! WHAT!!! Bt i thought u guys still rasising funds for asdance?
    Tiffany: Why didnt jess or me came up in the post?
    ( Soon NAn)

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  8. The One From BorneoJuly 14, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Tiffany: Great post! However, I would like to state that everyone is different, and so some of these information given may not be accurate for other people. Oh ya, pls do come down to Singapore when you're free. We need the magnet to come back!!
    Wen Wen: Congratulations on making the quarter finals of the malay debate! Just wondering, but how can you ppl just collect funds for asdance without prior approval from the MOE?? And just one suggestion: Don't make the asdance burn a hole in my pocket, otherwise I'll have no choice but to follow the footsteps of Ravi!!
    Soon Nan: I wasn't in the post too......

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  9. I guess it depends on the school. Some schools allow scholars to enjoy their life, some grill them so much so that they can succeed in their academics.

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  10. Chia Chien Teng: WAH I DIDN'T KNOW HOR! CHIEN TENG SO SMARTTT <3

    HengTuanzzz: Yes, but then again, this is just my perspective. There are plentyy of others who think the scholarship is amazing. :)

    Hui Min: Well, school based scholarships ensure you definitely get that school whereas for ASEAN, its any random one. Which can be a good or bad thing. :)

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  11. Anonymous: Ohh! I wasn't aware of that. Aha, thanks for the info. I assumed it was very difficult to get in. Maybe it depends on the course.

    wen: Ahah, yess, Natcha has been trying to get me to go. Aha, I know you're definitelyyy enjoying your time theree.

    Anonymous: Ahah, her general knowledge pro. (Y)

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  12. Soon Nan: Ahaha, I knew you guys weren't exactly having the best of time.. Lol, and if I mention the bad things.. like.. your names will be associated with.. the not so good things and then.. later your school.. DO THINGS TO YOU. D:

    The One From Borneo: Ahah, magnet? I'm flattered. :D I'm going to try to come by again when I can. But it'll probably be around the end of the year, maybe when you guys are having bridging cause otherwise, I'll be busy with school and performances. Ahh, today, I had some mini breakdown session cause I missed you guys so much.

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  13. Anonymous: Yeahps, that's right. I know some schools are very into getting Band 1, etc. Although it's not implemented anymore (to my knowledge), most S'pore schools still hold the rankings in high regard and the ones that are Band 2 and Band 3 are being pushed academically to reach Band 1.

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  14. TIFFANY! :D Really like your post, it gives potential asean scholars a clear idea on how the scholarship will be like.

    regarding the asean dance theme, RENDEZVOUS AU CLAIR DE LUNE?! sounds fancy! :DD DO COME TIFFANY!

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  15. Erin: heh, thanks! :) Ahahaha, I can'ttt! I checked, it's the weekend before my Class Test 4. I'm sorrrryy. I shall visit you guys again. :)

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  16. i am just awarded the scholarship. can we bring laptop to the hostel? thanks a lot

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  17. @tree: OOOH! Congratulations! Send my regards to Wen Wen if you get posted at McNair! :)

    Yea, you can. Well, you're pretty much going to be living there so bring whatever you think you'll need to survive. Laptops included. :) but if you don't have any, most hostels have computer rooms, although limited. I recommend bring lappie along. And don't forget your charger!

    All the best. :) :)

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  18. Tiffany: actually it's not quite true that ASEAN Scholarship holders are not bonded to serve in Singapore. Typically, once an ASEAN scholarship holder enters a University in Spore or elsewhere (like UK)and the Govt of Spore pays or continues with the scholarship(extended), the scholarship holder is thereafter BONDED for 7years or so, after graduation.

    This is the typical case and the Govt of Spore lures the ASEAN scholarship holder with PR status too, once he starts serving his Bond in Spore. If he decides to go back to KL/Msia, he can apply to have the Bond served in Msia via serving a wholly Sporean-owned interests/companies in Msia.

    So from a young age, you would think the ASEAN Scholarship is free, but in reality you are expected to serve Spore after you graduate, ESP when Spore Govt has paid for your tertiary education.

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  19. @Anonymous:

    Oh wow, that sure explains the brain drain we're having here.. That's for that. I'm sure a lot of readers will be grateful for this new insight.

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  20. Is the a levels at jc there really tough? I heard taking a levels under the whole asean scholar thing gives you an disadvantage over those taking a levels here. Apparently its easier to score here.

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  21. were you supposed to be at Temasek Secondary School?

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  22. Anonymous:

    Aha nope. Commonwealth Secondary School. :)

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  23. www.gifted-academy.com.sg

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  24. SPMresultsNextWeek!?March 19, 2011 at 4:58 AM

    First of all, I have to thank you so much for providing a detailed insight of what it feels like to be a scholar, an ASEAN scholar on top of that. You never got to why you gave up the scholarship?

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  25. @SPMresultsNextWeek!?

    Aha, you're welcome. The reasons are all over my blog. :P parents missed me, I didn't like the system, etc. All in all, no regrets giving it up. But it is a brilliant scholarship.

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  26. hi, i want to ask you something. what subjects are there in singapore? is there any religion subject? i'm applying for ASEAN scholarship for the next year and my mom ask me that questions. btw, thanks for all of your advice :) -farah

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  27. Anonymous: Heh, sorry, not sure! gotta check with MOE!

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  28. er... your cons about this scholarship makes me scared, even though I already accept it. T_T

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  29. Krisna :
    There are pros & cons to everything, it just depends on which you choose to see. :)
    Good luck with the scholarship. A lot of my friends have such a ball of a time there & I hope you do as well.

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  30. Hi , randomly saw this post,and urmm..it actually helps a LOT . Btw, I'm applying for NanChiau High School (school based scholarship).I hope to get some consultation from you. Can you talk about the school and Parry Hall ?

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    1. Thanks so much! Heh, I think this reply is a year too late but I hope you got the info you needed!

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  31. Here I am in 2012, reading this post. Have you considered being a journalist? I like your style of writing. This post helped me understand the ASEAN scholarship better. Thanks.

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    1. Haha, that's really sweet and yes, I have actually. Ahha, I've always wanted to write for a living. :P You're welcome, it's my pleasure! :)

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  32. Hi im taking he test i a few days, what school do you get placed into when we get to singapore ?

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    1. Random allocation. I don't know how they do it. :)

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    2. Although it's random but I've heard that they will deffinitely allocate you in one of the top schools in Singapore.After all they have paid for all your expenditures and they are looking for the best in you

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  33. Hi!Everyone!Got anyone here already received Asean Scholarship's notifications for you to interview?

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  34. yup..i got it on the 24th of August...how bout you?

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  35. Can you please tell me what is the reason which makes you decide to go back home and end up the scholarship ???

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. Hi Tifanny,
    Happy CNY to you! This is a great post and thanks for the info. Yeah, I wonder if you know whether there are any school-based scholarships because I never see them being advertised- only the ASEAN scholarships. Grateful if you can provide some insight.
    Thanks so much!

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    1. Hey, happy CNY! :) And yeah there are like ACS(I) if not mistaken along with other schools, but these are things you have to look at independently. Probably the individual school's website. Good luck though!

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    2. Hi and sorry for the typo in your name. Went to their websites but no info there. Thanks for your info anyway.

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  38. Hey! I'm taking the Selection Test next week , could you give me any tips? :)

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  39. Hey. :) I was wondering when are the holidays for an asean scholar. Like how often can I come back to Malaysia?

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  40. hi!! Do we have to study science in advance like mathematic ? tq...pls reply :)

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  41. WOW THANKS A LOT. Like a lot. I am so scared to do the selection test :( i'm scared that i won't be able to pass it & disappoint my family.. Btw, can I ask you about the test' material? Like what should i learn about mathematics and english?

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  42. Hey tiff. Thanks for the info. Just want to know if taking alevels in singapore will be more difficult than in malaysia. Apparently i heard that the standards are higher in singapore and thus pose a disadvantage to people who are intending to pursue their tertiary education in the uk, like me. Btw this question was asked earlier but there was no reply to it. Thanks a lot in advance :)

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  43. Hi Tiff

    Sounds like you abandon the Asean Scholarship half way through the bridging program. Is that right ?

    Did you reapply again and got in the following year ? Or do you know of anyone who quit Asean scholarship halfway through, reapply and got in again the next time ? Just wondering how strict the MOE is with such situations.

    Thanks.

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