Not once in my childhood aspirations have I envisioned myself taking a stride into the vast world of the maritime industry. I have never regretted choosing this path as the experience has nurtured me into what I am today. I am on my way to accomplishing one of the greatest achievements in my life.

I remember very clearly the first day of my studies for the Diploma in Maritime Transportation Management at the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) in Singapore Polytechnic. I stepped into the classroom, clueless about what laid ahead, not knowing that this step would lead to a discovery of my passion for the maritime industry.

I watched and listened in awe as the lecturers shared their exciting stories of their experiences at sea. They impressed me with the importance of the global economy and its impact on world trade, and the intricacies and complexities of the diverse industry piqued my curiosity. The prospects of working in this ever-changing and dynamic sector excited me and I was determined that the maritime industry was where I wanted to pursue my long-term career.

The learning process was an enriching and enjoyable sojourn. The maritime industry is not just about shipping goods from one place to another; there is definitely more to it than that. Singapore is one of the leading international maritime centres and is set to grow in importance.

Questions started popping into my head as I sat back and pondered. What encourages sea trade? How are vessels built? What does a shipping company do? My thirst for answers grew as the wide range of modules revealed the many interesting facets of the maritime business, both in Singapore and overseas. Apart from learning about ship structures and operations, we were also taught the technical and commercial aspects, which included shipping practices, supply chain management, marketing in shipping business amongst others. From business to engineering, the course covered all aspects of maritime comprehensively.

After obtaining my diploma in Maritime Transportation Management in 2009, I decided to further my education in order to equip myself with a maritime degree. I scouted around for a course that best suited my interests. The Bachelor of Maritime Operations (BMO) with the Maritime Transportation Management option was the course that I could best connect with. The course is broadly divided into three phases: the classes are conducted at the SMA for the first three months,  and in the Maritime Institute of Willem Barentsz in the Netherlands for the next three months. The final phase would be a six-month work internship in the maritime industry.

I have just completed the second phase, the overseas stint in the Netherlands. The exposure to a totally different culture swept me off my feet and I was blown away by the magnitude of the global maritime scene.

These experiences have nurtured me into an independent young adult, as this is the first time that I stayed far away from the comforts of home. I consider myself fortunate to be given this opportunity to study in Europe, something which I have never dreamt of. The scholarship awarded to me by the Singapore  Maritime Academy and administered by the MaritimeONE Secretariat, the Singapore Maritime Foundation, have curtailed my course fees and steered me towards my goal to be a maritime professional.

I am very grateful for this rare chance to study in Europe so even as I focused on my studies, I also played hard to enjoy the wonderful sights there. There was a fine line between both and self-discipline was what it took to balance the two. The support from the pillars of strength in my life – my family, my friends and the school – propelled me to strive for the best at school to equip myself with the knowledge and experience for my future maritime career.

The overseas exposure in the Netherlands was invaluable and a great eye-opener. To me, the highlight of the degree programme, was the stay in Netherlands. The chance to mingle with the Dutch maritime students who share the same passion for the maritime industry, and the experiential visits to some of the busiest ports in Europe – the Port of Rotterdam and the Port of Antwerp – to witness the operations were great exposure.

I will be graduating at the end of September 2010 and will always cherish the time spent pursuing my university degree. I am waiting in anticipation for the next phase as I enter the Singapore maritime workforce upon my graduation. I am excited to see what the maritime industry has in store for me. The journey I have experienced to date has been very fulfilling and exciting and I’m sure that the next leg of the journey will be even more so.