Chia Pei YunAbout
I’m currently on my lunch break. To be less literal (haha), my job puts me on the periphery of the exciting, slightly alien world of high-yield corporate financing. I work at a small credit research firm in downtown Singapore, editing the research and reports that analysts produce. When I’m not puzzling over figures and tripping over jargon, I’m working on a project to translate Ovid’s Medicamina Faciei Feminae into Chinese, and trying to stay interesting despite having joined the corporate world.
How does your experience in Literature inform what you’re doing?
At some point in senior year, I realised that the biggest skill I’d been working on all that time was the skill of assembling a good argument–one that’s compelling, cogent, and cohesive. That skill comes in very handy when editing this research! I had had the opportunity to copy-edit some professors’ manuscripts, too, which didn’t really have anything to do with my studying Literature per se, but speaks to the kinds of opportunities you can access at a place like Yale-NUS.
There’s also a real need to love language. Some will think that the only kind of language you learn to love in this major is flowery, literary language, but what they don’t know is that in order to be a good literature student you have to love prose that does the job–and aspire, as we all do, to write beautifully and effectively at the same time.
Why did you choose the major?
I started college intending to major in either Philosophy or Physics. Soon enough, I discovered that I didn’t want to do Philosophy, and declared Physics my major. But as I grew more and more certain that I had no intention to go to graduate school in physics, or work in a technical environment, studying physics in college seemed all the more, well… pointless. I resolved, somehow, that I would need somehow to learn things that would enrich me as a person, instead of just training my intellectual skills. And then I took a step back, realised that I had had all this language learning percolating all along, and decided to make the leap to Literature.
How did it shape your Yale-NUS experience (what did you LOVE about it?)?
Majoring in Literature was a liberating decision. Our major was so small and collaborative, and we all got along splendidly as friends and as colleagues. I never felt left out even as the last person to join (and late!). The Literature faculty is another highlight. It’s not every day that you find professors so dedicated to teaching and to teaching you to think for yourself. On the whole, I’m glad and grateful that I decided to major in a Humanities subject. Looking over the months and years since that decision, I can see that I have grown tremendously as a person–I would even say that I’ve grown into myself, and into the confidence that it requires to be myself. It made my Yale-NUS experience worth it.
The study of Literature has, far more than life experiences themselves can, taught me that other people exist, and that other people’s experiences matter. Even the fictional ones. Other people live and breathe and love and laugh and grieve–and they die, as one day we will die. Literature is the original Global Affairs. It’s taught me, too, that nearly everything is deeper than it seems (the things that are worth thinking much about anyway). In an age where nearly everything can be done as a performance, literature (and the study of Literature) cultivates an inner life. That itself is invaluable!