Friday, May 26, 2006

Upcoming Event: S.C.N.U.K. Informal Networking Session on 3 June

We’re holding a networking session next Saturday at the Shakespeare's Globe Café – the brilliant café situated on the Piazza level of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (South Bank) with nice views of the river Thames.

This networking event is an opportunity for you tomeet other members of S.C.N.U.K. - students, professionals, Singaporeans and International friends. We have guests from the various industry sectors in our midst too!

Catch up on what everyone has been up to, make new contacts and of course have a drink or two together in a great venue ...

Date : 3 June 2006 (Sat)
Time : 1500
Venue : Shakespeare Globe Cafe
Address : Piazza level, New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT
RSVP : Eugene at

Do bring your partners and friends along too – the more people the merrier!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Thoughts: Education and Life

Michele Koh, a freelance writer who is currently pursuing a BA (hons) in journalism at the London College of Communication, shares her experiences in London


I arrived in London on 27, September 2004. Two days before my 26th birthday. Before embarking on my studies, I was working as a full-time editor and freelance writer in Singapore for seven years. I was at a point in my life where I was uncertain whether or not I should invest the next three years of my young adult life on higher education or settle down with a permanent job.

I applied to universities in Singapore, Boston, New York, Scotland and London. It took me two years of research and two months of traveling to find the most suitable course and school. Working on application forms was time consuming and costly. Comparing my options, calculating the cost of fees, living expenses and finding accommodation was more exhausting than I had anticipated. The decision making process was the most difficult part. Now, having completed the first year of my journalism degree in London College of Communication - University of The Arts London (former London College of Printing – London Institute), all my efforts have paid off and I know that I made the right decision.

My friends who had graduated from university and are now working told me that student life would be a breeze. They were wrong. My dad is paying for my tuition fees and living expenses and we have agreed that upon completion of my degree I will work for three years and pay him back in monthly installments.

Working provided me with a sense of security and instant gratification – I knew that my mental exertions came with the guarantee of money. As a student, I have been labouring through texts on history, law, philosophy, sociology, and politics; subjects that I never before thought of as significant to my own personal development. On many occasions I felt like giving up.

“Why was I reading, memorizing and regurgitating useless facts and theories from long dead philosophers? After all, the reward for my academic endeavors came in the form of four alphabets – A, B, C or D, not a four-figure sum with the dollar sign before it!” , I thought. Perhaps is it because the returns of education last longer than monthly wages. A person, no matter how gifted or experienced learns to be humble only when he can put aside his own opinions and learn from those who came before him.

As students started having nervous breakdowns and dropping out of the course, I realized that the university environment is similar to the corporate environment. You need to be able to deal with fierce competition, handle criticism, work to deadlines, co-operate with people you don’t like, develop your PR skills, be thick-skinned and manage your time wisely. The toughest part is, that under all that pressure you need to remain calm, flexible and commit yourself to a personal code of ethics in order to stay alive and excel.

Student life in London is very political. In the third week of my first term, the tutors asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to be a course rep. This position requires a student to sit in on monthly meetings with the educators and head of department and voice any complaints the student body has, as well as relay the plans of the educators to the students. A course rep gets paid £7.50 for every meeting he or she attends. I volunteered and so did five other students, so the tutors held an election. I was elated that I won. It felt like receiving a bonus from my boss back in the working world.

International students live on a very tight budget. My friends who have seen my bed-sit with it’s then leaking roof have called it a cage or a chicken coup. The water pressure in my shower was so weak, I had to buy a bucket and bathe ‘kampong style’ before asking my landlord to help me solve the problem. I come home and I do my expenses. I have to account for every item I purchased in the day, from mineral water to the university’s pay as you go photocopying card. I have to check my phone bills and make sure there are no discrepancies. Take the garbage out every Monday night. Find time to buy groceries for one, clean the toilet, do the laundry and make time for friends. This may come as a shock to you, but this is the first time in my life I have changed a light bulb on my own! I have learnt more about resourcefulness, thrift and endurance living alone in London, than I could have while I was living under the care of my family back in Singapore.

When I read on Channel News Asia online that our former president Wee Khim Wee had passed away, I felt my heart stirring with sadness and pride. President Wee started his career in Singapore as a journalist. Journalism is about truth, decency and democracy. It is a public service. As a young nation, Singapore has something that no other country has. Our youth as an independent republic relieves us of the prejudices that are often too deeply embedded in the minds of citizens from older nation states in Europe and Asia.

My generation grew up with ‘regardless of race, language or religion’ as our pledge. My new friends from all over the world are in awe of the fact that that principle is a reality in my country. Even the Briton who owns the drycleaners down the street where I live said that he has been to Singapore and he thinks that Britain should ban chewing gum! This is proof that there is great wisdom in what the majority may perceive as a ludicrous law.

Not only am I learning about the birth of Western thought and culture, I am learning so much more about my love and respect for my country and heritage.