silence is golden and all that
was back at the old Alma Mater this morning - though 'back' is not necessarily the best word, considering the Alma Mater has moved from Ghim Moh to Bishan (and i no longer have a direct bus, funny as that sounds - i took a cab to bishan, for crying out loud!) - to have tea with mr R and have a look around the new grounds. i have to say this: the new campus is freaking GINORMOUS. it is HUGE. it's bigger than i could possibly imagine. the kids look tiny and lost in it, unlike our campus, where the somewhat-less-than-the-full-complement of 1800 kids wandering around made the grounds look filled to overflowing. and mr R was pointing how much of his life is spent walking to and from class, waiting for lifts, etc etc. mindboggling. (lifts!?!)
the new campus is also fairly ill-designed for tropical weather - every time it rains everyone settles in for a good dampening. the hallways -corridors- are all open (this is not to say they don't have roofs, just no walls), and whenever the wind blows the rain winds up dancing all over the nice slippery concrete floors. not to mention the fact that it is never a good idea to let girls in thin white shirts and boys in thin white pants to get wet every time it decides to thunderstorm in Singapore, which is to say approximately twice a week.
on the other hand, it's a gorgeous set up. it's big, and it's airy, and it's spacious. you walk around and feel like you can breathe. (a big deal, seeing as i am feeling extremely claustrophobic at the moment.) everything is white, and green, and there's airconditioning in the classrooms, and the lecture theatres are huge and bright and clean, and there are lifts -- it's like being in one of the new ITEs, or a highly improved, much expanded RGS. they have a new indoor gym, and a new multipurpose hall, and the gym kids have their own facilities for the first time, i think. and a new track, and accompanying field. and i assume we have access to the RI swimming pool - i imagine it makes no sense for the schools to have TWO pools between them. there's a performing arts centre, which is by no means perfect, but in comparison with LT1 in the Ghim Moh campus, it is a paragon of its kind.
i guess, in the end, it all comes down to nostalgia and sentimentality -- this campus, no matter how big and comfy and filled-to-the-brim with wonderful things, is not the campus where i spent most of my 17th and 18th year playing carrom, doing math tutorials, running on a really hot track, or drinking copious amounts of ice-lemon-tea. it's not the place where we shoved a bunch of benches together to study for the A levels, or took naps, or watched the world -and crushes- go by in the late afternoon sunlight. it's not the place we escaped from to have Johnson Duck Rice or ice kachang in Ghim Moh market. however, the kids who go there now -i feel entirely entitled to call them kids, as i have had it pointed out to me that now i am a J7!- will never have known that RJC. their memories of JC will be built entirely around this new place - and they really do have a blank slate to write their memories on. in a little while, the college will have settled into its new grounds, and new-old traditions will spring up, and it will be as if we had never been elsewhere.