Of nostalgia and reminiscence

•April 16, 2009 • 8 Comments

On my first blog post, I mentioned that I aimed to prepare myself for the next stages of my life by developing effective communication skills. Reflecting on the past 12 weeks, I believe that I have accomplished this aim.

Just last week, immediately after the sessions on job search and interviews, I went for an internship interview at the organization which I applied to during the mock interviews. The skills which I learnt in class certainly helped prepare me for the rigorous session. Preparing the cover letter gave me a chance to read up on the organization and I was able to answer questions about how the organization functions. The different interview scenarios which we went through allowed me to prepare myself mentally for what was to come and helped me remain calm throughout the half an hour interview. (The questions that Wee Siong and I asked during the mock interviews pale in comparison to those that were asked during this interview). Such an experience really exemplifies how we may apply skills learnt in school to real-world situations.

Besides this, I also value the experience of working with my group for the report and the presentation. As mentioned in several of my blog posts, I am a person prone to conflicts. Therefore, I am proud to say that this time round, my group worked together cohesively and all differences were resolved amicably without any compromises on quality. I have made it a point to be an active listener during group discussions and avoided coming to conclusions before I hear the full story. This was indeed an achievement. I do hope that my group mates have enjoyed the process as much as I did.

Furthermore, the chance to produce a research report and have it assessed based on the 7C’s and not scientific content has helped correct my language errors. From now on, I will always remember the need for ‘parallel verb forms’ and how ‘as such’ is not acceptable in formal writing. In retrospect, I think I paid extra effort in combing all my essays that I have written this semester for similar mistakes. Tedious though this may be, it is an essential process. This process will be even more important in the following year when I am writing my thesis for the Honours project.

However, to me, the most important take away from this class is the opportunity to interact with all fifteen of my classmates and our lecturer. Throughout these twelve weeks, I have made sixteen friends and got to know them better through all the activities that we did together. This is something which other modules can’t offer. I hope that I have contributed to their learning process as they have contributed to mine. I am sure that we will continue communicating with each other even after the semester has ended. I shall not thank anybody in this blog post as I am sure that this is not the finale. There is still so much more we could learn from one another and I look forward to interacting with all sixteen of my friends in the years to come.

One Liners…

•April 16, 2009 • 1 Comment

I came across this website a while ago which lists down some quotes from a lecturer from our university. Such talent is seldom seen. Listed below are just some sample quotes which I hope you enjoy:

  1. Beauty is about the surface; cosmetic surgery probes deeper
  2. Real freedom is having nothing left to lose
  3. The hand that rocks the cradle belongs to a Filipino maid
  4. People are considered incomplete before marriage, after which they are finished

Evaluation of Oral Presentation

•April 14, 2009 • 4 Comments

Looking back at what happened this morning, I realized how quickly our presentation went. Weeks of preparation including debating over structure, arguing over content and it’s all over in twenty minutes. One aspect which I think my group performed better then expected was how we controlled our time. Surprisingly, we stuck to the twenty minutes allocated. However, there are several parts which I think we could have performed better. Firstly, the switch from Elvin’s to my part was slightly abrupt. We should have tried to draw a clearer relationship between our parts to allow for better continuity. Secondly, from how the audience reacted, I felt that there were parts of our presentation which they did not understand. We made the assumption that what was clear to us will be clear to the class without taking into consideration that they have not read our report and may not know how we came up with our conclusions and recommendations. Despite these setbacks, I still think our group performed reasonably well. Hopefully, our audience learnt something from our presentation and were not too bored.

For myself, I should learn how to pronounce the word “antagonize”. My tongue got stuck at this word and I couldn’t continue, resulting in an awkward 10 second pause. For this presentation, I made it a point to speak at a slower speed. Hopefully the audience will not think that I am unenthusiastic and boring. Through this presentation, I also discovered how difficult it is to ensure one’s sentences are grammatically correct when one is in front of an audience. I shall make it a point to attempt to use well-formed sentences for all future presentations!  I sincerely hope that the class understood our message about the importance of campus sustainability. 🙂

Bio-data

•March 23, 2009 • 4 Comments

I am currently a third-year undergraduate in the Faculty of Science, NUS, majoring in Life Sciences. I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in July 2010. I believe in not limiting myself to any one discipline and have attempted courses ranging from Cultural Studies to Employee Management. I value flexibility and versatility more than speciality and believe that as an undergraduate, I should receive an education that is as broad-based as possible rather than one that focuses only on one field.

Given the interconnectedness of today’s world, I view having a global experience as key to future success. To achieve this, I have voluntarily participated in programs which allowed me to stay in cities such as Chicago, Taipei and London. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in different cultures has certainly changed my mindset and allowed me to pick up new skills. These experiences have also convinced me that upon graduation, I should embark on a career that will give me a chance to not only work in Singapore, but in other countries as well.

I firmly believe that any work that I do must allow me to continue learning. Therefore, in sourcing for work opportunities these few years, I have always avoided routine work. My first job experience was in the Subordinate Courts and was certainly an eye opener. I came into contact with people from vastly different backgrounds – from high-flying lawyers to families requiring legal aid. From then on, my experience as a tutor and teaching assistant has also allowed me to meet and help students from different cultures. While these jobs were challenging, I have learnt much from these experiences. Communication skills, responsibility and critical thinking are just some of the soft skills which I have acquired over these few years. Consequentially, I hope that I would have chances in the future to take on positions that allow me to hone other skills such as people management and negotiation.

In conclusion, I would like to continue learning after leaving the university. In my opinion, the ability to learn and react to different situations is even more important than the knowledge we have. After all, this would not be outdated. Furthermore, it is my belief that acknowledging success is in part recognizing that one can no longer reach higher. Hopefully, I will always have the chance to reach higher.

Earth Hour 2009

•March 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Interesting that the only Asian city featured in the video was Manila. Food for thought.

Sarcastically Communicating

•March 12, 2009 • 11 Comments

Sarcasm is a way of communication that has been practiced throughout history. Literatures ranging from the bible to modern day novels often rely on sarcasm to carry the message across to the reader. Television dramas and talk shows utilize sarcasm to attract viewers. Yet, the complexity of sarcasm is often not appreciated.

Very often, to understand sarcasm, one would need to understand the non-verbal cues and the intonation exhibited by the speaker and the cultural context in which it is being said. The use of irony in sarcasm also requires second-order interpretation of the speaker’s intentions. Recent studies have shown sarcasm to be a complex form of communication that relies on the intricate relationship between language, intonation, culture and context.

Analyzing sarcasm using the 7C’s of effective communication shows that sarcasm does not fulfil the criteria of courtesy and clarity. Numerous articles have also been written to remind us that sarcasm should not be used in the workplace and in any form of relationships. Direct communication is preferred. In light, sarcasm does appear to be an extremely ineffective way of communication.

However, as a frequent user of sarcasm myself, I would beg to differ. I view sarcasm as a way of expressing our thoughts clearly in situations where direct communication would result in a lack of courtesy. For example, we often use a joke to mask our real intentions. Isn’t this more courteous than outright confrontation?   Do you think sarcasm is an effective way of communicating? Is it without value?

Intercultural Communication

•March 2, 2009 • 6 Comments

This incident occurred while I was in London for an exchange program.

The Conflict

The main character in this incident was a Singaporean female student who was studying in the same university as me. It occurred during the first few weeks of her arrival in London. She was staying in a hall of residence and shared a floor with other first-year students.  Two or three days into the start of the semester, a group of British students asked her if she wanted to join them for a drink at a pub nearby. She felt uncomfortable going out alone with them and declined. A few days later, the same group of students brought bottles of beer and vodka to the common kitchen and started drinking. They went to her room and invited her to join in but she declined again. She was shocked that the British students were drinking alcohol so frequently and felt that their behaviour was inappropriate. Though there was no outright conflict in this matter, I felt that this incident highlights the cultural difference between British and Singaporean undergraduates.

Interpretation

In this case, I felt that there was a clash of cultural values and norms. Going to pubs for drinks in the UK is regarded as a time for bonding between friends. Undergraduates frequently participate in pub-crawls after lessons where they visit various pubs within the vicinity or hold parties in their hostels with an endless supply of beer. Conversely, in Singapore, such behaviour is regarded negatively. That was probably why my friend felt that she should not join in as their behaviour categorizes them as ‘bad company’ in the Singaporean context.

At the same time, the British students were probably trying to be friendly and include her in their activities. They did not realize that their behaviour might not be acceptable to her. Consequentially, her rejections might be interpreted as being unfriendly or snobbish. This may create conflicts in the future as all of them are staying on the same floor and would need to interact with one another on a daily basis

To resolve this situation, I suggested that she join the British students for one or two drinking sessions in the kitchen just to chat with them and not drink. She could also throw a Singaporean style party and prepare some local cuisines for the British students. In this way, she would probably be able to interact with them without going against her own cultural values.