Feature

First encounters

Newfound friends, a campus crash course and lifelong memories await at freshmen orientation. Derek Rodriguez shows what to expect at NTU’s largest one yet

This year’s orientation programme is set to be the largest in scale, with all freshmen invited to take part. Taking place in the two weeks before the semester ensures international students and those doing National Service can make it in good time.
Let the games begin
Ask your seniors what their favourite university memory is and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you it’s their freshmen orientation. Whether you’re a social butterfly or a lone wolf, wacky orientation games will help you make fast friends.

“Nothing brings people closer together than thrills and suspense,” says Tan Chi Wen from the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering’s Freshmen Orientation Planning Committee. “This year, tutorial rooms and lecture theatres will be transformed into ‘escape room’ settings where mysteries will have to be solved.”

Other schools will be taking cues from popular trends like television shows and events. The Amazing Race is just one of the shows that orientation leaders at NTU drew inspiration from.

Says Ivan Heng, chairperson of the Biological Sciences Club: “For the School of Biological Sciences, students can channel their inner Katniss in a game of archery tag and a nerf gun war.”

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine employs a house system that is not unlike Hogwarts’. The five houses in NTU’s medical school serve as a support system for students throughout their five years.

“We have classic activities like war games, colour games and a beach day planned, but with twists suited to incorporate the five-house system,” says Alex Tanoto, secretary of the orientation committee.

Not your average tour
In case you didn’t already know, NTU is huge, the size of 240 football fields. Navigating the sprawling garden campus takes a little getting used to. The orientation provides a crash course in NTU topography. Don’t worry, there won’t be finals for this subject.

Goh Jing Yaw, from the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, says: “Freshmen will go on a familiarisation tour of the school and campus, which includes the best places to find food.”

For the School of Computer Science & Engineering, the usual campus tour goes beyond the borders of NTU. The president of the school’s Freshmen Orientation Programme, Valerie Leo, says: “After the usual stops on campus, we’ll bring them on guided tours to the nearby Singapore Discovery Centre and Army Museum, too.”

Peek into the future
Part of the excitement of participating in the orientation activities is getting a preview of what you’ll experience in the next few years.

Says Jolene Ang, vice-president of the NTU Sports Club: “There are 21 sub-clubs under the NTU Sports Club. Freshmen will get to experience what it's like being a part of these clubs. They’ll be introduced to the various committees, which they can join for a fruitful and rewarding time.”

Over at the Division of English at the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, the Sherlock-themed orientation programme is the perfect literary device. Freshmen will be introduced to poetry and the Creative Writing minor through a recital. A theatre performance also exposes them to the physical representation of literary works, and another literary genre – drama.

At the School of Art, Design & Media, the emphasis of the orientation is storyline narration and art direction. According to organising committee members Toby Tan and Chan Kuang Jun, all aspects of the orientation encourage creative work from disciplines like film, photography, product design, animation, visual communication and interactive media. Some of the games will be played at local museums and art or printing suppliers.

“For the Asian School of the Environment, part of the planned activities will be held in off-campus locations with high ecological importance in Singapore, as a way of connecting the orientation programme to the school’s flagship programme in environmental earth systems science,” says Foo Zhen Hui, an organiser of the school’s freshmen orientation programme.

“This includes Chek Jawa in Pulau Ubin, where we’ll stop to enjoy the outdoors and introduce the freshies to the wetland and its significance. We hope that this this activity will nurture a sense of belonging to the Asian School of the Environment, and by extension, to NTU.”