Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Story of Me (III) : Teen Angst

When I was 11, I moved over into the local school system. Tanglin Junior was too expensive and the path would lead to the International Baccalaureate. My parents are both educated in the UK and firmly believed in 'O' Levels! So I switched across to Henry Park Primary School which was just around the corner from our condo. I had to take an entrance exam in English, Maths & Science. The curriculum at Tanglin Junior was vastly different and I failed miserably in Maths and Science. Miserably. Like, 5/100 marks or something as pathetic. BUT I scored 99/100 in my English test which I'm sure is the only reason I was admitted, albeit to the lowest-ranked class with all the other delinquents.

Henry Park was a turning point for me. No more bullying!!! I really came into my own and moved from the lowest-ranked class to the top class in the space of a few months. Our school system imposes national exams at every educational stage to judge admittance into the next phase. We had the Primary School Leaving Exams (PSLEs) and I ended up being the top scorer for my year, achieving 277 points in a year where the national high score was 281.

I am often grateful to my parents' decision to move me. They were clueless about the bullying, even then I wasn't much of a complainer! But I think if I had stayed at Tanglin Junior School and moved on to United World College, I might have always remained in the shadows. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows?

My PSLE score ensured entrance into one of Singapore's best secondary schools, Raffles Girls', and thus began my journey into adolescence. Boys were a great way to get the attention I missed during the early years!!!! Books, less so :P I count many blessings in the opportunities that have shaped my life - RGS is one of them. I'm so easily influenced and RGS provided such a safe environment to grow in, tempering my natural risk-taking with prudent sensibilities. I was a very rebellious teen and drove my mother mad with my revolt, got into lots of trouble but somehow, always landed safely.

Needless to say I didn't repeat the sparkling honours in my 'O' Levels as I did at the PSLEs, but I did well enough to get into Raffles Junior College.

Streaming is a promiment feature of the Singapore education system. They believe that all students are not created equal, and children are seperated by ability. Yeap, it's controversial! But one of the by-products is the need to decide from early on what you want to do with the rest of your life because one must choose what 'stream' to elect i.e. Science, Arts etc. At 30, I still didnt know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life much less at sixteen! I was still trying to figure out which boys were good to kiss!

I figured since I love my granny very much, and wanted to be able to look after and cure her of all ailments when she got older and I also like helping people (it's an Aquarian thing) "Hey, why not be a doctor?"

So I opted in for the Triple Science stream - Physics, Biology, Chemistry. Pity no-one told me I actually had to be a left-brainer and have an aptitude for Science. I could see myself headed straight for failure at the 'A' Levels so my family huddled and we re-strategised. It was too late to switch streams at RJC because I would waste a year, so I decided to zip over to Sydney and matriculate in 1 year, re-selecting my core subjects.

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