As he waited to board his first-ever long-haul flight at Singapore's Changi Airport, Mr Abdul Rashid's parents and three siblings fussed over him, proffering advice about avoiding pickpockets and staying out of trouble.
However, the 18-year-old himself was eyeing his brand new suitcase, bearing his new jackets, sweaters and canned food, as it disappeared into the cargo hold.
He says: "It was my first real overseas trip. I was more worried about losing my stuff."
The National Precision Engineering Scholar (NPES), who studies digital and precision engineering (DPE) at Nanyang Polytechnic, was also about to realise a dream.
This was to see the world and go on a three-month internship with Carl Zeiss, the German maker of optical systems and more.
The internship was part of the NPES programme, an Economic Development Board and Spring Singapore initiative to nurture technologists - who work with craftsmen and engineers to marry engineering theory with technical expertise.
Mr Rashid, now 20, started out studying manufacturing engineering, but a 3.88 grade point average in his first year won him the opportunity to switch to DPE with a full scholarship and the chance of an overseas internship.
"It was going to be challenging and would open up more opportunities for me in the future, so why not, I asked myself," he says.
Mr Rashid - and his luggage - arrived in Frankfurt safely and went to Aalen, where the Carl Zeiss facility is located.
He was placed in a team creating a fixturing system using 3D software. Fixturing is the secure clamping of a part during various machining operations.
He says: "I had been trained in the use of specific Zeiss machines, but ended up doing something else altogether. It was quite challenging, especially since the instructions were all in German."
Besides exploring the world of Zeiss, he also got a chance to explore Europe.
With five others who were also on internships, he visited Berlin, Milan, Vienna, Brussels, Amsterdam and Zurich.
He says: It was a chance to see Europe, and I would never have had that kind of opportunity. I really loved Vienna.
Mr Rashid, who loves to play the guitar, is now waiting to start his national service, after which he will serve out his scholarship bond in the precision engineering sector.
He hopes to eventually earn a degree in materials engineering and join a company which makes aircraft engines.
He says: "I want to learn about new materials and help improve existing materials, making them stronger, lighter and more efficient. Through my research, perhaps one day I may even discover something completely new."
This article was first published on May 12, 2014