Concrete jungles where dreams are made

The temperature was dropping while it was already 19 degrees below freezing. I was bundled up in five layers of clothing, trying to retain even the slightest bit of body heat, thinking: “What did I get myself into?”

Seven months before, an email arrived in my inbox. An email which I had no idea would drastically change me.

Truth be told, I sent my application to NOC with the sole motivation to leave the country – the country that, to me, was already full of bad memories. I guess I was just tired of the little red dot that had confined me for the past seven years.

I had all my paperwork ready; resume, portfolio, testimonials, even my LinkedIn was full of experiences and achievements. Well, I was applying for summer internships anyway, so I told myself: “Why not?”

Weeks after that, as I passed interview after interview, my life in this sunny island took an unusual course; it suddenly got better! I was offered promising internship positions, my finances got better, my productions were right on track – even my love life was great. And oh, I even met Obama!

There I was, thinking. Hesitating on whether I should abandon that momentum to go live in the Big Apple. I was on the brink of tearing this golden ticket apart.

I left anyway.

Deluding myself that it was for the better, I let my beautiful life go with a heavy heart. Little did I know that I would plunge to rock bottom just weeks after.

Well, you can pretty much guess what happened. I landed on the States with no sense of familiarity. Yes, I was surrounded by diversity, but it was a different kind. The CIMO I saw then stood for Crazy, Isolated, Miserable and Outcast – sometimes Peranakan or all of the above. Every day I was faced with the fear of plunging into the subway tracks and appearing in the paper the next day, as the New York subway ads put it, as just “a statistic.”


Image Credit: MTA


I hated it. I was downgraded from being seen in the spotlight to being an alien no one’s ever heard of. I couldn’t speak in my own tongue or chill with my usual bunch of friends talking nonsense. I lost the fairytale life I was living back then, and realized how sheltered I was.

Now here I am, trying to convince all of you to join NOC with my shit-hole story.

Bought? No?

Just kidding.

Now let me tell you the actual lesson and experiences.

From the self-created limbo, in the deepest, darkest dungeon, I told myself, “I’ve got to wake up and push through” – which I did.

In the blink of an eye, the company I interned in grew from having merely seven clients to nineteen. The banks requesting our service changed from the-random-lender-down-the-street to bulge-bracket banks like Citi and JP Morgan Chase. And my job suddenly shifted from managing social media to managing business metrics and investment decks.

I, who asked if I could sit in an internal meeting five months ago, am now being asked to sit in a VC meeting, presenting our product demo to raise a couple of million dollars.

What the f— just happened?

Nothing too extraordinary, but in that shithole, as I desperately tried to distract myself from the pain, the cold and the fatigue, I stitched myself back together. I frantically asked for more work, more projects, more events, just more. You want coffee? I’ll get you coffee. The full trash can bothering you? I’ll empty it. Just give me anything to distract me from my severely broken heart! (P.S.: I even started going to the gym! Trust me, even the person I was closest with could not force me to the gym. Yet there I was, running on the treadmill in the morning.)

The results?

I had always identified myself as a work-a-lot kind of person, but it was only until this very experience that I finally understood the definition of having a lot of work.

Also the actual definition of ‘getting your shit together’.

As I forced myself to crawl out of the limbo day-by-day, with my comfort zone brutally robbed away from me, I could feel that I had changed. And it was not going to be possible if I have not left the small red shelter I was living in.

Back in Singapore, I thought that I was living a dangerous life. My friends will surely know that I’m the kind of person whose days are filled with productions, work, dance, frisbee, more work, meetings, events (never school), and I was always pushing it – at least so I thought. Turns out I could stretch it even further.

Lesson learned, NOC is definitely challenging. But for those of you who are brave of heart, I dare you to take the leap of faith. You will be amazed to know what you’re capable of – having a vision of your own, seeing where things should belong in the course of your life.

I’m not successful (yet, hopefully) but at least I know now that “I ain’t gon’ be afraid of what’s to come no more”.

And now I scream from the top of my lungs, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere”.


So, what are you waiting for? Start-up your entrepreneurship experience with NUS Overseas College! I know I should’ve written this a long time ago when the application period isn’t so tight, but just apply! More information at the link here or drop me a text/email! Gain access to eleven global entrepreneurial hotspots, while attending courses at NOC’s renowned partner universities!

Thanks guys, I know I’m a troll but mark my words: IT’S WORTH IT!

Peace out!



Anya is the kind of person who gets identity crises everytime she’s asked to write a short description of herself. Always torn deciding what’s right or what’s relevant, I guess she will just end up writing utterly vague shit for her bio. Also, she uses ‘shit’ every time she’s out of vocab.

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