So it’s Orientation Camp season for local universities in Singapore, and whether you’re from NUS, SMU, NTU, or SIM, freshman orientation is where you get your first taste of university life, play some random kids’ games with complete strangers, and make your first friends in university — ones that could last a lifetime.
Here are some tips to surviving, and even acing, your freshman orientation camp.
1. Prep the night before
The night before, be sure to get as much rest as possible. Chances are you won’t be getting much sleep for a long while, especially if it’s a sleepover camp.
Also, be sure to pack some essentials for the environment you’ll be in. You may want to bring a small carry-on to keep your valuables on you, or even a cheaper backup phone to keep yours from getting sweaty/dirty/cracked.
And don’t, for the love of all orientation camp gods, bring your suitcase. That is probably not the impression you want to stay with you for the whole of your first year in university.
2. Stay Hydrated
You’ll probably end up spending loads of time moving around and playing many games, so be sure to stay hydrated. Especially if you spend lots of time in the sun, dehydration may creep up on you slowly, make you feel lethargic and cause headaches.
Most good camp organisers will prompt you to have water breaks — or if necessary, water parades — but you are responsible for your well-being, so drink up!
3. Protect Yourself From The Sun
Running around in the sun all day isn’t going to be the best for your health or complexion, so make sure that you’re well prepped for the heat. Especially since the weather this time of year is particularly painful, a cap and some cheap (and colour-appropriate) sunglasses will go a long way.
And also be sure to wear sunblock. Not the barely-useful spray on stuff, but the real goopy white stuff that makes your skin look grey. Reapply it a few times a day. It’s almost inevitable that everyone that comes out of camp returns a shades darker, but what you should be avoiding is the pain and the peeling. So much peeling.
4. Prepare to get wet and dirty
Before you even start your first day of camp, know that you will probably get dirty at some point. It doesn’t even matter if its paint, flour, ketchup, soap, or just plain sweat, but your clothes, your stuff, and your body will be covered in goop by the end of the day. In fact, you’ll start hoping for some wet games, just because you’re in desperate need for a shower.
So don’t wear any expensive accessories or clothes, bring your grossest and oldest slippers and shoes, and get mentally prepared to get disgusting. And at the end of the day, bring loads of soap just in case. You’ll thank yourself for it (and so will the girls who decided to stick with hotel-sized soap bottles).
5. Your OG is your family
After most camps, each OG, or orientation group, will end up spending most of their first year in school together. It’s natural of course, since they’re going to be most people’s first family and support system in school.
So keep an open mind and ear when you’re spending time with your OG. Take the time to have some real late night HTHTs (heart-to-heart talks) with your fellow freshmen. They may be a little dysfunctional at times, but they’re going to help you get through the toughest part of uni when you need them.
6. Supper Supper Supper
You won’t be truly oriented until you’ve had your first university supper. If your OG mates or seniors start talking about going to get supper, always say yes. Not only will you find out where the best eats are on campus and the tricks to arrange for delivery (which is great if you’re pulling all-nighters), but supper is also when the magic happens.
There’s something about a sinful bowl of butter chicken, some ice limao, and a group of people at 2am in the morning that creates the perfect recipe to making life-long friends.
7. Talk To Everyone
This may be the scariest part to most people, especially shy people who begin questioning their own sanity on the bus ride to campus. But the best and most efficient way to make the most out of camp is to talk to everyone you can. It extends beyond your Orientation Group or House — it’s also that random guy sitting next to you in the Lecture Hall, or the seniors who drop by to help out.
Seniors are great to get advice and help from when you start out, to get information like where to get the cheapest books, how to navigate the winding corridors, and the best food on campus. And you’ll never know when you see someone you’ve chatted with from camp in a class you take in your third year.
8. Always say yes
Of course, don’t agree to things that make you feel uncomfortable, like swearing or kissing a complete stranger (some of these camps can get out of hand), but don’t hold yourself back from doing things that you find embarrassing or just plain lame. Cheering or playing childish games may be awkward, but in camp world, nothing is too embarrassing that you can’t sacrifice a little face for.
And if anything, camp’s the only place where people will respect you for putting your pride aside to do really childish stuff with your friends. And who knows what experiences you’re going to have, or what stories you’re going to get?