I need a lot of white noise to study, and big spaces – my room does not quite cut it, so I head to the lounge instead. I could head down to Starbucks everyday but I would feel bad for not getting a drink; even if the surrounding place is supposedly not owned by Starbucks itself. If I am not in-between lessons in Business, I would probably be in the lounge studying.
My point is, I am in the lounge a lot, to such an excessive extent that my name has become synonymous with the level itself. Sometime in Week 8 last semester, when I was just sitting around in the lounge, a friend used me as a prop in his ‘thank you’ photo to his angel (in Tembusu’s angel-mortal game). The photo got quite a bit of likes, so I went on to make a joke that I was ‘abused’ for likes with a Level 5 ‘celebrity status’. This is pretty much the underwhelming story of how the moniker stuck. I stay in the lounge through afternoons and into the late am, maybe 4 or 5am, before I repeat the extremely bad sleep cycle.
With the mandatory dining program, you would suppose the dining hall to be the main space for interaction, or where the most meaningful of memories would be made. I find it funny that this space was the Level 5 lounge for me.
Because of the central location of the lounge, people come in and out often; whether for five minutes or an hour, you can meet a whole range of people of many different profiles. What I like most is how many people here in Tembusu are often open books. Most are more than happy to share their wealth of experience and knowledge. Not just tips on surviving your freshman year, but also their take on university and life in general.
I strongly believe in colouring yourself with the experience of others. Maybe it is my preference, but I genuinely love learning about people and their personal philosophies, and in the process adding on to and drafting my own philosophy further.
Many random conversations flower like that. I remember how I was just asking Jian Jun about a finance module that I would be taking next semester; in the next moment, we were talking about his dreams of working in corporate banking, dreams that I felt heartened listening to, because they were not only motivated by the financial prospects of the industry. Sometimes, these conversations progress into mass discussions… Or, what I like to call bite-sized ‘senior seminars’; one time, Jensen popped in the room and shot Sonia with a question about her insights on City Harvest Church (she is very open to discussion on hot socio-politics, sometimes opening up insights to such issues herself) – everyone in the room got so excited that even curious passers-by were popping in to join the discussion. I think we had about eight people in the room at the peak of the conversation, talk about a #HomeofPossibilities. It also helps that Level 5 is also where the pantry is, which might explain the higher human traffic.
Of course, there are other constants in the lounge too. In the Level 5 lounge, I have met people like Ben and Jessendra, two of my closer seniors in business that have helped to take me through my first B-, which I reacted to rather melodramatically.
The level 5 lounge is my Tembusu space, one where a lot of my best memories have been forged. In the college, each of us has a special place where our happiest memories are forged. Mine is when people come and drop in food on my doorstep, (do you know what it’s like to have people dropping off free pizza at your door???) and when people would pop in the lounge to look for someone to share that 1-for-1 Starbucks drink with. Say Yes to community living!!!
Most of my circle of friends from this level 5 community are seniors, of which many are not coming back this semester. Some of these friendships might not survive these new circumstances, but I think we all have to take a step back and recognise the impermanent nature to these things.
But, above it all, I could not be happier than to be a part of this community where even some of my less positive thoughts are appreciated, where taboo topics are open to discussion, and where people can code-switch between heavy and light issues so easily. Meeting these people is a great experience enough, and any subsequent continuity would be a bonus.
I would like to think all of us are writing our own narratives in life and my best wish is for everyone to find a meaning to their individual stories. I am happy to have each of these people I meet add up to my own experience, and I feel very blessed to write each one of these people into shaping my own philosophy, my own story.
Photography by Marshall Too.
About the Author
Asking me to choose my favourite bubble tea is like asking me to choose my favourite child. In which case, I pick Koi. Biz admin kid that gets a bit too excited about food.