View Full Version : Straits Times: Brown University

07-20-2009, 12:57 PM
Seize the day and learn to live

It's tough enough picking one of the four local universities to study in. And for those eyeing an overseas education, it's even more of a shot in the dark. How will you know which suits your taste better, chips or crisps? Boston or Beijing? Let us help. YouthInk contributors who have studied abroad share their experiences with you. Last week, we had two writers from Austria and Scotland regaling us with their tales. Next, we visit two more from the United States. Keep your seat belts on.

By Corrie Tan

BROWN University is affectionately known as the 'hippie' Ivy League school, one presumably filled with tree-hugging, pot- smoking liberals famous for their constant demonstrations.

One week we could be marching through the streets, wearing green for Darfur; the next, red for Myanmar and the week after, blue for displaced Palestinians.

I learnt quickly that my fellow students had a weakness for the vulnerable and frail, and the need to rescue anyone and everyone. Or at least try to.

In Singapore, I always prided myself on being gregarious and outgoing. I went for short community service trips in China and Cambodia. I thought I was making a difference. But in the land of the free and the home of the brave, I was invisible.

My little sister, who is 14, told me that I have changed - for the better - after three years at Brown. 'Before you went there, you'd just think about the stuff you wanted to do,' she said. 'But now you've actually met people like you who don't just think about doing things. They actually do it, and so do you.'

She was referring to a wild three-month backpacking trip through Central Asia I had taken with friends from Brown. We were studying the effects of migration in Tibet, and how it had affected the lives of the Tibetans.

That ground-breaking trip would never have happened if I had not decided to take my life into my own hands. Later, I would also live in Russia for two months as I wanted to learn the language.

I realised what it was that made my American friends so different. They were willing to be fiercely idealistic. They were willing to dream. They were more than willing to fail, and try again.

My mother once lamented the state of Brown's meagre endowment. 'No one donates to your university!' she exclaimed.

'That's because all of them are working in non-profit organisations,' I jested.

Okay, so perhaps they don't make a lot of money. But they sure make a lot of change.

And that makes me proud.

The writer, 21, is a third-year student in literary arts and Slavic studies at Brown University

07-23-2009, 09:44 AM
Emma Watson to attend Brown University in the fall