Hey there Apollo! 🤙🤙🤙
As we approach the last term of the year, things can start to feel tough–and so we’ve brought to you a special segment that we hope you’ll find inspirational!
We’ve interviewed a group of seniors who have achieved outstanding results in their A-levels and are all recipients of the prestigious Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship. They’ve kindly agreed to share with us some words of wisdom on JC life! Without further ado, introducing…
You Xuan from 16A14,
Markus from 16S6Q,
and Milton from 16A15!
1) What were your class and CCA while you were studying in Hwa Chong? Which subjects did you study?
You Xuan: I was in 16A14, doing History, Economics, Literature, Mathematics and H3 Mathematics. On top of Apollo FC, I was also part of the Track and Field team and Chinese Calligraphy society.
Markus: I was in 16S6Q, and my CCAs were Choir and Apollo Fac Com. I studied Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and China Studies in Chinese.
Milton: 16A15. I took H2 Geography, Economics, Literature, Mathematics, and H3 Geopolitics: War and Peace. And GP of course. I was in ELDDFS (Debate Wing) for a bit in J1. Went for some competitions and got lucky too! Then left debates to focus more on Faculty Committee for the rest of JC :).
2) Currently, what are you doing? What will you be studying and where will you be pursuing your studies?
You Xuan: A mix of reading, cycling in the park, catching up with friends and enjoying the holiday I hardly had because army came fast and furious, before school work takes over my life again. I’m heading to Cambridge to pursue Economics.
Markus: I’m currently awaiting my university matriculation, so I’m keeping myself occupied with books, gatherings and pre-departure activities. I will be pursuing my Bachelors in Politics in King’s College London.
Milton: Currently I’m waiting to go to university. I’ll be studying Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the UK. I’m doing a lot of reading because I have a lot of books I won’t be able to bring over but will want to (re)visit and stuff HAHA. Also spending time with friends and just sorting out stuff to prepare for Uni!
3) Would you like to share 3 other fun facts about yourself?
You Xuan: Sounds like some orientation intro…
- My surname sounds odd as heck because the nurses in the early days tend to spell them wrongly (so there are three surnames in my extended family)
- I used to fall down from running a lot and was banned from running in kindergarten
- I couldn’t cycle until I was 16 😛
- I still can’t ride a bike till this day.
- I speak Japanese!
- I am a huge Twice fan (I think my friends all know this)
Milton: I am not a fun person and am bad at math.
4) In general, do you have any tips/advice for surviving JC? (especially for juniors with a lot to balance on their plate)
You Xuan: I think “work hard, play hard” is an important mantra to have. As much as being a workaholic might be ideal, I think having your fair share of fun prevents you from losing steam. For me (and the guys around me), every major test or exam would be followed by some form of celebration, whether it’s camping out at some LAN or cycling to Changi Village. Be sure to inject some breaks between studying as well (when it’s due!) and do something fun. (Botacs in the evening is pretty good place for a jog to clear your mind)
For those having to juggle many different commitments (probably the J1s atm), avoid putting too much pressure on yourself.
More importantly, do realise that you are not alone in your struggle and surround yourself with friends whether for academic or moral support.
Markus: I think the most important thing about having a hectic life (especially in JC) is really to seek meaning in everything you do. It’s indeed a very attractive thought to stuff your plate with activities, co-curriculars and commitments, but if you treat them as tasks to complete with no thought put into the ‘why’ and ‘how’, everything falls flat. Spend some time to think about what you really want to achieve by committing yourself to a particular activity, and look back from time to time to make sure you’re still on track (not just mindlessly following instructions). With a sense of purpose, commitments won’t feel as overwhelming, and you’ll find yourself enjoying what you do, so ‘surviving’ JC wouldn’t be a problem. Do what you like, like what you do, plan things out, and the pieces will fall together.
Milton: For academic matters, trust your teachers and consult them! I was really lucky to have had amazing teachers who were masters of their subjects and I’m sure many Hwa Chong teachers are dedicated and simply amazing. So trust your teachers, work with them, be frank with them about where you think you are and have a conversation about where you want to go. Building this relationship with your teachers are important. But also, work with your friends! Share resources with each other and cheer each other on. Help each other! You could discover gaps in your learning – which you can them improve on – or solidify your learning in teaching others. I think there’s some study that says you really only master your content when you can teach it to someone else? HAHA.
One more thing for acads. If you feel like you’ve got so much to do, or if you’re stressed because your friends seem to be having it a lot better than you because maybe they started earlier or they are more free, please don’t panic. Well, panic is helpful if it pushes you on but don’t stop in your tracks. This was something super real for me because I thought I was always behind, and there was so much more to do! I think it’s really helpful to be honest with yourself and trust your own abilities, to come up with a game plan and stick to it. Like in terms of measuring readiness, focus on yourself and don’t be too caught up in other people’s schedules/speed. Also, start early if you can. And if you haven’t, start now. It really is never too late. So, have a little faith and march on!
But in terms of surviving with so many things on your plate! Plan your time! I know its common wisdom and everyone knows they should do it but they still don’t and then they start panicking when there’s not enough time to get ready because they’ve just burned all their weekends doing external events and all their weekdays doing CCA. Planning helps hehe.
For juniors who have yet to commit to these events/activities, make it a point to be realistic about what you can do! Sign up for things you’re genuinely interested in and will be willing to give your 100%, thus making full use of your time. Be real with yourself and don’t feel like you’re any less because you’re not running around doing everything and anything!
MOST IMPORTANTLY, take breaks. Go and have fun! Like, what is fun is subjective lah but if it makes you happy to read a book because you’ve been reading too much notes, go read a book. If it makes you happy to watch cat videos, go watch em cat videos!! Organise outings, go and have a nice meal, or go play football. I don’t think it’s very healthy to be grinding 24-7 and like literally hesitating to go for meals because one feels like it would burn too much time. Like, use it to relax, it helps you focus better and go further when its #backtothegrind. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it.
5) Looking back, what is one thing you would have done differently?
You Xuan: Throughout school, I definitely had a lot of complaints or regrets. But I think taking a positive outlook helped in finding some form of purpose in doing what I did. And at the end of it all, I don’t think what I have done anything differently.
Markus: I would have spent more time with my class outside the classroom. While we interacted in class very extensively, there was definitely much more room for us to interact on a more personal level. As the CT Rep, I felt that I could have taken the initiative to encourage my classmates to look beyond their cliques to mix with other classmates, and chat about topics other than just academics or school activities. Perhaps, more class lunches and outings!
Milton: I would have consulted my teachers more. Not simply for the academic knowledge but because talking to them really helped me appreciate my subjects a lot more. For the longest time I saw them as giants – actually I still do, just less scary now – and thus didn’t approach them as much as I wanted to, even though we had an open-door policy. So yes! You can really learn so much from talking to your teachers, and often these extend beyond the syllabus and that makes all the difference.
6) Many of us encounter times where we just feel very tired and “sian”. Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for when one might feel this way?
You Xuan: Beyond finding time to take a break and have fun, I think it’s also important to find purpose in what you are doing. As long as you see reason in why you are doing something, whether it is studying or training or anything else school has to offer, it would definitely be a lot more enjoyable.
Markus: I can personally relate to this – the feeling of being burnt out can be very disruptive, especially when it comes to crucial periods such as exam preparations. I would recommend just setting aside some time to do something else – perhaps read a book, watch a movie, or just catch up on some sleep. If you need some company, go on a food trip or karaoke session with your friends! (I personally attest to the effectiveness of these activities.) Some may consider it as a waste of time, but taking some time off work could be a solution in the long run, since you would be more motivated and productive when you get back to work. Of course, that being said, being “sian” isn’t necessarily a bad thing – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to snap out of it. It’s a timely reminder to take a break.
Milton: Know your support systems and use them. Share your angst with friends (like literally whine and complain if you have to) and get back on track after. Go on family walks, talk to your parents, or teachers! And do things that make you happy. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, and that includes your physical and mental health. Like please don’t stay up till 3 AM and wake up at 6. I honestly believe that taking care of your health, like having a healthy sleep schedule for instance, goes a long way in improving productivity and morale. When it was nearing As, a lot of us adopted healthier sleep schedules and were actually kinder to ourselves in terms of how much we would push. I literally took breaks after 8 or 9 PM because I knew that past a certain time in the day I wouldn’t be as productive as I wanted to be. And I found myself using that time to relax and refresh my mind. That’s really useful.
Remember, when the sun rises, it falls. This A level grind will end. So jiayous a little harder for now. (But still take care of yourself.)
And after it ends, don’t worry too much lah. Just be at the position where you know you’ve given it your best and you can be proud of yourself. In the end, life is so much more than acads, and life extends way beyond the A levels. I got really stressed at some point in time, wondering where I’ll be if i mess up. So I found myself angsting and chatting with my J1 GP teacher one random afternoon. And she really helped me have a little perspective on life. There really are many roads to take, the future is exciting, so don’t overstress yourself either. Lots of love ya.
7) What memories/parts do you cherish most from your time in Apollo Faculty/Hwa Chong, and what do you think is something your juniors should cherish?
You Xuan: As much as I would like to highlight certain events like Apollo winning POP in 2016 or the café-turned-club at MAF 2017 or endless slogging on the track, I think the everyday life in school made for a generally enjoyable experience. Studying itself can be pretty mundane and seemingly endless. But in hindsight, the numerous hours spent in class and at L1 consult gave me a chance to forge unforgettable memories, jiving with those around me, catching those dozing off as early as 8am, arguing whether to get zhi char at 6th Avenue for the 5th time in a week…
Ultimately, I think it’s the little things that matter, that make school a fond memory.
Markus: I cherish the everyday life of just chatting with my friends at the class bench, having lunch together, going for CCA sessions and studying together! Being in Apollo Faculty really brought out the school and faculty spirit in me, as the people were so warm, motivated and energetic! I really enjoyed my time in the Faculty Committee as the 16 of us made sure to put in effort into every event, while enjoying ourselves thoroughly in the process. I also cherished my days in Choir very fondly – it was my first-hand experience in choral singing, and the strong emphasis on teamwork and trust made me realise how a CCA was more than just a student club. I believe the people is something that Hwa Chongians would, and should cherish – in this busy system with deadlines to meet and tasks to complete, the people you face every day really make all the difference as they add so much more character, diversity, discussion and friendship – intangible, valuable assets that you would not find elsewhere.
Milton: I cherish my friends the most. I cherish studying together, singing together, or literally crying together. In the end, it’s the honest conversations with people I thoroughly love and respect that helped me grow and become a better person. (And I hope I wasn’t a poor friend to these folks in return.)
8) Is there anything else you would like to tell your Apollo juniors?
You Xuan: Cherish your time in school!!
Markus: Take things in your stride, seek meaning in what you do, and be consistent. All the best!
Milton: JIAYOUS. LIVE LOUD LIVE PROUD is a damn good life philosophy so RIDE ON FRANS you’ll get there!
That’s all for this blog post! A big thank you to the seniors for the time and effort you’ve put into sharing these bits of advice with your Apollo juniors 😊 Congratulations on your stellar results, and all the best for your future endeavours!
Bullboys and bullgirls: we hope you’ve found this post helpful and motivational as we strive towards a fruitful end of the year together! 💪
Live loud live proud! ☀️☀️☀️
Apollo Faculty Committee 18/19