Michaelmas 2017 report

Tue Dec 05 2017

General comments

So much has happened in so little time!

Term is short but feels like forever—can't wait to go back home, take a break, then grind again

People in Oxford are smart... not patting myself on the back here but they really just think fast, move fast, everything also fast. I am now definitely not the smartest guy in the room anymore; not even close!

I was able to get settled in alright quite quickly. Oxford is really intense. Even though my workload is not heavy, there are just so many things happening every single day.

I'm grateful to have had this slow term to kind of warm up to the work at Oxford. I've been able to try a lot of things and do a lot of things (in effect biting more than I can chew) that I wouldn't have time for were it not for this slow start.

I will talk about the different facets of my time at Oxford (academic, interpersonal, extracurricular) and how I can improve these facets next turn. Lastly, I'll lay out my plans this holiday.


Couldn't change course to Computer Science. But all is well—I am happy to do PPE and learn computer science over the holidays. Bassel told me about the Imperial CS course for non-CS undergraduates and I could do that one as well apart from the Georgia Tech program.

Doing alright. But not top of the pack by any means: Filip, Dylan, Conor all really smart and Ton is another level altogether

Every week kind of fall back a bit a bit so I really welcome this chance to catch up and consolidate

Motivation is finite and I lost momentum in the last two weeks, churning out an essay I wasn't proud of. This is unacceptable.

Have to work smarter, more efficiently. Learn to take notes. Retention was very poor this term, so have to learn to take notes and absorb the material more efficiently.

I have not been able to do any CS self-study. I was supposed to do Prog 1a, Prog 1b, uMSC II and N2T II and I did none of that.

Part of the problem is that I've been stuck on project 10 of N2TII for the longest time. It's a very difficult assignment and I want to move on but I can't bring myself to give up on this.

There is no way I'll be able to do any CS self study next term, I suspect. I reckon the most I can give is 1 hour per day.

This holiday I will definitely die die finish up N2T II. I also want to do the LinAlg course and also do problems on LeetCode.

Next term

Cannot avoid inevitable memory work (in definitions for both economics and logic). Practice some more formal logic and deduction

I really look forward to writing philosophy essays! Politics not so much, but QSTEP could be interesting.

Definitely no time to work on CS come next term; it's going to be crazy. Two essays a week and so much readings to do as well. Don't forget QSTEP...

Next term I'll have to go for lectures and actually take down notes. The notes I took in MT 2017 will have to be gone through again, I'll have to think about the formatting.

Study skills, study habits: working in OWL is unproductive, working at my laptop is distracting because I have the bad habit of constantly switching to and from tabs once the going gets even a little bit hard.

8 weeks, 16 essays, QSTEP. Politics tutes on Tuesdays/Wednesdays. Will need to have a routine of work: when to do the readings, when to start writing the first draft of the essay, etc

Once again, consistency is key


This term, I did rowing, powerlifting, OXCAR. Cooking is also kind of an extracurricular I suppose.


Cooking takes too long a time: about 2 hours per session. Ways to optimise, in decreasing order of preference/effectiveness:

  • Cook for fewer people/ cook for multiple days at a time
  • Buy groceries in batches, don't buy every day
  • Cook simpler dishes
  • Eat early supper instead
  • Skip dinner and have snacks instead (toast with cheese and ham etc)

Cooking for myself is the only way to do a low-carb, high protein diet though. If I'm convinced of the merits of such a diet, I will have to cook for myself.


Not a fan of waking up at half 5 and walking 20 minutes in the cold dark to the boathouse. Especially not a fan of the 30-minute bike ride to Godstow.

Tom Murphy psychoed me to buy the AIO though, so the option to row is still open.


I really like powerlifting because:

  1. I have a decent build for it
  2. I already have a good base (275 Wilks at the novice powerlifting meet)
  3. the total I have to hit to be competitive doesn't seem very far away
  4. it's a very low-variance sport compared to other sports that are eligible for Blues. That's why I want to take it seriously if my injury will allow. That means making it into Varsity next year (Hilary 2019) and getting a Full Blue by the time I graduate.

I need a Wilks score of 350 for a Half Blue and 375 for Full Blue:

  • ~450kg (1000lb) for 350 Wilks, and 500kg for 375 Wilks

I'm still thinking of what the best time to go to the gym is. The most important thing is being consistent and going Mon, Wed, Fri every single week for 8 weeks. It shouldn't be that hard.

  • well, quite hard considering OXCAR had an Xmas concert on Wednesday

I was thinking of blocking out 5–7 but that would make me miss early supper. If I went later then it'd be a bit crowded. Any earlier and I'd be too full from lunch... problematic.


I joined OXCAR, the Oxford Chinese Acapella Repetoire. Bryce and Eliza are in it as well.

Although training is by right only once a term, by left we have had tons of extra rehearsals so the commitment level was more than advertised.

I don't mind, though. I think I will do this for all three years at Oxford.

Next term

  • Drop rowing or only go once a week
  • Implement one or some of the possible solutions to cooking taking too long.
  • Focus on powerlifting: I want to hit a 300 Wilks score by putting up a 385kg total at this year's Varsity tryouts. Last total at meet: 347.5kg (we'll call it 350kg) at 65.1kg. That was a 275 Wilks.

Interpersonal relationships

Close friends made in PPE and North Lodge (Oskar, Rayhan); other friends seem to be quite hi-bye

How can I have a deeper and more personal connection with the friends I make in university? This is an open question I don't have the answer to.

Are there any differences between Singaporeans and angmohs?

People are people—it's hard to tell. I personally haven't noticed much of a difference but then again I'm not a very socially attuned person either.

Next term

Not sure what I can do on this front.

People I am (especially) grateful to

  1. Bassel, for being so patient and accommodating when I wanted to switch to Compsci and for being an excellent tutor overall
  2. Oskar, for kindly hosting me in his room, sharing his food with me, buying groceries with and for me, and for having such a big heart
  3. Leo, my tute buddy dinner kaki, and the person I hang out with most
  4. Martin, who has never once missed a dinner I've cooked
  5. Tak Huen and Venla, for being great college parents: they patiently answered so many of my questions before I came here
  6. Dylan and Connor, who had all the answers when the rest of us were blur cocks, and for being real good sports and a real hoot to hang with
  7. Xue Heng, who took out so much of his time to make me not so shit at singing, and single-handedly saved my performance at OXCAR's Xmas concert.

What am I doing this holiday?

  1. Career goals
  • Send IMDA my academic plan and CV, start applying for internship w them
  • Also, apply for internship with a firm in either SG or UK this summer. Otherwise I won't have anything to do this summer after my IMDA internship.
  • I'm not interested in consulting; more interested in writing code
  1. Consolidate my knowledge for Economics and Philosophy
  • I think I'm 60% on both subjects, definitely quite shaky
  • Write good notes for Economics; definitions, problems, diagrams
  1. Do vacation reading to prepare for Hilary term:
  • Mill, Utilitarianism
  • Russell, Problems with Philosophy
  • Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy
  • some other readings specified in the Politics handout
  1. Continue working on CS curriculum
  • Solve Leetcode problems, embark on LinAlg course (with the help of Oskar's lecture notes)
  • Learn C++/ C
  1. Gym
  • Consistency is key. Will make gains iff I go consistently.
  1. Driving
  • Try and pass lor.