By Nicole Yau
If you are going to get cooped up because of asynchronous learning, why not do it around friends! I am sure everyone reading has dabbled in and out of the idea of staying in hall this academic year, especially with all the new restrictions put in place. Chances are, you have given in to temptation and are now an official resident of Raffles Hall. As life-changing as it is to wake up 20 minutes before lecture begins and still be able to make it to your faculty on time, this does not exactly matter this semester. Good days seem like alright days, and alright days seem like bad days, especially when there are so many restrictions in place (albeit for our own safety). It is and will always be human nature to pay attention and harp on the bad, while we tend to take the good for granted. While you lie in bed and wonder if it was worth your time and money to stay in hall, I am here to validate and justify that decision. Here is why you should stop second guessing your decision:
Firstly, the wide variety of quality CCAs you will eventually get to experience. For first-time residents, you would get the chance to join activities you have never tried before or even go back to one you have much experience in. It is your choice to determine if you would like to experience hall life as one that is completely new and force yourself to step out of your comfort zone, or one that is less foreign, at least with a CCA that you have had experience in. For returning residents, your hall life could be made better by joining CCAs you truly enjoyed in the previous year or join new ones that you have heard good things about. Either ways, your CCA experiences are bound to be ones you enjoy especially after a long day of never-ending lectures and assignments to complete. You never know if the people you meet there would turn out to be life-long friends. I am sure some of you can already tell.
With the unprecedented severity of the global pandemic, zoning has been put in place with intentions of keeping us safe. One of the biggest changes for residents this year would be inter-zoning, where students from certain faculties are only allowed to reside in certain blocks. While we can harp on the fact that we are unable to be physically near our close buddies, I would like to help alter your perspective a tad. We are now surrounded by residents of the same faculty. That already gives us something in common to talk about. From then on, the possibilities of topics to talk about becomes ceaseless. Often, thoughts would be similar, after all various faculties train us to think in different ways. Furthermore, these will be the people you spend most time with, getting meals together and hanging out. I would like to think that it is difficult not to make good friends in an environment like this.
You get to reside in a community you truly resonate with. We have been forced into
communities (not necessarily a bad thing) since birth, with regards to where we live, which schools we go to and even the compulsory national service conscription for the men. It is undeniably refreshing to choose to be part of a closely-knit community, with people of similar ages, interests and schools of thought. Every decision made as a resident of Raffles Hall, from the selection of CCAs, people you befriend, down to the choice of selecting this particular hall, was and is entirely up to you. The situation you are in right now is an extension of all the past decisions you have made, big and small. With this realisation in mind, does it not appear that you are part of a community that you can give back to or reach out to whenever deemed necessary? It might not feel that way yet but with time, the community will morph into a safe space you might not ever feel like leaving.
When you mention hall, it is naturally associated with freedom. No one nags at you for choosing not to sleep at night or going for supper at ungodly hours. The people around you, in fact, do quite the opposite. The degree of independence involved to rise to the occasion of hall life in general, is quite extraordinary. A lot of self-discipline is involved as well. For most of us, it would be the balance between school, CCA, socializing and family. While this appears rather normal to us all, the disparity seen and felt before and after becoming hall residents is terribly drastic, in the best way possible. You subconsciously pick up and learn things from the people you surround with, albeit both good and bad. Overall, the experiences felt throughout your time as a resident will remain lessons for a long time to come.
Now, as you lie in your bed contemplating life, I hope the decision of being a resident of Raffles Hall is not one of them anymore. Zoning appears to get in the way of the supposedly ordinary everyday life, but it is in the best interests of us all. While we are unable to go about life like we used to, we find ways around them, like we have been and will continue to do. One can continue to sulk and wallow in self pity that hall life this academic year is lesser than the last, or one could refer to the validation aforementioned I have painstakingly come up with and look at things on the brighter side. Either way, whether your experience as a resident of Raffles hall is a go or no-go is wholly up to you.