righty-o. i might be entering the discussion a little late, considering the brouhaha back in february this year about whether the ASEAN scholarships, particularly the pre-university ones, are scams or true golden opportunities. i think, though, that this is the time that most of you prospective scholars will be sitting for entrance test, or receiving offer letters and thus debating what to do with them. i’d love to write a detailed piece about the ASEAN pre-university scholarship from my point of view, tips, advice, the works.

and i will. unfortunately, i have to finish middlemarch by tomorrow and i have a major essay to write on ian mcewan’s (fantastic) atonement, so i really don’t have the couple of hours i expect it will take to write all of what i’d like to write…so don’t be surprised if it takes til next weekend for something to appear on this blog about the scholarship.

then again, the more i think about it, the more i want to get to writing about my experience as soon as possible. so here’s a little encomium-like postamajig. (i’m like that. lazy. impulsive. and occasionally impassioned, when i’m not being lazy, and when impulse drives me that way.)

if you’re one of those prospective scholars, and are really on the fence about accepting it or not – then let me give you a sort of warning about it. to me, it’s the perfect example of extremes. polarity. it’s unbelievable fun, but unbelievable work; it gets you almost drunk with enthusiasm, and also leaves you utterly, braindead tired. most people go into it hesitant, wondering, a little nervous, suspicious of how much the singaporean education system lives up to its reputation of rigid rote-learning and yeah, elitism. by the end of the month, some will be loving it, literally having the time of their lives, squeezing what seems to them like every ounce of excitement there can be had out of every second they have. there won’t be enough hours in the day to do all you can and want to do. there won’t be enough space in your phone’s address book for all the people you’ve met. and some will be hating it, feeling utterly alienated, a stranger in the crowd, amazingly exhausted, and painfully homesick. and some will do both – love, and hate, anticipate and dread the next day. some will give up. some will stay.

i know quite a few people who gave up. only ‘direct scholars’ do it though, which are people like me and probably like you who came or will go to singapore from high school somewhere else. i don’t know how happy these people are, wherever they’ve gone, whatever they chose to do instead of sticking with the ASEAN way. i think i experienced everything i described up there in that longish paragraph, and i did almost give up in the first year and go home, but then i thought: it is monstrously hard work, but it is unbelievable fun, and i’d rather be slogging through work some days to get to those amazing fun days, pushing the limits both ways, than to settle into some dull haze of inbetweenness. so i stuck through it, and though i have LOTS i can say about those 2 years, basically the outcome was that i now look back on it as the most fulfilling, most satisfying, the most damn fun period of my life. those friends i made are likely to be sitting beside me on identical rocking chairs when we’re all white-haired octogenarians in some distant future that we scholars have helped create. and if we didn’t create it – hell, we still ended up with 2 years of fantastic memories.

if you think you’ve got the competitive streak in you, then you won’t be wasting your time with the ASEAN scholarship. go ahead and take it. unbiased opinion, that. i’m not even in singapore right now, and i didn’t even get 3As. but i’m glad i accepted the damn thing.

*psst* besides, all you need is a little luck and quick wits, and you can actually do fairly well without mugging too hard. (mugging = studying. you’ll learn the lingo when you get to singapore.) 😉 */psst*

i’ll talk about money and the details of schoolwork and so on in another post. middlemarch beckons, and i do have to supplement some of that luck and quick wit with a little real reading.

meanwhile: if you’re another ASEAN scholar stopping by, do tell me if your experience agrees with mine, or if it objects hotly and viciously, and feels a need to connect bare live wires with wet skin. my skin.