Saturday, November 8, 2008


Looking back at the lessons and tasks completed for this module, there were really a lot! Effective communication, process of job application, research report and presentation were the main parts that were covered in this module.

Previously, I took another module related to effective communication. I found that both modules are very similar initially as we learnt about how effective communication can be achieved. Doing things like understanding a matter from others' point of views, speaking in the correct tone and using the correct non-verbal language are what affect effective communication. The main difference between these two modules is that this module introduces blogging as part of the communication process. I find that it is very relevant as most of the people nowadays like to communicate in the virtual space, which definitely includes blogging. Furthermore, there were a few blog topics which spark some really good conversations online between the classmates. It was a good chance to know one another better and the class definitely bonded better!

My overall learning experience was great as the things that we learnt are very applicable to real life. As this is my final year of study in NUS and I am going to apply for jobs the coming year, the learning process of job application was very useful to me. I hope that my cover letter and resume can get me a good job in this bad economy! Similarly, the research project was also an experience to gain as we went through the steps to conduct a good survey and to present a report.

Lastly, I am very glad to have Brad as our lecturer, and all the very friendly classmates! Thanks all for the guidance and help that was provided along this journey! :)

EDITED on 9 November 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My biodata

My name is Teo Su Ching Angeline. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate studies in NUS, majoring in Chemistry. The current Final Year Project that I am working on has allowed me to find my passion in Chemistry and synthesis work. Though challenging, synthesizing of new compounds is interesting and there are so much more to explore. I am considering furthering my studies in this area if possible. During my vacation in Year 2, I had internship in a chemical industrial company and it definitely added on to my exposure in this field, as well as development of great relationships with my ex-colleagues. I enjoy challenges in work and see them as a chance for me to achieve success.

My other greatest passion is to travel around the world, not that I have gone to many places, but it can definitely be achieved in the time to come. As a student, being able to travel out of Singapore in every vacation is what motivates me to work hard to earn myself a good break. In every trip, I get to learn new cultures and new activities that I can never experience in Singapore, such as skiing, diving and river rafting. It is an enjoyment to immerse oneself in the different environment and gain new experience by constantly learning new things. From these trips, I have also learnt to be more independent and achieved better communication skills.

Since my high school days, I have been given opportunities to display my leadership qualities, such as holding the position of Vice President for the First Aid Club in Hwa Chong Institution and being an officer in St John Ambulance Brigade. They were great experiences and I have acquired the skills to be a team leader, as well as a team player.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Research Project Experience

The research project has been a positive learning experience even though the time limit to complete the project was a little too short. From the project, I understand that good teamwork and effective communication are very important in contributing to an excellent final research report.

Good teamwork can be achieved by fulfilling each person’s responsibility and submitting the work by the scheduled deadline. It requires everyone in the team to cooperate and finish the assigned tasks by the deadline. As my project mates and I were very busy with other schoolwork in the midst of doing the project, we often had to rush out the work in order to send to everyone to compile the work that we had done. It was really a relief when everyone completed the tasks as appointed and moved on to the next step in the project.

During the project, we had several meetings and discussions. These include face-to-face discussions and conversing through emails. It is very crucial to express oneself in the correct tone during discussion to prevent any misunderstanding and unhappiness among the project mates. Luckily, even though we had our own opinions, we could actively listen to what the others had suggested and eventually decided on the best choices. This form of effective communication was established in all our meetings and discussions, which aided us in achieving our agenda for every meeting.

For the upcoming oral presentation, it will be important to express oneself clearly to the audience so that the ideas can be brought across and accepted. The correct tone must also be used in accordance to the formality of the presentation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Intercultural Experience in Ang Kor Wat

During the holiday in July, I went to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for a 2-weeks trip. As part of the trip, I visited Ang Kor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia). As it is one of the world’s Seven Wonders, there were many tourists and, of course, many Cambodians who were trying to make a living. There were many little Cambodian kids who were trying to sell their handmade jewelleries and tourist guidebooks to the tourists. Over there, I met a very interesting little girl.

While my friend and I were resting at a drink stall, this little Cambodian girl approached us with a small pile of tourist guidebooks. She suggested us to buy a few guidebooks about Cambodia and Ang Kor Wat. (She could speak quite fluent English. In fact, the Cambodian kids that we had encountered were very capable and some could even speak a few languages so as to communicate with tourists of different nationalities.) However, we already had a guidebook (lonely planet!). My friend showed our book to her to indicate that we need not buy from her. She did not give up, and went on promoting other guidebooks to us. We insisted that we did not wish to buy and she started to question us. The little girl said demandingly, “Do you know the capital of Madagascar? If you don’t know, you must buy from me.” My friend replied, “Sorry, but we don’t need the books. We already have one.” The little girl showed anger and frustration, and said haughtily, “So you don’t know!” And, she stumped off. The truth was we really did not know the capital of Madagascar (Antananarivo, found using Google.), and we did not wish to buy any guidebooks in the first place.

It is a very common cultural norm for the children in Cambodia to sell things to tourists in order to make a living. I believe most of them are instructed to do so by the adults in their families as I had seen a mother pushing her child forward to speak to the tourist and promote the things that the child was carrying in her basket. This is their means of survival, and maybe also a form of burden on them.

However, I was kind of shocked when the little girl, that I met, reacted in the way that she had. I would not consider the above scenario as a conflict since my friend and I did not feel any displeasure. I felt that communication-wise, it was the best that we could have dealt it with. Observing the little girl showed her anger and frustration, I could guess that she was very anxious to get the business; either because she needed to account to her family or she had not managed to get any deal for a long period of time. It was a situation that, most likely, would not happen to any child in Singapore. In comparison, children in Singapore are fortunate enough to be able to live life without worrying about the money needed to survive. It is a fact that we should be appreciative of but I feel it is also a fact that many people take for granted. This could possibly be one of the greatest differences between the two cultures.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Is our Earth DYING?

Background Information

In this warm island of Singapore, many people have the habit of having the air-conditioners in their homes switched on for the whole day. However, they might not have realised that they are actually making the Earth even warmer as it is a vicious cycle. Waste of energy consumes more fossil fuels and leads to an increase of carbon dioxide emission which eventually enhances greenhouse effect and increases the temperature of the Earth.

Global climate change has become one of the most popular among the many environmental topics in recent years. It has even won the film “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore the award of Oscar’s best documentary film.

To account for the global climate change, there are quite a few indirect and observational evidences. Using the Antarctic ice core data, it reflects temperature condition through inclusion of air bubble in the ice when it is formed. The current data shows that the earth is now most likely in the interglacial warm period which happen about once every 100 000 years. The temperature trend for the last millennium and century shows that the current climate is probably the warmest that it has been for at least 1 000 years and temperature has been increasing in an accelerating rate respectively. Other indicators of climate change include the rise of sea level by about 200 mm since 1880 and the decrease in Artic sea ice by 2.7% per decade.

The reasons behind climate change can be based on both natural and man-made phenomena. Several suggested natural causes of climate change include the influence of plate tectonics, orbital variability, solar variability and the change in composition of the atmosphere. However the main cause of most of the warming in the past 50 years is highly attributable to human major activities, such as industrialization and deforestation, which greatly increase atmospheric carbon dioxide and enhance greenhouse effect.

Identification of Problem
The current warming of the globe is unusual as it has been shown that Earth’s major systems are changing more rapidly than at any time in the last half million years at least. Furthermore, if warming continues unabated, the resulting climate change within this century would be unusual in geological terms. Thus this topic should be of a major concern to all Earthlings. In Singapore, people still enjoy having air-conditioners switched on, travelling in private cars, consuming huge amount of paper and plastic. Are they aware that they are contributing to the problem of global warming?

Research Questions
Are students in local universities aware of the problem of global warming and how do they respond to it? Will it be effective to inculcate the values of saving the Earth in their everyday lives?

Problem Statement
The objectives of this study are to investigate the awareness of students in local universities toward the problem of global warming and what are their views and actions to it, and explore the effectiveness of inculcating the values of saving the Earth in their everyday lives?

Purpose Statement
The objectives of this report are to inform the relevant authorities (National Environment Agency and Singapore Environment Council) of the awareness of the problem of global warming among people and their responses to it, and the likely effectiveness of inculcating the values of saving the Earth in their everyday lives.

Reasons for conducting a survey
Through the survey, people's awareness and response to global warming can be observed. It will also find out how many people are willing to contribute to saving the Earth in their everyday lives, if a proper guideline is set out. Gaining these information will allow the authorities to take relevant actions towards climate change.

Edited on 7 September 2008.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interpersonal Conflict

Pic adapted from Istockphoto.

The day the conflict happened between the couple…

Activity: Over the phone

Girl: Let’s go to Chinatown later. I want to develop photos over there. Remember to bring the thumb drive. The photos are in it. Anyway, I’m hungry, I haven’t had lunch.

Guy: Ok! Let’s go have lunch at Chinatown later as well.

Activity: Meeting on the bus

Girl: Good, this time round you are not late. You have the thumb drive with you right?

Guy: OH SHIT! I forgot about it. Why didn’t you remind me again?

Girl: I already told you, didn’t I?

Guy: I was rushing out since you said you were hungry. So how? Do I go back to my place to take the thumb drive?

Girl: Hmm. How? We are already on the bus.

Activity: Continuing on the journey to Chinatown without any idea what to do over there other than having lunch

Activity: Eating in Chinatown

Girl: Do you want anything for yourself?

Guy: Nope, I’ve eaten.

Activity: Guy trying to be funny by placing his used tissue paper near the noodle sauce, causing Girl to finally flare up.

Girl: What are you doing?!?! I’m still eating, you know?!?! You are so f***ing irritating.

Activity: The cold war starts

Activity: Girl has finished eating and wants to leave

Girl: EH, let’s go.

Activity: Guy stayed still

Girl: Why you don’t want to leave? Became a statue?

Guy: Because you said I’m f***ing irritating, so I’m staying still.

Girl: What do you want?!

Guy: Why are you, a girl, using such foul language?!

Activity: Both, feeling angry and annoyed, left the eating place.

Why was there so much anger and displeasure between the two? Was it because the guy forgot about the thumb drive and yet he continued to cause annoyance to the girl? Or was it because the girl was feeling sore about the thumb drive and the unhappiness continued to accumulate until it was finally released in the terms of foul language?

Will smoothing out the first problem, the incident about the thumb drive, prevent the conflict from happening? Will a better management of feelings take control of the situation to prevent any outbreak? Will a better communication prevent even the first problem from happening or is it just the responsibility of the guy to prevent the first problem from happening?

To me, it is a conflict due to roles and responsibility in a close relationship. And precisely because of the close relationship, it is tough to manage the feelings well. We tend to treat people, whom we are close to, in a manner that we will not treat others. At times, there will be less courtesy and more arguments as we know that the people who are closer to us can tolerate our misdeeds better. Hence our behaviours are allowed to go awry and we lose control of our feelings. However, I believe that having conflict is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is to face the conflict, find a solution to it and eventually learn and grow from it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Importance of Effective Communication

Why do people misunderstand each other? Why is it that people often find it tough to decipher what the other person is trying to say or express? Communication breakdown happens very often and it can happen to anyone in any situation. Effective communication is the solution that reduces and prevents communication breakdown. It is about building the communication bridge between any two people and being able to bring across the ideas shared between this communication bridge.

To be able to communicate effectively, it involves not only the language, but also the tone of the language. There are also other factors to consider, such as individual ‘filters’ that exist possibly due to one’s biasness against certain matters and the non-verbal language that might be one’s way of expressing emotions.

In this world of highly advanced technology, we communicate with people through channels such as emailing, instant messaging and sending messages through mobile phone due to convenience and our busy lifestyles. By using these channels, we would not be able to observe the non-verbal language of the speaker and we might also interpret the tone of the language wrongly. For example, by saying “I’m unhappy with what you have done today.” The listener might interpret it as the speaker being angry or upset but the speaker might only be disappointed. These constitute a range of different emotions but it was only represented by one word ‘unhappy’. In this kind of situation, it is easy for misunderstandings to occur and people will have to rack their brains to think what is the true meaning that the speaker wants to bring across, which is why people should also practice effective communication in the channels of technology.