Embarking on the journey of pursuing a Master of Computing (MComp) with a specialization in Infocomm Security at the National University of Singapore (NUS) was not a straightforward decision. My path to NUS involved applying to several universities in the European Union, with Singapore being an unexpected but ultimately rewarding destination.

The above paragraph is what ChatGPT generated when I asked it to suggest an opening for a blog. The interesting thing about this is that I felt that I could probably just use that and anyone reading might not sense it’s written by an AI. However, during my final review of the post when I read that paragraph all I could picture was my brother(s) making fun of me for using an AI-generated text in my casual blog post. Anyway, I’m gonna leave it like that and continue with the post.

As I sent out applications to various EU universities, NUS was suggested to me by my CEO, Tarah Wheeler, at that time. Though I didn’t anticipate getting selected, the acceptance letter from NUS changed the trajectory of my academic journey. The decision to move to a whole new country to pursue a master’s was exciting yet daunting, especially considering Singapore’s reputation as one of the most expensive countries to live in. I remember Tarah telling me, and I quote, “Singapore is pretty expensive, even for me.”

To be honest, I genuinely wanted to accept the offer from one of the European universities, but it was hard to argue a case for those universities when you have NUS as one of the options. And also at that time, I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to study during my master’s. But I did know why I was doing it; I was bored with the work-life I had at that time, even though I had just been working for approximately 2 years. The work I was doing wasn’t very challenging or new to me; the thing that kept me there was the good pay and the amazing people. But those reasons aren’t good enough for the long term. Also, I’m not gonna lie; I kind of wanted to just go outside the country, live by myself, and see if all those “travel in your youth” quotes were true or just some cheesy bullshit.

Anyway, I got the offer, accepted it, and moved to Singapore. I think the biggest challenge of moving to any country is accommodation. The weird thing is that NUS doesn’t prioritize master’s students for hostels/dorms, so students end up looking for private accommodation. And house rent is probably one of the few things that just doesn’t make sense in SG. The public transport, the food, and the utilities all kind of make sense there, but the rent is just the landlord throwing out a random number at you, and you have no other option. I eventually found a place, moved in, and I would continue to listen to the “you are overpaying” talk for the next 3/4 months.

In my first semester, I started pretty confused about how many modules to take and which ones to go for. The whole XYZ versus ABC dilemma had me scratching my head – is XYZ better, or is ABC the easier route? I went around asking anyone who’d share their thoughts, and it turned out everyone had a different take. Some said handling 4 courses in a semester would be tough, others thought it was a walk in the park. Some warned that 5000-level courses are tricky, while some bragged about knowing folks who juggled 5 modules without breaking a sweat.

What I’ve figured out this semester is that it’s not about the number of modules; it’s about picking ones you’re even slightly interested in. Handling 4 modules was a bit tricky, sure, but not crazy hard. Here’s my tip for anyone reading this hoping for some insider info: figure out what you want from your master’s. If it’s about learning or getting some experience before diving into a Ph.D., don’t stress too much about grades (just make sure you pass). Now that I look back on the semester, things worked out surprisingly well, even though there were a few weeks where I was just like, “What on earth is happening?” 😂

I want to talk about life in Singapore too. It’s this awesome mix of cultures, fancy buildings, and loads of opportunities. But here’s the twist—I can’t see myself settling down there for the long haul. I mean, it’s got everything you’d want in a country – cool society, clean surroundings. But it feels more like a retiree’s paradise than a spot for kicking off your career journey. Maybe my feelings will change down the road – I’ve only been there for about four or five months – but for now, it is what it is.

I’m excited for the 2nd semester; I have several opportunities available to me, and also I have quite a few plans. Even though most of the time those plans might not work having them kind of gives you the feeling of “I’ve got this figured out”. If things work out the way I have them planned, I think that would probably be the best thing for me in my whole “academic” journey. And if not, well, then it’s just another one of those “life experiences” I can turn into the next blog post :)

In a nutshell, my move to NUS for MComp has been a wild ride of unexpected choices and cool experiences. Figuring out accommodations and selecting classes taught me that when your plan falls apart, just stick with the basics and follow your heart; don’t overthink future events. Now, as I wrap up this post, I’m on the lookout for some cool quotes, but none seem to fit. So, let me conclude with a fun fact I recently learned: there are no documented witnesses of Great White Shark mating, ever in the entire span of human history! 🤯

P.S. - I had plans to add some “cool” pictures of Singapore throughout this post, but amusingly, my camera roll is filled with snapshots of my culinary experiments (first-time successes) and collection of grocery store price tags, to show my family/friends, the cost of living here!