Friday, June 26, 2015

How to be a Superman Student

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How to be a Superman Student

How to be a Superman Student

by Michelle [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

Ever wonder how do those high-achievers manage to juggle between academics, extra-curricular activities, friends, family and volunteering some more? Envy that guy who is the captain in high school varsity and president of the student council (which most probably take up most of his non-sleeping time) and yet somehow, is able to score perfectly in almost every subject he took? Amazed by that huh? Start asking yourself dubiously, Is he a superman? No! The answer is an absolute NO. What is THE secret then? *drum rolling* The ultimate, much coveted secret to achieve that feat is: YOU CAN DO IT TOO. YES, YOU. I know this sounds cliché but below I am going to write about a few guides towards realizing that seemingly impossible, unattainable, quixotic goal and break the myth about only a super duper smarty pant/prodigy/genius can accomplish that.

#1 Find your balance.

Superman flying in balance
People are always under the impression that someone who excels in his/her studies must be a bookworm who never averts his attention from books even for a second.

People always have the preconception that those play extremely well in sports rarely sit down an hour straight for revision.

The truth is, you do not necessarily have to be glued to your seat all day long reading your notes/books/revision materials over and over again in order to score in your exam. You can achieve excellent results, playing your sports well and even actively involve in co-curricular activities if you can find a way to strike a balance between all those activities. Do not easily believe those ungrounded myths stating that playing sports/co-curricular activities will only distract you from your studies and cause you to lag behind. In fact, with determination and an adamant mind in finding and maintaining the balance between extracurricular activities and studies, you can definitely do it. I once took part in a debate competition right before (just ONE day before) my first exam. It was when I was back in Form 4. There are a few things to be noted: a) As that was the first exam in Form 4, I wasn't exactly familiar with all the contents and format of the exam, plus there were also a few subjects which I was still very new to b) That was the FIRST time I ever took part in a debate competition. In fact, my teammates and I went through a great deal of effort to put together a team to join the inter-school debate. I was totally a newbie in debate and had not even a tiniest bit of clue of what debate is nor I had mentor to guide me back then. I joined the debate purely out of curiosity and hopefully gaining some valuable experiences c) The subject being tested on the day after the debate was SEJARAH!!!(can you imagine how terrifying was that?) So, like all those motivational stories, I managed to pull it off in the end and I did not screw up my exam.(In fact, if my memories aren't failing me, I got a 100 for my Sejarah paper!) So there you go, nothing is impossible, it is just about balance.

#2 Never ever procrastinate.

Batman vs Superman
Procrastinate. The most common weakness of all mankind. Every single human in this world clearly know that procrastination does no good to practically everything in life, yet every one of us keeps repeating this terrible mistake over and over again from day to day, year in and year out. Never put off what you can do today until tomorrow. Finish tasks assigned to you right after the moment you are being told if possible. If you do not finish off one task right away, it is doomed to be put off until who-knows-when to be done. If you keep putting off things you should have done at the moment, you will never have time for other things in your life or time for yourself, because your workload is bound to be growing exponentially over time until at a point you find yourself being suffocated by these mountainous workload and lament over it. Do not let procrastination steals away all your precious time.

#3 Learn to prioritize and reprioritize.

Superman priority
Do not always complain that 24 hours a day is too short for us to complete our work/task/homework etc. Remember, everyone on earth is having the same 24 hours each day just as you are. What is there to be complained about? If other people can manage their time wisely and utilize their 24 hours to the fullest, why can't you? Obviously, the only person should be blamed is you yourself. If you find yourself keep working around the clock, or a particular task seems to consume most of your time to an extent that it is hard to squeeze out some time for other aspects of your life, it's time to learn how to prioritize your tasks. Try to list out all of the tasks on hand, then number each of the tasks according to their importance or urgency. If something is of utmost importance to be settled, then put it at the top of your priority list while those things at the bottom of the list, ought to be regarded with relatively less attention. In such way, you are clear about which tasks should be done first instead of realizing something that is so urgent or important have not been done at the last minute thus avoiding unnecessary anxiety and troubles. For instances, approaching the football tournament season, you should be aware that varsity practices are extremely important thus you should adjust your priority list accordingly. Put more focus on the team practice rather than taking time off hanging out with friends. Having said that,  it is not an excuse to neglect your studies during sport seasons. Prioritizing does not mean to focus entirely on a certain aspect while completely ignore other aspects in life. On the contrary, it means trying to compartmentalize your life and divide your attention proportionately apart from being able to shift concentration onto the right thing at the right time.

#4 Chillax.

Superman baby in superman costume
Surprised? Yes, if you want to keep your sanity in the midst of all those academics, sports and ECA craze, the best way is learn to chill. Do not be stressed out. Believe it or not, you don't have to be stressed. In fact, learning to chill once in a while is one of the key to become a top performer in your life, be it academically, socially, physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. People often feel stressed whenever they are faced with loads of works or lots of tasks. Yes, it is understandable that not everyone can cope with heavy workload and be a good multitasker. Most people tend to feel overwhelmed when being caught in a situation requires them to juggle between a few things at the same time, thus leading to them failing at either task or even both. (or even worse, leading to nervous breakdown) Now that you know 'chillax' plays such a significant role in helping you to deal with multiple tasks, you have to constantly remind yourself not to overstress your already-exhausted mental state. Instead, look for every possible chance to unwind yourself, temporarily take your mind off the reality of your hectic life by travelling, going for a road trip, watching a good movie or just simply a gossiping with your pals. These acts might seem trivial, some may even regard them as time-wasting activities when you are so busy keeping up with your school life and ECA, but what those people not realize is that it is precisely these tiny bits of 'trivial' acts that keeps you going when you are most likely to break down under heavy pressure.

#5 Believe in yourself.

Confident Superman
The last thing and also the crux of the whole matter is: Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Give yourself some credit. Believe that you can do this, from the bottom of your heart. Having problem with self-confidence? Try pep-talking to yourself everyday. One of the way is waking up every morning, look into the mirror, say to yourself, ''Come on, you can do this! You just have to believe in yourself.'' and give yourself a big stretching-from-ear-to-ear grin. (This might seem kind of lunatic, but it really works wonders!) Really, the power of self-believe is magical, when you truly believe that you really can accomplish something big, in the end you will, just as the lyrics go :
There can be miracle when you believe
though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
 who knows what miracle you can achieve
 when you believe
somehow you will
you will when you believe
So, starting from today, believe you can do this. You just can.
Superman lego

Those are the 5 tips I would like to share with all the struggling/aspiring/self-doubting students out there. No matter who you are, where you are from, what you are juggling with or which school you are in, I truly hope that my two cents will be of help to you and here is my most sincere hope that each and every one of you can achieve your dreams in the coming future. Remember, next time, do not be the one who exclaims at others' achievement, but the one whose accomplishment is being exclaimed at.

Michelle Soin
Michelle (@MichelleSoin), 19, had just completed her SPM in 2013 and is studying International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. A curious teenager (or is it young adult?). Love anything that is multifaceted. Always having a hard time choosing, be it a subject to take, a place to travel to or even which colour of the bag to buy. All of these stems from her interests in so many aspects in life. Hope to learn as many modern languages as she can and get to experience various cultures in the world. Love anything that is interdisciplinary and believe that everything in life is inter-related.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

JPA PIDN & PDDN Scholarship Application 2015 (Permohonan Biasiswa JPA Program Ijazah Dalam Negara)

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View / Download Jadual Waktu Peperiksaan SPM 2015 Timetable

Malaysia Scholarships 2015

  1. 21 May 2015: Yayasan Bursa Malaysia Scholarships
  2. 24 May 2015: JPA PIDN & PDDN Scholarships
  3. 29 May 2015: Putrajaya Perdana Berhad Scholarship Awards 2015
  4. 1 June 2015: Hong Leong Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Programme
  5. 30 June 2015: Education Ministry Bursaries (Bursary Pelajar Cemerlang SPM Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia KPM)
  6. 31 August 2015: Yaw Teck Seng Foundation Scholarships
  7. 36 Scholarships for IPTA Undergraduate Students
  8. Throughout the year: Intel Malaysia Scholarships
More scholarship openings available at 50+ Most Prestigious Scholarships for STPM & SPM Leavers (Biasiswa Pelajar SPM & STPM).

JPA Permohonan Program Ijazah Dalam Negara (PIDN)
Biasiswa JPA Permohonan Program Ijazah Dalam Negara (PIDN)
Closing Date
24 May 2015


Biasiswa JPA PIDN or JPA PIDN Scholarship is sponsored by the Public Service Department to Malaysian citizens who are currently pursuing their Diploma and First Degree studies at selected IPTAs, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and Universiti Multimedia (MMU).

Recipients of this JPA Scholarship will be bonded to serve the government for a particular period depending on the courses and disciplines taken. Otherwise, compensation claim will be charged by the Public Service Department (PSD) of Malaysia.

JPA PIDN Scholarship Application (Permohonan Program Ijazah Dalam Negara)

Eligibility Criteria for Program Ijazah Dalam Negara (PIDN):
  • Malaysian citizen;
  • Age not more than 25 years old on the date of application (26 years old for Remove Class students);
  • Good health;
  • Have a full certificate of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) / SPMV;
  • Obtain a minimum CGPA of 3.30 or equivalent in first degree semester examination;
  • Has completed at least one ( 1 ) semester of study or have a remaining duration of not less than one ( 1 ) year.

JPA PDDN Scholarship Application (Permohonan Program Diploma Dalam Negara)

Eligibility Criteria for Program Diploma Dalam Negara (PDDN):
  • Malaysian citizen;
  • Age not more than 21 years old on the date of application (22 years old for Remove Class students);
  • Good health;
  • Have a full certificate of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) / SPMV;
  • Obtain a minimum CGPA of 3.30 or equivalent in diploma examination;
  • Has completed at least one ( 1 ) semester of study or have a remaining duration of not less than one ( 1 ) year.

How To Apply JPA Scholarships

  • Application of JPA Scholarship can be made online by accessing ePermohonan Biasiswa JPA PIDN;
  • Inquiries regarding technical problems while filling an online application form can be made by calling 03-88853453, 03-88853541 or 03-88853552. Lines are open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (Monday - Friday);
  • Enquiries regarding sponsorship program can be made by calling 03-88853049 (10 lines) on all working days from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or e-mail at
  • Application received after the closing date will not be entertained.

Check JPA Scholarship Application Results

The result of this JPA PIDN Scholarship (semakan keputusan permohonan biasiswa JPA PIDN) is expected to be released in July 2015 via

Forum Discussion: Biasiswa JPA Scholarship Application Process and Interview

Read more info on frequently-asked-question (FAQs), syarat-syarat permohonan and discuss JPA scholarship application with other applicants on this forum post. Ask question and get fast reply from your seniors and scholarship holders at SPM Student Malaysia online forum.


► Read more on JPA PIDN & PDDN Scholarship Application 2015 (Permohonan Biasiswa JPA Program Ijazah Dalam Negara)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Are you prepared for a research postgraduate study (Masters or PhD) in Malaysian universities?

Malaysia Scholarships 2015

  1. 20 May 2015: Maxis Scholarship for Excellence Awards
  2. 21 May 2015: Yayasan Bursa Malaysia Scholarships
  3. 29 May 2015: Putrajaya Perdana Berhad Scholarship Awards 2015
  4. 1 June 2015: Hong Leong Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Programme
  5. 30 June 2015: Education Ministry Bursaries (Bursary Pelajar Cemerlang SPM Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia KPM)
  6. 31 August 2015: Yaw Teck Seng Foundation Scholarships
  7. 36 Scholarships for IPTA Undergraduate Students
  8. Throughout the year: Intel Malaysia Scholarships
More scholarship openings available at 50+ Most Prestigious Scholarships for STPM & SPM Leavers (Biasiswa Pelajar SPM & STPM).

Are you prepared for a research postgraduate study (Masters or PhD) in Malaysian universities?

Realities of Postgraduate Education
Guest post by Dr. Christopher Teh Boon Sung (Submit your guest post and get published on this blog)

A PhD degree is not a souped-up Bachelor degree. You need to have very good reasons, the discipline, and the capability of pursuing a postgraduate research degree.

Some students go through a self-inflicted torrid time during their Masters or PhD programme in local Malaysian universities. There are many reasons for this, but they can be grouped into two issues. These students often have: 1) a wrong evaluation of their interests and capabilities, and 2) a wrong expectation of the amount of self-reliant work required from them in their postgraduate studies.

research postgraduate degree in a Malaysian university
Yes, yes, you are interested in a research postgraduate degree in a Malaysian university, but are you really prepared for it? (photo from

So, before you fill in the postgraduate study forms, you need to ask yourself the following questions.

1. Why do you want to do a research postgraduate study?

This is the most important question students should to ask themselves, but yet, students often neglect to do so. Doing a postgraduate study is not a customary progression after completing your first degree. And you should not do a Masters or PhD simply because some of your friends are doing it, or because you cannot find a job, or because you feel aimless after graduation.

Research work often involves plenty of lab analyses
Research work often involves plenty of work in labs (photo from

Unbelievably, one of my former (and failed) students once disclosed that she wanted a PhD simply because she like the title “Dr.” to precede her name! Some students also do a PhD with the belief that their employers would increase their salaries or their social status would rise.

A research postgraduate study should only be pursued if (and only if) you are interested in research or academic work. What you might be unaware is doing a research postgraduate study would limit your career options to only those in research and teaching. And even if you do find a job that is unrelated to research, do not expect your employer to pay you according to your highest training level. In other words, you would be paid according to your first-degree level. But in most cases, your job application would likely be rejected because you would be deemed over-qualified.

2. Do you have sufficient money?

Another often neglected question is to ask is if you have sufficient funds to support your postgraduate study. A Masters study would take two years, and a PhD four years. Shockingly, some foreign students have little qualms coming to Malaysia with insufficient money. God willing, they might say, part-time work or additional money would come later.

postgraduate studies scholarships are available to local Malaysian students
Shockingly, some students pursue their postgraduate studies with insufficient financial means. Although plenty of scholarships are available to local Malaysian students, these scholarships are typically unappreciated. These scholarships actually act to cause students to be lazy and slow down their work progress (photo from

When you are stressed out thinking of money, is there any room left in your concern for your research?

To put it simply, you must have sufficient funds to pay the tuition fees, accommodation, food, and other expenses.

And, no, part-time work is never a good option for additional income. The job, even though part-time, steals your precious time from research work. You must be fully focused on your research work. My students who have part time jobs have never been able to give their best effort in their research or to complete their studies in time – never.

But what about scholarships?

3. Can you get a scholarship? And would you even appreciate the scholarship if you get it?

Supervisors in Malaysian universities are blessed with ample research projects and with ample financial support for student scholarships. However, these scholarships are competitive. There is no guarantee you would get it because supervisors often have more than one student under their wings. Do not be surprised that a supervisor can have as many as five to twelve students at any one time.

My university, UPM, along with five other universities, is recognized as a Research University. This means, UPM gets additional funds to offer scholarships to postgraduate students. Local Malaysian students find it relatively easy to obtain one form of scholarship or another. Now, ironically, comes the problem with abundant scholarships. With plentiful of scholarships available to Malaysian students, you might think this would make these students work even harder and more appreciative, right? Wrong. Easy access to scholarships only makes some Malaysian students lazier and slower in their research work.

Foreign students have it harder. The only scholarship available to you in Malaysia is through your supervisor’s research funds. You need to ask your prospective supervisor even before you apply for a postgraduate study if he or she has sufficient funds to support you.

4. Is your family or partner supportive of your studies?

What most students fail to realize is doing a Masters and particularly a PhD can disrupt your family life and social relationships. I have seen more than one case where parents threaten to disown their children because their children wanted to pursue a postgraduate study. This is because some parents fail to appreciate or are naïve about postgraduate studies. These parents think a postgraduate study is an unnecessary and additional financial burden to continue to support the children’s seemingly never-ending studies.

Support from family members in your postgraduate study
Support from family members and/or your partner can be crucial in your postgraduate study. They can derail your studies as easily as they can support you (photo from

I have seen one of my former students receiving ridicule from relatives and even from family members when they compare her to her ex-course mates who have already graduated (from Bachelor) and who are earning good money while she still slogs through a Masters programme.

I have seen a marriage end up as a divorce because the wife cannot stand being alone for long periods whilst the husband was busy at the field or lab. I have seen a long-term relationship break up due to one partner (girlfriend) pursuing a PhD, while the other partner (boyfriend) was not. Intellectually, it appeared, they grew apart. On a personal note, my own ten-year-old relationship with my former girlfriend broke down because of my long absence while I pursued my PhD in the UK while she remained at home in Malaysia (no, long distance relationship do not work).

I have seen one student who was so completely stressed out from his PhD that he was admitted to a hospital mental health ward … twice. And I have seen both husband and wife (both PhD students at the same time) stressed out of having to take care of their newborn baby, their financial difficulties, and their respective research; so stressed the husband was that he was close to tears as he disclosed his troubles to me in my office.

Doing a research postgraduate study is stressful because it competes with your family or your partner for your time, energy, devotion, and concentration. So, you may be ready to do a PhD, but is your family or partner ready?

5. How is your English?

English is the lingua franca in academia. Unfortunately, the level of English among students (both Malaysians and foreigners) in Malaysian universities often range between poor to atrocious. Yes, English courses (even from British Council) are easily available, but the level of English proficiency required in science is much higher than what can be taught in these English language centers. It is one thing in being able to read and speak conversational English such as:
“I would like to see my supervisor. May I know when he is free to see me?”
and wholly different in being able to read scientific text and actually understand what the whole text is saying, such as:
“…factors of aggregate stability can interact with one another; meaning that a factor may not, by itself, have a unique contribution to aggregate stability. Instead, it jointly contributes with another factor or factors to affect aggregate stability. Such jointly contributions cannot be measured by simple linear regression or by correlations…”.
So, if your command of English is less than desired, how far are you willing to work to improve it? You simply cannot escape achieving at least a good level of English language proficiency in science.

6. Are you willing to learn to read and write a lot?

Laziness to read and write scientific papers is a key problem among postgraduate students. Part of this problem is the poor level of English proficiency among the students.

Plenty of reading is required in research postgraduate study
Plenty of reading is required in research postgraduate study (photo from

You need to start reading—and read a lot—early in your research work. You need to understand the problems, gaps in knowledge, issues, and latest findings in your research area. When you read enough, you feel more confident and competent in your work. Instead, students often start to read only when it is time to write their thesis.

And how much should you read? One journal per day, as once pledged by my former (and failed) student? No. You read as much as you can or as needed. Contrary to a common notion among students, you do not have to read a book or journal paper from front to back like a novel or story book.

You only read parts of a book or paper that are relevant or for information you require. Yes, there would be books or papers which you will read front-to-back and many times over because they are most relevant to your research, but certainly not all documents should be treated as such.

Unfortunately, poor comprehension and low concentration skills hamper reading. Students may understand the individual words that make up a text, but yet fail to understand what the whole text means.

Lastly, you need to write. You must get your research published, but not just in any journal, but also preferably in high impact journals. Unfortunately, there are many so-called scientific journals out there, ready to publish your work, sometimes as fast as within a week. These journals require payment, which itself is not unusual because some high impact journals do carry page charges, but the problem is these so-called journals carry low quality research papers, sometimes complete with grammar and spelling errors and missing references.

Students must publish theirs work in good journals
Students must publish their work in good journals (photo from

7. Are you self-reliant?

Self reliance is a very essential ingredient in all good research students. Masters and PhD study is a test on independent work. You must plan your research work and keep to the schedule. It isn’t your supervisor’s duties to accompany you to the lab or to the field all the time.

Research planning and schedule are crucial.
Self reliance is crucial in research. It means able to go out to the field to collect data, for example. This was one of my previous research with my former student.

It is your supervisor’s duties to provide financial support for your research (such as to purchase chemicals or research equipment) or networking assistance in any research collaboration with external organizations. But, ultimately, it is you who have to plan and setup the lab and/or field experiments, collect and analyze the data, and interpret the results. This includes solving problems that often crop up unexpectedly in research work.

Your supervisor guides and advises you in your research but not do all of your statistical work and interpret your analyses.

Self reliance is such an important criterion that it cannot be stressed often enough. Used to being spoon-fed with information and work being carried out for them, students often struggle to prepare, let alone execute and complete, a series of experiments on their own. Deadlines are never self-imposed, so their work is often completed late and shoddy, lowering the quality of research.

Self reliance also means self study, where you learn to overcome your knowledge deficiencies through reading, consultations, and hands-on practice. No one knows everything or is talented in all aspects. The crux is being able to seek out the relevant information and to do it diligently to overcome our knowledge or technical skill weaknesses.

Consequently, these seven questions are essential questions you need to ask yourself. This article is not about the nitty-gritty details about postgraduate application, as universities’ websites carry those information, but it is about whether you should be pursuing a Masters or a PhD programme.

My PhD student and I discussing some finer points in our research.
My PhD student, Mohsen, and I (left) discussing about some finer points in his research project.

Stress, difficulties, sleepless nights, and delays are part and parcel of any research work. In fact, they are to be expected. But what becomes an unrewarding Masters or PhD experience is when students come unprepared in terms of insufficient financial means, wrong attitude and expectations, and inadequate basic knowledge and skills.

Republished with permission. Original article is here. Christopher Teh Boon Sung is a senior lecturer from Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang. He obtained his PhD in Agriculture from The University of Reading, UK.

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

7 Ways for Interns to Succeed Working with the Media

Malaysia Scholarships 2015

  1. 20 May 2015: Maxis Scholarship for Excellence Awards
  2. 21 May 2015: Yayasan Bursa Malaysia Scholarships
  3. 1 June 2015: Hong Leong Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Programme
  4. 30 June 2015: Education Ministry Bursaries (Bursary Pelajar Cemerlang SPM Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia KPM)
  5. 31 August 2015: Yaw Teck Seng Foundation Scholarships
  6. 36 Scholarships for IPTA Undergraduate Students
  7. Throughout the year: Intel Malaysia Scholarships
More scholarship openings available at 50+ Most Prestigious Scholarships for STPM & SPM Leavers (Biasiswa Pelajar SPM & STPM).

7 Ways for Interns to Succeed Working with the Media

by Josephine J [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

Internship Tips for Media Interns
So you've secured an internship as an intern reporter with a media organisation. Congratulations!

I've been a journalist with a mainstream English daily for more than three years and I've encountered my fair share of interns. I was even an intern myself too at the same newspaper organisation several years ago, so I know what it's like to be the clueless newbie.

As a senior colleague, I had a great experience working with and teaching some of the interns the ropes of being a good journalist. I was glad to share my knowledge with those who were willing to learn and help them when they were in a tight spot. At times, I found myself learning new things from the interns as well.

Take note that whether it's a newspaper, online news portal or a TV news station that you are attached to, the following tips generally apply to all. Whether it's your first or second time interning with a media company, rest assured that you would find this almost comprehensive guide a useful one towards a media internship success of sorts.

1. Work hard, work smart, work fast

This is of course, the kind of advice that has been ingrained in us in order to achieve what we want in life. But seriously, by working hard and working smart, you could go places and reap the benefits of what you sow. Even if it is just an internship and you are probably poorly paid, make use of this opportunity to do your best and show your bosses what you've got.

Journalists do not work the fixed number of hours, which is from 9 to 5. Assignments can begin as early as 5am and end as late as after midnight. Crime reporters are practically on call 24/7 and they would have to rush to the crime scene in the wee hours of the morning. Interns are normally spared from working during these bizarre hours but if you love what you do and want to prosper in the press line, know what you are in for.

2. Be willing to learn

It is common knowledge that the more you know, the further you will go. You may think you know everything but the harsh truth is no one does.

Listen and learn when your senior colleague is teaching you something new or even rebuking you for an error in your news story. Any type of error in a news story is not to be taken lightly as it would cause unnecessary consequences that could affect the newspaper, the reporter and the people involved in the story (if any).

3. Ask questions

This goes hand in hand with learning new things. Remember to always ask at the earliest moment possible on what you want to know. You might find yourself in a sticky situation because you didn't know what to do and you smack yourself in the head because you didn't ask.

Prepare your list of work-related questions and ask a friendly senior colleague to answer them for you. Approach them when they don't seem busy and they will happily help you out with what you need to know. If you like, you can also approach the news editors for advice. They'd be happy to know that you are willing to learn more about your work surroundings and would remember you better.

4. Be humble

Again, if you think you know everything or that your language skills are better than others, there's no need to be stuck up about it. No one likes an arrogant person, so get off your high horse. You will be more likeable when you are down-to-earth and have a friendly personality. Office gossip runs high especially in a media organisation. So if an intern sticks out like a sore thumb, there's no need to guess who would be among the main topics of the conversations.

Speaking of gossip, keep out of office politics. Try not to engage in gossip of your senior colleagues or of your fellow intern colleagues. Stay neutral and occupy yourself with work.

5. Have common sense

This is a bit tricky. What one might regard as normal might seem peculiar to another. Be aware of how you conduct yourself when placed in various kinds of situations. For example, if you are to cover court proceedings, try not to speak loudly about the accused when his or her family members are nearby. The accused may be on trial for an alleged offence but it's downright disrespectful to be speaking ill of him/her in the presence of their family members or relatives.

Also, don't whine. Nobody likes a whiner either.

6. Be thick-skinned

In many movies, news reporters are mostly portrayed in a negative light. They seem pushy, persistent and annoying. Don't be surprised but in the real press line, it's all so true. A reporter has the responsibility to gather as many facts as possible, whether it's on their own accord or it's an order from the editor. When you find yourself stalking a person for a comment or to take a photograph, you will most likely be subjected to verbal abuse from them or their friends and supporters. Whatever it is, take it in stride because it is after all your job.

Another time to be thick-skinned is if your superiors and editors, for any reason, reprimand you. Some of them may be ruthless in their words but all they want is for you to learn and ensure that you don't repeat your mistake. Editors are busy people; so don't take it to heart if they only seem to bark orders at you. Remember that they are also human and can be the nicest people around once you get to know them better.

7. Have patience and persevere

If you are new to the workings of the press line, it may initially seem daunting but try not to feel overwhelmed. Take it all in at your own time because you will indeed learn something new every day and you will improve as time goes by.

Your internship stint is possibly one of the most important phases of your life, so try not to waste this opportunity to learn and improve yourself as a person. Even if along the way, you don't feel that you are suited to be a journalist, give your best nevertheless. Your supervisor, who is most probably the news editor, will still grade your performance and they will know how hard you have worked.

Here's to hoping that you have benefited from the seven tips provided for you to succeed as an intern with a media organisation.

It's important to give your best at work but it does no one any good if you overwork yourself and fall sick because of it. Remember to have fun and keep an open mind as you explore the wonderful, fast-paced world of journalism.

Josephine J (@josephinejalleh), 27, is a freelance writer, blogger, aspiring travel writer and former journalist. Her working stint as a news journalist with a mainstream English daily for more than three years has undoubtedly been one of her most unforgettable life experiences ever. She is most grateful to her former colleagues and bosses who have painstakingly guided, nurtured and at times, reprimanded her in her work. Though she misses her days in journalism, Josephine has ventured into freelance writing and further studies to seek new knowledge and experiences.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Complete Guide to Studying in Singapore

Guest post by Akansha Arora (Submit your essay)

How about pursuing your further studies in a country that is one of the most vibrant and modern and has an excellent education system. Not only quality, Singapore also brings to you numerous opportunities for employment. If you are one of them wishing to study in Singapore, read the following article to know about everything that you need to study in Singapore.

The ‘global schoolhouse’ as the country is often referred as to marks a strong impact on the education system of Singapore. The country prides in itself for providing excellent quality education and maintaining high standards of teaching and learning. The country offers you opportunities of practical education along with the theory lessons. So, a student that graduates out of a university in Singapore is ready for corporate placements.

The improvising of quality standards in Singapore can go back to the British Rule in the country where British-based education was introduced. Today, it is one of the leaders in higher education not only in Asia but the world.

Before you choose Singapore as your study abroad destination, satisfy yourself with some facts.

Some Facts about Education in Singapore

Why Singapore? If this question is still playing in your head and then the facts will convince you for sure.
  • With its six national universities and more than 30,000 students in the two largest universities, Singapore sure is a welcoming country for students
  • The National University of Singapore is ranked amongst top universities in fields like mechanical engineering, law, geography, communication and media studies, statics and modern language.
  • Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University are among other top universities in Singapore
  • A number of foreign universities have their campuses in Singapore
  • Other than the national universities, Singapore also has a number of private institutions
  • International Students in Singapore account more than 15% of the total students studying there
  • The official language of instruction in Singapore is English

Money Matters: Know the Cost of Studying and Living in Singapore

Tuition Grant Singapore Ministry of Education
Tuition Fees: If compared to the three big players in study abroad destinations; The UK, the USA and Australia, then Singapore has the most reasonable cost of living and education. This is another reason that pulls a lot of students towards Singapore.

The tuition fees and education costs depend on the course and university that you choose to study. On an average a course in Singapore would cost you around 14,000 SGD (Singapore Dollar).

You can apply for tuition grants to the Singaporean Ministry of Education even if you are an international student. In return the Ministry of Education signs a bond that requires you to work for a minimum of three years in the country once you finish the course.

Cost of Living: Singapore offers one of the best standards of living in Asia. The cost of living if compared to the US, UK and Australia is pretty less. On an average the cost of living can cost you between 750 SGD and 2,000 SGD. It depends a lot on how a person decides to live in the country.

The following table summarizes the cost that you will have to bear for basic necessities:

Cost (in SGD)
Public Transport
30 onwards
Personal Expenses

Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Singapore depends on the type of accommodation, its demand, location, facilities etc. The place can cost you a price that is between SGD 400 to SGD 1600. Other than these, the universities have hostel accommodation at a reasonable price sometimes included in the tuition fees.

How to Get There? – Visas

Guide to Studying in Singapore for Malaysian Students
Like every country, international students who wish to study in Singapore will require a student visa to do so. The process of visa application is directly linked to the university application and every student who is accepted at the university will receive a letter of acceptance or approval. With this letter of approval, the students receive a visa that can be used at entry points in the country. There is no such need of applying a visa otherwise.

Other than this, there is one more thing that is needed to study in Singapore. It is a student pass. It is one such documents that allows you to work while you are studying. This student pass is issued by signing up to the Special Pass Online Application and Registration System. Apply for this pass two months before the course commences.

Know Singapore

Agreed that the basic purpose of you being there is education. But other than that there are some things that you must know so that you can live a memorable life during your tenure in the country. The nation is multicultural that has excellent opportunities both in terms of professional life and social life.

The climate of the nation is hot and humid almost all months of the year. Major tourist destinations in and around Singapore include:
  • Singapore Zoo
  • The Orchard Road District
  • Sentosa Island
  • Tiger Sky Tower
  • Shopping Belts
Do not miss these when you are staying in Singapore.


One of the best developed economies in Asia, Singapore is considered as a major hub of global commerce and trade. Hence, the courses offered by the universities and the cost of living is manageable and relatively less than the other developed nations of the world.

Recommended reading: Why studying in Singapore is not as good as you think?

Akansha Arora
Akansha Arora is a professional writer and blogger who loves to pen down her views on a number of topics that interest a reader. She writes keeping in mind the current scenarios and wishes to keep her readers well informed. The above article guides you about everything if you wish to study in Singapore. You can follow her on

► Read more on Complete Guide to Studying in Singapore

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My AIESEC Exchange to Sao Carlos, Brazil

Testimonial: AIESEC Exchange to Sao Carlos, Brazil

Guest post by Zhi Kai Chong (submit your guest post and get featured here)

31st December 2014, I started my exciting journey to Brazil under the Global Community Development Project by AIESEC. The six-week exchange was a life-changing experience that broadened my knowledge and opened myself to the world. I will elaborate and evaluate my exchange experience from two perspectives; the cultural aspect and the project.

South America is a land that not many of us have explored. Viewing exchange as an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone, I decided not to choose ‘conventional’ AIESEC exchange countries like China and Taiwan. Selecting Brazil as my destination of exchange allowed me to challenge language barrier and experience culture shock, which in turn made me learn Portuguese and understand cultures on the other side of the world.

Samba Carnival at Sao Paulo
Samba Carnival at Sao Paulo
After looking through the AIESEC platform, I was interested in the Smarketing Project, which aimed to promote and raise awareness about community organizations via marketing strategies. My application was successful and I matched with AIESEC Sao Carlos, in a town named Sao Carlos in the state of Sao Paulo.

I was nervous before my trip to Brazil, as it was my first time travelling alone and out of Asia. Worried that I could not make it there, I finally survived my journey, thanks to the friendly Brazilians who helped me in buying bus tickets, who showed me the way, and who became my translators. During the first few days of my stay, I missed home very much and couldn’t wait to return to Malaysia. But eventually I got used to the town and people, and I started to enjoy my experience.

Say 'Ola' to these cute people!
Say 'Ola' to these cute people!
Under the Smarketing Project, I worked in a kindergarten, aiming to help the organization to achieve greater publicity through various creative approaches. The kindergarten, Nave Sal da Terra (translate: Salt of the Earth), was a kindergarten with about 200 children, receiving exchange participants from 2 projects, namely Smarketing and Gira Mundo Project. The vast number of lively children gave exchange participants from Gira Mundo a great opportunity to educate and play with the kids. For Smarketing trainees, we worked in a separate office in the downtown of Sao Carlos.

However, things did not proceed smoothly. Although the office was comfortably set up, I and other project trainees were unable to communicate effectively with the kindergarten workers. Not only there existed language differences, the organization did not truly value our voluntary contribution, probably due to the perception that the exchange trainees were not well-trained. A spate of problems arose because we did not know how to implement the proposed marketing plans, largely in terms of administration procedures. Hence, I decided to lodge my unpleasant experience to AIESEC Sao Carlos, and they transferred me to a new organisation.

Group photo with the founder, teachers and kids of the Nave Sal da Terra
Group photo with the founder, teachers and kids of the Nave Sal da Terra
At the new organisation, Estrela da Manha (translate: The Morning Star), I worked with another 2 trainees from Peru. The workers there were approachable and were more willing to assist us in bringing the most of our exchange program. At that point in time, marketing plans were difficult to be implemented too, because I was left with 3 weeks of project duration, so I only drafted some marketing plans for the organisation in the foreseeable future. Most of the time, I played with infants of age 2-5 (not children, it is an infant house) and assisted teachers from all aspects. Unlike teenagers or school students, we could not draft any teaching or activity plans to teach the babies because they were too young to learn anything.

Despite the negative issues in my project, during the exchange period, there were definitely memories worth reminiscing. I planned on weekdays on places to travel, and I travelled during weekends with other AIESEC members or exchange participants. The Iguasu Falls, which is situated at the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, is just too amazing to visit. During the exchange period also, I met many exchange participants from various countries, Russia, Switzerland, Lebanon, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Mexico and Bolivia, just to name a few. The opportunity to gather under the same roof and work together as a team is indeed a great exposure. The friendship ties that were formed during my exchange are for life. I could not envision myself few months back to have acquaintances all across the world today.

Travelling with this lovely bunch of friends @Rio de Janeiro
Travelling with this lovely bunch of friends @Rio de Janeiro
Looking back, I see changes in myself as a consequence of the exchange. I see myself more as a global citizen, being not only able to learn diverse cultures, world history and issues happening around the globe, but also get to know my own country and culture better through cultural sharing sessions! Throughout the exchange period, I strived to learn Portuguese, which is something completely different from my field of study. I was proud to be able to comprehend basic day-to-day conversations at the end of the day. I also learnt the meaning of lifelong learning.

Next, I see greater independence in myself. I planned my own trips, I did my own house chores, and I learnt to settle problems on my own. Months away from home made me feel like a grown up. From the project itself also, I did learn something - to manage expectations. Although the marketing side of the project did not work well, I somehow enjoyed playing with kids. I explored something that I thought I would not like to do, and the kids actually taught me back something. I saw them played, fell down, cried, but stood up again and again to smile. Isn’t this what we should practice in life when we are faced with difficult times? It was not completely bad at all to not be able to hone my marketing skills!

Of course, during the course of taking care the kids, I understood how not to work in a company. I better appreciate the importance of people, communication and culture in bringing an organization to greater heights. These exposure allowed me to better prepare myself as part of the future workforce in society.

The Iguasu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world
The Iguasu Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world
To sum it up, my exchange is extremely satisfying. I embraced different social culture, met acquaintances and travelled to many amazing attractions. I am also proud to say, I have travelled to South America and have introduced Malaysia at a global level, much more than the just the name of Kuala Lumpur. Despite the ups and downs, it is a big YES from me to endorse an exchange. I will definitely go for an exchange again if time permits. Because exchange is done in a different country, one can experience different culture and way of life. Going for an exchange also serves a noble purpose to volunteer and make an impact in a community, making ourselves outstanding as a global citizen. It was a great way to kick start 2015.

Signing off,
Zhi Kai Chong

AIESEC in Malaysia, Sunway:

Malaysia AIESEC Exchange Programme Application

Directly impact communities and at the same time discover yourself and your leadership style!

Find out more at

OR drop us a message ;-)

Deadline: 30 April 2015 (Thursday) | 2359 HRS

► Read more on My AIESEC Exchange to Sao Carlos, Brazil

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