Q & A with the Singaporean Exchange Students

Singaporean students came to Dominion as a part of an exchange with Global Ambassadors. While there, the students stopped by DHS Press to talk with students about the differences between Dominion and their own school.


DHS Press Staff

Eleven students from the Singapore exchange visited DHS Press to talk about the differences between Dominion and there own school.

Q: What does the schedule look like at your school? 

Charlie: So the schedule is as such: School starts at about 7.30 in the morning, where we have flag raising before going back to our classes. Then we have reading period for about 20 minutes. Lessons begin from 8am to 1:30pm.

HBK: In addition we have afternoon lessons which happens after lunch. They usually last until 3.30pm or 4pm, which is dependent on each class. We also have CCA and that will normally be from 2.30 to 6:30pm. So that’s pretty late at night.

Yicheng: To add on, what he meant by CCA is that it stands for co-curricular activities, which are like club activities that you choose. So these are not academic. These are mostly on Wednesday, and Fridays.

Zhiyao Chia: In my high school our days are pretty busy. Most of the time is spent studying, we don’t really have much time for interaction and fun. It’s really stressful.

Q: So how many classes do you have in one day? 

Nigel Lin: Five to six classes.

Q: Are classes the same everyday? 

Nigel Lin: I think we alternate classes all day, depends on the day. Some days there are math and advanced classes, some days they are literature and social studies classes.

Q: What does a normal class look like?

Ted To: So basically, we have a classroom where our form classes, we take all classes together as a class. So for some lessons like for example, science, we have practical lessons. So we will go to the science lab together for lessons, but most of the time we are just in the classroom so the teachers come in and teach. So we are always stationed in the classroom so we don’t move about that often.

Charlie: So, the normal class will usually be lectures. These lessons are conducted with the subject teacher lecturing with slides and presentations and we will be using a laptop to jot down notes and will usually do homework after school, at home or in school.

Zhou Ziyang: Usually there is 32 people in a class and those 32 people stay in the same classroom throughout the day and the teachers come into our class for lessons. Usually it’s just like passive learning, the teachers just do lecture-style teaching.

Q: What is your homework like?

Chai Lin: [It is] mostly in worksheet form, so the teachers hand out forms and we complete them

Q: How much time do you spend on homework at night?

Ted To: Almost all our time. Our School ends quite late sometimes from 3:30 to 4:00 on some days, and some days around 7:00 because of some other activities. So usually, we just have to rush our homework. I do my homework until about maybe nine or 10 and then I go to bed, but some of them stay up until 12.

Xiu: The latest I’ve done is like until 2 or 3. 

Q: What is the grading system at your school?

Charlie: So for the grading system, we use a system called MSG which is mean subject grade. So it will be from A1 to F9, A1 being the best and F9 being the worst. A1 would be 75 marks and above, A2 would be 70-74 and so on with 5 mark gaps between the grades. Thus, the smaller the MSG, the better it is. That’s how our grading system works.

Q: What happens if you get caught cheating?

Chai Xiu: Oh, I think it’s like I’m in the rule book it’s like you will get 5 demerit points. If we get too many points we kind of get expelled from the school and then banned from like overseas trips and you might even get suspension if you get caught cheating. 

Ted To: If we get cheating a second time you will be immediately expelled. 

Yicheng: When you get caught cheating, you get five demerit points. So the punishment for getting five demerit points are not being able to apply for scholarship and not being allowed for overseas immersion. You get a zero for the paper too. So if you get caught cheating twice, attaining ten points, you’re getting expelled.

Q: What differences have you noticed between your high school and then here at Dominion?

Ted To: Mainly is about attire because over here at Dominion, you guys can wear whatever you want to school versus in Singapore, we need to wear our school uniform. Yeah. And another difference is that you guys are the ones who move around for every class, verse for us, we’re just stuck in our classroom. And teachers come in and they just, they just other ones that moving around and stuff to students.

Nigel Lin: I think there’s more emphasis all around like classes like design and sculpture, where was us it was mostly focus on more academic subjects. So there isn’t really other subjects like art or music. We don’t have that. 

HBK: So basically, the first thing is the dress code. We have uniforms, which is compulsory. However, in Dominion, you can wear whatever you want. So you can come up with creative ways and stuff. And next thing is about the hair. For us, we have very tight regulations for the boys, because we are a boys school, our fringe cannot touch our eyebrows and our sides cannot touch the ears. 

Kian Ann: There are also some other restrictions in our school, for example, some teachers are quite particular about like, you eating in class. There’s also a difference in the sitting position. Based on what I have seen, some classes here have their student’s chairs arranged in a ‘U-shaped position” while in Singapore, most seats are usually just straight facing the whiteboard. 

Yun Di: next are the subjects that we have in school. In Singapore, we are academic-based. So all our subjects like they say languages, they have sciences, basically that’s it. So for us in humanities, of course, you know, we don’t have that. From secondary one to secondary two, which is the two years starting two years of our high school journey, We have music lessons and infocomm. but All these are removed when we go to secondary three and four. So for you guys, you have way more a wider range of lessons for example, like photography, sculpture and shot. So yeah, that’s pretty cool.

Zhou Ziyang: The school life her is much more relaxed compared to our school. Usually during our lessons it is very boring, but her it is much better. There are a lot of interesting things you do such as quizlet. And also the teachers here are more chill. Also you don’t have a dress code here. In Singapore each school has a certain uniform they have to wear.

Chew Yue Bin: Our school is an all boys school and here there are both genders. People here mix very well together. Also our school is an all Chinese school practically but here there is a big mix of different races.

Xavier Tan: I think one really big difference is that it is very chill here. Students and teachers can have very open discussions about anything they want to, but back in Singapore it is very passive learning and we just have lecture-based lessons where we just take notes and the teacher speaks.

Zhiyao Chia: It is much more relaxed here. The teachers here are nicer and students have more time to interact with each other.

Q: What are aspect of Dominion would you like to see in your school? 

Charlie: so i would like to see more collaborative or Google where the teacher allows students to research on their own and let us students voice our own opinions in class instead of the teacher just rambling on slides.

Kian Ann: Also, it would be great if our lessons can start as late as that of Dominion High’s.

Chai Xiu: We mainly want to like the attire part, when you get more freedom to choose what you can wear to school and what color your hair. [Which is that,] you cannot dye your hair so it must be our natural hair color, which they mostly black, and the hair cannot touch your ears and cannot touch the behind off a collar, and it’s not supposed to pass your eyebrows. 

Zhou Ziyang: I hope that we can get rid of dress code because it is really convenient if you can just wear whatever clothes you have at home and I hope that lessons can be more interesting. For example, with more Quizlets or Kahoots.

Chew Yue Bin: I realized one cool thing is that the students get to drive to school and in Singapore you can’t get a license until you’re 18 or something. I wish we could do that.

Xavier Tan: I think the dress code. Because we have a uniform to wear which is kind of uncomfortable sometimes especially due to the weather. It is very hot in Singapore so being able to wear our own clothes would be much more comfortable for us.

Zhiyao Chia: I would like to see more freedom being given to the students in Singapore. Let them have the free will to decide what they want to do and have more time for them to pursue their own hobbies and other stuff other than studying.

Q: What happens if you do have that illegal haircut do you have to shave it? 

Yicheng: So for the first time you can call you get a warning first and they will force you to be checked again. If you don’t get your hair fixed for the checkup, they will give you a demerit points. When you get 5 points, you get certain punishments, like you’re not allowed to go for international trips, you are not allowed to apply for scholarship and when you reach 10 demerit points, you get expelled. So, the number of points given are based on how severe your “crimes” are. For things like coming to school late or having an “illegal” haircut, you get one demerit point. So for more severe offences like cheating, you get five straightaway.

Q: What is one thing that you found surprising about Dominion? 

Ted To: You guys are more like friends and stuff with teachers. Like more friendly, more friendship atmosphere, so you guys have fun doing lessons with the teachers that you guys can play together. 

Zhou Ziyang: I think the distance from the school to the houses. Usually in Singapore when you walk from school to home it’s really close and there are a lot of buildings, but in American when you drive to school there is a lot more nature. It’s a good change of pace.

 Chew Yue Bin: It seems that everyone is in Track and Field which is kind of weird. The cross country and track team is really really big. At our school the track team has only a few people for each event group.

Xavier Tan: Probably the dress code as well as your hair. We are only allowed to have black hair, we cannot dye our hair. Because we are an all boys school, we cannot have our hair below our ears.

Zhiyao Chia: What I found surprising was the amount of freedom and authority the students have. They are able to fully control their own lives and even talk back to the teachers.

Q: What is your favorite experience or trip that you have been on while you’ve been here?

Chai Lin: I think it would be our trip to DC, I think that when we got to the African American History Museum that will be the best part of our trip. 

Yicheng: For the first day when we came to Virginia, mine and Yun Di’s hosts, Michael Tascher and Jacob Chang. They brought us to a nearby park and we did some hiking. So that was really fun. 

Yun Di: Yeah, so for me, definitely be catching the sunset. And so yeah, the sunset so yeah, it’s around that say, yeah, we start our journey at four. So we hit to the woods and go through the woods to the end of the woods. There’s like a small penance, which is like a small land that stretches over the lake. So we take photos, we took time lapse over there. So all the venue like this is six. Yeah. So it’s It was an amazing time. Oh, Charlie, for me will be the night where all of us came together cameras holster, I’ll have our boy fire and I’m sure that was the first time experiencing Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Zhou Ziyang: I feel like interacting with the people here was the best experience throughout the whole trip because I feel like Americans are very nice people. They are very welcoming and they are very interested in other cultures and they ask a lot of questions so it makes me feel happy that other people want to know about our culture.

Chew Yue Bin: Going to the Outlets in Leesburg. Because the stuff is cheap there and it’s nice.

Xavier Tan: Staying at my host family’s house because I can experience the American culture and immerse myself in how you guys go about your daily activities and how you guys have lessons and stuff.

Zhiyao Chia: My favorite experience was just hanging out with the people here, experiencing the lifestyle, enjoying myself, and feeling the culture.

Q: what was your first impression of students at Dominion? 

Ted To: They were like many students in the hallway when we first came here. When the lessons about to start, there are many students they’re just going to the respective locations, even like the change of classes there are so many people. We don’t usually see that is Singapore because you know we don’t change classrooms, it’s because you guys get to interact with more people, because sometimes I see people talking past and they are like “Hi”/ “Bye”, because they see their friends so often. 

Nigel Lin: there’s a slight culture shock to begin with, because we’re not used to seeing so many students with different backgrounds and research because our schools which are mostly Chinese.

HBK: They’re pretty wild with all the outfits, everyone is different. And the hairstyles too. So, pretty much yeah. And you guys are pretty free. Like, I see people in class like eating, chatting, right? They don’t really respect each other sometimes. 

Charlie: So on top of that, thought I would say like, even though they are all I mean, they are friendly people and outgoing so like in the sauce, like a lot of them just came up to us and like introducing, so it was quite fun.

What has been your favorite food that you’ve tried here?

Charlie: My favorite restaurant would be Chick-fil-a, I mean, I think a lot of the food is good.

Yundi: Chipotle, it’s very filling. 

Yicheng: For me, Shake Shack. The burgers are delicious.