Life Lessons In Lockdown
Four Ngee Ann Polytechnic students share with Ruth Chan the skills and habits they have picked up; the valuable lessons they have learnt and plan to make a part of their life post-circuit breaker.
Places Editor of HYPE Issue #51
July 7, 2020
Singapore’s circuit breaker may have cut face-to-face interaction to the core but for four Ngee Ann Polytechnic students, it was a precious time to reconnect with dreams cast aside by hectic schedules and, more importantly, with their inner selves.
Erwin Shah, 19, a final-year Mass Communication student from the School of Film & Media Studies, said in a phone interview: “It’s not a race of who’s leaving their houses with more skills or who’s better. It’s a time for people to recuperate and find themselves to emerge stronger.”
He admitted that staying at home since February has been tough, but he has “learnt to accept and be face to face with demons that (he) has never dared to uncover” about himself.
Nonetheless, he felt he has matured greatly from this. “With fear and confusion, there is also confidence that we can exude because we can take charge of the opportunity and make the best out of it,” he said.
As someone who appreciates human interaction and connecting with people around him, Erwin said that he always “had a long-term plan of using (his) social media for better use and to benefit people”.
Erwin (top) and the owner of @lovemigrantworkers on Instagram having a deep conversation about Covid-19. Photo courtesy of Erwin Shah.
He planned a series of online calls that brought together different professions, including designers, event management personnel and community service enthusiasts. To him, this was “one of the more fulfilling times during this period”.
These interactions, available to his followers on Instagram, gave him multiple perspectives on topics he has always been interested about. He hopes to bring forward such initiatives into life after the circuit breaker, and even has plans to do a podcast on Spotify.
“There are going to be numerous uncertainties in the future and I have learnt to be way more adaptable to situations in life,” he concluded.
There are going to be numerous uncertainties in the future and I have learnt to be way more adaptable to situations in life.
Kirsty Lai Ling Xing, 19, a final-year Aerospace Electronics student from the School of Engineering, had her internship suspended during the circuit breaker. Initially, she was very restless and was “itching to go back to intern” because she was not doing anything productive.
Eventually, she decided to revisit an old hobby and agreed to help write a script for an animated short film with a friend of hers.
“I hope to achieve greater empathy for others through scriptwriting, because it’s like stepping into others’ shoes when I do it. I always have to put myself in the characters’ shoes when I’m thinking of how they’ll react or reply,” she said.
The steps outside Kirsty’s house where she gets ideas for her script. Photo courtesy of Kirsty Lai Ling Xing.
She has also learnt to “step back” and remind herself not to be so hard on herself.
“Self-reflection is honestly very therapeutic and helps you grow as a person too,” Kirsty said.
The solitude from staying at home has led her to treasure her alone time. “Life can be really daunting and draining (socially) but the circuit breaker has allowed me to recharge my social batteries,” she added.
“Most of what I’ve learnt pertains to self-growth or improvement, so I’ll apply it to my everyday life from now on,” said Kirsty, as she looks forward to heading back out and exploring everything she took for granted.
Most of what I’ve learnt pertains to self-growth or improvement, so I’ll apply it to my everyday life from now on.
Cheang Ren Ting, 19, a second-year Hotel & Leisure Facilities Management student from the School of Design & Environment, dearly misses the time she spent with her friends and classmates.
“I think this is usually taken for granted because everyone thinks we get to see them and spend time with them every day,” she said.
She added that she was stressed out by school assignments, so she turned to painting in order to unwind and hopes to continue to do so after the circuit breaker ends.
A painting Ren Ting did of a girl gazing upon the Milky Way. Photo courtesy of Cheang Ren Ting.
Working out at home is another method she brought up to cope with the stress. “It keeps me healthy and I get to sweat a little,” she said, adding that she doesn’t mind the latter.
Eileen Po, 21, a final-year Information Technology student from the School of InfoComm Technology, shared this sentiment. She started to work out every day during the circuit breaker period.
She felt that it served as a “bonding session” with her friends, and that she would continue this habit after the circuit breaker ends as a way to keep fit.
She makes use of this time to bond and strengthen her relationship with not only her friends but her family members, adding that doing so is how she copes with the isolation of staying at home.
As for her self-growth, she said that the attitudes of Singaporeans during this period made her reflect on her own.
“Some Singaporeans do act irrationally sometimes, for example in the case of the closure of bubble tea stores and McDonald’s, which caused Singaporeans to hop on the bandwagon and queue up like their lives depended on it,” Eileen said.
“I think it makes me think about the outcomes of my actions first before making any decision, be it a small or a big one,” she added.
I think it makes me think about the outcomes of my actions first before making any decision, be it a small or a big one.