Please Mind the Platform Gap: Relationships in RI

Please Mind the Platform Gap is a fortnightly column aimed at preparing Year 4 RI and RGS students for the challenges of JC life. Written by Year 5s from Raffles Press who have “been there, done that”, each piece covers a different aspect of life “on the other side”. This week, we bring you the truth on the dating scene in JC.

by Kimberley Yeo (13S05B)

No more sneaking around Far East Plaza or Junction 8 required, kids: JC brings Rafflesians together in more ways than one. For many of us, most interactions have been limited to schoolmates, and some have even spent all ten of their schooling years in single-sex institutions. Fortunately, however, the beauty of the Integrated Programme means that friendships remain solidly intact within the same school campus. One may be overwhelmed by the loud, oblivious boys or the giggly yet aloof girls, but most of us will still have our old schoolmates nearby. (Along this same thread, spare a thought for your new non-Raffles-Programme friends who have had their close friends spread across the island and are now faced with the daunting task of meeting 1,200 new faces.)

The initial acquainting of both genders formally begins at Orientation. Orientation Groups typically have 20 OGLings (1:1 gender ratio) with around 3 Year 6 OGLs. Based on your luck — allocation is supposedly random — you may or may not have your close friends from your Sec 1 or 2 class with you. It is said that Orientation is typically a hotbed for hooking up as all the excited kids, fresh out of single-sex schools, are introduced to each other. There may be an incredibly cute guy in your OG, but, really, it is highly unlikely that you will marry your OG mate. Unofficial statistics show that most couples formed during Orientation do not last more than half a year. Instead, OGs typically become a support group for many; they are more of a family than anything else (which may explain why OG romance rarely works out!).

Depending on subject combination (there are generally more boys in Physics classes and more girls in Arts), mixed gender interactions will be a given within classes, from Project Work to lunch at the canteen tables. Even if you do end up in a class with a heavily skewed gender ratio, JC life has been engineered to be a daily fraternising party. Unless you decidedly do so, avoiding the opposite gender and any interaction with them is a near impossibility. Additionally, most breaks are now 50 minutes long, giving you more than enough time to satisfy your hunger and to catch up with your ex-classmates — social circles can expand exponentially as you realise the concept of ‘friends of friends’ is no longer restricted to Facebook.

Evidently, one makes a lot more friends than girlfriends/boyfriends. Don’t worry girls, RI boys aren’t desperate, deprived maniacs. Well, at least most of them aren’t. You’ll find that it is quite normal to make many amazing friends of both genders as everyone forges ahead towards the ultimate end point of the A Levels.

We hear the oft-repeated advice to not get attached: need to focus on studies, don’t want to get your heart broken right before As, not ready for it, and so on, but people still do enter relationships in JC. By this time next year, you will have seen innumerable couples strolling across the canteen, but unlike in secondary school where the sighting of a fellow schoolmate with — oh the horror! — a boy will set tongues wagging and rumours racing across the batch, the Marymount grapevine is generally much more open and accepting of relationships. Perhaps most people have realised that everyone is 17 or 18 (trust us, it can be quite a big leap in maturity from being 16) and should be prepared to make responsible choices. Of course, news of a recently attached couple will still spread across the school, but usually all that brings about is knowing smiles, and any disapproval or censure is usually isolated within singular groups of friends, if expressed at all.

‘If you do get attached, study dates after school are a good idea.

You should realise, however, that if you do become one of those couples, you do not exist in a vacuum — the JC rumour mill is usually benign, but it can grow vicious. It would do you some good to be aware of what you say and do, but, ultimately, don’t let spite affect you. Relationships do complicate things, so be prepared to handle them with emotional maturity and mutual compromise. Friends, please do support one another as no one is born an expert at relationships. Couples, remember your friends! Exclusivity can be quite a turn-off, and you don’t usually break up with your friends.

As Goh Yon-lu (13SO5B) puts it, “If you want then have lah, if you don’t want then don’t.” Relationships are not on everyone’s to-do list: while some wonder throughout Year 4 what potential mates JC has in store for them, many, like Yon-lu, could not care less. We suggest that you do not put undue stress upon yourself anticipating the unknown, and instead find out for yourselves in the two most exciting years of your life, romance or no.

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← Read our previous introduction to the lecture-tutorial system here. And, in two weeks time, put this advice to good use with our next instalment: a guide to dating models. (Update: the article has now been published. Go forth and propagate!)

Have suggestions for future columns? Tell us about it in our survey here!

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