Throughout your time in NS, you’ll feel that a lot of your time is wasted being trapped in camp with nothing much to do. This is especially so if you have to stay in, as you see your female peers move on quickly, continuing with their university studies. This is no reason to despair, as there are actually many things that can still be accomplished in camp. Here’s a list of things that you should do to maximise your 2 years serving NS.
1. Workout and buff up
There will be plenty of time after BMT and SCS/OCS to do your own training, and most camps have pretty decent gyms. When there’s a group of guys together, the best thing you can do is gym together so you can help each other spot and correct each other’s postures. The friendly competition will help too, and when you book out on weekends you’ll feel less guilty when you indulge yourself.
Plus, it always helps to look fit and strong, especially when you enter university. If done right, be prepared to have girls ogling at your body!
Even if you’re not interested in packing on muscles, do keep yourself fit. With the new IPPT system, $500 per year after NS is really attractive.
2. Learn to drive
If you can, start learning even before you enlist. Book your lessons on the weekends if you have already enlisted. This will be a long process, but it will give you tons of satisfaction when you pass.
For those that are posted to a unit, cross your fingers and hope that you’re sent on driving course. This is a 1month stay-out course that is essentially free driving lessons for you. Of course, nothing is ever really free and you will be taking on more responsibilities as a driver, but it will be worth it. I’ve friends who have military licenses and they took just 5 private driving lessons to get their civilian license.
3. Pick up a new skill
With so much free time at night, especially towards your ORD, it’s the best time to pick up something new. Try to learn something that you will never pick up in university, or something that will help you in future.
For example, if you have bunkmates who play guitar, learn to play guitar from them. You could also pick up a new sport (rugby, frisbee, etc) or simply borrow books from the library on subjects you’re interested in.
Some useful stuff you should learn about: finance, something related to your future studies, cultures and places of attraction for different countries (useful to plan your ORD trip!), maybe even interior design, so you could learn to design your future dorm room.
Newspapers are also freely available in camp, so do use them and keep yourselves updated on current affairs, and the Chinese could take the opportunity to brush up on their Chinese!
4. Plan for your future
If there’s any advantage over the ladies that we guys get because of NS, it’s the luxury of time to plan. These 2 years are perfect for you to look at the university and course you want to enter, look for a scholarship, and think of what you want to do in future. If you are looking to go overseas for studies, the application process is often long and tedious. There’s no better time than during these 2 years to complete the application(s).
Further, being in NS affords you new insights into working life, and as your female peers start university, you could also learn from them what a particular course is like. This gives you the chance to rethink your decisions and make better ones.
Beyond education, some people even draft up business plans and start a business together with army friends, and make it big after ORD. If you do have a good business idea, your army friends could turn out to be your best business partners.
5. Address health-related issues
During the 2 years of service, your 11B affords you fully subsidised healthcare at polyclinics and government/restructured hospitals. If you need to pluck your wisdom teeth, check up on old injuries or rectify any other health-related issues, this is the best time.
I’m not advocating malingering (read: chaogeng-ing), rather i’m advising making use of free healthcare. In fact, if you have old injuries, they could have worsened during your outfields and route marches and deserve to have a thorough check up done. While there may be a social stigma associated with those who go for Medical Appointments (MAs), if you know that you are merely trying to get a check-up and not trying to malinger, there should be no repercussions.
Ultimately, serving NS is the rite of passage for every Singaporean son. While many may find that it is a waste of time, the value of these 2 years really is up to ourselves to dictate. Even if you choose to turn a blind eye to the many lessons that can be learned from serving, you can still make the 2 years worthwhile by maximising your free time.
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