Grade compositions
While attending SMU, I managed to find grade compositions for two out of the five modules I took. Here are the details:

Course grading:

  1. CS441 network security
    1. Homework: 20%
    2. Project: 20%
    3. Exam: 45%
    4. Class participation: 15%
  2. CS460: foundations of cyber physical systems
    1. In-class quizzes: 10%
    2. Project: 40%
    3. Exam: 30%
    4. Class participation: 20%

I do feel like the heavy class participation incentivizes somewhat “insincere” posturing at times, but overall since it’s all pass / fail for me it doesn’t really matter. Additionally, most of the CS modules required group presentations, which I personally would have preferred to avoid. However, finding group members was relatively easy as I approached people sitting next to me in the early classes. Being an exchange student didn’t seem to deter others from teaming up with me for the most part, so that was nice.

Class structure and name tents
Anyway, in SMU classes are held in seminar rooms for the most part (I had some lessons in a computing lab as well). Unlike the SUTD classroom, the SMU seminar room consists of 4 semicircular rows of seats. The advantage of this seating arrangement is that regardless of where you sit, it is nearly impossible to have a restricted view of the screen in the center. On the flip side though, sitting anywhere other than the back row makes every bit of procrastinatory browsing super conspicuous to everyone behind you. 

Each mod is made up of a single 3-hour long class every week – I guess the advantage of this arrangement is that you’ll only ever have to travel to school for any particular mod once per week, which makes sense considering hostel isn’t really a thing for SMU students. On the flip side however 3 hours is honestly quite a lot to have to go through in a single sitting, even if they do try to amortize the mental toll of the 3 hour classes with a break in-between.

Another conspicuous difference in the SMU classes is the preponderance of name tents, which the majority of students will place in front of their seat, for attendance taking (and class participation mark farming probably as well) purposes. The school issues SMU freshmen name tents during their orientation program iirc, but seeing as an exchange student like myself had not been predisposed with the same conditions, and with the cybersecurity TA constantly having to come up to me with understandably vexed countenances during the mid-class breaks to get my name for attendance taking, I deliberated upon improvising lengthwise folded price of paper into my own makeshift name tent halfway through the term.

One last thing that’s different about the SMU school term compared to SUTD is that the school term is almost 16 weeks long with a recess week half-way and a full week of break before exam week, which I honestly don’t remember ever properly having in SUTD.

Fun fact: I nearly missed a midterm exam because it didn’t occur to me that having a midterm exam in the middle of recess week might be a thing – thankfully I had a group mate mention it off-hand while talking about something else. Apparently that info was in the course schedule or the eLearn announcements or something, so if you’re a prospective SMU SUSEP student as well this might be something you wanna watch out for.

Review of fifth row experiences
The one fifth row that I decided to commit to during SUSEP was SMUX skating, which is their rollerblading club. I’d never skated before prior to this, so it was pretty cool to attend the weekly sessions they held in school to learn a new skill like that. They also had urban sessions as well where they’ll go skating outside to places like IKEA, but you had to pass a proficiency test for that first; and unfortunately I never quite made it up to that level in my time there.

(In case you’re wondering, SMUX is SMU’s equivalent of APEX, but because SMU’s cohort size is substantially larger than SUTD’s, it actually comprises several sub-CCAs (hiking, biking, kayaking, skating etc. etc. I can’t remember the rest) that have the manpower to organize event independently, and sometimes they collaborate to do joint events as well)

Making pineapple tarts during a SMU root baking workshop
(Interestingly enough, its called SMU root here in the sense that its about exploring the root of Singapore culture)

SMUX hiking trip to Lazarus + sister’s islands during recess week

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