First week of school

Saturday, August 16, 2008
Oh goodness, I left blogging for a very long time. Mainly, I am too busy with all the activities going on in NUS. I left my blog with my first day orientation experience at hall. After orientation ended, I was involved in Pharmacy orientation, helping out with the RAG team and doing FLAG day collections as well. It was a very hectic past few weeks.

I am truly proud of our RAG day performance. Here is a video. RAG day is a day when NUS students showcase their majestic floats to the public. It was an eye opening event as to what students here are capable of doing. I have been to many rehearsals just to prepare for RAG day. What is my role? An insignificant side prop mover and static helper. I worked for only a couple of weeks. The floaters worked for 3 months !! Imagine that!! We did not win anything but it was a good effort.

King Edward the 7th Hall Orientation

Monday, July 28, 2008
Today signified the start of my hall orientation. I remembered placing Prince George Park Residences (PGP) as my first choice when applying for accommodation in NUS. For some reason, I changed my choice to King Edward the 7th Hall at the last minute. That very reason was because I believed King Edward Hall is a hall rich with tradition and many successful people were once residents of this glorious hall. In other words, I chose King Edward Hall because of it's legacy. It is the oldest residential hall in NUS and therefore rich in history.

Today, I got to experience the true spirit of hall life. I must admit that hall life is definitely much more vibrant compared to PGP. In hall, we are one family. The day started with mass breakfast at the dining hall.

King Edward dining hall

We then all went to the common hall for the commencement of Hall Orientation 2008. The theme of this year's orientation is "Constelacion" or constellation, a collection of stars.

Orientation T-shirt of a KEWOC committee

KEWOC stands for King Edward Hall Welcoming and Orientation Committee, a group of seniors in charge of organizing the orientation. As usual, we were divided into orientation groups (OG) led by orientation group leaders (OGLs). The team names were based on different constellations. Mine was Aquila, the eagle. Three teams were grouped to form a tribe, led by a Greek god, which in my case was Zeus. My tribe consists of Columba (the pigeon) , Tucana (a bird with big beak) and of course, Aquila.

Poseidon (in white) and Zeus

We were made to run around KE hall in a sort of race to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings of the hall. When we were back, we had to design our own group banners. The banners of the three groups, when combined must reflect our tribe identity. I must say that we all came up with amazing banners.

From left to right: Tucana, Columba and Aquila all united in a tribe.
We Rise, We Fly, We Soar!


Dorado, Aquila and Tucana with King Edward Crest

Aquila's members from 4 nations : Singapore, Malaysia, China and Sri Lanka

We were also taught how to dance. It was my first time dancing and I look horrible. However, the seniors pulled off a wonderful dance display. Not only that, we were taught King Edward's cheers and songs as a sense of identity and pride. Ironically, I sang all the songs even louder than when I am singing Negaraku at school. I believe that the seniors have managed to instill a strong sense of belonging in us, that we feel so attached to this hall, even as freshmen.


KEWOC Committee (Very Important People)

At night, we had a CORS talk. CORS is a special system in NUS to implement its policy of a broad based education. Through CORS, students can bid for their modules across faculties. Example, as a Pharmacy major, I can take modules from the School of Computing or even School of Business. This system is also a major cause of confusion among freshmen. Truthfully, I cannot fully understand the whole complicated system myself.



Library Tour

Thursday, July 24, 2008
Today I woke up with an emptiness in me as UFO has ended. We had mass breakfast at King Edward Hall before proceeding to Clementi to buy groceries. It was my first time buying groceries and I am a picky person. In the end, I bought only bananas and tomatoes. It was just a short trip and we returned back to hall before lunch. I only had Maggi Mi for lunch.

Thereafter, we gathered at PGP Foyer where our Malaysian seniors brought us to the library. Although UFO has ended, our seniors still cared about us and arranged an orientation session at the Central Library.

The NUS Libraries have an amazing collection of books. There are 6 libraries in total:
a) Central Library
b) Chinese Library
c) Hong Sui Sen Memorial Library
d) Science and Medical Library
e) Music Library
f) CJ Koh Law Library at Bukit Timah campus

We were taught how to perform an online search and how to use LINC+, NUS online library catalogue. It was scary when Miss Hayati, a librarian explained to us about how stringent NUS monitors plagiarism. It can get you expelled. The number of books in the Central Library alone is staggering. When University of Malaya split and NUS was formed, most of the books were kept in Singapore. There is a room which houses all the old books, books which are too fragile to handle. It struck me at that point of time that NUS students studied like mad and I am in such a position where I must also struggle to maintain my CAP (Cumulative Average Point) or risk being left behind.

After the informative tour, we all went back to our respective residences.

At night, as usual, we had dinner at PGP old canteen, then we proceeded to PGP Auditorium for a talk on Singlish and Academic Culture in Singapore. It was a very informative talk by engaging speakers. You can listen to the two extremes of Singaporean English that night, the very articulated English with minimal grammatical errors and Phua Chu Kang English on the other extreme.

At 9.30 pm, we , KEVIIans had to rush back to hall to help out with float. Since we are staying in hall, we are expected to contribute to the hall community. The hall residents are tightly bonded and they really work together, be it in cultural or sporting activities. It is perhaps a proud fact that King Edward Hall was once Tun Mahathir's residence when he was a student. This is something I heard from the seniors and I am shocked myself.

BBQ Day (21st July 2008)

Today was a hectic but fun day. The Ah Lian and Ah Beng group got up early and despite the torrential rain, our spirits were not dampened. We have prepared a BBQ dinner to thank our seniors for all that they have done to accustom us to this new life away from home. We went to PGP's new canteen and started discussing our cheer. The amazing thing about UFOMSL was the sheer number of interesting cheers, used to jeer at other groups.

We had lunch at PGP's new canteen before proceeding for a group meeting with our freshmen leader, Hong Keat to discuss the finer details of the BBQ. Ah Lian and Ah Beng orientation groups were put in charge of games. We came out with two games but only executed one. I will tell why later.

We bought all our necessary items for the games at Nanyang Supermart, located in PGP. All the food were bought online the night before. My group proceeded to a meeting room at PGP to practice our cheers. Coincidentally, hall orientation commenced today as well. The KEVIIans rushed back to hall to join a mass dinner organised by our hall. It was during dinner that I met Xiao Shuang, the only Malaysian so far admitted into NUS Medicine. I met a Canadian and a Sri Lankan student, not to mention many Chinese from mainland China.

After dinner, we rushed to PGP for final preparations of the BBQ dinner. When I reached, my other team members have already started the games. We came up with a wicked game where a pair would have to gobble up wafer rolls in the fastest time. In the process, many accidental kisses happened! We had fun watching our seniors embarassed, especially Kim Wong.

Kim Wong trying very hard not to accidentally kiss his partner

Lucas (green t-shirt), our UFO Project Director was not spared at all


Oops! Accidents do happen!

The BBQ dinner was splendid and everything went smoothly. We even had guitar performances from two freshmen:

On the left is Chun Keat, also from King Edward Hall

The seniors, obviously enjoyed the whole BBQ very much:

Seniors in their usual jovial mood

Food glorious food!

Hong Keat, our freshmen leader at the BBQ pit

We were supposed to play a second watermelon game, but considering the lack of food, our group donated all the watermelons to be consumed. In the middle of the BBQ session, we regrouped and our seniors told us the history of the Malaysian Students Leaugue (MSL). The founder of MSL, who is now a pharmacist, Senior Thomas talked to us about the spirit of MSL and the spirit of family. Truly, MSL is one big family. The most emotional part was when our beloved project director, Lucas (Mech Engineering, Year 2) broke down in the middle of his speech. It was truly an emotional moment and I believe everybody present there would feel the same way. UFO ended that night, but not friendship among MSL members. The freshmen came up with a very special performance for the seniors. That night, we bonded as a family.

Singing for the seniors

Ah Lian orientation group, sweet memories!

Shaking the hands of seniors..a truly emotional night

We decided to end the night by having supper at Fong Sing, a famous midnight coffee shop popular with NUS students. Stress levels at NUS can be unbearable and students study till the wee hours of the morning, so Fong Sing is a great place to unwind and chat if you are an imsoniac. It is absolutely essential to know this place as this will be the place where I will be going very often when I cannot sleep at night.

Supper at Fong Sing

With that, the third University Freshmen Orientation officially ended! What a great experience it had been!

Singapore City!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The next day, the freshmen, me included attended an extraordinary general meeting to discuss our plans for the BBQ appreciation night. Since I am elected as "ketua" for Ah Lian group, I had to attend. It was also the first time I did my laundry. No more mum to be around washing my clothes, I had to do it on my own.

Meeting started at 10 am and Hong Keat, the project director asked for our opinion. The BBQ would be held the very next day. It was a good experience to organize something for the first time. My group was in charge of games and I wanted it to be a success. It was an amazing experience, stepping into NUS for barely a week and already our leadership skills, especially Hong Keat's were tested. It also goes to show how we value our seniors. Kim Wong's words rang in my ear, "When you are alone or you need help, always remember there is a community called MSL" I would want to be back next year, guiding all the juniors. Better start practicing my BANANA cheer!

At around noon, we gathered to visit Singapore City, the heart of Singapore itself. We started our tour at Bugis Street. It was a very crowded area selling all sorts of stuff. The main attraction here to me is the temple where many NUS Malaysian Chinese would come to pray nearing their exams. Since they cannot pray at their usual temple back home for good grades, this will have to
be a substitute.


The temple

Exotic shop in Bugis selling erotica. Minimum age limit is 23 years but do you know there is a maximum as well?

After Bugis, we went to the National Library. It was nicknamed the "National Themepark" by the seniors. I soon found out why. We were brought to the library not to read books but to experience the "freefall effect" on the lift transcending from the highest floor to the ground floor. Definitely not for people with a fear for heights. So in the end, we did not even touch a single book.

At the entrance to the National Library

The irony is that I have not even visited our Perpustakaan Negara. After the short tour, we had a gathering at the library entrance. However, we got a stern warning from the security guard. In Singapore, it is illegal to gather in large groups without a police permit. We dispersed and walked towards SUNTEC CITY MALL.

We are Malaysian students, not demonstrators

SUNTEC City

We had dinner. It was during the dinner that I met Syen, otherwise known as Storm in the NUSMSL forum. After dinner, we went to perform the ritual of touching the Fountain of Wealth, right smacked in the middle of SUNTEC City.

The Fountain of Wealth

There was a laser performance at 8 pm. Although not as grand as the one we watched in Sentosa, it was nevertheless captivating. We were all very touched, seniors and juniors alike when messages were being played in laser. You can dedicate a message on laser and the message could be seen by everybody. Messages like "Welcome, all Malaysian freshmen to NUS!" and "Thank you seniors!" were shown throughout the performance, dedicated by seniors and juniors alike. There was even a "Will you marry me?" message being played.

Message dedication at Fountain of Wealth using laser

That was really the highlight of the night before we proceeded to Marina Bay. What else in Marina Bay but the ever famous Merlion? Apart from that, we enjoyed the night skyline of Singapore.

Singapore City at night

The Esplanade aka Durian

The Merlion

Kami rakyat Malaysia!

Well, we were supposed to enter Fullerton Hotel, a 6-star luxury hotel. The reason being there was this strange ritual for freshmen to actually drink the water from the taps at Fullerton's toilets. However, it started to rain and the plan was cancelled. A night at the Fullerton Hotel can reach up to $5000!

Today marked the end of UFO 2008. It was in all a really great experience for us, freshmen. I never thought that university orientation could be so fun. I always have the picture in my mind of seniors waking you up in the wee hours of the morning and ragging. I thought orientation would be a torture. However, the seniors here treated us not only as friends, but as brothers and sisters. I am here in Singapore for only a week but I have been kept so busy with activities that I have no time to miss home. A new orientation started, that is the King Edward Hall Welcoming Week. Apart from that, NUS Rag & Flag is just around the corner. Once again, thank you to all seniors and enjoy the BBQ dinner!

Sentosa Day

Tuesday, July 22, 2008
It's beach day!! By now, I have met many Malaysians staying in King Edward Hall. We actually decided to have breakfast together:


Shortly after that, we gathered at PGPR Foyer to depart for Sentosa Island. It was such an exciting day and our spirits were really high. We even practiced our ecstasy cheer:

Ecstasy wa boh jiak ar,
CID wa boh kia,
Mai yo mai yo,
Ai yo chiu ga ga yo

It's so silly but fun. Before actually getting on the bus ride to Sentosa, we stopped by Giant at Vivo City to buy lunch. We bought bread, tuna spread and mineral water, all recommended by seniors due to the fact that food at Sentosa is really expensive. The bus ride to Sentosa from Harbour Front was just a short one, but we cannot wait to get our feet on the sand. Our first stop was Siloso Beach.

Ah Lians picnicking at Siloso Beach

Siloso Beach

After the lunch picnic (my heartiest thanks to Sher May and Mei Foong for baking the delicious cakes), we head to the Dragon Trail for a round of amazing race. The Dragon Trail is basically a jungle trekking trail. It was fun. I'll let the pictures talk:

OGLs of Ah Lian, Wee Wen on the left (sleeveless shirt) and Si Yun ( orange shirt)

Wee Wen being punished..haha


Blindfolded for tasting game


Wee Wen and Micheal forced to eat "something". I still have no idea till today what went into their stomachs.

The impulse game

It started to rain and we all scurried to Imbiah Lookout. When the rain stopped, we started snapping photos, attracting curious stares from other tourists.


This is my BANANA, nanananana

This is my papaya, yayayayaya

We then head to the LUGE. It's actually a downhill ride on a cart, powered only by gravitational force. After an exhilirating ride downhill, we sat the SKYRIDE. It was scary as we were suspended high above the ground. Here are a few pictures:


Ah Beng group before the LUGE.

Ah Lian group before the LUGE

From left: Chuan Yong, Wee Wen and Sarah on the SKYRIDE

Thereafter, we all went to Palawan beach. Ah Lian and Ah Beng orientation groups did a combo cheer. Shortly, we played beach games. It was so fun that I did not manage to take any photos. I am too busy playing. Some of the games included eating marshmallows while while being piggy backed and playing volleyball with your hands and feet all tied up. Not forgetting a few who got thrown into the sea, all in the name of good fun.

Next stop after showering was dinner. It rained. Why must it rain on that night?! We ran all the way from the beach for cover before regrouping for dinner. Dinner costs $6. Now I realised food in Sentosa was really expensive. When we were all full and contented, our OGLs ushered us to watch a show, Songs of the Sea which was actually a laser show with lots of pyrotechnics. We were stunned beyond words by the beautiful display and the sheer magnitude of the technology needed to come up with such a production.

Fire!

Water!

Fireworks!

It was a spectacular performance indeed. We regrouped after the show and Kim Wong shared with us the difficulties encountered by the seniors to organize this wonderful trip for us. Personally I am very touched by the seniors' commitment. They need not go through all the trouble and yet they still, just to welcome us freshmen to Singapore. To quote a senior, this is an experience you will never get in Malaysia. The spirit of MSL will definitely be within every Malaysian studying in NUS. It was also on that night that the freshmen agreed to organize a BBQ to thank all our seniors. We went back soon after and as expected, I collapsed on my bed all the way till the next morning.



Day 4 Part 2

Monday, July 21, 2008
Chinatown was just like our Petaling Street, except there were no pirated VCDs on sell. Piracy is a serious offence in Singapore. After Chinatown, we went to a temple which houses one of Buddha's remains: his tooth. The temple was decorated extensively with beautiful carvings.

Chinatown, Singapore



Street peddler in Singapore

The temple with Buddha's tooth in it


Variety of fruits on sale in Chinatown


We proceeded to People's Park Hawker Centre for some hawker food. It was almost night when we were ready to proceed to our next destination.


People's Park Hawker Centre

Where better place to visit at night other than CLARKE QUAY!!!! Clarke Quay is the place in Singapore famous for it's nightlife. Think Bintang Walk, except that there are no rivers near Bintang Walk. We had a fantastic time at Clarke Quay, snapping pictures and doing silly poses. At the end of the day, we were all gathered at an amphitheater for a briefing.

Clarke Quay

The crowd during Clarke Quay visit

Beautiful Clarke Quay

Everybody was ecstatic when Yong Tat, our senior announced that we will be off to SENTOSA ISLAND the following day.

During UFO, each team was divided into orientation groups, each lead by an Orientation Group Leader (OGL). The names of the group were downright degrading, examples include Siew Keong, Sei Ngan Chai, Ah Lian, Ah Beng, Ah Wong and the likes. I am in Ah Lian by the way, lead by Wee Wen (Accountancy, Year 2) and Su Yin. We really had a great time coming up with cheers for Ah Lian group. There was one particular interesting cheer, the BANANA cheer:

This is your banana, (showing your pinky finger towards opposing group)
NANANANANA

This is MY banana, (showing a big rod)
NANANANANA

I chop your banana,
NANANANANA

Now you have no banana,
HAHAHA

Call it silly but we really enjoyed cheering that to other opposing groups. Ah Lian was the best OG to me, led by really good OGL's. Three cheers for AH LIAN!!!