Right now, you might be revolted by the taste of cookhouse food or shudder at the thought of waking up at 0530hrs and showing up for a run at 0700hrs. But trust me, once you’re done serving your 2 years of national service, you’ll definitely miss a couple of things about the camp that you call your second home (for now).
From the sound of your encik shouting at you to sign extra to the quiet peacefulness at 3am while on guard duty, there’s a certain bittersweet-ness that you’ll feel when you look back at your time in camp. It’s the same bittersweet-ness I’m feeling right now as I write this, despite having ORD-ed nearly 5 years ago (flashes pink IC obnoxiously).
For those chasing the coveted status of “civilian”, here are the things you should treasure about your time serving the nation. And for those who have passed that phase in your life, it’s time to take a leisurely NSman march down memory lane.
1. Being in the best shape of your life
Having access to nutritious food while exercising every day can do wonders for your body. Having access to a bubble tea stall near your house, however, does the opposite.
In camp, cookhouse meals are planned to provide nourishment to all servicemen while replenishing the energy spent during training. On top of that, the physical training and acute finetuning of your body clock are bound to keep you in tip-top shape.
This healthy routine is extremely hard to come by in your post-ORD life, so here’s a word of advice: Take as many good pictures for your Tinder profile now, before it’s too late.
2. A mostly stress-free life
The only thing I had to stress about during my NS was whether or not I should go to the mess to eat or save the money and eat at the cookhouse.
Jokes aside, there’s not much to stress about during your national service. As long as you follow the rules and listen to your commanders, your only focus is to complete your training and worry about where to go during nights-out and where to bring your tinder date on the weekend.
Unless you’re planning to get charged in military court and put in DB, your NS life should be much less stressful compared to being a working adult.
3. The bond you form with your mates
The strongest bonds are formed through hardship. In your time as an NSF, you’re very likely to face an assortment of obstacles that will challenge both your physical and mental strength. But throughout your NS journey, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever face these challenges alone.
Through the training (which can be arduous and gruelling at times), a bond is inevitably formed between you and your section, platoon, company, or unit mates. You find ways to help your fellow servicemen when they are in need, and they find ways to help you.
Camaraderie like this is a rare sight out here in the vicious civilian world, where everyone is either working towards being the teacher’s pet or fighting for the same promotion. The tough times become bearable when you’re with friends.
4. That feeling when the cookhouse is serving Western food today
Most people will refer to similar things when they talk about the happiest day of their life, and it’s usually the day of their wedding, the day their first child was born, and, for many an NSman reminiscing about camp-life, the day they realised that the cookhouse would be serving Western food.
If you’ve never had a Western Wednesday meal at your cookhouse before, you sure are missing out. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, and rice, to give it that Asian touch.
Listen up, recruit: If you see this on your tray at lunchtime, you know it’s going to be a good day. Remember this feeling k. Look forward to things like Western Wednesday to keep morale high in your company.
Pro-tip: Make friends with the cookhouse uncles and aunties to find out when the next Western Wednesday will be!
5. Talking c**k, singing song
You can do this with your NS mates anytime, anywhere. In the jungle, in your bunk, at the cookhouse. This is literally what serving national service is about.
But hey, if you miss all these things about NS, there are always 10 cycles of ICT to look forward to!
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.