Written By Koh Ze-Wen
Welcome to Sunway, students of the March intake! It’s good to see your fresh faces on campus, already making yourselves at home in the classrooms and lecture halls. Sunway College and University offers a vibrant learning experience with plenty of interesting lecturers and active societies, but come on, we all know what makes campus life so lively – the students! Throughout your time here, you’ll get to know plenty of classmates and peers that at first glance may seem normal, but who will prove themselves otherwise once you get to know them. So to ease you into this brand new environment, let’s talk about the some of the types of students you’ll meet in college:
We’ve all seen the lone student entering the library at four and emerging from their cocoon of papers past midnight. This rare specimen rarely leaves the nest they’ve made amongst their books – where do they venture to outside of their haven? How do they fill it all in their heads? It is a mystery to us common folk. While you’re scratching your head in class at a pendulum that refuses to oscillate, your fellow peer might be engaged in a discussion of quantum physics or another selection of knowledge so specific that it belongs only in the territory of Deep Academia™. You dared to ask them a question once, and they answered with so many words foreign to you that externally you might be smiling and nodding, but inside your brain there is nothing but screaming and anarchy. In the distance, sirens. Fear not, my friend: they are the outliers on the bell curve, and you, mi amigo, are sane.
The Quiet Kid
What? Sorry, can you repeat yourself? We all have that one kid in class who’s the personification of a pin-drop silence – blink, and you might miss them. We’re all too embarrassed to admit it, but let’s be real: you’ve probably once denied the existence of this person in your class and realised too late that they were standing right next to you. The sound of their voice is an enigma to you, because you’ve never heard them speak. Has anyone ever heard their voice? Has anyone ever seen them open their mouth? You’re convinced it’s either a government conspiracy or a very well-planned long-con, but then maybe one day you wander past the debate club and see them delivering an impassioned speech about global warming. People surprise you, man.
It doesn’t matter where you sit in class, in the front row or at the very back, there is no escape – everyone can hear this kid. You wonder vaguely if they know of the existence of volume control, or if their vocal cords are simply physically incapable of producing noise below ten thousand Hertz. Every day, you sit down expecting a lecture on molecular structure from your teacher, and instead you’re treated to a detailed dissection – not of frogs, but of the lunch Mr So-and-So had that day, listening absent-mindedly to their indecision. Hey kid, we know you struggled to decide between spaghetti and chicken rice, but c’mon, cut to the chase, you’re going to choose chicken rice. We all know you ate that yesterday as well. Literally.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a… fancy sports car.” We all have that classmate who seems to have a bottomless wallet. Surely, that rich kid stereotype is just an exaggeration, you tell yourself, as a classmate walks in decked in designer clothing. No one can be that rich, you say, when a kid in class oh-so-casually mentions the golf club his family frequents. And then one day you’re chilling in the university foyer, when a Rolls-Royce swerves round the corner. Audible gasps all around. A guy might’ve just fainted next to you. Expletives run through your head at the speed of a… a Rolls-Royce. But hey, don’t worry – even if you’re in shock for a day, the next morning you’ll walk into class and still see someone begging their friend to trade them an Oreo for a one cent coin. We have a diverse group of students here at Sunway.
The laws of physics state that everything is reversible except for time, but you think your classmate might be the one person who can make time flow backwards, because there can’t be enough time for them to be juggling a degree course, 10 clubs, an academic decathlon and volunteer work at the soup kitchen. Surely, you’re Harry Potter in the Prisoner of Azkaban, because this is Hermione Granger with a time-turner. Magic and physics might be real (you’re still holding out for that Hogwarts letter), but your friend defies reality. One day they’re whizzing around KL feeding stray dogs, and the next they’re a participant in the National Chess Competition. “Where the heck is X?” you ask one day, when you don’t see them in class. Maybe the non-existent stress has finally caught up. “Right here!” someone behind you says, and you think: great, they’re omnipresent too.
The Blur Case
“What did the lecturer discuss yesterday ah?” “We learnt this before meh?” “Wait, where’s the university cafeteria?” We all know a friend who seems to need a bit more housekeeping in their head than the average person. In class, they drift off and stare at a spot above the teacher’s head like it’s the Mona Lisa. During hangouts, they’re always trying to catch up to the punchline of a joke. They spend so much time getting lost (it’s been three months, you think, surely, they should know the difference between north and south) that in a burst of goodwill you pull out a map of campus and spend half an hour getting them to memorise it. The very next day, you’re tapping your foot in class waiting for your friend, when halfway through the lecture, they burst in panting, frazzled and harried. “Where were you?” you ask, exasperated, feeling like you already know the answer – “I got lost.”
The Social Butterfly
If this friend were a movie, the tagline would be this: “Never has organising group hangouts been more difficult.” Every day, you try meeting up with them for lunch, dinner, anything – and the response is always the same: “Sorry, I already have plans!” What on earth are they doing? Do they have a minute of free time? The answer seems dubious. While you’re at your desk trying to cram the entire plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream into your head, your friend’s having a real midsummer night’s dream, jamming it out at a party. Even walking across campus is difficult when you need to stop every 5 minutes for a miscellaneous face to say hi and demand life updates. Sometimes you feel like a contestant on So You Think You Can Get Your Friend’s Attention, but one day you’re snooping through their social calendar (normal friend things!) and you see, amidst a mass of post-it notes with foreign names and events, your birthday highlighted in red. Aw, they do care.
It’s true that it’s a challenge to find a single college student that isn’t sleep-deprived, but you think your friend might take the cake. Every class you have, you notice them drooping off in the corner, unable to stay awake. English? Not even stirring. Pre-Calculus? Dead on the table. Physics? Sorry, not home, out fishing. You wonder vaguely how they manage to keep up with class, but their homework somehow always turns up immaculate – and then one day you notice them online at 4am and all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. In the spirit of “scientific inquiry” (boredom), you take up the challenge to keep them awake, prescribing them some medicine (two expresso shots and a Red Bull). Five minutes in: light’s out. You resist the urge to curse.
Last, but not least:
You might be able to relate to some of these characteristics, and you might not be able to relate to any of them, but regardless of who you are, whether you’re quiet or a loudmouth, whether you’re bookish or a socialite, you’ve stumbled onto the steps of Sunway. And while it may at times seem daunting to make friends with a bunch of weirdos, just remember… you’re a weirdo too. Okay, just kidding. Just keep in mind that the people you meet might be more than they seem. We’re all a mix of conflicting thoughts and traits that, jumbled up under this human skin, make up the skeleton of our identities. And while you may think you’re just a normal kid struggling through your maths homework, digging into a Maggi hot cup – that you’re neither smart nor capable nor sociable – just remember: underneath it all, you have a spark waiting to be lit too.