4 days of solitude had gone by. Walking into class on the first day, I noticed an obvious change in demographics – for the first time in a while I saw people that looked like me, Asians. Not that it mattered. We were 32 people from all sorts of backgrounds, from anthropology to industrial design. Among us were 14 nationalities. Most of them were pursuing their masters – the kiasu Singaporean in me felt a little kan cheong. 


Exhibit A: The lot of us basking in the Finnish sun


These people were a pretty friendly bunch, we were different in our ways, but we found solace in each other. Most of us were miles away from our friends and family, who else do we turn to but each other? We were the 3 musketeers, the ghostbusters, Top Gear before Jeremy Clarkson got fired. We were a team and soon we became inseparable. 


Exhibit B: My friends and I during a visit to the Startup Sauna


The course would span 3 weeks (yes) and be primed at teaching us about design thinking to the point of sale. Design thinking as we know is about finding an appropriate solution to problems by closely interacting with stakeholders. This new model was different. This model understood that introducing a solution would change the circumstances of the original problem. Our product could have only helped so much. To generate a sustainable solution, we’d have to not only engineer products – but experiences as well.  


Exhibit C: Oodi library, a library who’s design process was largely democratic. Helsinki citizens voted for its architecture and its use.


We were warned that the course would be intensive. It required us to do what SUTDents had done for 3 months in 3.007 in 3 weeks; the whole shebang – discover, define, develop, develop and more. Our timetable was packed from mornings till evenings, weekends included. At the end of the 3 weeks, we should have a digital prototype and are expected to pitch our business idea in front of an audience. 


Exhibit D: The name we chose for my group. We wanted to make a portable multisensory experience for brands to up their marketing game



It was tiring few days, but we found ways to sneak in fun. On Wednesday there was a startup barbecue networking session, my friends fully capitalized the free beer situation and after the event, we did what Singaporeans recognize as “talk cock sing song”. It was nice, I think all of us felt some sense of homely comfort that night. We talked so much we actually saw the sunset. 


Exhibit E: What’s a night out without a burger?



On Friday they took us to the Finnish forests as a welcoming gesture. The Finns love their forests. It’s “every man’s” right to roam freely in it; berries and mushrooms are abundant and are free for all to plunder. When we heard that we became tourists immediately. The feeling of serendipitously stumbling upon a blueberry hanging from a twig must be one of life’s simplest pleasures. The day was followed by a sauna (a Finnish favorite) and dinner. Talk cock sing song pt 2 took place at a nearby park that night. 


Exhibit F: Picking blueberries in Nuuksio National Park.





Bonus Exhibit G: Talk cock sing song pt 2

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