The Introvert Goes to Camp

This article was contributed as part of an open call to Tembusu College for contributions about the general theme of Orientations.

For us introverts, it takes a great leap of faith to sign up for any event that involves a high level of social interaction. We are by no means social pariahs, but too much socialising at a go can tire us very easily. Orientations are just the sort of activity that we ordinarily stay away from, especially one that would span almost five whole days.

Hence, I was surprised when I found myself eagerly registering for Tembusu’s Freshmen Orientation Camp – unlike the mandatory camps I had attended in my previous schools. Filling in the form only took me five minutes – perhaps even less. Maybe a part of me instinctively felt that this camp would be different from the rest – not that I had attended any other orientation camp in NUS. Perhaps I had just felt that it was time I stepped out of my comfort zone and did things differently, for once. In any case, I had signed up for the camp, and now it was up to me to determine how I wanted to go through with it.

Before checking in at night, I was horribly nervous. I am not one to strike up engaging conversations with total strangers, but now I was going to have to try. If I was going to attend this camp, I might as well open up to the new group of friends I would hopefully make and have a good time before the semester officially started.

True enough, I forced myself to ignore whatever reservations I had and made my first friend in Tembusu while we were both waiting to check in to our rooms. We introduced ourselves and talked about what majors we were intending to study and what some of our expectations for this camp were. It turned out to be pretty simple once I began to speak to her as if I would to one of my close friends instead of seeing her as a complete stranger.

Once that first hurdle was out of the way, I found myself talking to people in my orientation group a lot more than I would have had I not successfully attempted to open up earlier in the night. I had surprised myself by lasting the night without falling into the usual awkward silences that I was accustomed to and managing to learn the names of every single person in my orientation group. It was also reassuring to learn that I was not the only introvert around, and that for a few others, this camp was also their first in NUS.

To my dismay, the camp was abruptly suspended just as my enthusiasm was peaking – I think it was when I found myself with a stocking over my head, trying to knock over colourful plastic balls placed on top of inverted plastic cups and not minding it at all. That was the turning point for me: when I actually enjoyed something that would have come across to me as terribly childish a mere few days ago.

Truly a home of possibilities, it was at Tembusu that I first ventured into unfamiliar territory, went way out of my comfort zone and found that I could enjoy the orientation experience just like everyone else who had attended. Probably emboldened by the short but fruitful camp experience, I now know instinctively that it will continue to be this way for the rest of my time here as I explore all the possibilities and opportunities available here to grow as an individual.

And to think this all started less than two weeks before the camp when a hesitant introvert decided to attend her first orientation camp in a brand new environment.

About the Author

Cherry is a first year undergraduate who intends to major in Southeast Asian studies. She loves to read across all genres (horror is a major exception) and talk to people about anything and everything. In her own words, “if you need anything, just hit me up”

Photos by Cherry Tan