University was a time of change and learning. Looking back, there are some big things I would change, like not going for NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC). But there are small things I want to remember, too.
I was part of USP’s Freshman Orientation Programme (FOP) in 2018. There was so much work to be done but an equal amount of great memories. It was a running joke where Frank, the then-FOP-director, was the designated mop man. For some reason, he was always mopping and cleaning during the orientation events.
Maybe due to COVID or maybe because most Year 4s are now busy trying to find jobs and finish FYPs, but there is a sense of everyone finding their own individual paths. With so many things that demand constant attention, it is a lot harder to gather, organize and execute a huge, physical event like FOP.
Other small things include my discovery of Mario Kart. The Nintendo Switch in the theme room didn’t always exist, so when it was first added in 2018, I would spend hours playing it and competing with friends.
There’s a lot of things that have changed or disappeared over the years. There was even a different way of getting around campus called GrabWheels! It was a rental system by Grab where you could scan and unlock an e-scooter. It was great being able to race around campus at late hours of the night when roads were empty, but I guess that’s also why GrabWheels was removed, because of the potential chaos and danger it posed to traffic.
My batch also kind of colonised the dining hall. We would use two (or more) tables by the entrance closer to Cinnamon, bring down extension cords, and set up camp. The table was always full of drinks from the food courts and an array of schoolwork. I do miss the times when we could freely gather in as big a group as possible without having to be conscious of the number of people in the group of having to wear masks. Nowadays, I cannot stay in the dining hall to study as there is not enough space during dinner time and so it’s harder for me to organically meet with friends to study.
My key takeaway would be to cherish the small moments in university because even over four years, many things change and you never know when or how it will change. After that change, it’s hard to go back to what it was like before. Friends around me that were close in Year 1 are now distant, the Froyo machine in the dining hall is gone. I learnt to be more present in the moment, to cherish what I’m experiencing everyday, even though it can be mundane at times.