Like many of us before embarking on a new chapter of our lives, Joey had the ever common questions running through her mind – Was she making the right choice? Was she forsaking greener pastures? Having received other university offers, deciding to study at the National University of Singapore and being in the University Scholars Programme (USP) was not a decision void of hesitation and worries. Looking back, Joey remembers how her initial impression of USP was that it was “full of smart people who thought a lot about things”. Nevertheless, her keen interest to read USP modules led her to take a leap of faith and join the USP.

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Now, three years or six semesters on, Joey feels that the academic atmosphere at USP certainly did not disappoint. Her greatest struggle in the beginning was writing, having come from a polytechnic background where assignments were more projects based. Nonetheless, this only meant that she had even more room for growth. Under Dr Yew Kong Leong (Writing and Critical Thinking: Danger and National Security), Joey learnt how to structure her ideas and effectively argue her points across. Recalling another of her favourite modules, Computational Thinking & Modelling, Joey shares how her final group project was to study the pedagogy of students learning computational thinking in differing environments. The module, though categorised as a science module, amalgamated the human aspect of learning together with the logic of thinking. This brought out the strengths in each group member, since they came from a range of disciplines. Joey appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with peers from various faculties.

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However, Joey has not simply only benefitted from the academic rigour at the USP. Eager to be as involved in the community as possible, Joey joined the house committee and social cultural committee in her freshman year. She organised special events for the USP community, such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day celebrations. At the same time, Joey’s talent for designing posters saw her being busy designing posters for various USP events. She then realized that instead of acceding to the requests of posters from different groups, she could instead teach them how to do it themselves. She crafted a four week illustrator course, with 15 people attending her 2 hour sessions each week. Joey feels that the USP community builds on not just the opportunities and programmes offered and organized by USP admin staff, but instead also very dynamically through the students themselves.

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In retrospect, the most important learning point Joey gained is that the experiences one receives ultimately will depend on how one deals with the circumstances that are presented. We are, after all, the captains of our own ships. To those facing the initially mentioned questions, one nugget of advice Joey shares is this: Always remember, the grass is greener where you water it! :)