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"I took a gap year to..."

Taking a year-long break (or two) from your studies to pursue a passion could mean scrambling to catch up with schoolwork or graduating later than your peers. Peter Yeo meets three intrepid students to find out why they took that gap year

Expand my worldview

Joshua Choy, Risk Management & Insurance, Year 3

1 year

New York City, USA

I wanted to work at a fintech company for a fresh perspective on finance and entrepreneurship outside Singapore. I plan to start my own company and saw the need to broaden my worldview.

Aha moment
I had two aha moments while in the US. The first was when I helped to establish a new church in Boston. People had left their high-paying jobs or switched careers to do this. Their determination to achieve their dreams changed the way I looked at mine. I’d also met some Americans who happened to study at Harvard University, including my roommate. Their views on life and drive to change things inspired me. They’d follow their hearts, even if it meant taking a pay cut or a longer route. As a typical Singaporean, I’m quite risk averse, so catching that spirit of boldness to push forward regardless of obstacles, was an important turning point for me.

Biggest takeaways
Americans seem to be able to turn anything into opportunities. They can build a company from nothing. I also learnt that hard work doesn’t guarantee success, and that’s okay. Your attitude and perspective, and spirit of innovation and drive to keep pushing forward, is what makes life worth living. Many of us enter the workforce without knowing what we want and end up joining the rat race, but money is a poor master. It is our dreams that are worth pushing and striving for. Taking a gap year to lay out a vision of what I want in life and how to achieve it is a price worth paying for.

Pros & cons
I had to make sure I could complete the modules required for graduation in one semester after returning from the US. Moreover, taking a gap year is a huge expense and I had to talk to my family about the financial commitment as my sisters were just about to enter university. Knowing that I couldn’t graduate with friends I’d enrolled with was something I had to come to terms with.