How to survive Freshmore Term 1 in SUTD ?

After fantasizing about my life in SUTD for about 4 years, I embarked on the SUTD journey with the class of 2020. The following are my reflections and tips on Survivng the first term.

Short summary on Orientation
Orientation was really fun. It wasn't R-rated or NC 16. I am fine with it being not sexually obscene. The programmes are really well planned, the zombie apocalypses and the mind-blowing techy night game stations. One of my most memorable take aways was staying up together with my OG to complete the body armour. Your OG mates will be your first few friends that you get to know and also the channel for you to connect to other classes.

What to expect in the first few weeks?
The first few weeks are the time to really learn the basic of various skills and find out which fifth rows suits you. Many fifth rows will organise workshops and introduction session, my recommendation is to go for all those activities that you have a slight interest in, you will not get a second chance if you miss it. In the middle of the term, you will find yourself committing to only a few fifth rows.

Don't go to the first lecture thinking that it will be just administration briefing, it will be a wake-up call lecture. University teaching style is different from what I was used to in JC. They way that formulas were written are different (it is those kinds that you see in Wikipedia ), once you get used to the presentation, learning will become more smooth.

What to expect during Mid-terms (week 5-9)?
This is the period where there will be mid-terms paper every Wednesday for different subjects. Put some effort into revising your materials. It would be useful for finals to make a summary of what you have learned in the first few weeks. Starting on your Physics 1D project during this period will help to relieve some stress during the last few weeks of this term. 

What to expect during End-term (Week 10-14)?
The tempo increases during the 2D week, week 10. You will be required to understand and plan what you will be doing for the entire week once you receive your project requirement. Plan on the methods that you will use to carry out experiments. You will learn that our knowledge of the world is not perfect, there are bound to be discrepencies. Put aside your cravings for the perfect answer.There is no absolute answer for the 2D project, the group that can reflect about their method, point out the potential discrepancies and suggest improvement will receive more points than average.

After the 2D week, it will be your physics 1D presentation. Just do something that you are really interested in. If you are interested in something, then you will naturally be willing to spend the extra effort to stay up to 1-2am to complete your prototype and report. I really respect those people who stay up to complete their 1D prototype, despite failing many times. The FAB lab will be congested this week, hence it would be recommended to start your 1D during the recess week if you require a lot of fabrication. Well, my group just did something simple, so I breezed through this week. 

Week 14 would mostly be recapping on the topics that are taught during the term. Go for the review and recap! They are golden opportunities to help you save some time on revision (if you have been paying attention in class). In SUTD, he last 3 days of the term is always reserved for examination.

Just do it and remember to Jio people
If you want to do something, just do it. Don't worry if few people or nobody is interested in what you are doing. Usually, when I cook, I would ask my class if anyone wants to cook (or someone will initiate and I join). Initially, it was only a small group, but during week 9, almost half the class turned up for dinner, an unexpected class gathering. It is the effort of a few people to ask the class, you will know who are those who are more lively and outspoken who can attract people to join the activities. Get these people to promote the event/activity :D.

Which to prioritize? Academics or Fifth row?
Between academics and fifth rows, I would say focus on what you are really interested in. This is the only pass-fail term that you will get in SUTD. You do not need to work hard for your academics, but please still do your homework and revise before your mid-terms. Some homework questions are really difficult, so it is okay to consult friends who are smarter for help. 

Build your selling point
I do realise that I am a small fry in SUTD, there are many geniuses, especially in academics. What is important is to build up your selling point, let other people know what you are good at. Nobody knows everything, at some point, you will need help from other people. Similarly, other people may need your assistance too. My selling point would be that I am good in excel, which proves to be useful during the 2D week, where I collaborated with another group to do the math 2D project

How to take notes
I have experimented 3 methods of note taking this semester
1) using a computer to take notes on the slides.
2) printing out the slides and annotate on the slides
3) go to a lecture with a blank piece of paper.                        

 I find the 3rd method most effective
What I would do it is
1) review the content of the slides. Identify and write down the general concept they are teaching.  (For chemistry, there is this slide called "learning objective", it is super important)

2) during the lecture, if the lecturer mention that needs to memorize something, write it down on the blank piece of paper. (usually, I just write down the slide number)

3) Also, write down questions that you have during the lecture. You also just created a summary for the lesson, before the exam, you just need to study that piece of paper. 

4) Review lesson material within 12 hours of the lesson. 

P.S. I dont employ this study technique all the time, I am still adapting to it


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