Dealing With Burnout

Written by: Lok Qi Ern (22-O1)

Designed by: Angelica Chiw (22-I6)

As junior college students, we definitely aren’t strangers to long hours of studying with little to no rest. In the arduous and gruelling race towards the finish line, we often find ourselves evaluating all of our life choices and wondering why we get out of bed every morning, feeling disappointed and full of dread (and no, sending that ‘Time to drop out of JC’ sticker on Whatsapp is not the answer to your problems). 

In fact, this is a sign of disillusionment; a feeling of disappointment in something we once highly valued (our education), which is a telling sign of burnout. It’s the knowledge that we all worked extremely hard to be where we are now, only to find pressure and inevitably disappointment getting the best of us. Other symptoms can include lacking the energy to be consistently productive (aka feeling ‘tired’ ‘drained’ ‘sian’ all the time), changing sleep habits, finding it hard to concentrate, being easily irritable, and being troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints. If reading the aforementioned behaviours feels like scanning through the past (or ongoing) chapter of your life, tailor-written down to the last sentence, you are likely experiencing burnout. 

It is now important to clarify that burnout is not a medical diagnosis, though it has been known to be linked to depression. This does not make it any less serious of a condition, as many students are unaware that they are experiencing burnout, and do not take action before it gets out of hand. 

The good news is that there are several courses of action you can embark on to get rid of burnout! 

A crucial step to take is to set boundaries. When you’re not working, leave your work behind, Therapist Thornton says. As hard as it may seem, creating a physical and mental headspace to rest would allow us to disengage from the causes of stress, and be better prepared to take on the work with a clear mind. Of course, this works with sustained discipline. 

Additionally, engaging in sports and exercising might seem like a burden to some of us, but regular physical activity can even be, daresay, life-changing especially when coping with burnout. Physical activity improves brain health and reduces stress rates, leading to a clearer mind to approach work with a fresh mindset, and as we take small steps towards regaining interest in the work we do on the daily, we will perhaps regain satisfaction from learning. 

Confiding in loved ones and trusted adults is also important, along with building a strong support system that can detect when you are falling back into your habits and guide you back on track. We are, ultimately, social creatures, and having the support of other humans is extremely important. 

Change isn’t easy. It’s why we tend to fall prey to the beckoning comfort of old habits and addictions— sitting in your chair and binging that Netflix show to avoid thinking of your problems is always easier than going for a jog to clear your mind. But fret not, as identifying that one is experiencing burnout is the first and most important step to beating it. Press on, and as a wise man once said: people often say that motivation doesn’t last. neither does bathing— that’s why we recommend it daily 

Arts Appreciation in Singapore

Written By: Yam Lok Sum (22-A1)

Designed by: Alexia Teo (22-U1)

“It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance.” 

~Henry James

Whether we notice it or not, the arts are an important part of the human experience. It simulates thought and reason and is known to have brought a revolution in many cultures. The arts also encourage the generation of ideas which allows viewers to draw their own emotions in their thoughts and pull from their personal experiences as they encounter them. As such, the arts are very powerful in this way as it naturally develops critical and innovative thinking skills in an individual. Many important qualities such as listening, observing and responding to multiple perspectives are also inculcated in the process. The question is, however, to what extent are the arts actually appreciated in Singapore, given our frequent emphasis on the sciences in our society today?

First, let’s dive right into the different forms of art and each of their specialities.

Visual Art

Visual art is an art form consumed primarily through sight, such as physical or static art objects. These include paintings, sculptures, drawings, crafts, photography, architecture etc. Some famous artworks that we are familiar with include the iconic painting ‘Mona Lisa’ and the Singapore Soul sculpture by Jaume Plesa on a more local scale, located in the prime area of Singapore, Raffles Place. The Singapore Art Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum and National Gallery Singapore are a few places where you can appreciate and dive into the great variety of visual art pieces displayed there.

Performing Arts

Performing arts is art that is performed in front of an audience. They include vocal and instrumental music, dance, theatre and drama. Performing arts are usually more interactive in nature compared to other types of art. Book your tickets to the Singapore Dance Theatre and the Esplanade to enjoy magnificent performances by our local talents! 

Literary Arts

Literary arts is art found in writing or stories that convey artistic and cultural value. They include poetry, literature, journalism, and non-fictional works. It is one of the oldest ways to preserve heritage and history and share information across generations. Many literary works have been recreated into plays and musicals over the years, such as ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl and ‘Wicked’ by Gregory Maguire which have both been well-received around the world. The Singapore Book Council and SingLit Station are ways in which Singapore is promoting literary arts by making it easily accessible to all. 

According to MMCY, in 2019, 69% of Singaporeans attended arts and culture events; 75% consumed arts through digital media, and 82% felt that the arts fostered a greater sense of belonging. Over the years, Singapore has also successfully established high quality and internationally regarded cultural institutions, such as the Esplanade and National Gallery Singapore. Together with highly respected educational institutions like the School of the Arts (SOTA), Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), LASALLE College of the Arts, and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. These reflect that the arts are still relevant and appreciated in Singapore today. In addition, Our SG Arts Plan is a 5-year plan initiated by the National Arts Council which charts new directions for the various forms of art in Singapore. This initiative aims to energise and excite more Singaporeans, as well as bring together diverse communities through different art forms. It includes increasing support for freelancers, promoting Singapore art overseas, strengthening research in the arts sector and using technology in art-making and outreach. 

Singapore has a vibrant arts scene, home to a diverse range of established and emerging artists and arts groups that present distinctive works and programmes. Over the years, we have seen a growth in artists and arts groups including freelance practitioners, arts educators, arts managers, technical and production crew. With all the effort put in by the various communities in promoting arts appreciation in Singapore and the positive response from the public, it is safe to say that the arts are appreciated in Singapore to a large extent and even await for more opportunities to showcase our arts in the future.  

The Curious Case of Belgium

Written by: Lye Jae Vir (22-I1)

Design by: Rebecca Yap (22-O1)

The curious case of Belgium. When the name ‘Belgium’ is evoked, the images that come to mind are more often than not: Papa Smurf, Tintin and French Fries – assuming that is, if one knows it exists. But the purpose of this article is neither to raise the highlights of Belgian culture nor to emphasise its existence. Instead, the ‘curious case of Belgium’ showcases a more shocking and striking statement: The Question of Belgium’s Existence. 

At risk of giving the reader an initial impression of this article as overtly sensationalist and tabloid in nature, there is an immediate justification and rationale for asking this question. After the 2010 Belgian general election, the country was extremely politically fragmented, with no party able to form coalition governments due to general animosity between each other. In fact, no party won more than 20% of parliamentary seats, making the process of coalition-making even tougher as about three parties had to form a coalition. As a result, from 2010 – 2011, the country was unable to come together to form a government. Most significantly, Belgium now holds the record at 541 days for not having a government in peacetime because of this political impasse. However, this may further raise the question: What is the root cause of this political fragmentation? To understand this, the very underpinnings of Belgian society have to be dissected.

Depending on who you ask, the beginnings of Belgian divisiveness can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. But for the sake of brevity, the history of Belgium will be conveniently excluded. 

The humble origins of Belgium’s fragmentation can be found within the convoluted mess that is the map below.

A divided country indeed

 (Credit: r/MapPorn)

In Belgium, the country is predominantly divided into two major regions: the Dutch-speaking Flanders in the North (in yellow) and the French-speaking Wallonia in the South (in red). Belgium practices ‘devolution’ or delegating more power to regional governments in this instance. If counted just by colour, there are at least four unique governments on top of the federal one. 

Besides the institutionalised political fragmentation of Belgium, there are a lot of other aspects of these divisions too. Economically speaking, Flanders happens to be a lot richer, which has made a lot of Flemish people view the less well-off Wallonia as a liability that only drains Flemish funds. But politics and economics aside, these divisions can be found in every-day life too.

Very evenly divided along linguistic lines 

(Credit: Wikipedia)

There are no national newspapers or television channels, even most political parties are only found in their respective regions. In some sense, the country is a loose federation of two nations barely holding onto each other. 

These divisions have manifested themselves throughout the country, permeating straight into the existential core of Belgium. With the country unable to form a national government in 2010-2011, many individual parties felt compelled to publicly consider partitioning Belgium. A French party from Wallonia even publicly held talks with France on a union between Wallonia and France. Currently, in Flanders, the leading party is also pro-independence. These sentiments were even echoed all the way up in the upper echelons of power. Then Belgian Minister for Climate and Energy, Paul Magnette, suggested partitioning Belgium if the political crisis escalated. 

With all these bits of new-found existential-level Belgian knowledge, one may be inclined to think that it should not exist. For Belgium’s sake, one may consider the view that a country this dysfunctional should just partition for the good of all its people within. Maybe it should, or perhaps Belgium could keep trudging on into the sunset of nationhood. But I am no political pundit – at least not yet – and I believe that a country this dysfunctional that is still able to produce the Smurfs possibly possesses the ability to find a way out of this situation.

But besides my personal views on whether Belgium should exist, one may be compelled to ask: What is the significance of this to me, the average Singaporean?

Belgium and Singapore are very far away from each other

(Credit: Google Earth)

Ignoring the poor cropping of the image, Belgium and Singapore seem worlds apart. Completely different continents, histories and contexts. But there are some parallels we can draw between the two, and maybe some questions we can pose to ourselves too. Belgium, a linguistically, culturally and socially diverse country with these differences antagonised to the point of dysfunction. Singapore, in the not so recent past, was not so different from our neighbour a world apart. Our nation had deeply-rooted cultural and societal differences, but the whole island still appears to be very much part of the same country. 

So what happened? 

Before I answer that question, some relevant questions can be raised. The curious case of Belgium allows us to gain, perhaps, a clearer and better perspective on what exactly is a state. Is it a unified language? Culture? Identity? 

In some sense, for Singapore, our answer to that was a common identity. Singapore took a different path at the crossroads, choosing to make national identity take primacy over all other identities. Rather than institutionalising differences like Belgium, Singapore chose to create an identity that resonated with people from any demographic. Learning English, pursuing Mandarin instead of the other Chinese languages, these actions helped us avoid what Belgium is facing today – a crisis of national identity; what it really means to be Belgian. 

To the reader, you may walk away with a newfound respect for our country, maybe even a rejuvenated sense of patriotism. If not, maybe a deeper understanding of a country you had no intention of thinking about and visiting whatsoever. Disregarding all these, I hope at least that this article helped you appreciate – even if only just marginally – the ‘curious’ in the curious case of Belgium. 


BBC. (2022, December 13). Belgium profile – media. BBC News. Retrieved from 

Connolly, K. (2020, October 3). Why Belgian struggle for identity could tear country apart. BBC News. Retrieved from 

The Federal Government. The federal government | (n.d.). Retrieved from 

r/mapporn – belgium’s regions explained. Reddit. (202AD). Retrieved  from 

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, November 21). Mass media in Belgium. Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, November 7). Partition of Belgium. Wikipedia. Retrieved from Yglesias, M. (2014, June 30). The case against Belgium. Vox. Retrieved from