Singapore meets Surrey

Our life and experiences as international students at Surrey

Strictly Come Surrey 2017 💃🏻🕺🏻

Hi everyone,

As a Postgrad student, you’re a bit out of touch with the happenings at the University. I think it’s partly down to the fact that Postgrads are generally older and also that we’re mostly here for just a year that we’re a little hesitant when it come to committing to University events and societies. The main reason for being out of touch is simply that we’re just far too busy working on our research (taught programmes have a lot of research work too!) and coursework that we tend to neglect the having fun part. I’ve said before that my MSc Business Analytics group is a really small one and that’s a good thing. The fact that it’s small also means that we tend to stick among each other too.

That said, I’m happy to have made friends with a handful of undergraduates who help give me an insight to what’s going on outside of our Postgraduate work. A few weeks ago, there was SurreyDecides, which your other Singapore Ambassador, Ecclesia, ran for VP Support. She did a wonderful job even though she came in 2nd because she got over 1000 votes, meaning she’s played a part in blessing all those who voted for her!

Another undergrad that I’ve also had the privilege of knowing is Joanne, a final year undergrad who’s the Societies Exec Chair among the thousand and one other things she does. (Seriously, how do all the undergrads get so much energy to do so many things? Most of us Postgrads are “old people” who have so much work it feels like we’ve been “whammied” by it all).

Anyway, she was one of the celebrities at Strictly Come Surrey 2017, which was in its 2nd year after a very successful inaugural one in 2016. So I decided to add 2 extra votes to Joanne and her partner Ben Clewer by picking up a pair of tickets to go watch it with one of my coursemates, Theo.

Here’s the both of them in the middle of their Paco Doble performance:

And here’s me trying to get a terribly blurry photo with her at the end of the event, just like how any fan would:

My sister and I have always had a good impression of watching ballroom and latin dancing thanks to the top drawer performances by the Caderas Latinas back when I was in SMU so it was a good reason for me to just relax for the evening and be entertained by all those who put in so much hard work preparing for it. It was all for a good cause too as all the proceeds went to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

Never tried photographing a dance event before so I thought why not make this the first one. Was quite happy with most of the photos that I captured although the lack of good lighting in the University Hall meant that it was difficult to shoot. A lot of the photos were extremely grainy because I pushed up the ISO to ensure that my shutter speed could capture as much of the dance movements as possible. There’s always a compromise somewhere I guess. I had a lot of fun photographing it all though so that makes up for it. Lots of room for improvement for me in terms of photographing stage events like these. It was still an enjoyable evening just not thinking about my research paper for once! 🌃

Here are some of the photo highlights from all the dancers’ awesome performance on 24th March 2017:


Processing and editing all the photos were no mean feat either. Good thing my research paper was done and dusted to allow me the time to work on them.

I’m obviously making up for lost time with these posts because I promise that you’ll that Portsmouth will be featured next!

God bless you! 🌈

Ben

Postgraduate MSc Business Analytics at Surrey, why yes?

Hello everyone,

Some time ago, I shared my “Surrey Experience” which the University’s Marketing Department had sent out through the Media Centre as well as through the Surrey Business School page. I’ll expand on parts of that today with a focus on the MSc Business Analytics course at Surrey and why there’s no better time for Singaporeans to learn about how Analytics can play a part in our career and our daily lives. If you’ve read my previous posts, you may find that I do repeat stuff and there’s nothing wrong with that, because it’s all true.

The University of Surrey is among the pioneers of the Business Analytics MSc programme in the UK and that was a compelling enough reason to choose Surrey to further my interest in analytics. Prior to coming to Surrey, I was working with the Ministry of Education, Singapore as a Mathematics Teacher in a Secondary School. I was also freelancing as an Accounting and Information Systems Consultant working with some Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

My work with my SME clients got me interested in how analysing data can provide better business solutions to my clients and help them with business decision making. I was also interested with the potential that analytics could bring to organisations at a time when technology advancements are regarded as a part of everyday life. Furthermore, the Singapore Government is expanding in leaps and bounds around the area of Big Data and Digital Transformation, restructuring Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) into GovTech and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). When such a major restructuring is carried out, you know that the Government is very serious on ensuring that both the industry and the educational institutions are ready for what’s ahead.

Prior to applying to Surrey, I attended the webinars organised by the University as well as Surrey Business School which were informative, helpful and ultimately crucial in my final decision. I was glad to have been on the other end of the webinar earlier this year in January when I got to share insights to my time here as a Postgrad student. I’m not going to say that Surrey was the only one I applied to because that would be a lie. But Surrey was my number one choice because I was convinced by the range of courses available and the depth of coverage in learning the different softwares for Analytics.

I knew from the beginning that this MSc Business Analytics course would be a challenging one and I was proven right when we were thrown into the deep end and endured the frustration of not knowing what steps to take when first dealing with data for our Data Analytics coursework in Term 1. It is part of the learning process that the professors put us through and one that all of us had to go through. Things never get easier and so it’s been proven because Term 2 has been absolutely insane. With multiple clashing deadlines (of research papers to write), more challenging coursework (involving coding in R) and the dissertation research work running in the background, it can be really crazy!

This is where I have my family to thank for giving me the support and motivation I need to keep on going, even when there’s no inspiration to write anything. I’ve also got the benefit of having a church connect group to rely on to pray for me when I’m in need of help. Another key pillar of support has been my fellow course-mates. It’s good that we are a small group of just over 10 people because we’ve come to know each other well and help each other out when we can. On top of that, the diversity amongst us ensures that there is plenty of interaction in our classes and projects. Our interactions with each other and with our professors help to bring new insights to the issues discussed relating to both our project problems and real-world issues. Being surrounded by a diverse group in my course has helped me embrace the different perspectives of others.

The toughest challenge in Term 2 has been facing up to the reality that a Business Analytics expert needs to know some R coding because it is a powerful tool. So if you’re thinking of taking up this same course, it will be beneficial for you to pick up some basic R first. Or you can spend the rest of your self-study time here learning to code in R from scratch to get the hang of it all. I can’t say the same for what previous batches had or future batches will have in their coursework but we have Machine Learning and Visualisations. This course delves deeper into the many different algorithms and how they work. It is in this module that the coursework involves R coding which is no easy feat if you have no prior experience because you have to write an R code that will work on given data and perform algorithms to deliver some decent results.

Now that I’ve completed the first part of a research paper that is due tomorrow, I’m now able to focus on continuing my dissertation research (including literature review), do work in R, 1 Supply Chain Analytics coursework and work on 3 other research papers! Sounds exciting, eh? 😜 No, seriously, it scares me to think about it all but you learn to take it all one step at a time.

Don’t be scared away by all that I’ve said because it’s all manageable as long as you focus on your work and not allow yourself to be distracted by new TV shows on Netflix! Besides, part of doing a Masters with such rigour is to get you ready to go back to work again, albeit in a slightly different role. So as I take all the challenges that come into my stride, I’m enjoying every moment of my time here, learning new knowledge from the Professors and building friendships with my coursemates.

Well, that’s it for my sharing on why I chose to do an MSc in Business Analytics at Surrey and how I’m doing on that front right now. Before I post on my day trips out to Portsmouth and Oxford, I’ll be bringing you a very special one on Strictly Come Surrey 2017! 💃🏻🕺🏻

Have a wonderful week ahead! (Easter Break is here at the end of the week!)

God bless you! 🌈

Ben

Ring out the bells again… Like we did when Spring began 🌸

Hi everyone,

Hope you managed to figure out the reference in this post’s title. It’s from Green Day’s hit song in 2005 “Wake Me Up When September Ends”. It’s been 12 years since… My word, time has flown by!

It is quite appropriate for me, personally though, because when September 2017 ends, I’d be done with my Masters Dissertation which is something to look forward to as well. That brings me to my apology for being away for more than a month. I’ve been writing my Dissertation proposal since the last time I posted and have been busy with my preliminary research work ever since while also working on another research paper on business process management. So as you can tell, it’s not been much of an interesting 4 weeks. Been through the frustrating stages of writing and re-writing parts of my papers that I’ve almost lost track how many times I’ve changed parts of what I’ve written. I’m gradually getting some headway into both the research paper and the dissertation so come next week, I should be able to tell you more about them and I’ll be sure to make it as interesting as possible.

Back to the part when Spring began! So apparently, Spring is upon us! It’s hard to tell when you’ve still got gloomy skies like this though…

Truth is, the weather’s been up and down recently. We’ve had bouts of nice Spring warmth but “when the cold wind blows”, you better make sure you’re wrapped up warm. (That was a cheap attempt at a song reference that the guys who’ve finished army would know for sure.) Spending the last days of Winter working on research meant that my music library has been my best friend, which is why I keep thinking of songs as I write.

Back to talking about the weather… As fickle as it may be, the days are getting longer now, which is brilliant because you don’t get sunsets at 3.30pm anymore and you feel that things are a bit more normal again. Plus, you get beautiful sunset glows at around 5.30pm or so and it’s lovely!

The sunset glow is pretty, isn’t it? Well, when you’re so caught up with work, sometimes you need to take a walk and appreciate the little things in life that’s worth enjoying. I’m sure we can do that in Singapore too but the fact that we’re a city state means almost everywhere is filled with hustle and bustle. Being in the UK and in Guildford helps you appreciate the slower pace of life and the quietness of an English town. Plus, you get the benefit of enjoying the sunset with nice cool weather without having to break a sweat in the humidity.

We’re now into Week 7 of Term 2 already and it’s really scary how fast it’s flown by because after Week 8, it’s the Easter Break which spans the entire April (which I’ll spend most of continuing my research, of course!). So it’s kind of a mid-term break of sorts when the timing is perfect since it’s not as cold anymore.

I remember the Easter break I had while I was on exchange back in 2014 and I spent the entire month away travelling to over 10 different cities, InterRailing in Germany, France, Belgium and driving in Croatia (which remains my favourite European destination). If you do eventually go there, Dubrovnik is an absolute must to visit.

Here’s how it was 3 years ago:

Back to 2017…

When I said I was spending all my time doing my research paper earlier, it wasn’t entirely true… I managed to find time on 2 alternate Wednesdays to take a midweek day trip to Portsmouth with my friend and Business Analytics coursemate, Giorgi and then to Oxford last week.

Once my first research paper is done, I’ll be back to share about Portsmouth and then Oxford. That should be next week! Until then… Have a blessed week ahead!

Ben

One World Week !

Hey Guys 🙂

Eggy here! Over the past week, Our University dedicated this week to embrace the diversity we have here in Surrey. We have students coming from all walks of lives and this week was a chance for everyone to share their culture and learn about others!

Rubix, the club- area in our campus was transformed into an exhibtion where different societies, representing the different countries set up at different tables, offering samples of food and cultural activities for other students to try out ! Some societies even went all out and wore their traditional costumes which was amazing!

So that’s me and some of my friends at the exhibition! We got to try Malaysian cuisine and Nepalese and that’s just a few of the many other foods we got to try!

Also, did I say that the food was free? Of course no student was going to decline free food. hahah Rubix was filled and everyone was sober… for once ?! hahaha!

This is Filipino society, one of my favourites cause they’re all so sweet! Just like the green coconut pandan dessert they were offering to everyone 🙂

Vietnamese Society had a really interesting dessert that tasted like Jasmine! It almost felt like I was eating the actual flower haha!

On Friday Night, DJ Panjabi was here in Surrey and Rubix was hosting a bollywood night! The whole place was decked out and almost looked like an Indian Wedding, but on a relatively small scale, so my friends said! hahaa

Anyways, that’s all for now! Also, Less than a month before the deadline for my dissertation. RAJSHALKSJ

Hope everyone’s not as stressed as I am 🙂

Eggy x

 

Student Union Elections, Recap!

Hey Guys,

Eggy here! Things have been crazy around here! My last post was me in Singapore celebrating Chinese New Year and ever since I’ve been back in the UK,  I took one of the biggest steps in my university life that I’d never thought I’d ever take.

I decided to run in the student union elections for VP Support!

So I’m gonna just share my experience with you guys!

It started off with me receiving an email stating that I have been nominated by someone anonymously and that really sparked something in me, that maybe I could represent the student body and make a difference!  (I still have not found out who that mysterious perosn was, but I am so grateful for them giving me that push! haha)

Two days before the deadline for submitting my manifesto, I had to start designing my campaining materials, platforms and decide on a strategy to reach out to students.

Once that was done, I was officially in the running! But it didn’t end there, I started receiving emails from Stag Radio and Stag TV and The Stag magazine (these are all newsletters and broadcasting platforms Surrey has for all students) So I had to prepare for a Radio interview and write a magazine article… all in that week of campaigning.

But the scariest bit of all this campagining had to be the SurreyDecides Panel… this is an event held by the SU, basically over three days, candidaates running for the various positions would be put in the spotlight on a panel and they’ll be grilled on their manifestos and visions they want to implement should they get the position they are running for! So not only is there a live audience watching this panel, but this was livestreamed on youtube! Imagine that!

I was beyond nervous, I was shaking but so ready to smash it out! I met all the other candidates and they were nice but I definitely knew that I wanted this position so badly! My friends were so sweet to be in the audience to support me and just cheer me on… it was such a great feeling to have them there with me. also, because it was livestreamed, my family back home in Switzerland could join in on the fun as well! hahaha

So like I said, I had a campaigning squad, Hasan (My Hypeman), Elisha, Franchesca, Karen, Livvy, Lisa and Tecky! They were all the sweetest people, they helped stick up posters, banners and promoted to their friends and everyone they knew to Vote for Eggy for VP!

The real problem at university was not convinving people to vote for you but actually getting people to vote at all!

But after a week long of campaigning and sticking posters everywhere, the end result was bittersweet.

I came in second place, but I accumulated a total of 1045 votes.

It’s such a bittersweet feeling cause although I did not get the role,

knowing that 1045 students who took the time to vote for EGGY [1] for VP SUPPORT. ♡

I want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you, Im so grateful for the experience, the encouragement and the support from the friendships I have and the friendships I’ve made through this whole campaigning process.

Congratulations to Jess on being your new VP Support for next year, and to all the candidates who ran with me – Sam and Dani, I know the Union will be taken to even greater heights as we all had the University’s best interests at heart.

Here’s some pictures and videos of the entire campaigning process 🙂

 

 

Singapore : This Chinese New Year

Hey Guys,

Today i’m going to be sharing with u guys on my recent trip back to Singapore for CNY!

 

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I travelled back home with my family and made it in time for the last day of CNY !! though we missed the start, it was so great to be able to meet up with family and even get my dissertation research done!!

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Of course for Chinese New Year, it wouldn’t be complete without the Lou Hei (which is actually a tradition originating from Singapore/Malaysia where families gather to toss these vegetables, fish, abalone, sweet plum sauce and golden crackers while chanting goodluck wishes
and blessings to ring in the new year!)

So as you can imagine, the bigger the families, the bigger the mess haha.

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These individual lou hei ingredients actually symbolize different wishes.
For example,

The fish symbolizes 年年有余 (nian nian you yu)
Which means… wishing a year filled with luck
it is a play on words because Yu in mandarin can mean fish or luck, depending on the different intonation.

The golden crackers are to symbolize money bags to wish good wealth.

The sweet plum sauce goes with the wish of.   甜甜蜜蜜 (tiantian mimi) which means wishing you a year filled with sweetness and any couples out there, for their relationships to stay sweet!

Before I flew back to Singapore, one of my friends here in Surrey actually got a LouHei Kit from his parents back home in Malaysia and he was kind enough to invite me and some of our friends for Lou Hei together 🙂 It was such a great way to share more about our culture as well.

When I was in Singapore, I got to toss the LouHei with my family and my grandpa and uncles and aunties which was so sweet, especially cause my family hasn’t been back for Chinese New Year for years!

Also, another Chinese New Year tradition is the collection of these money-filled Red Packets also called HongBaos (directly translates as Red Packets) Those unattached and children are usually the one who qualify receiving hongbaos. Once you’re married, you’re gonna have to start giving hongbaos haha…

But before you receive that red packet, make sure you’re holding two tangerines, and ready to wish your elder some good wishes in exchange for a red packet! I always say 身体健康 (shen ti jian kang) which means, wishing you good health as I think health is most important! 😊 especially for our elders.

During the 10 days we were back, Of course we had to fill our bellies with all the delicious foods that we had craved for… Chicken rice, Laksa, Satay… THE LIST GOES ON! Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

It was a really short trip, but I always like to think Quality over Quantity – We had a condensed amount of family time in the 10 days… but ya maybe next time we go, we’ll stay for longer haha!

Anyways, thanks for reading 🙂
See you in my next post!

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