By Darrell Koh (16A13A) and Justin Lim (16A01B)
Thrust into a new and perhaps unfamiliar environment, Orientation is the first socialising experience that seeks to help students acclimate to Junior College life. For students coming from either RI Y1–4 or RGS, it helps that there will be many familiar faces around, but these faces will no longer be the majority. From Charmain’s (16S03J, MT05) point of view, “OGs are [like] the first group of JC friends you make” and are “a source of familiarity amidst changes”. Si Hui (16S03O, BW12) concurs, saying that OG members “are people [she] found familiarity and comfort in when [she] first felt awkward in class or [her] cca” and eventually became “one of [her] sources of strength and comfort when [she feels] alone or [needs] some people to confide in.” For many of us, OGs can become just one element in the support network of friendships you will be be establishing throughout your JC life.
At this point, you are probably wondering how you can possibly keep your OG alive. Just like any other relationship, your OG-bond risks withering without regular and sustained interaction. Admittedly, staying in touch with your OG is much harder given additional social commitments with your class, CCA, and other friends. OGs thus often think to use more convenient online mediums like Whatsapp chats in order to facilitate interaction, which often heralds the end for your OG story, for they impair our ability to socialise with empathy and understanding. So, how exactly do you keep your OG alive?
- Face to Face Interaction
Orientation itself is a helpful sprinkling of water for budding OGs to bloom, but as our OGL Wang You (15S05A, MT05) reflects, “war games and station games and other activities are absolutely crucial in aiding oglings in working together and having fun with one another, but the OG truly bonds and gets to understand each other during times when they are just simply talking”. Indeed, face to face interaction will do wonders towards creating links between individuals and strengthening existing ties, no matter how brief. So yes, this means abandoning whatsapp for meet-ups at the Raja Block, or even making small talk about your subject combination on the way to the next war game.
- Orientation Dinners
Here, we refer to the at first awkward but overall warm environment of the dinners after a gruelling day of activities. OG dinners become less about the actual dinner itself, but the subsequent wind-down activities like Truth or Dare, or more sentimental “HTHTs” (Heart to Heart Talks) that reveal anything from one’s thoughts on Orientation, another’s life story, or maybe even your OGL’s eye candy.
We advise that you make good use of the “Orientation adrenaline” to connect with your fellow OGlings: skipping out on these precious dinners is almost as unhealthy for the OG as skipping Orientation itself! So treasure these times that can be spent wholly on getting to know fellow OGlings better without worrying about an upcoming assignment or having to go home early to watch that lecture video of the lesson you missed. It is going to be increasingly hard to find common time for the OG to meet up due to clashing timetables and other commitments that will start to make time a scarce commodity.
- OG Table
Meeting at OG tables are the perfect solution to address fears of your OG drifting apart over the year due to clashing commitments that render one unable to meet up with their OG. Going to the OG table every day can be cultivated into a habit that eventually becomes part of a daily routine, eventually making the walk to the OG table every morning less of a chore and more of a natural reflex. As Si Hui notes, “[her] og meets every morning in the canteen before assembly…[for] about 15-20 minutes of interaction”. Countless things can happen at the OG table within that span of perhaps 15 minutes: asking help for homework can get one out of a pinch, reminders of an upcoming test can produce a frantic frenzy to revise market structures, or it could just be communal sleeping. Whatever takes place at the OG table, Si Hui concludes: “[it is] very nice to start off [her] day with them”.
These tables will naturally become a part of your OG identity, and will provide some much needed bustle before every morning assembly. It does require effort from everyone to commit to meeting at the table every morning, but waking up just five minutes earlier for your OG opens up a world of interaction that is bound to help foster stronger bonds.
The celebration of birthdays can bring much needed excitement to the OG and create a reason to gather at the OG table: our birthday IC Charmain affectionately notes that “birthdays are a good chance to appreciate each other,” and that “writing cards and making an effort to come to school earlier to celebrate each others’ birthdays are one of those the chances that we have most of the OG together, especially when school is really hectic.”
However, birthdays are extremely hard to pull together and organise for if no one actively takes responsibility to begin preparations, nothing will happen. This has an increased chance to occur, for the “burden” of responsibility is spread across many people, lulling everyone into thinking that “someone else will do it”. For us, we are incredibly fortunate to have Charmain helming most of our celebrations: from the creation of temporary whatsapp groups, preparation of the card, to the purchasing of the cake, Charmain is often the one who does it all. “The first few birthday celebrations were very well-received by the whole OG, and it was really nice when my own birthday was celebrated as well. It was also very satisfying when our celebrations turned out well. And since we started already, it would be nice if everyone had their birthdays celebrated, so I guess I felt like it was an important role to be the birthday IC and organize birthdays, and I did enjoy it”, shares Charmain.
Holidays are an opportune moment to organise OG outings which not only provides a much needed break from school work, but to also create fun memories that can be fondly looked back upon. During the holidays, consider going out to the beach to cycle, or maybe just meet up at a fellow OGling’s place for a barbeque. The possibilities are endless, even when you take your budget into account: So do not be afraid to be creative with your OG meetups; and most importantly, take the initiative to organise and suggest these activities or else they may never come to fruition!
Keeping your OG alive might not be as easy as bonding with those whom you interact with on a daily basis, but various opportunities exist to foster OG bonding: “OG bonding is very dependent on the OG itself…there really really needs to be a lot of effort to keep the OG together and to include everyone in as many gatherings as possible. This means reaching out to those OG mates who may not be that enthusiastic about going out and just encouraging them to come for short meetings like birthdays in the mornings and make them feel more included and wanted even if they may not be able to come or commit.” shares Si Hui.
Of course, the role of OGLs is not to be neglected as well, for though they may not be so involved with OG affairs once orientation is over, they can still play a pivotal role in bringing together the OG. Wang You reminds us that while “OGLs are no fairies” and thus unable to “magically turn strangers into friends”, given their prior experience of belonging to an OG they can “sense the dynamics of the og and actively try to remedy anything that might be headed in the wrong direction.” However, this formula of “OG initiative + OGLs = Surviving OG” is easier said than done. Some may consider themselves lucky to have OGlings like Charmain or Si Hui, or OGLs like Wang You who help keep the OG afloat, but don’t let yourself rely on luck: your initiative is just as important as anyone else’s in keeping your OG alive.