“Aiya, after 2 years in NS, of course, my brain rot already lah!”

Admit it, we have all heard that before. It is undeniable that the rigor and structure of our military-accustomed lives have extinguished some of our creative spark. However, all is not lost, unless you allow it to be. The time after National Service (NS) is the perfect opportunity to reignite some of that creative spark. Here are five ways in which you can brush the dust off the motors in your brain and get thinking again!


1. Read More


Ask yourself, when was the last time you picked up a book to read? If your answer is “I don’t remember”, you are not alone. According to a National Library Board (NLB) report in 2018, only roughly 20% of teenagers read books more than once a week.

In this digital age where entertainment comes in so many different forms, it is understandable that people are less inclined to pick up a good book as a form of leisure. The practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration.

With the advent of technology, reading has only been made easier. Books today come in many different forms, from the traditional paperback, to electronic books and audio books, all of which are made to improve the convenience of reading.

Download a mobile app like Libby (by NLB), or Overdrive that will allow you to borrow e-books and audiobooks on your mobile phone. You can even invest in a reading tablet such as the Amazon Kindle which will allow you to purchase or download reading materials.

Picking up a reading habit is a process that requires time to cultivate. Make use of the time after NS to do so. As Mark Twain once said, “the man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”


Source: Tickikids Singapore

2. Learn a Language

On one of my trips overseas, I met someone who was fascinated with the fact that we are all bilingual in Singapore. He told me of his desire to learn as many languages as he can. When I asked why, he told me it is because every time he learns a new language, he is introduced to a whole new world.

Learning a language does introduce you to a new world. It exposes you to so much more content that you can consume. It exposes you to so many more people that you can connect with. It exposes you to so many new cultures and customs that you would otherwise not be able to relate to.

Languages are now much easier to pick up. Free mobile applications such as Duolingo are available for some language basics. Videos and stories are also readily available online.

Take the time after NS to pick up a new language. It can be Bahasa Melayu for you to communicate with your neighbors, Japanese for you to watch Anime or even Korean for you to understand your favorite K-pop idols.

Source: Asiaone

3. Learn a Programming Language


With the advent of technology, languages are no longer only conversational. Programming Languages such as C, Python and Java create all the software and hardware around us. With the infiltration of technology in all walks of our daily lives, it is undeniable that there is a steady demand for competent coders.

In 2019, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that Enrichment classes on coding will be rolled out to all Upper Primary Students. In the future, learning to code will become so much of a norm, such that knowing how to code will no longer put you at an advantage, but rather, not knowing how to code will put you at a disadvantage.

The Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme Plus (CITREP+) is a programme under the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). This programme provides funding for eligible Singaporeans that are interested in improving their computational skillsets with approved institutions.

It is important to stay afloat with the everchanging demands of our economy. Utilize the free time you have after NS by learning to code!

Source: Vulcan Post

4. Prepare for School


During my first tutorial in University, I remember my friend leaning over to tell me, “Bro, I think this is the first time I’ve held a pen in two and a half years.”

Okay, that is probably an over-exaggeration. However, it is true that we have been out of touch with our academics while serving NS, causing us to work twice as hard to get back into the routine of studying.

To prevent a similar situation as my friend, you can start reading up on the content of your classes before University begins. The e-PREP scheme on the NS Portal is a MINDEF initiative introduced for NSFs to take up online preparatory and refresher courses while in service. In-service NSFs will be eligible to participate in e-PREP during their last 12 months of service and 1 year after their ORD. They will be allocated training credits to purchase courses offered under the scheme.

Start reading ahead before your classes begin. Even if you fear that you will forget what you have learnt by the time classes start, at least you know that you will be used to holding a pen!

Source: Wikipedia

5. Start Investing


If there is one thing I regret not doing after my NS, it is learning to invest with some of the allowance that I have saved up through the 2 years. Investing entails putting money in stocks, bonds or other securities to earn a return. It might sound daunting at first, and it does require some time to pick up, but hey, that is what this time after NS is for right?

Additionally, learning to invest is not only about making money. It entails market watching, which is often associated with global affairs. Thus, this will help you to become more aware about the happenings around the world.

To start investing, one will first have to open a brokerage account. After which, adequate research is vital. Sites such as Yahoo Finance and the Wall Street Journal provide useful, up-to-date information about the stock markets around the world.

The purpose of NS is to develop an “Ah Boy” to become a “Man”. Similarly, understanding your own personal finances is an important step into adulthood.

Source: Crowe

Life is a never-ending process of improving yourself. NTUC LearningHub provides fantastic opportunities for that. With more than 100 courses available, many of which are heavily subsidized by the government through our SkillsFuture program, you have a plethora of choices to choose from. The best day to start was yesterday, the next best day is today!

This article was written by Tok Yin Jie, who is a second-year Accountancy and Business Undergraduate from Nanyang Technological University currently interning in SNCF, Campus and Youth team. He is passionate about travelling and learning about new cultures. He hopes to be able to make a change in society in the future.