Ahh, it’s that time of the year. What time, you ask.
Is it Christmas? Not merry enough. Is it New Years? Not special enough. Is it Chinese New Year? Not joyous enough.
It’s the time for a Singaporean man to experience true happiness like he never had before, better than getting straight As for his exams, better than getting a girlfriend.
He will be getting his pink IC back.
Sometimes, however, ORD may actually be overrated. Many young men come out of National Service bright-eyed and eager for experiences, only to find that they have burnt away the better half of a year to wait for university (at least for the Junior College kids).
As a guy who has already ORD-ed (I cannot stop stressing that to my juniors), there are several things that I can suggest you do when you ORD, to make the most out of your long break before university.
Enjoy A Holiday
Take a break, relax! You have just endured two long and arduous years of National Service. Go overseas with your bunkmates, with your girlfriend, or with your schoolmates! Have a good rest to reset your clock (what is 5.30am reveille?) and celebrate properly!
There are many places you can go to, from exploring the islands of Bali and Krabi to conquering the European lands of Spain and Scotland.
I have friends who even went back to the mountain ranges in Taiwan, where us Infantry (very unfortunately) commanders had training as cadets. Crazy, I know, but for old times’ sake.
If like me, you are broke due to poor saving habits (too many nights out nearing the end of service), the next one might be a highlight for you.
Oftentimes in the blur of National Service and other commitments, many of us fall out of touch with our loved ones. From our gruelling training schedules to having commitments to volunteerism or a significant other, there may be many in our lives who we have overlooked.
Spend time with your family, catch up with old friends (who probably also ORDed) who you might not have had the chance to catch up with. They range from your school friends to your friends from BMT, no matter what stage in life, they are “brothers-in-arms” too.
Well, after National Service, life might actually get slightly tougher for some. Suddenly we no longer have free meals (even if you find them horrid), a free roof over our heads and a steady income.
There will be some who will want to either look for part-time work or full-time contractual work.
Such work can range from being a barista at Starbucks to being a data entry personnel in an MNC.
You can use various resources to find jobs, like agent websites that help curate a list of suitable options for you!
Time to hustle.
If you’re not too strapped for cash, why not apply for internships? At this point in time, I am sure that everyone who is leaving National Service is either going for further education or going into the working world.
Surely, everyone has certain interests, but they may not know enough about their chosen field of occupation or study.
This is where internships are nifty, you do not have to invest much by signing a multi-year contract, yet can be exposed to the inner workings of professionals who are working in the field you are interested in!
Who knows, if you do well enough you may even receive a return offer, or even have recommendation letters to help with your application for scholarships or entry into university courses!
Pick Up A New Skill
The Singapore system is incredibly rushed, we are shuttled from one part of our lives to another, without any time in between. Secondary school, then Junior College, then the Army, it felt like I never had any time to explore my own interests and passions outside.
Guess what, this is the best time to try out new things. For the next few months, you are not primarily occupied with anything, the jobs you take at an entry-level will probably not make you as busy as you would be studying in university.
Learn how to cook! It is a killer with the ladies. And your mom.
Or pick up coding! Learning how to code is one of the most popular things to learn, with its many applications in the real world.
There are so many avenues for you to learn new things, you have online platforms like Coursera and Udemy, or actual physical venues like Upcode Academy!
No matter what, spend the next few months however you deem fit. You have earned your freedom. Happy ORD!