t/n: This is a work of satire and it is meant to be taken with various pinches of salt. If you are one to take offence easily, the author suggests you quickly exit the tab now. Any specific mention that reminds you of someone or yourself is most likely not coincidental at all. The author would also like to apologise for glossing over SDE and Architecture completely. She insists that they are still a part of NUS. Maybe.
Ah dear freshmen. Eyes brimming with tentatively weaved hopes of studiousness and newfound friendships. Perhaps it’s too early to warn you of the impending eye bags that are soon to follow as well? Alas, I am not that cruel and will save that for future posts. But of course, we must welcome the freshmen in style regardless.
Here at NUS, we welcome our freshman with a twist of our own. Gone are the days when traditional orientation camps with its casual sexism marked the start of a Year 1’s hesitant steps to full-fledged adulthood. This year, we welcome our freshmen with the proud plague of Best University in Asia and a scandal tainting this recently clinched plague. What better way to make you feel like a part of our community than to force you to reconsider calling yourself a NUS student?
So from a slowly aging senior to an eagerly anticipating freshman, here’s an attempt to impart some wisdom to navigate the treacherous steps of the National University of Stairs.
Learn the Dress Code
Being dressed to impress is the first key to getting yourself noticed amidst a cacophony of clothes and colours. The definition of “impress” however varies wildly from faculty to faculty, of course. We start first with Engineering, whose permanent get-up of jeans and a frayed looking shirt rivals that of Science’s uniform of dri-fit school shirt and standard shorts. It’s hard to decide which one screams Science Stream more. Then we have our more flamboyant counterparts in Arts and Business, who specialise in hipster runway and formal runway respectively. It is known that “trying too hard to look like you’re not trying” is a special skill all Arts majors possess. It is said that repeating an outfit within the same week in the sacred halls of Arts and Business is akin to utter blasphemy. In order to avoid sinning, remember to dress accordingly for the day so as to please your Faculty Ancestors.
Learn the Gossip
Here at NUS, we like to keep up with the latest trends. Whether it is catching every single grass Pokémon available at UTown Green or signing up for every OCIP imaginable or even queuing up at the famous stalls just to see what the fuss is about – we’re always on top of the trends. Hence, it is only natural that your first gossip topic be about the fiasco that we now call Freshman Orientation Camp. Usually known as FOC, for we are also the National University of Short forms. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon and post a lengthy Facebook post about your personal NUS experience that will not address the issue at hand at all. Trust me, it is now officially part of the NUS experience.
Another exciting goss topic is of course the bashes – and since FOC has been completely cancelled, this seems to be the only substantial topic to exchange worthless comments over. Do spend your time gridlocked in an engaging conversation about which similar looking Chinese couple should have won instead. Bonus points if you manage to include Instagram photos to support your argument! Remember kids, evidence is key to arguing your thesis.
Know your Surroundings
It is imperative that you, NUS freshman, have a crisis about which D bus actually goes towards Arts while standing at the UTown bus stop. Existential crises regarding the buses is a quintessential part of the first year life. In fact, it remains a quintessential part of even experienced third years who sometimes stare at buses dumbly after a tiring day.
It is also imperative that you discover our secret Hogwarts-like nature. We don’t call ourselves the Best University in Asia for nothing – our buildings are actually magic. To experience this for yourself, simply walk around Arts and Engineering faculties and watch as the floor numbers change drastically even as you walk in a straight line! Rumour has it that J K Rowling spent a day attempting to navigate around Engine before getting the inspiration for the sentient Grand Staircase in Hogwarts. Who knew our dubious infrastructure could inspire geniuses as well?
This magical nature of our shoddy architecture will make for a delightful navigating experience. Watch yourself go around in a futile wild goose chase as you hunt for that elusive tutorial room while the clock ticks incessantly. It’s a type of pressure that could easily rival the adrenaline rush of submitting an assignment as the clock blares 11:59.
Make yourself Known
Ah yes. The perpetual dilemma of incoming freshmen – how do you make sure the correct people recognise you? Maybe you’re the ambitious sort. The sort who should have been in SMU with their 90 degree hand raises but yet somehow meandered your way to Kent Ridge instead. Maybe you’re the one with that prestigious scholarship who settled in NUS for reasons you will claim are patriotic. You deserve to be known by one and all, you should be acknowledged! Yes, we agree as well. For our ambitious and academically-inclined counterparts, be sure to make yourself known by first asserting your voice in every lecture. Remember to interrupt the lecturer in timely intervals with your pressing questions. We do not pay such exorbitant school fees to swallow down our questions! And if need be, do ask the lecturer for lunch to go over the material once again. It’s a sure fire way to make yourself distinct from the crowd.
For those of us who are not so academically inclined, fret not. There are always ways to set yourself apart from the burgeoning crowd. Making a grand entrance is always a fool proof way – walk into an LT half an hour late and watch how everyone (including the lecturer!) eyes you with silent admiration disguised as contempt. Maybe you could dye your hair in a vibrant colour that will stand out much like a lighthouse in the midst of stormy dark sea. Or if you’re adventurous enough, maybe you might want to try bringing in Korean food into the lecture and eating it with confidence at the back row. They might not know your name after that lecture but they will definitely remember you as the idiot who brought kimchi into a badly ventilated Lecture Theatre. Both the reputation and the smell will surely remain.
Communicating with Others
Forming friendships is an integral part of the university lifestyle. Yet sometimes we find that conversation is hard to come by – what does one talk about with a complete stranger? Not to worry, because this section will erase all of your social anxiety dilemmas. It’s usually easier to gear a conversation towards one’s faculty or major. Of course, all of us are aware that it is imperative to question an Arts major of their terrible life choices. It is statistically known that “So what, you’re gonna be a teacher?” tends to be the second most asked question for Literature majors – just behind “What can you even do with that degree?”
But of course, not every conversation has to be geared towards the majors and faculties. We try our best to be an inclusive bunch and this means that we have conversation starters which will suit anyone, regardless of faculty or year. Feel free to start every conversation with “So what’s your CAP?” every time you are meeting an acquaintance. After all, the Best University in Asia should be single-mindedly focused on our results, right? These days, we are also known as the National University of (Casual) Sexism, so feel free to strike up a riveting conversation with a female about the flaws in her fashion choices and with a male about his gripping gym routine. It is guaranteed to get the conversation going!
As you embark on your exciting university journey, I hope these tips will indeed enrich your social life here at NUS and propel you into the higher ranks of popularity. Join me next time for more valuable pieces of wisdom and I look forward to hearing about your personal experiences as to how these tips and tricks worked for you. Remember, if all else fails, simply start babbling about Pokémon Go!