Saturday, November 8, 2008

The final chapter?

This course is coming to an end, and I must say this is going to be more bitter then sweet. Never have I really enjoyed a module so much. Mainly because I got to know everyone in the class and we could communicate well with each other. Compare to some other modules where you would not even know the person who sits beside you in lecture, this module has been a GREAT experience. I just LOVE the level of interaction that is in the class and I never got drowsy or bored throughout the classes.

My understanding of the value on having effective communications skills have not change throughout the course, however the skills I have, had. I have gained a myriad of communication skills, from the basics of writing (the seven Cs) to writing for a job application. All which are skills that will be extremely useful throughout my studies and my future career. Furthermore all this skills has been learned under cheerful and comfortable environment and thus making it all the more memorable.

However, I must say that the skills I learned are just baby steps, far from being an expert in them. At least there is a start. And with the great help from Brad and my classmates... no, correction, friends, I manage to build a strong base for to develop my skills even further. Also along the way, Brad never failed to share some of life’s lessons that he learned in order to help us younglings.

The course has also enlightened me on certain aspects of report writing. Such as one should not be stuck to a certain report style and should always be flexible in order to adjust to different systems. I have also learned the proper usage of can, could, will, would, shall and should. I never understood the correct way to use them until Brad explained it to me. Also the course has helped me a lot in writing for a job application. Believe it or not, I have never written a proper resume or a cover letter till now. So the course was a great help in learning how to write a proper one.

Finally I would like to say that though the course’s title is Professional Communications, there were also a lot of non-professional communications going around. Making new friends is always a wonderful part of life and so is learning. I really enjoyed this course and I am grateful I enrolled/bid in it. Sadly it’s coming to an end and we would have to part our ways, but I am sure we would still be able to keep in touch. Or is there a Professional Communication level 3000 module =D?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Jun Yen is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Life Science in the National University of Singapore (NUS). Being highly driven by curiosity and interest on Life and Biology, he highly involves himself in the research field. A member of the Special Program in Science, he is currently undergoing a one year research project (UROPS) on the effect of CDDO-TFEA on Alzheimer induced mice under the guidance of Dr. Sashi Kesavapany.

He was part of the organizing committee for freshman orientation projects for Malaysian students and has no problem in working with strangers. As much as he enjoys his work, he is a strong believer in the importance of a good quality of life and enjoys indulging himself in social gatherings and relaxation. He holds to the quote:

"Life Is A Challenge - Meet It! Life Is A Song - Sing It! Life Is A Dream - Realize It! Life Is A Game - Play It! Life Is Love - Enjoy It!"- Sathya Sai Baba

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Looking back...

I am glad to announce that our project is nearing its completion! With the main part behind us, all that is left to would be checking for language and format details. Allow me a brief moment of relaxation. With a BIG sigh of relief of course :


Okay, now I'm ready to review the entire project. It started out in an awkward situation, I mixed up my group members names while they got mine right. It was quite and embarrassing moment. However after that we got to a quick start.

Throughout my years in NUS, I have only a few chances to undergo a project with students from another major. So most of the times I'm with students of the major doing the same topic, mainly Biology. Since most of the project uses the same format for reports I have become accustomed them. Too accustomed.

Since I have little exposure to other "worlds" I was quite daunted when Brad show us how the report format would be. I kept thinking: that shouldn't be acceptable, the labeling is wrong, shouldn't it be this way? and so on. After awhile though, I began to realize there isn't a strict format on how some letter or report should be.

I guess in a way this is also another cultural experience, albeit its on writing styles. This shows that there is always a norm for something in different places be it location or papers. The experience I gain from this also tells me that I am a little too rigid on my mindset of how things should be. Time to change and be more flexible and adaptable to changes.

Also I am surprised to say how efficient my group mates are. Previously on report projects, I use to have meetings with group mates and for some reason we never progress anywhere. I end up being frustrated as not only no work was done, precious time was also wasted. With Xin Yi and Pei Rong however, we always manage to tackle the issues and most of the time, has extra time to spare. Not to forget Brad's help on issues where we were stuck and confused. Though we had little communication, we always manage to get the point across to each other and therefore leading to the successful completion of the project.

This was a wonderful experience, no other project has gone as smooth as this one. I really owe it to both Pei Rong and Xin Yi to make the project enjoyable. And they manage to do it while having their midterm exams during the process. I would like to take the chance to thank them for the wonderful experience and for their patient and understanding through the project.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cultural Differences: Is it safe to cross the zebra crossing?

I have studied in Singapore for almost 2.25 years now and from the time I spend in Singapore, I noticed that people in Singapore strictly follow rules. This may not be interesting for some but for me who came from my little island, Penang, it is definitely a new cultural experience.
For example, in Singapore, when you use the zebra-crossing to cross the road, cars actually STOP for you! Also I noticed that most people in Singapore do not bother to look both ways when they use the zebra-crossing and just walk across casually even if there were incoming cars.

I find this very intriguing as back in Penang if you were to just walk casually across a zebra-crossing you would get cars zooming pass in front of you or worst, a car coming to a screeching stop right next to you with the driver yelling some curse words which contains a mixture of Chinese, Malay and Indian curses. Sure you could wait for the cars to stop for you before crossing the road but I guess you would be waiting for a looooooooooooooooooooong time before that happens.

This reminds me of a group of tourist (probably Singaporean) that I met who were trying to cross a busy road to a mall. They were using a zebra-crossing and tried to walk across when they were blasted by a horn of a car which came to a screeching stop to avoid colliding with them. Shocked, they jumped back onto the pavement with a furious and puzzled look among each other and the car just drove by. I made eye contact with them and with a smile and a shrug led them using the “correct way” to cross the road. That is to look for cars on one side of the road (it was a two way road) and walk across while there is a gap in the traffic and stand on the dividing line (as cars zoom pass you on both your front and back) to wait for yet another gap in the traffic to finally get to the other side.

I related this story to my friends from India once and they stated that the condition is similar in India if not worst. I have seen several clips on the Indian traffic condition and I have to agree it IS worst. However with the high density of people in India, I guess it was unavoidable. Recently when I have been back to Penang, the government has built speed bumps which are close to zebra-crossings in order to slowdown the traffic to allow for safe pedestrian passage. If only they did it earlier so that the poor tourists did not have to undergo the near heart attack experience.

I do enjoy the proper road rules in Singapore, to be able to cross the road safely without worrying that you could be rammed over by a speeding truck and become road kill does give an ease of mind. Not to mention that I feel "important" to an extend when cars stop for me to walk across the road.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


The main post for this week is on the previous post. Pls do read this post if you have the time :)

Since the theme of our research is: GREEN
I could not resist sharing a beutiful song with all of us.
It is one of my favourite songs.
The title of the song is "Hijau" which meens green in malay and is sang by
Zainal Abidin, a great and respected singer from Malaysia.
Below you would find the lyrics and translation for the song. Excuse the direct translation
as I tried my best to translate it into english. Also the chorus labeled with **** is in kelantanese.
Notice the vast difference between normal Malay and Kelantanese malay.

Please do enjoy the song from the player to your right --->
Click to play and enjoy the song :)

Bumi yang tiada rimba.....................The earth without the forest
Seumpama hamba ............................Is like a slave
Dia dicemar manusia ........................She is polluted by humans
Yang jahil ketawa ..............................Who laugh away ignorantly

Bumi yang tiada udara .....................The earth with air
Bagai tiada nyawa .............................Is like without life
Pasti hilang suatu hari ......................Surely one day it will be gone
Tanpa disedari ...................................Without anyone noticing

Bumi tanpa lautan............................. The earth without the ocean
Akan kehausan ...................................Will thirst
Pasti lambat laun hilang ....................Sooner or later it will be gone
Duniaku yang malang......................... My unfortunate Earth

Dewasa ini kita saling merayakan ...................This days we keep celebrating
Kejayaan yang akhirnya membinasakan .......The acheivements which will brings destruction
Apalah gunanya kematangan fikiran ..............Whats the use of the maturity of the mind
Bila di jiwa kita masih lagi muda .....................When in the soul we are still young
Dan mentah ........................................................and gullible (direct translation means "raw")
Ku lihat hijau .......................................................I could see green

Bumiku yang kian pudar................................... My earth which is fading away
Siapa yang melihat .............................................with no one watching it
Di kala kita tersedar ...........................................By the time we realize
Mungkinkah terlewat......................................... It might have been too late

Korupsi,opresi,obsesi diri ..................Corruption,oppresion, self obssession
Polusi,depressi,di bumi,kini ...............Pollution, depression, on earth, today

Oh..anok-anok ....................................Ohh.. the children
tokleh meghaso mandi laok ..............Could not enjoy bathing in the sea
Besaing,maing ghama-ghama ...........Playing together marilly
Ale lo ni tuo umurnyo bejuto ..............Her age is in the millions
Kito usoho ..............................................We should work on
Jauhke dari malapetako ......................distancing Her away from disaster
Ozon lo ni koho nipih nak nak aghi .....The ozon layer is becoming thinner
Keno make asak .....................................being eaten away by smoke
Hok biso wei,pasa maknusio .................which are poisonous, because of man
Seghemo bendo-bendo di dunio ...........All the beings on Earth
Tokleh tehe .............................................would not stand
Sapa bilo-bilo ...........................................until forever

A flip is all it takes !

How many times has it been since you left your light or fan on when you went out of a room? For me? It's countless of times, especially when I was staying in campus as the electrical bill has been counted into the fixed hostel fees. Also, most of us who are staying with our parents tend to neglect the importance of flipping the switch, such as for the toilet after you have done with you business.

Sure we all know we are suppose to save electricity whenever we can and all it takes is just a flip of a switch to do so. And yet more often then not, we neglect to do so, most of the time the reason being "I was in a rush" or "Too troublesome since i have to on it again soon". I have to admit, this was how i acted when I was with my parents and stayed in the hostel. There was a semester when i NEVER turned off my fan unless i will be away for a long period of time (a few days).Why? Well leaving the fan on makes the room feel cooler once i open the door, though the coolness could have been achieve just by switching on the fan for a few minutes. During that time I also had the mindset of "Since i paid the hostel fees, i might as well make full use of it." By now i might have earned the glare from environmentalist since I am contributing to global warming by doing so. Don't get me wrong, I am an environmentalist myself, I love nature, I recycle paper and cans and such. Just when it came to electricity, I could not feel/see the impact of wasting it since after all, I do not see the bill.

That is, until i moved out to stay on my own. It is a different experience when you have to pay for your own bill, usually it's either paid by our parents or paid for already. When you have the bill and the numbers staring back at you, you will finally realize the amount of electricity you have wasted by not flipping that switch when you should. If you don't realize it, your wallet would be the one feeling the pain.

That being said, I would like to perform a research on whether students turned off all their electrical appliances (mainly lights and fan) before leaving their room. Factors that would also be taken into account are whether their living in campus hostels, with their parents or renting a room outside. Also it would be more interesting to divide the data into males and females. I have heard that women tend to off their switches more often compared to men.

Researh questions:
Does students who see their bills/pay for the bills are more aware on conserving energy compare to those who do not?

The research details would be as follows:

Students which stays with their parents or in campus would neglect to off the switch more often compared to students who have to pay for their own bills.
A side experiment could also be done with the following hypothesis:
Men tend to neglect to off the switch more often compared to women.

Problem statement.

The objective of this study is to analyze the awareness of students on turning off their appliances when they leave the room and whether the place they live in (or seeing the bill) and their sex affects their behavior.

The objective of the study is to determine whether students who are paying for their own bills are more aware on saving energy compared to those who do not have to.

Purpose statement.

The objective of this study is to determine if students who have to pay their own bills/see the bills would be more aware on conserving energy. Another objective would be to find out whether awareness of students on conserving energy could be increased by informing them on their energy usage and thus devising a way to cultivate a habit for students to turn off their switches when not in use.

**Save the earth, a flip of a switch is all its takes**


Thursday, September 4, 2008

The two sides of the same coin: Part 2

For the first post, please scroll down to the previous post.
Here is the second part of the story, from the supervisors point of view:

You're a senior researcher in a lab and for once, the professor handed you an important research project. Since it is the first time you got such a big project, you felt the stress from it. Several days into the project you find that the experiments were not going really well since the experiments requires new techniques that you have not fully master.

One day your professor assigns to you a student researcher who is in his third year of his undergraduate studies. You think that since he is in his third year, he should have gained enough lab experience to do proper lab work. (This presumption is however wrong, class lab experience that he has is insufficient to do proper work without supervision in a working lab. In class labs, students are guided closely step by step by instructions and TAs which is different from a working lab.

With that presumption in mind you handed him the project he is suppose to run on and proceed on with your own research. Once in awhile you would check in onto his progress and you found that he appears clumsy in his work. Due to your presumption on his lab skills, you think that he is fooling around in the lab and therefore gave him stern instructions in order to tell him to be serious about his lab work. For some reason, you also find that he seems to be very quite and timid when you are around however other lab mates says otherwise.
Besides that you find that he never asked for a proper meeting for his research project before so let it passed as "he knows what he is doing". He does occasionally ask you about the project, however you are normally in the midst of an experiment and therefore you could not give him your full attention.

One day you found out from a lab mate that he labeled you "dragon lady" and you are upset for receiving such unjust remarks from him. Being more mature, you decided to let this pass by and not bring the issue up. You do however begin to work more on your research and have less time to spend on the student.

As you continue to check on the student, you find that he is not progressing in his research as expected and therefore you decided that you should set a lab meeting with him and the professor the figure out the problem.


This was the other part of the story. However let's consider this point, most of the time the senior staff would presume that the newer people will approach them by themselves if they have any issue and often has presumption on the newer staffs capabilities. Since senior staffs also have their own work to complete while newer staffs has less workload place on them, the seniors tend to concentrate more on their work and less on the newer staffs.

As a senior, how should we act in such situations? Especially when you have higher expectation on performance on you from your boss since you are more senior then the newer staffs.