Sunday, January 15, 2012

More A*STAR India Scholarship Info - And More Updates!!!!!!

This blogspot is an off the record sequel to my Previous Post, all on the A*STAR India Youth Scholarship, an amazing opportunity for young Indians to experience the Big City Life of Singapore. If you want Interview tips, please start reading from the third paragraph. If you just want updates, read paras 1,2 and scroll down after point 7.

Its been 2 weeks, 5 days and 10 hours since the kind immigration officer at Changi Airport stamped my passport. Now, having gotten hold of my Student Pass, and a FIN number, I officially have an existence on this small island, about four times smaller than Goa, India.

The last blogpost, if I recall correctly, was finished in 50 minutes and 39 seconds (Oh, no?). Now, according to a pro blogger, it takes a novice atleast 3 hours to write one. The last blogpost was like a frantic telegram, telling those back home that I'm not being eaten up here. I'm FINE. And telegrams are short scribblings, much like what happened on that last post.

Back to work. The scholarship interview is very demanding, because MOE does not foresee any quota. They see you for 15-20 minutes, promptly ask you to leave the room and base their decision on - Your Portfolio, your Written Exam scores (Do well esp. in English) and your conduct at the interview. The following is my experience at the interview. It may vary in different ways, in different situations and depends on both the Interviewer and Interviewee. 

1. I knock the door after hearing a bell, and get in. Greeted by two smiling faces, with a third one behind the laptop, not quite bothered on what's going on. (She was actually verifying the info I gave, based on my portfolio). The lady in the centre presided over the interview. (Later, I was told that she was the principal of the National Junior College, S'pore). The other guy just chipped in here and there.

2. First question - Where are you from? How far is the place? How did you get here?

3. They then ask questions based on your portfolio. I was asked about my Grades, and told that in Singapore, I may get low grades, not because I wont study or anything, but because the system demands a lot. I gave a frank answer. That's what you give, a truthful, frank and quick answer. Also, after they ask a question, take some time to think, but not too much, before answering.

4. Next, they asked me whether I had any leadership roles in School. Yes, I was a CCA Vice Captain and the Class Monitor. They also asked me what my friends think about me. Again, I gave them what came from my heart. No tricks, no cunning.

5. They then ask about Hobbies, Interests and the all important question - Why, when you have such established grades, do you want to jump ships and come to Singapore, wasting 6 crucial months? I was perplexed, but came out with something, which I quite don't recollect.

6. Then, I got some indication that they considered me. They asked me - Whatif, you go there and get low grades? Whatif, you have to stay with filthy roommates? What would you do? That was a breeze.

7. In the end, remember to ask any relevant question, that shows that you are really interested. Say a polite Thank You, and exit the room, confidently.

Bottomline: Hear what they say. Reflect. Don't say much. Say what you think. Don't think foolish. Stay confident. 

After you exit the interview room, try ask your co-'rivals' (paradox) how their interview was. Don't lose or gain any confidence after you talk to them, your confidence level has to be the same, what is was when you exited the room. Try and stay calm, everytime.

If you have questions, and if you are a prospect for the scholarship, don't hesitate to ask me questions. I'm always there, on facebook or on ymail (

Back to life. It's been a wonderfully different experience. Much gained since what it was last week. Past Faced (Oh, Fast Paced, see, so fast that I do typo :P) Life, Sprinting to catch the SBS Buses, taking the Express lane down elevators at MRT stations, trying hard to not Jaywalk and rushing here and there to complete time commitments. Tells you about Big City Life, in another way. Another perspective, given by one of my fav bands - Mattafix, in their much relevant song - Big City Life. 

Leaving aside fast paced life, and tiring days, everyday is different here. Be it at school with whatever little % of people I know, or at the hostel with me familiar Indians or when I am on my own, any which place. Now, telling it all on this space is not possible, but again, just leave me a facebook message, or a mail or add me on skype (ID - atharvjoshi).

School's going very well, awestruck by the system here. The system expects you to work hard, work hard consistently, have fun along the way, and concentrate on short and long term goals. Help is available anytime, and so are resources. Although its a long schoolday, it keeps me occupied for half of the day. Also familiar with the Roads, MRT and Bus facilities here now, and its pretty easy. You just have to use your frontal cortex.

Among other things, my next blogpost will be on what I expect to be a helluva weekend - Exploring (part) of another country, having fun, trying out different things, and expecting to exhaust myself throughout the day, only to find comfort in my sleeping bag. The Sec 3 Resilience Camp at Temasek Sec is often cited as one of the best memories Temasekians have. The camp is only for Sec3s, held at Pahang, Malaysia. Visit their Facebook page! There are three groups - Wilderness, Horizon and Summit. Me, in Summit, will try Abseiling, Cave Exploring, Rock Climbing and the like. I expect to come back with an overblown haversack, a tired/beaten/possibly injured me and a lot of experience. Experience that is invaluable and ingainable (is this word in Oxford?) to anyone sitting infront of their 1366x768 res 14" Laptop screen.

Till then, I retire thinking about what/who I miss back in Goa, all the wonderful things I used to do, the fun I am having at present, the fun I will have in the coming future, and new ways of making certain people jealous by writing more and more blogposts with more and more updates!

Later till then!


Friday, January 6, 2012

A*STAR India Youth Scholarship - Information & Updates

Sorry for keeping the title a little mundane. This post includes the Procedure for Application of the A*STAR India Youth Scholarship and the Syllabus for Written Test. More info & update space coming up.

This is intended to be the first post among the string of posts that relate to the same scholarship and my updates. Please tag along, and if you need any help, just email me at ( or join the blog. The first post is a bit boring, because it touches upon formal details, but anyways, if you just want the updates, promptly scroll down.

So, Read only if:
Number 1: I presume you are either an applicant/wannabe or someone selected under the Singapore MOE (Ministry Of Education) & A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) India Youth Scholarship.
Number 2: Or, you just are one of those awesome people I’m missing right now, reading my updates.
Number 3: Ah, just read along anyways! 

To begin, I have some web clippings (jpeg images) that tell something about the scholarship, the benefits, and yeah – the Moolah! Trust me, during my online research pre and post obtaining scholarship, I found websites reproducing the SAME info again and again, which is of no help to anyone benefitting from the scholarship. Sometimes, just reading written text builds your confidence and satisfaction, and as 4 years is no short time span, such info helps. Here goes nothing!

For more info, go to the Official Website. 90% of other hits on Google lead to nowhere but copy-paste!

In short, this promises to be a wonderful opportunity, studying in a country well known for its edu system, enjoying certain benefits, working hard and it can help you shape your future career. But, there are some areas you need to probe, and then decide for yourself whether you are up to the challenges that you will be facing. I arrived in Singapore on 27th Dec 2011, just like 8 days before, and I found things different from accounts that were recounted by past scholars, through social media or telephone. So, let’s start from the beginning.

In June/July, start checking for the advertisement in any leading newspaper, or just check out the MOE website. Send your documents (Report Books, Birth Certificate etc), and you should fill in a very extensive portfolio online, asking for things ranging from Parent’s details to number of siblings. Leave aside atleast an hour to fill it up carefully. Make a rough note of some of your Achievements, even anything trivial will do. The key is to show that you are good at many diverse areas, be it CCAs, Sports, Academics or Leadership Roles. After filling in, promptly submit and wait for them to contact you. (Send documents through a reliable courier service)

Singapore - The Little Red Dot at the end of the Malay Peninsula

As given in the important dates screenshot, you will get a letter from MOE inviting you to the Written Exam at your preferred centre. Now, you have 3 papers – General Ability, Mathematics and English. During our written exams, the Gen. Ability paper had questions on Series, Complete the Pattern (the kind of Mental Ability you see for the NTSE exam). It mainly tested your spatial abilities, how you can work with shapes in your mind and match the pattern to one of the options given. This test required speed, doing 48 questions in 20 minutes. The English paper is generally quite like school exam papers, divided into sections – Comprehension (Reading Passages and answering based on them), Grammar and a Structured Essay. The Math test is there to scare you, its tough. It covers Algebra (upto Indian equivalent of 9th Grade), some problems testing Application skills, Geometry (Grade 8), Speed/Distance problems (Grade 10) and yeah, Trigonometry (Grade 10). If you just touch upon these topics, and use your head a little bit, the Math paper should be a breeze. 

During your written test, there are parent & student briefings, and try and listen to the details and ask the MOE representatives whatever queries you have.

After this, you wait. Atleast for about 2 months. If you are selected for the interview, you will get an email and a letter from MOE. Umm, quite tired by now, I intend to cover the Interview in my next post. Sorry! Have been sleep deprived for the past 3-4 days. 

Mr. Curious - UPDATES

Its been more than a week since I came here. One week done in school already. Touched down on CHANGi on the 27th. I have been posted to Temasek Secondary School, one of the better schools and I am staying at Victoria Hall, a massive boarding complex in the Victoria School campus. There are four of us in our room, one Vietnamese, one Laosian and an Indian, and me. The people here are really friendly, the hostel staff, the teacher mentors, the peers at school and the teachers at school too. I have met a bunch of 17 Indians (mostly seniors) staying at VH too. By the way, I’ve had my parents come with me for 8 days, helping me settle in. They left today at 7pm. I had time to explore Singapore (MRT, Bus Service, Sentosa, Singapore Flyer, TOPless Bus Tours around Singapore), and met up with some relatives and contacts staying here. The schooling here demands hardwork, and lots of it. This means staying up till midnight completing homework, assignments and also having fun!!! So, this blog is a diary cum info space for me from now! Contact me a or just find me on Facebook by following the link to the right tab of the blog!
Bye for now, and, yeah, wait for the next post!