By Mabel Yet (19S03Q)
Photos courtesy of Amy Lim (18S06O) and Tan Ting Wei (18S03J) from Photographic Society
Unless you happen to be an unfeeling robot, the prospect of the all-important Y5 Orientation you’ll soon be hurtling into will probably bring about a whole tangle of emotions. Maybe meeting new people and running around playing games is your thing, and you’re about to spontaneously combust with excitement from having watched the batch dance countless times. Or maybe you would much rather stay a hermit for another month, evade as much social interaction as possible and just get these four long days over and done with. Either way, Orientation will nonetheless be an experience that will stay with you for a long time (for the better, of course).
Yet, despite the highlight reels you’ve seen splayed all over social media, there are bound to be some ups and downs throughout these four days. We all walk into Orientation with some degree of apprehension despite the nonchalant, unfazed front we try our hardest to put up (one’s got to fake it till you make it!), but we’re all just trying our best to stumble our way through this new and uncertain environment. Whatever highs and lows your four days may be scattered with, your seniors would have likely braved through them as well. So besides all the fun and games, here are 4 things to expect:
1. You’ll feel a liiittle overwhelmed (yes, just a bit)
When you hear blaring music and chatter reverberating in the MPH from miles away on day one, congratulations! You would just have had your very first taste of Orientation, which is pretty representative of what these four days will be like—loud, a bit rowdy and crowded with people.
Soon, you’ll find yourself making your first foray into the haphazard clutter of people, scanning the hall anxiously for your OG name among so many others. You’ve heard how big of an event Orientation is (I mean, there is even an Orientation hype video to curate this very atmosphere), but the scene of hundreds of OGLs carrying funky emblems with even funkier names and people shouting over the music would still be a lot to take in.
And if you thought that learning the school and house cheers would return some hint of normalcy to this whole Orientation thing (since it’s probably a widespread phenomenon in JCs around Singapore), then you’re in for a treat! Witnessing your councillors lead cheers with utmost gusto as the student body tries to create an earthquake beneath their feet might throw you off a little (haha), but you’ll gradually get used to the constant chaos of Orientation. I, for one, did grow quite fond of it in the end.
2. You’ll probably find yourself in some awkward social situations
How else would any Orientation begin than with the well-loved round of Self-Introductions, ribboned with the mandatory ‘one interesting fact about yourself’? All too soon you’re seated in a huge circle, exchanging eye contact and hesitant smiles with people you’ve just met, desperately ransacking your brains for something more intriguing than ‘My favourite hobby is eating and sleeping’ (guess what, me too). For those who do have a go-to interesting fact that will make at least one person burst out laughing, good on you! If not, you might want to think of something now (though in the end no one really remembers the random facts thrown around the circle anyway).
Try as you might, there’ll always be that one or two names you just can’t catch, which could potentially lead to rather sheepish situations when you’re in the centre during a game of Double Whacko, wielding a newspaper with no idea who to smack.
Thankfully, when the OG is screaming and strategizing while playing the various games, there isn’t much time and space for the awkwardness to set in, because the socializing is graciously engineered for you!
Unfortunately Fortunately, there are pockets of empty silences up to you to fill. Say, the lulls in energy when a game ends, or when you’re moving between venues, or even during the daily OG lunches when you’ve exhausted all possible topics of conversation along the lines of “What subject combi are you taking” and “What CCAs are you trying for”. (They’re good for a start, though a bit challenging to sustain an intellectual conversation for.)
Indeed, save for a selective breed of humans who never run out of scintillating topics, this other person you’re desperately trying to strike a genuine conversation with is probably ransacking his/her brain for something to say too!
At the end of the four days, there might still be one or two OG mates you barely spoke more than two lines to. But for most, if not all OGs, the awkwardness does begin to evaporate day by day.
“My JAE friends and I were really worried we couldn’t make friends, but the RP kids turned out to be really friendly and we just mixed together,” Isabelle Tan (19S03S) recounted. “It was super awkward at the start but it got enjoyable towards the end!” On that note, @ RP kids, do try to steer away from talking excessively about RP stuff and subconsciously excluding the JAEs in your midst!
3. You’ll be physically and mentally shagged at the end of each day
Not gonna lie, the four days are filled to the brim, packed with endless cheers, dancing and games from 7:40am in the morning all the way to God-knows-how-long-your-OG-will-stay-after-dinner. You’ll probably be moving about most of the time (if you don’t slack, that is), and the sheer length of each day makes it difficult to stay enthusiastic throughout. Not to mention the intense socialization with a whole bunch of new and different people, which can quickly sap you of energy.
After a day of strenuous physical and mental exertion, you might rejoice a little inside as 6pm rolls around, all ready to head for home. To your massive horror, the canteen begins to fill with OGs throwing out dinner suggestions–J8? Nex? Dhoby? Buona? Some ulu place you’ve never heard of?
(Rather amusingly, less than half of my OG went for dinner the first night because the rest of us
were too shagged couldn’t make it, but we did have full attendance on subsequent days!)
Then after your OG has aggressively contested on a dinner place and you’ve all got your food (a painstakingly long process since the entire island seems to be cluttered with OGs), it’s probably close to 8pm already. For those who already often swing home past midnight (tsk), you’d probably be chill being the last of the pack to leave. But for those who just want to go home and toh, you might be anxiously waiting for someone to leave before you are “allowed” to.
Though you can technically leave dinners any time you want, you may still feel like you’re bound by this unspoken rule and social pressures that you cannot leave before a certain timing, or you’re a party-pooper! Or antisocial! Or will feel FOMO from the jokes and juice you might be excluded from!
Of course, OGlings are encouraged to stay and talk forever, but if you really need to leave (especially if you live 15 MRT stops away), don’t feel obliged to stay until the end, even if your OGLs or OG mates guilt-trip you into doing so. After all, you’ve got to give yourself the time to unwind and recharge– no one can run on endless fuel!
4. You’ll (ideally) learn to get comfortable with the discomfort
Ask any senior who’s been through Orientation, and their advice would likely be something along the lines of: “be open-minded and step out of your comfort zone!” Now, that’s very lovely advice and all-–if only it were that easy! With every day of Orientation comes the internal battle of wanting to stay where you feel ‘safe’, and venturing into uncharted territory which you have no idea how to navigate around.
Maybe your ideal day is spent binge-watching Netflix in the coziness of your home–any hint of sunlight upon your skin and you’re squealing for sunblock (War games would definitely suit your fancy here). Maybe you haven’t had any interaction with the opposite gender before, and having to link arms, hold hands, and even do body rolls towards this dance partner you just met makes you squirm (okay, it really isn’t all that bad). Maybe you’re the kind of person who’s content to stay in the shadows, laughing out of obligation whenever a joke goes on somewhere, chipping in whenever necessary but never spearheading group discussions. If you have always struggled with the fear of stepping out of your comfort zone, make this Orientation a challenge for you to do just that!
Leaving the comforts of what you’re familiar with does require a great deal of courage, but that little nudge will really maximise your Orientation experience and allow you to discover new things about yourself. Be open (and a little shameless, if you will)— do as many things as you can and talk to as many people as possible. It’s only when you’re out there that you will grow in unimaginable ways.
In the end, your Orientation experience is what you and your OG makes it to be–the fun and games are just accessories to help you along. For most of us, the longest-lasting memories often don’t revolve around the activities themselves, but consist of the shrieks of laughter at OG dinners, the collective groan when your OG loses against another team and the whoops of exhilaration when you win. What stays with you, and what you’ll fondly miss when the four days are over would be the familiarity and coziness from spending more than a remarkable 12 hours together everyday.
With that, Raffles Press wishes you a most pleasant and endearing Orientation experience. Maybe Orientation will turn out to be your kind of thing after all.
P.S. While you’re here, check out our Orientation Preview to find out what’s in store for you at Capriccio 2019!