I bought a maroon umbrella today. If you didn't know already, maroon is totally my color. I have enough maroon in my wardrobe that I could wear it everyday for a week (including one of my wedding dresses). I also have accessories, nail polish and every time I see a cool pair of maroon shoes, I have to restrain myself. My husband bought me a file to carry to class earlier this year and the wise man bought it in maroon.

So you get that I like maroon.

I bought a maroon umbrella because I'm always leaving umbrellas in places and losing them as a result. Hopefully, if it's an umbrella I like, I won't lose it --- although I damn near left it behind in class tonight already.

I bought an umbrella because we have none in the house now and it's been unseasonably rainy lately. All our (three) umbrellas are in the car. The car is at the workshop. Ergo, we have no umbrellas. And people ask me why we don't have kids yet.

* * *

Every Friday night, I take the train home and there's always some people dressed up so you know they're going clubbing. And me? After a day at work, a three-hour economics class and an irregular dinner, I'm too pooped for anything but a little TV, a little internet, or the odd episode of Survivor. Just call me an old biddy.

On the bright side, tonight was the last econ class --- hurrah! --- though I will need the next couple of Friday nights to get homework and studying done before deadlines and finals respectively. Bah.

Speaking of finals, the prof spent fifteen minutes tonight explaining the format of the final. First, he went through the usual stuff: two hours, seven questions, pick any three. So far, pretty normal, though it was still more than I ever got in my undergraduate days at Northwestern.

Then the prof maundered on to something strange. "I expect text," he said, not laundry lists, "sentences, paragraphs..." I was pretty taken aback. Is there a way to answer an essay question without, well, writing an essay? What kind of students was he used to? This was a graduate-level class, after all.

It promptly got worse. He assured us that the final would contain no surprises, that the questions wouldn't require us to integrate our knowledge. (I began to get a sick feeling in my stomach.) He then reviewed quickly all the topics we'd covered in eleven weeks of lectures, grouped them --- in pairs, mostly --- so that we had no doubt which were related and which were exclusive, and even elaborated on key questions for each topic.

Perhaps I should reiterate that he's just finished teaching all these topics in excellent detail. It's not as if this was all we were getting at the start of term before he left us on our own in the library. What the hell...?

I admit that I took down some of what he said. I felt sick, but I did it anyway. I'd anticipated challenge, I'd anticipated some hard nights of studying as I tried to put everything from the entire semester together in some grand, if daunting, vision of the international economic system. How foolishly ambitious of me. Piecemeal will do, even for a graduate degree, and Heaven forbid we have to do any independent thinking.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. Economics isn't my favorite subject, despite this prof's best efforts, but I was just starting to get into the rhythm of things, to enjoy looking at the big picture, the real world, and seeing it more clearly than I had a few months ago. And now, I get this --- spoonfeeding, Singapore style, par excellence.

In my own defense, I took down some of what the prof said because it will save me some time in studying and I need that time. But I'm not proud of it. I am a well-trained, consummate Singapore student, even though I haven't had to think or act like one since 1992.

Does any other university do this? Is this procedure strangely the norm at NUS and other local universities? Nothing of the sort occurred at NIE (the local teachers' training college) and that's my only prior experience with local post-graduate education. Even for a $1,000/semester education, this is pretty shoddy.

Right after the prof finished his review, the classmate on my right turned to check if the balance of payments and foreign exchange stuff were one topic or two, and the one on my left asked me worriedly why there were more than seven topics but only seven questions on the final. I gritted my teeth, pretended to be listening to the miscellaneous comments the prof was still making, and didn't answer either of them.


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