Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's spring in the city

I can't believe the Microbiology department is still bent on pinning up test results on some obscure notice-board. This is probably the meekest example of how people refuse to recognise the new media that is the Internet. Administration: there's no point spending millions on a new-fangled, fuss-free web portal when your fuddy-duddy professors refuse to use it.

I remember sitting in for Abs's Sociology of Deviance lecture where the lecturer still uses transparencies (which are filled up with text in REAL TIME), promises to upload handouts but never does. People suspect he doesn't know how to use the IVLE (read: Integrated Virtual Learning Environment). But it's good I suppose, since you end up with 100% attendance with people feverishly copying down your every word.

I remember girls chatting and painting their nails in my music lecture.

I remember thursday's lab session, where we very mercilessly killed and dissected an African lungfish (they are so cute la). The girl from the opposite bench trotted in, with a very forlorn sigh, said,

"This is it. My last class in NUS."

Surreal it was, after a particularly tiring lab discussion, Gillian turned around to face me and said, "That was it. Wow."

Emelia and I looked back on our first and second years in NUS Life Sciences.

Meme: Eh, do you think if we worked harder in first and second year, we would have done better?
Me: (deliberates) No leh.
Meme: Yeah I also think so.

The thing is, we were cheated. Broad-based education sure, but I only get to specialise in my field of interest in third year. And after the torture of studying irrelevant common modules, and doing badly, I've finally found joy in learning, only in third year.

I've finally been given the chance to receive what I signed up for: an education in Biology.

But with the system developed after the integration of Biological sciences into a collective umbrella of "Life Sciences", the all-encompassing field of Biomedical Science (BMS), Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) and Biology, people only get to specialise in third year? This has got to be a joke.

No, it was not an anvil dropped on my head only now, I knew what I was signing up for, but only because it was painted glossy with gold and glitter. How was I to know that I was going to compete with 600+ students, many of whom will do well because they all signed up for BMS and MCB, while the Biology students flailed miserably in the warped vortex that is Organic Chemistry, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. How was I to know, that in my foundation modules, only 1 biodiversity class was offered? And by the time I reached third year, there was SO MUCH to learn about my specialisation that when I graduate, I don't know what I've learnt, and I don't even feel like I've specialised any, given the miserable 4 or 5 modules in the Biology department I've had the privilege to attend.

This year has been the best of all academic years in my NUS life in terms of grade performance, for the very reason that I've actually enjoyed my modules. If only I'd had the chance to start from year 2 or even year 1.

It looks like a masters is the only way to actually learn something.

On the way to the library the other day, I saw the tree outside Guild House shedding a molehill of beautiful pink blossums on the grass verge. As they fell, a cleaner was vigilantly raking them all up, as if mocking the falling petals.

Why is Singapore such a pragmatic country? Did you know it's spring this time of the year? Bet you didn't, 'cos they're sweeping up all the flowers anyway. If they could they'd uproot all the shedding trees and grow something a tad easier to maintain.

1 comment:

kungfubunny said...

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