Lee Tun Leng has been working at NUS since March 2010 and moved to Shanghai to oversee the NUS Overseas College (NOC) there in September 2014. She has been enjoying her stint in this fast-paced city ever since.
Tun Leng's experience as a teacher in both Shanghai and Singapore before joining NUS certainly helps her relate to the undergraduates. In fact, some of the secondary students whom she has taught have joined the programme!
1. Describe Shanghai in around 50 words.
I have a love-hate relationship with Shanghai. It’s busy, things move so fast, it’s chaotic and inconsistent, and sometimes inefficient. Then again, it’s so exciting, and you must get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.
The good mix of old and new architecture, culture and diversity in the ethnicity of the Shanghainese is just fascinating.
2. Tell me about your typical work day in Shanghai.
My typical workday starts with emails and WeChat. I communicate with fellow NUS colleagues through emails and local companies and students via WeChat. For lunch, it depends on the weather but I usually lunch in the office because wàimài 外卖 (take-out) is so convenient and fast.
I try to schedule company visits twice a week, either to meet with new companies or existing companies we already work with to find out about students’ internship performance.
Since networking events are good opportunities to meet with new businesses, I try to attend talks and seminars on areas related to Blockchain, Fintech and Demo Day – where start-up company founders present their companies to a room of specially selected investors and press. These are usually held in the evenings.
3. More about the NOC experience?
I organise annual visits for NOC students to Ctrip organisation, which hosts China’s biggest online travel site. It’s great for the students to meet an NUS donor, Ms Jane Sun, who is the CEO of Ctrip.
We also bring the students to Suzhou to visit NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute. NOC is more than just an internship and study for students because they have plenty of opportunities to organise events for their peers, to network with entrepreneurs as well as fellow Singaporeans in Shanghai.
4. What is the most difficult thing about leaving Singapore?
Missing out on celebrations and gatherings with family and friends.
5. What is your favourite food/experience in Shanghai?
Favourite experience: The convenience of mobile payment. I usually only carry my keys and a mobile phone when I head out.
Favourite food: Tongue numbing Mala!
鱼非鱼, a popular dish of roast fish at No. 118 Nandan East Road