Contributed by Howard Kuay
Life in the university, void of structured classes and time-tables, can get lonely and daunting at times. Shuttling back and forth between lectures and tutorials, one can easily be lost among the crowd and absorbed into the work-load, neglecting the importance of forming meaningful friendships and enjoying the process of getting an education.
With this need and concern in mind, a group of NUS students came together to form NUS U.N.I.T.E.D., a social outreach for friendship and moral support. As the 3 to 4-year study duration would pass by in a flash, NUS U.N.I.T.E.D. serves as a great platform for NUS students to get to know more friends within the campus.
On 17 Nov 2008, 17 NUS U.N.I.T.E.D members embarked on their first social event, Lunch-Out. With semester examinations just a week away, study groups could be seen all over the Central Forum of the campus. NUS U.N.I.T.E.D gave out invitations to the study groups to join in for a Lunch-Out at the Central Forum. On the day of the event, NUS U.N.I.T.E.D showed up with packets of Nasi Lemak and handed them out to the study groups that showed up. With benches all lined together, everyone took a break from their studying and sat down together for a hearty meal. It was a time of fun, throwing out of jokes, getting to know one another, and leaving exam woes at the back of the heads.
|PHOTOS: Peter Choong and Liu Yuantai|
It was evident in the faces of the 36 friends that came that they were truly touched by the gesture of the group buying them a meal and organizing such a get-together. Everyone had their barriers down and were mingling among each other like old friends. Peter Choong, a 1st year NUS Student and part of NUS U.N.I.T.E.D shares that, “[it is] a truly heartening sight to see our new friends happy and blessed by our efforts.”
Right after the examinations, NUS U.N.I.T.E.D followed up with another event known as Gastrono-athlon!!! —a night cycling event on 14 Dec 2008. The aim was to cycle along a 65km route using bicycles, with pit stops at famous eateries along the East and Central of Singapore.
16 members of NUS U.N.I.T.E.D and 17 new friends took on this arduous journey, beginning from East Coast Parkway at 9 pm, cycling along the park connectors, arriving at their first check-point,Changi Village. After having a scrumptious meal, they then proceeded towards Singapore Expo Foyer 3 and then to Simpang Bedok for local desserts. After which, they proceeded to the city to see the Christmas lights and decorations along Orchard road. Going past Lau Pa Sat, they had another round of Satay before cycling to the Singapore Indoor Stadium, then proceeding back to East Coast at 5.30 am.
Despite the light drizzle throughout the entire journey, it was a good experience for every participant, taking in the night scene of popular spots in Singapore and conquering the distance on bicycles. The important thing was that everyone had fun and got to build friendships across faculty and groups. Yang Changhan, one of the organizers of Gastrono-athlon!!!, puts it succinctly, “The event was really fun and enjoyable. It was a wonderful opportunity for [us] to get to know one another and do something like this for a change, especially with people outside our own faculty whom we seldom interact with during school hours.”