You may have seen him hanging out in Haggar, or met him in class, but senior Gabriel Lim has a unique background and perspective that goes far beyond the University of Dallas campus.
Born and raised in Singapore, which is both a city and a country, Lim described his early education as “different from what most Americans probably experience.”
Although he attended a Catholic school, like many people at UD, Lim said, “It was a very Sinocentric, or Chinese-centric Catholic school. Our culture was a bit more rigid, [it had] a lot of discipline.”
In Singapore, everyone is required to learn a second language in school, so he took Mandarin Chinese and remains relatively fluent.
“I can hold a conversation, but I can’t talk about Socrates or the stock market in Chinese, that would be really difficult,” Lim said.
All men in Singapore are conscripted into uniformed service for two years at age 18, regardless of wartime.
“I extended my civilian life for two years because I was doing IB [International Baccalaureate],” Lim said.
Although these men can apply for their preferred area of work, the decision ultimately lies with the government. Lim was assigned to work in a fire department, and his younger brother is currently in the police force.
In terms of his education at UD, Lim’s history major and concentrations in international studies and human sciences all integrate into his senior thesis and backstory. “I’m doing my history senior thesis on [conscription] right now,” Lim said.
Outside of work and school realms, Lim’s enjoys video games, rock climbing, model kit building, working out and according to him, “a lot of nerdy stuff.”
Occasionally, Lim volunteers at a therapy riding center back in Singapore. Lim’s music tastes range from alternative to heavy metal, and at one point he went through “a very awkward dubstep phase.”
Lim’s journey to join UD was long and roundabout.
“I visited this place twice but I decided against it, because I’d done a Catholic education all my life and I wanted to try something different,” Lim said.
After attending a college with a culture that did not mesh with him, Lim took a gap year at home. Lim’s sister, Gretel, was looking for a college during this time period, so they decided to matriculate at UD together. One of Lim’s cousins came to UD as well.
“I’m going to be honest, I was a bit hesitant to come to UD because it’s a different kind of community than I’m normally used to,” Lim said. Despite his uncertainty, Lim said that his favorite part about UD is the people.
The hardest parts of the Core for Lim were philosophy and Western Theological Tradition.
“A lot of UD students had prior experience in philosophy,” he said. “I just took a chance and I just tried it out.”
Lim’s favorite teacher is history professor Dr. Sullivan.
“What I love about his classes is that he’s very good at taking a very complex idea and just breaking it down to its core essentials,” Lim said. “I’ve never understood Marx until I sat down in his classes.”
While Lim enjoys his education, there are some aspects of his life back home that the U.S. cannot replace.
“I miss my family the most,” Lim said. In terms of everyday life, Lim misses “the public transportation and the food. Singapore’s food is amazing.”
After graduation, Lim plans to pursue a PhD in Asian history in Singapore, and ultimately hopes to teach. Lim remains open to pursuing studies in the humanities and international studies as well.
Although he will graduate in a few months, Lim exhibits an insatiable intellectual curiosity characteristic of so many past, present and future UD students. Already Lim’s interests have brought him half-way around the world; undoubtedly, they will lead him to even more adventures in the future.