Written by: Elizabeth Paulyn Gostelow (RI), Ray Lim (RI), Lim Junheng, Jovan (20-O5), Leia Ong Rui En(20-U1)
Designed by: Kothandam Anusha (20-I1)
The rustling of pages and the occasional whirring of printers. Perpetual chatter and laughter characteristic of the canteen. Pounding music and enthusiastic voices in rehearsal, heard from a mile away. Gusts of wind whooshing over benches of students hunched over their work.
Regardless of the school we hail from — Eunoia Junior College (EJC) or Raffles Institution (RI) — certain sights and sounds are not just incredibly distinctive, but are also genuine trademarks of our day-to-day lives as students.
Have you ever wondered about what campus life is like in EJC and RI? In this article, writers from these adjacent schools rediscover eleven places of significance in our beloved campuses — our homes away from home. Read on to find out what makes these seemingly innocuous places so unique, vibrant, and above all, indispensable to our student lives.
Section I: School Staples
In this first section, we rediscover two places — the library and the canteen — that are both indispensable locations in our schools, and what they mean to Eunoians and Rafflesians. From the old Buona Vista campus to the glorious new Bishan campus, the EJ segment reveals the changes post-move, while the RI segment will elucidate why and how these two places are both essential staples of the respective junior colleges.
What is one of the most fundamental facilities available to any student? Of course, we’re referring to our schools’ libraries! With resplendent natural light streaming through both libraries’ floor-to-ceiling windows, they have cemented their reputation as places of peace and tranquility in the hearts of Eunoians and Rafflesians alike. Read on to find out more!
For many Eunoians, the architecture of the campus is something that they are most proud of. Students, staff and visitors alike enter the Bishan campus marvelling at the beauty of our duplex library, with its full-length windows boasting a panoramic view of the Bishan Park landscape.
EJC campus’ library with a splendid view of Bishan Park. Photo credit: EJC Media
Most commonly referred to simply as ‘the library’, RI’s Shaw Foundation Library, or SFL, is most inviting, and undeniably, proves a popular draw for students. However, what is a library without its books — or people — to read them? With countless shelves packed to the gills with books of innumerable genres and languages, the three-storey SFL is the ideal spot to loan literary items.
SFL in all its undeniable, resplendent glory
“SFL is comparable to HML [Hullett Memorial Library, the library at the Year 1-4 side of RI]. I would say that SFL has a better, significantly wider collection of books,” commented Foo Loon Wei (2131A, RI).
The libraries’ features are, of course, not limited to just dusty tomes. The smorgasbord of features in the EJC library are surely something to be reckoned with — courtesy of EJC’s resident Library Club, whose conscientious upkeep enlivens its otherwise grey and monotone interior. The colourful displays on the giant staircase linking its two storeys together is testament to their hard work.
Monthly-decorated staircase linking the two levels of the library.
Their monthly new decorations of book recommendations pertaining to different school subjects constantly gives the library a refreshed look. As Library Club member Chen Jiulin (20-E1, EJC) puts it, “My favourite feature is probably the activity section at the landing between the two levels of the library, [as it] makes the library feel cosier and brightens it up.”
Activity section at the staircase landing of EJC Library
The SFL, too, provides a cosy reading spot in front of a huge selection of magazines and periodicals, along with seats by the side where students can watch DVDs. Unfortunately, said magazine reading spot and e-viewing facilities in SFL have been blocked from use — a move completely essential, but no doubt regrettable — rendering this area of the library virtually useless.
Necessary measures, in the time of a global pandemic
The cosy chairs and sofas crossed out with severe-looking tape, which would otherwise be a rather shocking and surprising sight, serve as reminders of the unfortunately on-going pandemic in their stark visual contrast.
In line with digital mediums, the little-known ICT Learning Space — tucked in an alcove under the main staircase — in EJC’s library has a host of IT facilities seeking to improve Eunoians’ digital literacy.
ICT Learning Space under the staircase
Maintained by the IT Department, this corner features books on technology, neon lights, and even a television monitor tracking your every movement, along with other tech paraphernalia.
Television monitor with various IT concepts on the shelves
Of course, studying is without a doubt the most common activity undertaken at both the EJC and RI school libraries, with the more familiar highlights the various studying corners distributed all about both places, drenched in natural light from the large windows. Lim Yun Fang (20-E5, EJC), also from her school’s Library Club, is particularly fond of this environment. “It creates a very productive atmosphere,” she shared.
Study area on Level 10
The same can easily be said of SFL, where the rows of rectangular tables which stretch further than the eye can see, beautiful in their simplicity and symmetry, are now imposed as tables-for-one.
The “Quiet Study Areas”, now even more conducive for studying
“Our library is very spacious, the lighting is very conducive, and of course, the librarians are very friendly,” chimed in Loon Wei, not to be outdone.
This sentiment certainly isn’t just shared by current students of both Bishan campuses — even previous EJC batches felt the same way before the move. As 2020 batch EJC alumnus Ernest Tan called to mind his experiences in the former Mount Sinai campus’ library, he felt that while it was largely similar to that of the current campus, it also had “an additional touch of cosiness”, which he greatly enjoyed.
Panoramic view of the former Mount Sinai campus’ library. Photo credit: EJC Media
Clearly, the campus library is an integral part of our student experiences. Without it, we would never have enjoyed the abundance of facilities that bring us comfort in our second homes.
Whether it is for endless, undisturbed studying, or just for some peaceful lounging before leaving for the next lesson, it is undeniable that even what seems like the most ordinary of places — the school library — is truly able to bring much-needed ease and repose to any Eunoian or Rafflesian.
The canteen — a location of nourishment universally familiar and well-loved by all teachers and students alike. Be it to unwind with a spirited chat after a long day, or to have a quick lunch before rushing up for the next lesson, the canteen is undoubtedly a place of fond memories for all.
The view from the most commonly used entrance of the RI canteen.
The dizzying array of stalls in both canteens provides a wide variety of cuisine choices, with undoubtedly something for everyone, be it Yong Tau Foo or Mixed Rice. Long queues at multiple stalls can often be seen at busier meal times, revealing the true popularity of the canteen food.
The long queue for R5 Noodles and Porridge on 23 February 2021, at 11.19 a.m.
When interviewed, students from both schools found the food selection to be more than satisfactory. “The Malay food is a bit pricey, but the satay chicken and mee rebus are very good,” Shen Zhen Yang (21S06E, RI) opined, in relation to Aminah’s Nasi Padang, one of RI’s Malay food stalls. His sentiment is shared by many peers, which speaks to its uncontested quality.
Mixed rice from Aminah Nasi Padang
The appreciation is mutual: “I am always very happy to be around such nice students,” Auntie Karen of the EJ Duck Rice stall said pleasantly.
EJ canteen stalls, post-lunch hour
The canteen, good eats aside, is not just a place for meals. With the wondrous view of Bishan Park just beside, EJ’s canteen is also a spot for all to unwind and take a breather, with a plate of tasty chicken rice or refreshing fruit smoothie in hand. “I enjoy eating with my colleagues,” said Mr Kevin Martens Wong, GP teacher, often spotted sitting with fellow GP teachers at the tall teachers’ table. “Being so near to nature is good too, as it reminds us of EJ’s place in the community.”
EJC Canteen with the scenic view of Bishan Park. Photo credit: EJC Media
“The canteen is a place filled with emotions, mostly carefree ones,” shared Kelvin Jong (20-O5, EJC). “Sometimes you can hear people singing birthday songs, or just outbursts of laughter.”
These quotes are indeed testaments to the lively atmosphere characteristic of EJC’s canteen; likewise, the spirited energy of the student body is apparent through RI’s occasional canteen performances, including those by Raffles Rock and Raffles Jazz during Homecoming, which kicked off the school year for the Year 6 students.
“I had a great time performing with my batchmates in the canteen during Homecoming. It was very heartening that many of my friends and classmates were there to support me,” enthused Benjamin Silver Matthew (21A13A, RI), a Jazz member.
Of course, the fond memories that all of us, teachers, and students alike have of the canteen is what makes it so singularly special. Darren Chung (21S06P, RI) remarked: “When at the canteen, my classmates and I can all sit together at one or two tables to eat meals and talk. This is, of course, not possible in the classroom, where our desks are separated in exam arrangement. Though I might prefer the Year 1-4 canteen, where the food is obviously much better, the JC canteen vendors are quite nice, too.”
“As we can talk freely to friends and even friends of friends, the canteen is a memorable place for friendships to start,” said Kelvin, in a similar vein.
Recounting a congenial experience he had at the start of the year, he went on, “I once saw a group of J1 students at the benches in front of Auntie Mei Lan’s drinks stall chatting, and surprisingly, I found out that they were all from different OGs (Orientation Groups)!”
Indeed, the canteen is a hub of social activity for the freshly-minted J1s, having spent much of the interim time between Orientation games waiting or even playing water games there.
“The canteen is a place where OGs or CGs [Civics Groups] can always head to when we’re free after any activity or lesson to really sit down, chill, and have conversations to bond,” noted Jachin Khoo (21-U5, EJC).
The current extraordinary circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have left all of us going about our daily lives with much more caution. The safe-distancing markers spaced out on every Eunoian class’ individual canteen table and endless supply of table disinfectant and paper towels provided, have allowed all of us to become more accustomed to this new norm.
Similarly, the presence of Safe Distancing Ambassadors in RI’s canteen is a point of note. Although not dressed in bright red like those in shopping malls, these watchful plainclothes monitors from the teaching staff, beyond enforcing a strict one-metre-apart rule, are also reminders of our all-important civic responsibility in keeping the novel coronavirus at bay. But like the clear dividers at every table, they have become, quite simply, facts of life. Foo Loon Wei (21A13A, RI) lamented, “Our batch did not really utilise the canteen because of the pandemic.” But on a hopeful, forward-looking note, he added: “Maybe future batches will.”
Signs of the times
Despite these special measures, necessarily undertaken to keep us safe, the simple pleasure of enjoying a meal with friends remains undiluted. “Even with SMMs in place, all the open space makes the canteen still feel very communal,” said Mr Wong.
“I don’t think the canteen’s essence will change; it has always been a staple of our school,” shared Loon Wei. Indeed, it is almost impossible to imagine school life without somewhere as iconic and as important as the canteen — a place of fond memories for us all.