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Lessons Learned

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story | Dave Chappell, Executive Editor

photo | Dave Chappell


What lesson do you wish you had known in your first year, when you started college?


Timothy Goh ’18: “I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that none of this will last forever, and that that’s alright because it wasn’t meant to — so treasure every moment you’ve got here, both the good and the bad (dining hall food included!) because there’ll very quickly come a day when it’ll all be over.”

Sarah Novak ’18: “I wish I’d known that unconventional pathways through college are okay, and that taking a summer or two to travel and chill out can actually be one of the most rewarding and constructive decisions ever!”

Alex Mayer ’18: “One lesson I wish I knew was how to have calm conversations. In my first year, I felt the need to question and prod people whenever the opportunity arose. I wanted every conversation to be entertaining, or at least animated, or at least important. Now, I care a lot more about matching what other people want in an interaction. Maybe I’ll say something strange to liven things up, but I don’t feel the need to revolutionize each encounter I have. Plus, I get to conserve some energy.”

Jessica Teng Sijie ’18: “It’s okay to be different. When I was a first year, I had a grand vision of where my life was supposed to go and what I had to do to get there. I think this is something that was drilled into me through the Singapore education system—there is a certain formula that you are supposed to follow in order to be considered “successful”. This would include doing x number of extracurriculars, obtaining y number of leadership positions, and racking up z number of internships, all of which will make one an “ideal” candidate for the future life-transforming job. These four years in Yale-NUS have taught me that there is value in being adventurous and spontaneous—and I’m grateful to the people who have shown me that.”


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