Students’ Take: When freshmen orientation twists into a “dark circus”

By Chen Jinghao, Class of 2026 and Freshmen Orientation Programme 2022 Chairperson

MEDiesta 2022, this year’s Freshmen Orientation Programme (FOP) for the LKCMedicine Class of 2027, marked the start of something special. Seeing the nervous conversations turning into joyous laughter through four days of FOP, I am certain that the bonds forged would persist throughout the five years of medical school ahead. 

MEDiesta (Medicine + Fiesta) announced the sorely missed return of a physical orientation programme, made possible by the easing of COVID-19 measures. The FOP committee was prudent and prepared for both extremes, a fully virtual and a fully physical programme, but it was the latter that was realised. Thankfully, this nearly 10-month journey was not weathered alone, but alongside 29 extremely dedicated batchmates in the committee. 

MEDiesta and its entire storyline was the product of much brainstorming from the publicity committee. Starting off with ideas ranging from a money heist themed orientation, to escaping a virtual world created by an evil tech company, our final idea revolved around a world-famous carnival led by three ringmasters. Held from 19 to 22 July for 163 participants, it featured five circus acts, competing against each other to win the honour of being part of the annual performance. Through videos screened throughout FOP, the dark history of the carnival unfolds, and the house acts slowly unite against the unscrupulous ringmasters.


The physical programme this year allowed the freshmen to experience the joy of getting to know each other face to face, and this was done at house-level on day one. They first sharpened their teamwork as new performers through icebreakers, then raced against time to complete their circus training in games testing memory and dexterity. On day two, following the sudden “death” of a ringmaster, the freshmen travelled to NTU, pitting their abilities and rallying their fierce house spirit against each other. Through these Inter-House Games, orientation groups joined forces within their houses and competed under the hot sun, playing modified versions of volleyball, football, and handball.

Day three started with a session called “Patients’ Journey”, which put the freshmen in the shoes of patients to reflect on the kind of doctor they aspire to be in the future. It also reinforced their appreciation of medicine not only as a science but also an art of empathy and communication. Next, they were struck by the shocking news of another ringmaster’s “death” and proceeded to explore the carnival to search for information through Clues Hunt, a novel activity for this batch. 

FOP wrapped up on day four with the grand finale, rounding up the storyline with the fake freshie reveal and a skit to overthrow the last and most heartless ringmaster. The joyous occasion was amplified by performances by our very own LKCrew and MedLee, and even included a live band, magic show, and a mass dance by the seniors!

The activities did not end on day four, however, as the freshmen gathered a week later for the FOP Community Involvement Programme (FOPCIP), collaborating with Peace Connect, a voluntary work organisation that provides holistic assistance to senior citizens, to clean and repaint homes of the elderly. This allowed the orientation groups to bond further by serving and making a difference in the wider community.

To the Class of 2027, we hope that we seniors have passed down the warmth and energy that our seniors previously showed us through past FOPs and have stirred your desire to befriend and impact the people around you. We hope FOP 2022 was a great welcome into LKCMedicine, but the road ahead will prove to be difficult, unless you lean on the help that is always present within your new family. We hope to hold your hands to steady you through the first year, so please, don’t be shy to ask for help!

All the best in this fruitful journey as medical students!