If anyone thought I was very quiet on the social networks over the last two weeks, they're right. I was too busy to do anything. Thanks to the orientation programme by DSTA (with AFA MY sandwiched in the middle), I had no time to get online.
I've never been for OBS before, and never asked about it, though I know there's quite a number of people who go for it in Sec 3. It felt a little like army, since it was conducted on a small island north of Singapore, reached only by boat from a dedicated pier, which is accessed by a private bus. Everyone else felt the same way too (except the girls of course), and started to throw military jargon, especially when planning and scheduling the day (the instructors made us lead ourselves).
Since we've been through army, OBS is nothing compared to it, and there weren't any challenges really, but it was a really fun program. The gist of it was that we kayaked out of Ubin to mainland to camp, and then kayaked back to another Ubin camp site to camp once more, before kayaking around the entire island of Ubin back to the main base.
One of the goals of OBS is to get people out of their comfort zone, but for guys like us, that's already been accomplished some time ago. To the girls, of course, it's something new. The more important part of OBS is actually how they conduct the course such that we get to know each other better and experience team bonding.
Each activity that they organised required everyone to help out in groups of 4 or more, save for kayaking itself, which was in pairs. But that can be considered an entire batch activity since we were doing it as an expedition, and had to move as a wave together, encouraging each other on, etc.
Each time a goal was set, it was purposely made very difficult, as a challenge. For instance, we had to kayak around the island in less than 4 hours, including the pack-up from the camp site, and the final washing down of the kayaks back at base. That's about 20km+ over sea + launching + beaching. Yet, somehow or another, our whole group managed to do it. The challenge itself does not carry much significance, but owing to it being a group activity, it made us more united against a single adversary, so to speak.
Each day also had time for reflection, time for both conversation and private conversation, and our instructor always conducted a sharing of reflections session at the beginning or ending of the day. The thing I discovered about reflections is, there's not much to learn from your own, or at least that's true for me. Most of the time, I reflect on an activity as I go through it, so much so that it's merely a redundant repetition if I were to do so again at the end of the day. What I did learn though, was from others' reflections. It helped me understand the the atmosphere at that moment. I'm poor at recognising the general sentiment of the entire group because I tend to massage my perceptions very actively to maintain positive outlook and to enjoy the most of my time.
As for personal reflections, since we were encouraged to pen it down, and allocated time for it, I decided to practice writing in Japanese. My reflections for all 5 days were written entirely in Japanese. Through that I've realised my vocabulary is totally inadequate. More practice needed, definitely.
At the end of it all, it's fantastic and almost surreal that after only 5 days, we've gotten to know each other and get along. I wouldn't say well, or that we've all become close, but the distance is much shorter than any other programme/course/circumstances could have achieved (barring life critical situations).