Coming From: a “Neighbourhood” School


Hello, all you to-be Year Fives. I shall keep this article simple, honest, and blunt, covering a brief overview of my first few weeks in ACS(I). Firstly, however, I should like to set down that this article is mainly addressed to those who will be entering from a non-MGS/RGS/SCGS/blahblah school, as have I. I do not claim that your experiences will be similar to mine, neither is my purpose of writing this article to sugar-coat my orientation days as awesome, lovely memories, because quite frankly, they were not. I only wish to provide you with an insight on how orientation days could possibly be like for a student such as yourself.

To put it simply – orientation was a terrible nightmare for me. To put it in cruder terms – I hated it. Quick glance of my daily thought processes:

-Oh gee when’s this thing gonna end?

-Hooray, it’s 4pm! Time to go home! Screw the Wah Chee dinner nonsense.

-Well, shit. Should I be rushing home to read over what they went through during the TOK lecture today? I didn’t understand a single thing. Did everyone else understood what the dude was yakking about? They looked like they did. Oops.

To put things into perspective, I was from what people would call a ‘neighbourhood school’. On the first day of dreadful orientation, I was the only girl wearing that one uniform, and everywhere I went, people gave me weird stares, very obviously trying to decipher the acronym embroidered on my school blouse. What the heck is PRCS? Said their faces. It was uncomfortable and plain annoying. I’m not a zoo exhibit, thanks.

The greatest challenge that I had to overcome was culture shock. People were talking close to perfect English while I was still used to the ‘la’s and ‘leh’s. Teachers were addressed as ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’, while I blurted out “CHER!” one too many times. Embarrassingly. Even I could tell that my math teacher was slightly thrown off by how crudely I spoke.

Barely anyone talked to me on the first day, for several reasons. 1) I’m not an entirely sociable person, and I think that girls are scary. 2) My abnormal speaking habits probably threw them off, and they *perhaps* found that I wasn’t worth talking to. 3) Everyone else were already in their own little coven things, so that left me nowhere. Additionally, it didn’t help that back in those orientation days, the boys were busy being awkward, so my pool of potential, genuine friends were reduced to… well. Two. It stayed like that throughout, more or less – also largely because I became less and less interested in properly making friends, since I never felt like I fitted anywhere.

Not everything sucked, in the end. The day finally arrived when we were posted to our new, official classes, and I was secretly glad that I was, again, the only one going to 5.11. I saw it as an opportunity to start afresh, to hopefully, find people whom I’d be comfortable with. People whom I’d actually genuinely enjoy being around.

A quick shout out to my lovely, lovely classmates: You guys are absolutely wonderful people. You all have made my IB journey terrific, tolerated and accepted my weird antics and crude boyish mannerisms, and have generally saved me from two horrendous years of slaving through IAs, EEs and all that shit alone. Thank you.

Friends do matter. Finding the right people, coincidentally or not, matters a hell lot. I have never once looked back and regretted entering ACS(I) since then. Things may start out crappy at first, but be strong, have a little faith, and you’ll bump into people who will fight alongside you till the finish line.


Bernice Tan (6.11) is from the graduating batch of 2014, and studied in Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School from 2008-2012. 

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