More often than not, do what you do best is the simplest thing anyone can adopt to improve oneself. In the case of Enqi Liu, an alumnus of Raffles Junior College, her passions have led her to many highs and lows throughout her time there. In this week's Deep Dive into JC's feature, we will be hearing from the unique perspective of a talented guitarist.
Getting to know Enqi Liu
What do you do in your free time?
I love to read whenever I am free; one of my favourite genres to read about is romance. I am currently reading a novel called The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. Playing the guitar is also something I enjoy doing!
How do you rate your school uniform?
I actually like it, especially the white blouse, which I still wear for formal events!
Enqi's experience in RJC
How would you describe your two years in RJC?
To me, my years spent in Raffles were some of the best years of my life. Raffles was like a second home to me, where I met some truly amazing friends and forged many wonderful memories. My teachers, especially my Literature teachers, were also fantastic, and they played an important role in my school life.
You touched on how important your teachers were, perhaps you can elaborate?
Certainly! Looking back, I am blown away by how great they were to not just me but my schoolmates as well. Their passion for the subject was infectious, always keeping the lessons engaging. Going beyond their domain of expertise, what made them special to me were how often they would check on students, making sure we were doing well mentally. Being in an environment where there is always a certain level of pressure, I am grateful to have teachers like them.
RJC has a reputation for being a stressful environment, how important are having your close friends around you?
Like I mentioned, I was fortunate to meet some friends I could trust. I enjoyed spending endless hours with them, and we're still really tight today. My clique and I would hang out in the lecture theatres back in J1, doing silly things like playing with the sound system, holding "mini concerts" with my guitar, and such. We would also feed and play with the school cat Teddy! Eventually, he became so attached to us that he would look for me whenever I was studying there and ask for food. In 2017, I also stayed in boarding school for half a year with my best friend and we had the time of our life!
What CCA did you join?
I was in Guitar Ensemble and Raffles Press! I joined both out of passion, culminating in experiences that I would never forget!
What was the highlight of your CCA journey?
Without a doubt it would be my solo performance in J2. My CCA was holding a concert barely a month after SYF and during the preparation phase, I was approached by my CCA president, asking if I would be interested in performing solo. I accepted the request and decided to perform a medley of three pop songs of my choice. I settled on the first two songs fairly quickly: Counting Stars by OneRepublic and Photograph by Ed Sheeran. However, a week or so before the performance, I was still searching and discarding many songs in search of that perfect third song. Finally, I picked Strawberries and Cigarettes by Troye Sivan because I heard it one day and just knew it was the right one to include.
You must be panicking when your last song was still up for debate! How did the performance go?
I was in the zone on stage. Again, it's such a surreal experience when you look at the audience and realise 600 people are rooting for you. Luckily, there weren't any obvious hiccups during the performance. When the night ended, I found my friends waiting for me with bouquets of flowers and a huge board dotted with embarrassing and funny moments of me. It was an emotional night that will stay with me forever.
Brilliant! Now let's talk about your academic life, what was your subject combination?
I initially took Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Literature. I chose Literature because it was my passion, but the rest of the subjects were mostly selected under peer pressure. Despite my weakness at Chemistry in secondary school, I nevertheless thought I would be able to cope with the JC workload. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come — due to my poor grade for Chemistry in Secondary 4, I actually had to take a preliminary test to be allowed to take Chemistry as one of my subjects. In retrospect, it was naive of me to simply follow the trend without looking at who I really was.
What did you do to rectify this initial misjudgement?
When I received my J1 report card, the raw Chemistry score I saw (of course it was a U grade) truly shocked me. It was a wake-up call to how much I had been struggling with this subject over the course of 2017. I couldn't see myself being motivated to put in effort to improve simply because I really disliked the subject. So I was unsure if I would be able to rectify that bad grade and catch up by the time A Levels came, especially since many of my friends had scored decently well. This really shocked me out of the hallucination that Chemistry was something I could continue pursuing. I took some time to reflect and realised that all I had ever wanted to do was something related to writing and reading, and never once had I showed interest in a career in the sciences (medicine, engineering, architecture, dentistry and the like). So I toyed with the idea of changing my subject combination. To be fair, I struggled for a while with the potential stigma I would face (a retainee in RJC?) and whether my parents would support my choice, but ultimately I came to the realisation that complete strangers' opinions of me didn't matter, and fortunately my parents were receptive to the idea as well. That's why I decided to drop the original subject combination, and switch to something more suitable for me. I chose English Linguistics, Economics, Literature, and Mathematics in the end, sacrificing one year of JC to pursue my passions. As you can tell, many decisions I make are driven by how passionate I am about the subject in particular!
What kind of profile of students would thrive in RJC's environment?
I think if you are weighing up your options, and RJC is one of them, you have to be self-driven. A certain level of genuine interest in study would go a long way. And last but not least, you should know how to work hard and play hard at the same time.
What would you have done differently?
I wasn't aware of where my interests lay back in JC. I think I would have put in more effort and soul-searching to decide what career I wanted for myself in the future. Then I would have started looking for opportunities to explore that route. For instance, I'm in university now and I've realised my true calling lies in law. If I'd come to this realisation in JC, I would have done some profile building by trying out MUNs, applying for legal internships, or maybe even joined some mooting competitions.
What's one advice for juniors looking to join RJC?
RJC's a great place, really. If you're ambitious, there are many opportunities for you to pursue your interests. There are plenty of top-tier clubs with access to many competitions. Even if you're not so sure what you want to do yet, that's okay — the two years in RJC will be the best time to figure out what you like and most of all, have fun!