Dreaming of postgraduate studies.

3 years of NUS have come and gone. Now I am about to embark on my final year of education in NUS while some of my friends busy themselves with their convocation and job hunts. I recalled how I scribbled on scraps of paper (I am still keeping them safely) why I decided to study Chemistry and join the University Scholars Programme (USP) in NUS. I remember how I pragmatically reasoned with myself and picked Chemistry in part due to the scholarship offer and joined USP, well, for its prestige. I remember how I still thought like a typical Singaporean. I remember not having goals and dreams.

Looking back, I do not agree with my decision-making rubix then. Anyhow, I am grateful for how things have turned out and how much I have grown over the course of the last 3 years. I would write a post to thank NUS for that but that post could wait till my graduation.

Today I have a better idea of what I want, I know I am interested in education. I dream of owning a school with a ‘cool’ school culture such that people choose to enroll their children for the environment and not simply because their grades permit them to do so. I don’t have a clear idea yet of what it will be but for now, I dream of it to be a school with a heavy emphasis on moral values and dreams which strives to nurture students into people who love to be different and who want to make a difference. Anyhow, I am certain that I would most likely gain more inspiration for this project outside Singapore because people here seem to perceive education as a means to very practical ends (i.e. good career prospects).

So I would love to go overseas for postgraduate studies and in the meantime, to gain meaningful insights about the advantages and shortcomings of different education systems. I want to know what people like and dislike of their own systems. I am thinking of applying for the masters programme in chemistry in Germany next year. I already shortlisted 3 universities among which I am most keen to go to TUM in Munich. Why Germany? I am certain that at this point of my life, I would prefer to live in a non-English speaking country because it’s more fun that way. I picked Germany in particular because of its good reputation in science and technology and I think it would be a good learning experience. I considered Switzerland but its insanely high cost of living is a huge deterrence. I am also interested in Germany because of its educational structure – how they stream their children at the age of 10. What are the pros and cons of such a system? Is it better for the students to put people with similar learning aptitude in an environment or is it better to try to make them mingle with one another like what Singapore is doing with many of our secondary schools? My German friend whom I met in Hongkong claimed that people accept streaming because everyone has their own place and role to play in the society. I want to know if this is true. And if it is, how did it happen?

I also dream of getting a higher degree in education after a few years of teaching in Singapore. I really want to go to Finland but after doing some research, it seems quite tough for foreigners to do a masters or PhD in education there. I am quite attracted by the graduate school in Berkeley and it would be nice to interact with teaching practitioners from all around the world. It would give me an opportunity to stay in US for quite a while – something I always wanted to do. Now that Singapore is taking in increasing number of immigrants each year, I think it would be great to see how the US handles its different groups of immigrants. I don’t imagine it to be perfect but it would be interesting to see how people have their own communities yet feeling that they are part of a bigger thing.

Time for me to return to reality!


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