It was my first day in Hwa Chong today. When I got to the school gate this morning, I was overwhelmed by the groups of students that had gathered outside. Most of them seemed delighted to reunite with their friends from secondary school, which was endearing, but it only made me feel more— lonely than ever. I took my first ‘L’ of the day when I tried (and failed) to get past the turnstiles. Thankfully, a senior offered to help me with the process, saving me from further embarrassment. Things started to take a turn for the better as I was greeted with a warm welcome by a group of seniors who were distributing chocolate wafers and giving directions to the auditorium we were told to report to. Feeling like a lost sheep about one metre into the huge campus that lay before me, I was stunned as I walked into the auditorium full of people already talking to one other, and the sudden realisation that I wouldn’t be able to recognise anyone left a lump in my throat. After a series of admin and academic talks came lunch. I marvelled at the many stalls lining the canteen, and was spoilt for choice until I saw someone carrying a bowl of steaming hot Oyakodon, and quickly queued up before the lunch period drew to a close.
Shortly after wolfing down the contents of my bowl, I rushed up to the hall and was greeted by a bunch of QR codes for OG Allocations. Eager to find out which OG I had been assigned to, I quickly scanned through to find my allocation and hurried over to join the growing queue of people already sitting down in front of our OGL.
I was not expecting to make any friends so quickly, but to my surprise, I found a kindred soul of sorts, who similarly to me, was the only one from her school to get in. I was also thrilled to find that we had quite a few things in common — such as our shared love of the school’s Oyakodon and mind sports.
Soon, icebreakers begun, and after a quick round of self-introductions, we were thrust into the all too familiar game of “Speed Dating”. After a few rounds of awkward conversation, I had to unwillingly admit that this staple icebreaker game was effective, to say the least.
Being a new student on campus, I was certainly grateful for the de facto school tour that came next. As we travelled all around the school completing various different challenges, I really began to gain my bearings in this humongous school. No longer would I have to wonder around like a lost sheep in unfamiliar territory.
I was met with one last surprise for the day, as I received my very own Orientation drawstring bag, filled to the brim with freebies and vouchers.
Walking out of the gate with my brand new bag, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that the long day was coming to an end, and I had not done much to embarrass myself. Well, not yet at least. But I plan to keep it that way. Yet, at the same time, I found myself subconsciously looking forward to the next 7 “days of fun-filled activities” following the upcoming weekend.
In the meantime, I can’t wait to meet up with my old pals over the weekend and tell them all about my time in Hwa Chong thus far. Until then, see you!
Today was the last day of Orientation. I can’t believe it’s already over. We started the day off with War Games — a game that involved the entire cohort. We first gathered as a faculty to prepare for battle, with a final pep talk from our Fac Comm members and our faces smeared with war paint, we were ready for war. The other faculties proved to be worthy opponents, as we tried our best to get the paper balls into the hoops that seemed ever so far away, just out reach of our throws. Exhausted but ready for more, we headed off for a break, catching our breath before the 2nd round began. To my surprise, when I came back from the restroom, it was revealed that the Guardian had tricked us all, in an interesting turn of events, and the Fac Heads of each faculty were now uniting to put up a fight against our common enemy — “Snap”. With my energy fully restored after the break, I charged toward the middle base with newspaper balls in hand. Strangely, the hoops now seemed much closer than before, and with the efforts of the entire batch, we quickly filled up all of the bases with newspaper balls, and vanquished the enemy.
As the last newspaper ball was launched into the enemy base, marking the end of the game, the fallen “Guardian” announced her defeat, acknowledging our bond as a cohort that allowed us to defeat her so easily.
Buoyed by our victory, we headed into SODACHE challenge preparation with our spirits renewed. We poured our heart and soul into practice, and as we headed over to the judging venue, we were sure we could win it all. However, as the first few classes went up, we knew that they had put in just as much effort as we had, and getting into the shortlisted three would not be easy. Nevertheless, we gave it our all on stage, dancing to our hearts’ content and making the past few days of practice worth it.
Soon, all the classes were done with their performances and it was time to announce the results. We waited with bated breath as the first 2 classes were announced, praying that we would get to perform at the campfire that night. To our dismay, our best efforts were simply not enough. We did not break into the top 3, and while I was somewhat relieved that I would not have to embarrass myself further, a tinge of salt still sat on my tongue as I realised our efforts had gone to waste.
Nevertheless, we went for campfire with our spirits high, ready to enjoy ourselves for this last night of orientation. Sitting together with the rest of the faculty, we watched in awe as the other classes went up, having fun identifying the SODACHE element that they had included in their performance. The senior FacComms, as usual, failed to disappoint, as they moved synchronically like a well-oiled machine. As the performers from my faculty went up, I cheered with all my might, straining my vocal chords until the inevitable chant of 4 Facs 1 Hwach began.
Finally, it was time for the campfire to be lit. With bated breath, our batch beheld the blaze begin to burn, bellowing black smoke that only seemed to enhance its significance. Yet, we were immediately drawn to the back of the central plaza, where a second fire was being lit. As the fire slowly made its way up, it seemed to magically form the shape of a locket. But how? Unable to believe my eyes, I stared at it until the fire burnt out, the image forever seared into my heart.
That night, we cheered, sang and danced the night away, and I really began to regret not putting in more effort during SODACHE sessions. We fumbled to the best of our ability, tripping over ourselves and each other, chanting the familiar words “Up, Down, Present”, and the not so familiar “Front tap back tap???”. With our arms around each other’s shoulders, we mustered our best falsettos and sang our hearts out. Quickly losing our voices, we shouted and screamed each and every syllable of the cheers, making sure anyone within a 5km radius could feel our spirit.
As I walked through the turnstiles that night, I could not help but feel that I was leaving a part of myself behind. My life in Hwa Chong might just be beginning, but gone was the nervous student filled with trepidation and anxiety from 2 weeks ago. Tonight, I truly felt like I belonged.