FROM ME TO EU: THE JAE EXPERIENCE [PART 2]

Check out Part 1 here.

Joan (2018)

(i) Why did you choose Eunoia?

I wanted to choose a school that offered the Music Elective Programme, as well as my desired subject combination (History, Math, Music, Econs). After attending Eunoia’s open house, I appreciated how the school placed importance on helping students find their passions and goals, beyond just academic results. I also appreciated how the teachers I interacted with were very enthusiastic about their subject areas and were also very personable. To be honest, this decision was made also a bit in part by a good gut feeling towards the school, but ultimately I think it was a good decision for me. 

(ii) What was your EJ experience like? When did you feel like you identified as a Eunoian? 

I’m not sure how to sum up my experience in EJ; maybe there isn’t a way to sum up these 2 years. I think the cumulation of various experiences I’ve had in EJ made me feel like I was a Eunoian; it was a gradual process of realising how these experiences have shaped the identity that made me identify myself as a Eunoian, rather than a single moment which made me think ‘ah I’m a Eunoian’.

(iii) What was one highlight of your 2 years in Eunoia?

It’s probably inaccurate to only name one highlight — off the top of my head I remember quite a few: Road Run, Prom Night, quite a few of the Deep Dive Days we had, EJMEP concert ‘Euphony Op.1’, EJChoir concert ‘Genesis’, and even the comparatively more mundane days like hanging out in the music room, studying and chatting with friends while mugging for As. However, I think out of everything, one highlight of my two years in Eunoia would be the Eunoia Global Orientation trip to the UK. Reason being, it was one of the most calculated decisions I’ve ever made. That trip took place in June 2018, when I was in J2, right before our midterm examinations, which was also just a month or two shy away from Prelims and A-Level Examinations. Most J2 students chose not to apply for this trip. In fact, only 2 J2 students went, including me. To say I enjoyed it is kind of an understatement; till this day, the memory of it is quite etched into my mind. 

For one, I visited many universities and music conservatories, some of which were also schools I considered applying to further my studies — the University of Birmingham, Royal Northern College of Music, King’s College London, Imperial College, to name a few. The trip allowed me to gain a better understanding of the school’s culture, curriculum and faculty members, which helped me make a more informed decision with my university selection.

At the same time, I got the chance to experience activities in which I might never have the chance to experience if it weren’t for this trip — watching the sunset while drinking tea in the flower field behind our motel, visiting the Tate Modern, seeing the graffiti art on the east side of London, attending various concerts by visiting artists and performers, eating a gigantic chocolate sundae and promptly experiencing one of my worst sugar highs ever, making a wish on the biggest dandelion I’ve ever seen and so on.

Remember how I said only one other J2 student went for the trip? Well, through that trip, I got the chance to know her better, and she’s become one of my closest friends. In fact, we’re now in the same university, collaborating on the premiere of one of my pieces. I fondly remember our late nights studying in the hotel, discussions about life, and bonding over our love for tea and music. Till today, we often meet up, reminiscing about this memorable trip and our time in EJ. She visits me in the Composition Studio at school, while I crash her practice sessions in the Piano Priority Rooms, and we chill over a pot of hot tea. 

(iv) What are you doing now? How did your 2 years in Eunoia shape you to get there?

I’m currently pursuing a degree in Music Composition at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST), National University of Singapore. The most direct way Eunoia has influenced me in my decision would be through the MEP programme, which allowed me to further my studies in music after my O-Level Examinations that, I think Eunoia, and the people in Eunoia have in some way, big or small, impacted me both as a musician and as a person. My time in EJ was filled with moments that not only made me genuinely happy but also planted various questions in my head. It made me think about what I wanted in my life, my definition of success, what makes me happy and at peace with myself, who I am and so on. They were questions which I had not taken the time to think more deeply about until these moments occurred. I think my own answers to these questions are in flux, but my experience in EJ gave me the push I needed to pursue my passion and take some (calculated) risks. The world became bigger as a result, and I, smaller. While not knowing what the future holds makes me anxious and fearful at times, there’s a kind of curiosity that has developed in me, wondering beyond what is and what my world could be. 

Right now, I’m working on a couple of music projects, including a collaboration with some of my friends that involves film, sound and space, which focuses on the theme of Imposter Syndrome, as well as a sound installation work that is tentatively going to be held in EJ itself (I’m excited about it!). I’m also preparing for the premieres of 3 of my works (after a year of postponed/cancelled concerts) which will be performed by the Kompass Ensemble in the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in the University of Illinois, as well as in YST. More broadly, I’m exploring the realm of contemporary instrumental music as well as multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary art, while trying to craft my own musical identity and finding my place in this world. 

Jia Wen (2019)

(i) Why did you choose Eunoia?

I chose Eunoia because of the strong study culture I felt EJ embodied and it felt like a great place for me to focus on my studies. The student ambassadors were also very helpful and engaging during the open house, which made me feel very welcome.

(ii) What was your EJ experience like? When did you feel like you identified as a Eunoian? Did you feel there was a difference between the JAE and JIP students?

My senior reassured me that the support system in the school was extremely strong from both peers and the teachers and I really felt that during my time in EJ. When I struggled with my studies there were always people willing to help which I appreciated a lot! Leading my peers as a house vice-captain also helped me to strengthen my Eunoian identity especially during the Orientation period where we really came together to provide the best possible experience for the juniors. Personally, I didn’t find much difference between the JAE and the JIP students, albeit the presence of cliques which carried over from secondary school, but there’s no avoiding that considering the pre-existing JIP community after all. However, I did my best to get out there to make friends so I ended my journey with plenty of close-knit friends from both JAE and JIP backgrounds!

(ii) What was your EJ experience like? When did you feel like you identified as a Eunoian? Did you feel there was a difference between the JAE and JIP students?

A highlight of my two-year journey would be the frantic studying we had every night study session prior to the A-Level Examinations memorably the amount of screaming and breakdowns we saw each night. It was pretty scary but looking back at it now, it certainly makes for entertaining memories. especially so when the general paper was coming up and you could see everyone walking around, notes in hand and reciting all their notes and just going crazy in general.

(iv) What are you doing now? How did your 2 years in Eunoia shape you to get there?

Currently, I’m serving National Service! I’m still on course and will commission in March but my time in Eunoia has taught me how to work hard for my goals and to communicate well with my peers. EJ certainly honed my leadership skills with all the leadership positions I took up during my time in the college.

Check out Part 3 here.

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