Following my heart at King’s – Jayne Ong Zu Hua

King’s College London (KCL) is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and had much to offer to its international students.

For one, KCL offered a wide selection of modules for international students to choose from. However, I faced much difficulty due to the mismatch between my interests and background as a Communications student. I was worried that my lack of foundational knowledge in the subjects that I am interested in would put me at a disadvantage but I ultimately decided to go with my heart. The four modules that I took were 5AAQS277 Race, Cinema and American Culture, 4AAL00IC Intercultural Awareness, 4AAT1006 New Testament: Origins, Contexts and Meanings and 5SSG2042 Natural Hazards.

My background as a Singapore citizen had a great influence on my interest in these subjects. Singapore is a society where people of different races and religions live together and call it home. Having grew up in such a harmonious environment, it was difficult for me to truly understand issues of discrimination that are prevalent around the world. As such, I decided to take up Race, Cinema and American Culture module and try to see things from another lens.

Not to mention, having lived in Singapore for the past twenty-one years, I felt that I have grown blind to cultural differences. The foreigners in Singapore have always been the ones adapting to our culture such that there is not much cultural difference to be observed. I knew that when I come to London for exchange, the tables would have turned. It would be my turn to adapt to the culture and social practices here instead. As such, I felt that taking the Intercultural Awareness module would be helpful in the transition.

Other than learning about culture as a general topic, I took New Testament as I wanted to learn about religion from an objective perspective. This desire probably stemmed from the secularity of Singapore. Similarly, my choice of Natural Hazards was based on my interest in Geography and the desire to understand the environment around us.

The four months flew by and I learnt so much from the classes. Other than the academic concepts, I also took away the mindset for learning. I loved how the classrooms were always lively with discussions and the occasional sharing of controversial opinions. This was different from my classes in Singapore where people tend to only speak up when the answer is black and white. The professors, such as Bruce who taught Natural Hazards, were also engaging in their lessons and their enthusiasm was contagious. Bruce would often have in-class demonstrations for concepts that were harder to grasp and always shared his interesting experiences with us. Natural Hazards was hands down my favourite module during the semester.

Looking ahead, this academic experience will benefit me as I have learnt that I should always have a curious mind and that the lack of foundational knowledge should not deter me from pursuing my interests. Afterall, there’s nothing hard work cannot solve.


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