CONTENTS Editor’s Note A welcome note from our editor
NUSSU President’s message 6 A message from our Student Union’s President
Thinking of taking up a new language? All about taking a new language in your new school!
Campus maps Tips for navigating around NUS
Beyond the books: a guide to clubs and societies 22 How to make the most out of your university experience
Printing like a pro A handy guide on printing in NUS
What job can I do with __ degree 24 In case you’re worried about finding a job after graduation
Module madness All you need to know about modules
My end, your beginning A senior’s take on the NUS Hall experience
Find your way out of NUS ‘libraryinths’ 14 Useful contacts and information on NUS libraries
7 things you need to know about staying in RVRC A snippet into life in a Residential College!
Across Oceans Considering going abroad?
Living on campus - residential life All about living in an NUS Residence
Best ood on campus 34 The real question is: What should you eat for lunch today? Supper spots near nus 40 Got a late night craving to fulfil? We got you covered! For the overenthusiastic 44 Some tips on how to balance studies and social life, and be great at both! Life of an international student in NUS Reflections of an foreign student
ALL about the Union! A series of articles on NUSSU
NUS Shuttle Bus map
CONTRIBUTORS EDITORIAL BOARD EDITORS TRY SUTRISNO FOO ELIZABETH SHANA KAMALDIN CREATIVE TEAM CHIAM DA JIAN (CREATIVE DIRECTOR) TEO GENG HAO COPYEDITORS ARON GOH LOW JAY SEN DESK EDITORS AKANKSHITA DASH LOÏC DELORME NICHOLAS COLIN ONG GWENICE GWEE SARA LAU PARTNERSHIPS HEAD JANICE DARIKHO OPERATIONS MARCUS TAN WRITERS KELMAN CHIANG DRISHTI BAID RENNES LEE LIM JIN KAI LIVIA CHAN ESTHER YEOH NUS FRESHMAN ORIENTATION PROGRAMMES NUSSU STUDENT LIFE CELL NUSSU VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHIC COMMITTEE PUBLICATIONS STANDING COMMITTEE TOH WEN HUI NICOLE JEAN LAU
This publication is offered free-of-charge to all NUS freshmen and is not for sale. All photos, unless otherwise stated, are owned by their respective authors and/or from publication material reproduced from the National University of Singapore (NUS), the National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU) and Lee Chun Chuan. Certain photos from pages 17, 19, 25-26, 46 are reproduced from various authors (obtained from www.unsplash.com). Page 11 illustration of yellow ceiling reproduced from Melissa Gabrielle (https:// chueonit.com/). Page 27 UTown photo reproduced from Fook Wai Lee (obtained from http://foodforworms.net/wide-angle-saturday/). Page 42 photo by Chu Wei Ping from NUSSU VPC. Front and back cover illustration designed by Elizabeth Kamaldin, with vector art obtained from http://www.freepik.com/index. php?goto=74&idfoto=762289&term=doodle copy and https://openclipart.org/ image/2400px/svg_to_png/239690/ConfigurableGraphPaper.png. Overall article layout and shuttle bus map illustration designed by Chiam Da Jian. For any enquires, feel free to reach out to The Ridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE WELCOME to NUS!
Whether coming here has been a dream for you since your younger days, as it was for me, or a choice made based on certain other considerations (overseas universities being *cough* too costly perhaps), I guarantee you that your next three to five years will be some of your absolute best. You’ll very likely learn far more than you were prepared for, be exposed to opportunities you’ve never previously considered, and who knows? Perhaps you may even meet your special someone in NUS too. (In fact, two of my closest friends, a couple who met during their Freshman Orientation Programme Camp, are currently applying for their first BTO flat!) Whether you’re from a Junior College, Polytechnic, IB programme or overseas institution however, trust me when I say that I know the transition to university life can be a huge challenge. Understandably, it can get more than just a little overwhelming with the massive amount of information coming your way. Hopefully, this publication, fondly titled NUS1101, will help in easing your transition to school life here. We’ve articles on needto-know topics such as how to peacefully print your lecture notes and readings, opinions on whether or not you should take the plunge and learn a new language, and also some friendly suggestions on where you can go for a quick bite to cope with the midweek stress! So do read on for what your seniors have to share. Wishing you the very best!
Elizabeth Kamaldin Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Graduated AY16/17 Deputy Chief Editor NUSSU The Ridge
NUSSU PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE On behalf of the National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU), congratulations and welcome to NUS! Enrolling in this University is no mean feat; but I assure you that by coming here, you have made one of the best decisions in your life. Over the next three to four years, you will be exposed to endless opportunities to experience, learn and grow, so make the most out of what NUS has to offer. Having been a freshmen stepping into this campus for the first time like you, we understand how easy it can be to be overwhelmed by all the information that is being conveyed to you. Hence, this magazine, or module fondly titled “NUS1101”, serves to provide you with handy tips and guides that will tide you through this transition phase. To really enjoy this University experience, you have to be curious and receptive to the opportunities around you. NUS offers a wide range of undergraduate courses that caters to students with varying interests. Courses like Information Security and Business Analytics are just a few of the newer courses that the University introduced to help nurture and cultivate a global mindset. Alternatively, those of you who are even more adventurous may wish to participate in programmes like the NUS Overseas College and overseas exchange programmes. In addition, NUSSU, which comprises the Executive Committee, 9 committees and her 14 Constituent Clubs, organises various initiatives which would enrich your student life. The NUSSU Rag and Flag and Freshman Orientation Camps are just two of several projects specially designed to help you assimilate into the NUS family and explore the huge array of clubs and societies within NUS. Academic success is important, but University is so much more than just that; you will soon realise that student life plays an enormous role in your University years. Go, and try things you never knew you dared to, participate in sports you never knew you could be good at, and plan for an event so large you never imagined you could pull off. Be curious and unafraid; it will open you to a new world of possibilities and let you achieve your fullest potential! Lastly, every undergraduate is a member of the NUSSU. We are here to promote and safeguard your interests. If you have any concerns or feedback, do let us know at email@example.com. We hear you, and are also always open to suggestions that can improve your University life. Alternatively, you may drop us a message on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook. com/nus.students.union/. Again, I welcome you to the campus and look forward to meeting you. This journey will undoubtedly be challenging, but it will also definitely be a vibrant and rewarding one. I wish you all the best! Warmest Regards,
TAN Wee Bian (Mr.) NUS Faculty of Engineering, Year 4 President | 38th Executive Committee National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU) Council
FRESHMAN FAUX PAS: THE HARD STUFF Feeling lost? No worries! Weâ€™ve got you covered with some tips and tricks specially for freshmen!
campus maps KELMAN CHIANG â—ź FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, GRADUATED AY16/17
Getting around campus needs some getting used to and is not entirely idiot-proof. The NUS campus is spread out on the undulating terrain of Kent Ridge, with each faculty being a labyrinth of lecture theatres, classrooms, department offices and laboratories. With some careful observation and exploration, you will realise there is some method to this madness and you shouldnâ€™t be too worried about moving between classes. Here are some tips for you! THE CAMPUS MAP This will serve as your primary means of navigating around campus. It is more detailed than Google Maps or Bing, showing various building names, lecture theatres and facilities that you need on campus. It is located at bus stops around campus, but you can also get the NUS campus map on your phone through various NUS apps. Besides these apps, http://map.nus.edu.sg/ provides an authoritative list on numerous facilities and venues in the NUS Kent Ridge Campus.
NUS NEXTBUS This application is highly recommended as it shows bus timings at all bus stops around NUS, along with your location in school. The map function would also be handy in pointing you to the nearest bus stop.
AROUND NUS Besides providing a campus map in your phone, this app also shows the academic calendar, dining options, student clubs and societies, facilities and services around campus.
NUS CARPARKS If you’re driving to school, this application will prove really helpful – it provides real time parking information on campus!
HOW TO GET TO CLASS
Classroom venues represented in your timetable or module descriptions may look like a cryptic line of random alphabets and numbers, like ‘AS6-0212’ for instance. This is not entirely rocket science, but you might still get lost nonetheless. Let’s break it down for you. LECTURE THEATRES (LT) AND AUDITORIUMS (AUD) This is pretty straightforward. Lecture theatres are represented by the acronym LT, followed by a number signifying which lecture theatre it is. Simply refer to the campus map to locate the lecture theatre in question. Various auditoriums in NUS bear the name of their beneficiaries, such as Ngee Ann Kong Si Auditorium in the Education Resource Centre in UTown. KNOW THE FACULTY AND THE BLOCK Most classes are held within the faculty which the module is being taught in. Exceptions to this rule include Unrestricted Electives and special modules taught in residential college programmes. Each faculty has their own code to represent their numerous blocks, with the major ones summed up in this table: FACULTY / LOCATION
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
School of Business
School of Computing
School of Design and Environment
Faculty of Engineering
Faculty of Science
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
NOT ALL FLOORS ARE MADE THE SAME Navigating within blocks would be the difficult part of finding your classroom. Because of the hilly terrain that NUS is built on, some buildings are higher than others. This results in confusing floor numbering of certain blocks, where the first floor of one building may be the second floor of another, even though you didnâ€™t climb a single flight of stairs.
IF YOU STILL NEED HELP Follow the signs and the yellow ceiling: The yellow ceilings along various corridors in NUS go beyond just being aesthetically pleasing. Yellow indicates linked sheltered pathways within that building and sometimes between faculty buildings. Signages on these yellow ceilings can also help point you in the right direction.
For example, to find AS6-0212, the building number is AS6, correct floor is the first two numbers (02) and the room number follows subsequently (12). Floor and room numbers can found on the top frame of the roomâ€™s door and they run in chronological order, so you know which direction of the corridor to head towards.
Ask! If all else fails, it would not hurt to ask a fellow student. For disability support: For prospective students that require student support for getting around campus, do let the Disability Support Office know! They can provide guided orientation, on-campus accommodation options and transportation aid if needed. For further details, check out: http://www.nus.edu.sg/osa/dso/studsupport.
IF YOU ARE A MAC USER:
Print Like a Pro
TRY SUTRISNO FOO ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, YEAR 3
No student in NUS can survive without printing. As much as we like to go green, some of us are very much tactile creatures. And sometimes, you might have to submit your assignments in hard copy. Before we go on, you’ll need the following items: A laptop (optional) and an EZ-Link card already loaded with cash or a cash card (optional, though if you are an SoC student; you get 50 pages print quota every month!)
1) Open ‘System Preferences’. 2) Click ‘Print & Scan’. 3) Click the ‘+’ sign to add printer. 4) Select ‘IP’. 5) The ‘Add Printer’ screen will appear, you will need to fill in the following: Protocol: (Usually) Line Printer Daemon-LPD Address: Key in the relevant address (refer to end of article) Queue: Select appropriate queue (A4 or A3, B/W or Colour) Name: Name this printer Location: Name the location Print using: ‘Generic PostScript Printer’
So why are we writing this little printing guide for you? Well, to begin with, not everyone has a printer *gasp* handy at home. “This article will prove to be useful if computer clusters are crowded (meaning you’d have to wait for your turn at the computer), or if you are not familiar with campus computers and prefer to use your laptop.” So here are some printing locations you’d want to take note of.
6) Click ‘Add’ then select ‘Duplex Printing Unit’. 7) Go to your Print Release Station with your EZ-Link card. 8) Print like a boss.
These places usually have computers with which you can send your print jobs from. This is especially useful if you wish go laptop-free for the day. Once you are there, fret not, there are usually instructions on how one may go about printing one’s documents.
1) Connect to the NUS network. 2) For Windows 7 or 8: type network address (eg. \\nus-printserver) in the search bar in the ‘start’ menu. Other Windows OS: Press ‘Windows key + ‘R’ together and then type network address (eg. \\172.18.37.210). 3) Press ‘Enter’ and a pop up window will prompt you to log in. 4) Double click on your desired printer from the list. 5) For double/single sided printing: Printer > Properties > under General, Preferences > Finishing tab > Select/Deselect “Print on both sides”. 6) Go to your Print Release Station with your EZ-Link card. 7) Print like a boss.
But there’s more. Here’s how you can up your printing game: by connecting your laptop to printers. This means that you can send your print jobs from any corner in NUS to a desired printer. All that’s left for you to do is to saunter to the print stations and print your document. Be quick though, your print job will only remain in the print queue for an hour!
IF YOU ARE A WINDOWS USER:
SOME PRINTER NETWORK ADDRESSES
NUS Libraries (Science, Central, Hon Sui Sen Memorial, Medical, Music, C J Koh Law) AS7 PC Cluster E2 PC Cluster Thinklab at Computer Centre UTown Mac Commons & PC Commons SDE1 Seng City Printing Services (24/7!) NUSSU commIT at Yusof Ishak House SoC COM1
Central Library: 172.18.37.210 AS7 Computer Cluster: 172.18.85.232 UTown Commons: nus-printserver.stf.nus.edu.sg SDE: sdeserver.stf.nus.edu.sg PRINTING COSTS A4 B/W ---- 4¢/page A4 Colour ---- 45¢/page
A3 B/W ---- 8¢/page A3 Colour ---- 90¢/page
11 The printing station located at Engineering 3.
module madness ELIZABETH KAMALDIN ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, GRADUATED AY 16/17
When I first entered NUS four years ago, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of modules offered. In JC and Poly, there’s usually a structured system of modules or subjects, assigned to students on a yearly/semesterly basis. In university however, we’re in charge of crafting our own educational path which, while exciting, can be daunting. If you’re experiencing the same module madness, this article is for you. Read on for a senior’s take on structuring modules, planning timetables, and learning about using NUS web systems. FIRST THINGS FIRST: USING CORS Unless you’re from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine or Faculty of Dentistry (in which case you should refer to your department for module matters directly), you will most likely need to register for your modules at the start of every semester, which is done via the Centralised Online Registration System (CORS). CORS can be confusing for the uninitiated, but essentially, it works like this. Every semester, students will be allocated 1,000 points, which tend to be distributed into two accounts, the Programme (P) and General (G) account. These are used to bid for modules from within and outside students’ home faculty/school respectively. Students are allocated P and G points based on their faculty/residential programme. Students can then view module listings and pick which modules they’d like to take in a particular semester, then proceed to bid for these modules in relevant rounds, which, for freshmen, is usually Round 1C. Unsure about when you should bid? You can always refer to the bidding timetable on the CORS website! There are open and closed bidding periods for each round; During open bidding, CORS displays information on the number of bidders, highest, lowest and next successful bids, while during closed bidding, which follows immediately after open bidding, no information is provided about the bids being placed (though students can continue to place bids). There is no need to rush from open to closed bidding periods however, as students can view bidding summary reports from the open bidding periods right before they closed. Plan your module choices widely! Some can get very expensive, costing over 500 points, while some can go for as little as 1 point. TIMETABLING ISSUES? TURN TO NUSMODS If you’re having issues planning your timetable, NUSMods will prove extremely useful to you. An app built by students for students, NUS Modifications (NUSMods for short) provides a user-friendly way for students to plan their timetables. To use it, simply key in the module code of a module you’re interested in the app’s search bar, and it will immediately appear in the timetable spreadsheet above. Click and drag tutorials (and lectures, if the option is available) to configure your optimum timetable!
The NUSMods webpage, accessible at https://nusmods.com
The NUS IVLE webpage, accessible at https://ivle.nus.edu.sg
NUSMods also includes other useful information, like the modular credits offered for each module and exam times. Be cautious and also double check available lecture and tutorial slots with the NUS CORS website and if necessary, with your faculty. Like many of your seniors, NUSMods will become your new best friend for the rest of your time in NUS. PRE-REQUISITES & MINIMUM CREDIT REQUIREMENTS You have (literally) hundreds of options, so plan your modules wisely. Most modules in NUS are worth 4 modular credits, and to graduate, you’ll usually need either 120 modular credits (if you’re graduating within three years) or 160 (if you’re enrolled in an honours track). However, some higher level modules have certain prerequisites and minimum credit requirements. GE3238 GIS Design and Practices, for instance, requires a pre-requisite: GE2215 Introduction to GIS. Further, to take many honours levels modules (4000-level modules), students often need to have cleared a minimum number of modular credits in their own major. S/U GRADELESS FIRST YEAR If you’re experiencing something of an information overload at this point, don’t worry. Luckily for you, NUS has a Grade-free First Year scheme, all to help in your transition to university and allow you time and space to adjust to academic expectations and social culture of NUS life. This means that whether you get an A or a D, your Cumulative
Average Point (CAP) need not be negatively affected – you’re allowed to exercise the grade-free option to a maximum of 32 MCs at first-year level and opt to include only modules you score well in within your CAP. IVLE After you do get your modules, do familiarize yourself with NUS’ Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE), which is NUS’ custom designed and built Learning Management System. IVLE will become the main platform where you will be able to access all module-related matters, including modular descriptions, reading lists, schedules, announcements, discussion forums, and lecturer information, among other things. MYISIS When planning your academic journey, MyISIS is a crucial system that will help you greatly in your NUS career. On MyISIS, for instance, you can view your exam schedule, exam results, and unofficial transcript. You can access all these records on a semesterly basis. Hopefully, this guide has been helpful to you as you embark on your NUS academic journey. It is confusing, but don’t worry, as the semesters wear on, you’ll get more and more accustomed to these various systems, and soon enough, you’ll be advising your juniors on how to use them too. Good luck!
USEFUL LINKS CORS: http://www.cors.nus.edu.sg NUSMods: https://nusmods.com/ IVLE: https://ivle.nus.edu.sg NUS Gradeless First Year: https://blog.nus.edu.sg/provost/2016/05/19/grade-free-scheme-forfreshmen-greater-flexibility-in-shaping-your-transformative-learning-journey/ MyISIS: https://myisis.nus.edu.sg/
Find your way out of the NUS “Libraryinths” DRISHTI BAID ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, GRADUATED AY16/17
NUS has seven libraries across campus and sometimes it can be a bit confusing when you’re new to it all. Here are some tips to help you navigate the library labyrinths of NUS.
1 #1 BORROWING A BOOK There are two ways to borrow a book: the Loans Desk at the entrance of the library where the friendly librarians help you out or the selfhelp station. Make sure you know your library PIN if you want to use the latter.
2 #2 THE LIBRARY PORTAL Before borrowing a book, you might want to search for it in the NUS Library Integrated Catalogue (aka LINC). You can log on to http:// linc.nus.edu.sg to search for books, academic journals and past year exam papers too. Additionally, each student has a NUS LINC account where you can check the details of the books you have borrowed, your loan record, and outstanding fines. It’s accessible at this link: https://linc.nus.edu.sg/ patroninfo/.
4 #4 REQUESTING A BOOK Sometimes a book you want might be with someone else. In this case you can ‘request’ the book, and ‘put it on hold’. When you put a book on hold, the person who has borrowed the book cannot renew it and must return it within a week. Once they’ve returned it, you will get an email from the library informing you that you can pick up the book.
5 #5 LIBRARY FINES When your book is due, you will be given a reminder notice each day until your book is returned. No fine is charged for the 1st Overdue Loan Notice. However, if you keep a book for more than two days after its due date, you will be fined 50 cents per day. To pay your library fine, head to the Help Desk at the library – but remember you can’t pay via cash – only NETS and/or ezlink payment is accepted. If you have not finished using the book, you can also login to your NUS LINC account and renew your loan period. Renewing a book gives you an extra week with a book, and you can renew a book for a maximum of three times.
3 #3 THE LIBRARY PIN When you want to check your NUS LINC account, or take a look at your loan record or library fines, you will need your library PIN – and no, this is not your NUSNET password/login. By default, your PIN is your student SMARTCARD PIN issued by the NUS Computer Centre during PreRegistration. If you don’t know or remember your SMARTCARD PIN, you can use the Retrieval of SMART CARD PIN (https://myaces.nus.edu. sg/pinRetrieval/) to retrieve your library pin.This is a service by the NUS Computer Centre and only works if you have not changed your default PIN before.
6 #6 RETURNING YOUR BOOKS Returning your book is simple because regardless of where you borrowed your book, you can return it at the library closest to you. There is a bookdrop outside every library, and three extra book drops: at Engineering Block 5, Engineering Block 3A and at UTown outside Starbucks.
7 #7 INTRODUCING THE RBR There is a section in every library known as the RBR, the Reserve Books and Readings section. This section contains books which can only be borrowed for two hours at a time. Often, professors put textbook copies in the RBR to ensure everyone can have “access” at some point or another. You can’t take an RBR book home unless you borrow it just before the library closes. In this case you can keep the RBR book overnight, but must return it as soon as the library opens the next morning.
8 #8 BONUS TIP: USING THE LIBRARY STUDY SPACE During the exam week, you might want to use the library to study – just remember that it’s not just you. Choping seats in the library is common especially during the week prior to midterm/final exam week, and students go as early as 8.30am (just when the library opens) to get a seat for the day. Honestly, there is no way to ‘hack’ this. The only way to get a seat is to go early!
Across Oceans: The Trials and Tribulations of Student Exchange SARA LAU â—ź FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, YEAR 3
One of the most talked-about topics for NUS students is the student exchange programme, largely considered to be a highlight in university life, and rightfully so. However, most students only know of the semestral student exchange programmes, when in fact there are several other overseas programmes. Hereâ€™s a quick rundown of the different exchange programmes that NUS has to offer, and who these programmes are suited for.
SEMESTRAL STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMME This programme allows students to spend one semester abroad as a student at a partner university enrolled in regular curriculum and participating in campus life. It is a great opportunity for students to fully immerse themselves in a different country for an extended period of time. Suited for: The independent and the resourceful. A semestral exchange means living on your own for up to 6 months, so you need to have some ability to look after yourself. Basic cooking, language and navigation skills are essential! SUMMER/WINTER PROGRAMMES The best alternative to the semestral student exchange programme would be the summer or winter school programmes, held during the school holiday periods in an academic year. These programmes are unique as they are often tailored as an international programme, facilitating interaction with students across the globe. Suited for: The easily homesick. These programmes are a much better alternative for those who miss home quickly but still want to experience studying abroad, as they only last up to 3 months. They also allow you to map back up to three modules, so you’ll have the option of underloading credits in some semesters. INTERNSHIPS AND RESEARCH ATTACHMENTS If you are looking to learn outside the classroom or utilise what you have already learnt in NUS, international internships and research attachments are likely to be more suitable for you. The partner organisations and universities offer an extensive variety of internship and research opportunities across many industries and fields of study. Suited for: Those who want a break from the classroom. If you are looking to apply your existing skills and knowledge and perhaps pick up some things you cannot learn in the classroom, then internships and research attachments are definitely for you.
ADVENTURES, ANECDOTES AND ADVICE
1 DO YOUR RESEARCH! “I think research is super important! I knew London was expensive but I didn’t realise how expensive it was until I was there… Also, research on the hostel. For King’s College London, it cost me nearly SGD $10 every time I did laundry, which is okay for me since it was summer school. However, for my friend on exchange, it was really hard to pay that much every time she had to wash clothes.” Year 3, FASS student, Summer School at King’s College London.
2 MAKE NEW FRIENDS “Be open to making new friends, it’s always good to go around with a group in a foreign country. Also, I think for SEP/Summer school, it’s good to make friends with people from other countries! Singaporeans tend to stick to each other but I think we had fun because of our friends from other countries.” Year 3, FoS student
3 CHOOSE WISELY “I think many people just sign up for exchange for the sake of it, like they’re okay with any university or city, which really isn’t a great idea. SEP isn’t always for everyone — some people get homesick easily, such as my friend in London, so maybe summer school or summer internship would have been better.” Year 3 NUS Business School student
4 STAY SAFE & KNOW YOUR LIMITS “It was the last night of the programme and as expected, some of us were getting sloshed that night. I dropped by the laundry room with my friends to check on our clothing and this Belgian guy from the programme came in to talk to us, clearly a little inebriated. Then, he pointed to the industrial sized dryer, and asked, “Can you fit inside?” A little tipsy myself, I laughed and climbed into the dryer, unsurprisingly managing to fit comfortably. And then, still plugged in, they shut the dryer door on me, and the machine began to blow hot hair and spin me around. Thankfully they weren’t that drunk and they quickly stopped the machine to let me out. I escaped physically unharmed, but traumatised. I did all kinds of crazy things on my summer exchange, from bungee jumping to lion encounters, but “I got shut in a dryer” somehow managed to edge out these antics for the top prize.” Year 3 NUS Business School 17
STEER (STUDY TRIPS FOR ENGAGEMENT AND ENRICHMENT) STEER is a newer programme designed to familiarise students with emerging regions, and are often thematic to the country they are based in. Students get to explore these socio-cultural-economic environments through a hybrid of classroom and experiential learning. Suited for: The adventurous. The STEER programmes often involve field and industry visits and are usually located in fast-changing and lesser-known regions. OTHERS There are plenty of other programmes that cater to different learning experiences and industries, including the AIESEC Global Citizen Programme, the Yale Visiting International Student Program and the Yenching Academy in Peking University. To keep up-to-date and informed on all programmes, do check out the International Relations Office (IRO) website as well as your facultyâ€™s website.
TIPS FOR SECURING YOUR STUDY-ABROAD APPLICATION Application processes for SEP can be quite complicated, but there are a few points that you definitely need to take note of. For all programmes, it is crucial for you to prepare before you apply - take note of all the important deadlines and prepare all the necessary documents so that application goes smoothly. For SEP and summer school, the modules you take may not always be related to your course so find out whether you are able to get any academic credits from them. Make friends with seniors and talk to them about your application â€“ most are more than willing to help. As for internships, it would be helpful to take note of what kind of applicants and relevant skill set the internship organisation is looking for. Overall, the more prepared you are, the better your chances, so good luck!
FRESHMAN FAUX PAS: THE HEART STUFF The not-so-well-known tips and tricks to surviving university life!
Thinking of taking up a new language? ELIZABETH KAMALDIN ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, GRADUATED AY16/17
Last semester, which was also the final semester of my undergraduate life, I decided to be bold (or just plain stupid, depending on how you look at it) and concurrently take two languages, Japanese and Malay.
because (1) I was done with most of my major modules by that time, and (2) I thought it’d be an interesting activity that would keep me on my toes while being relatively stress free.
I thought it was frightfully embarrassing how, despite being an anime nut for over half my life, I could barely understand anything without the help of fan-contributed subtitles (save for the same few ‘profanities’ (does baka count?) that litter practically every anime series).
Man, was I wrong.
Also, I didn’t like how I was always hardly able to respond when strangers spoke to me in Malay in the past (I’m pretty tan so I do get mistaken for a Malay pretty often), and so, wanted to do something about it.
While if you study in NUS, it is quite a huge relief that you can use your S/U declaration option for language modules (which basically is a pass/fail option), picking up a third or fourth language can also be incredibly challenging. Definitely not a decision you should take lightly! Having plunged headfirst right into the deep end, here’s some advice I’ve to share if you’re thinking of taking up a new language.
Anyhow, I thought to take the plunge in my final semester
1 YOU NEED TO MAKE TIME FOR IT This goes without saying. When learning anything new, unless you’ve some hidden talent or uncanny ability, you should be prepared to put in loads of hours to learn, study and practice. But I think the challenge, more so for university students, is actually finding the time to do this. Take language modules in a relatively free semester, like in your first or second! Usually, unless you overload with modules right at the start of your candidature, you’ll only get busier as the years go on.
YOU HAVE ENOUGH BIDDING 2 DO POINTS? Let me come to a different type of spending: bidding points. As may be expected also, some modules are more ‘expensive’ to read than others. Japanese, French, German, Korean... some of the more popular modules can go for hundreds of points, though this fluctuates from year to year. Make sure you have enough bidding points to secure your modules, and do check CORS regularly when the time comes round.
3 BE PREPARED TO SPEND
LET BAD SCORES GET YOU 4 DON’T DOWN
This, frankly, came as a huge surprise to me, because in my own major modules, I hardly ever had to spend on textbooks and other materials (save for printing my readings, which cost a pittance). On hindsight though, it makes perfect sense. Some modules require you to purchase a set of textbooks and workbooks which will be used throughout the course. Japanese 1, for instance, makes it compulsory for students to purchase workbooks to submit their homework in. (I forget whether the entire set was compulsory or just the workbooks, but either way I think I spent close to $100 on Japanese materials.) For some, this is a huge investment, because the materials are really useful, especially if they’re looking to continue studying the language in the future, as I am. But for others who might take the module just for exposure’s sake, it may not be worth it. So do read up and ask seniors about this!
Don’t let bad grades get you down. (That is, assuming you do get bad grades of course.) This is something that bothered me for quite some time. For a period, I failed every weekly Japanese test because I either didn’t study as much as I should have or was careless and mixed up one hiragana/katakana character for another. It is pretty demoralizing to get back test results with 4/10 or 2/10, but that’s precisely what the S/U option is for! So don’t bother yourself if you can’t score very well in the beginning – some people just take longer to learn languages than others (if my atrocious mother tongue grades are anything to go by, I fall into that camp). Once you get your basics down, you’ll find learning vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure much easier.
LANGUAGE MODULES ARE 5 SOME MORE/LESS INTENSE THAN OTHERS
TO INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR 6 TRY EVERYDAY LIFE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
That said, also do take note that language modules are all structured differently, and some are more or less (very much so in some cases) intense than others. Take an objective comparison of Japanese 1 and Malay 2 for instance (I forgot how Malay 1 went because I took it over a year ago). While both had mid-term and final written and oral examinations, Japanese 1 also had weekly tests which we had to study for. Our senseis also seemed to expect that we learn Hiragana by around week 6. Malay 2 was challenging as well, having had a video blog component which required us to speak for three minutes in Malay about two of our favourite hobbies. Of course, the intensity felt from a module depends on a whole slew of factors: your prior exposure to the language and how fast you pick up new things, just to name a few. But do read up on the assessment criteria beforehand, because you know what you can cope with best.
Your friends and seniors will probably tell you this, but when learning a new language, it helps to try and incorporate it into your everyday life as frequently as possible. This can take any number of forms, from watching anime to trying to read newspaper articles or essays, or even trying to read the (usually) Katakana on biscuits and chips in the supermarket! There’s no right or wrong, so take time to figure out what works best for you.
In all, I must say that while it was no walk in the park, learning new languages was a very fulfilling activity. Unlike content heavy modules (which arts students must be very familiar with) where you may forget the material you learned just a few months after your exams, languages seem to stick, especially if you use or encounter it daily. Who knows, after taking just one or two basic modules, you may even have developed fundamentals to help you learn on your own! Plus, knowing at least the basics of a foreign language is a huge advantage when you travel or work. So keep at it! You never know where it will take you. がんばって (ganbatte)!!!
Beyond the Books: A Guide to Clubs and Societies SARA LAU ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, YEAR 3
It is no secret that university can be an alienating experience, especially in large faculties and courses. Fortunately, there is a huge variety of interest groups, clubs and societies for you to make friends with those with similar interests, or explore entirely new ones. With the sheer number of organisations, you are bound to find something just for you!
FACULTY-BASED CLUBS AND ACADEMIC SOCIETIES The most visible and accessible clubs would be the various faculty clubs that help to organise orientation programmes and activities. These Constituent Clubs of the NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) work together with the NUSSU Executive Committee to promote students’ interest and enrich student life by planning relevant activities and providing welfare for the student population. If you have an interest in planning and organizing events, this is one possible avenue for you to explore while contributing to vibrant campus life! Most faculties and courses also have their own academic societies to support and facilitate your educational journey here at NUS. These societies are often linked to their respective departments and courses within the faculty, however these societies are usually open to non-major students as well. Welcome Tea Sessions to introduce the society to students are often held within the first two to three weeks during the start of the academic year, so keep a look out for posters and emails with the dates and timings for these gatherings.
PERFORMING ARTS For those more inclined to the stage, NUS has a bevy of music, dance and theatre groups for everyone, whether you are an amateur performer looking to hone your skills or just someone who is eager to explore. The performing arts groups are overseen by two main organisations, the NUS Students’ Cultural Activities Club and the NUS Centre for the Arts. NUS STUDENTS’ CULTURAL ACTIVITIES CLUB (CAC) One of the biggest non-faculty clubs in NUS, the CAC organises various events to actively incorporate arts and culture into student life through events such the CAC Cultural Week and Camp Estrella. They also help to oversee the following 11 sub-clubs: Angklung Ensemble, Amplified (live-bands), Resonance (Acapella), Voices (Mandopop), D’Hoppers (Hip-Hop), Jazzttitude (Street Jazz), Lindy Hop, Ballroom, Salsa, BreakiNUS (bboying), Funkstyles (popping & locking). NUS CENTRE FOR THE ARTS (CFA) For those looking to further their existing skills, the 22 student performing and production groups under CFA would provide a more suitable environment for growth. The groups span across dance, music, theatre, production and film, with most being under the dedicated mentorship of committed tutors, artistic directors and choreographers. CFA also provides various performance platforms, namely the roving ExxonMobil Campus Concerts series and the annual NUS Arts Festival. SPORTS NUS hosts a grand total of 41 varsity sport teams, ranging from more common sports like basketball and soccer to more unique ones such as cricket and tchoukball. Most of the teams open their recruitment trials during the first few weeks of the new academic year, so keep an eye out for them around school. For consolidated updates on all the varsity teams, follow TeamNUS on Facebook (facebook.com/ teamNUS).
For those who are eager to try new sports on a more casual basis, the NUS Students’ Sports Club also hosts 21 member clubs classified into four categories: water, indoor, land and martial arts. The club also takes on the task of organising the massive and popular Inter-Faculty Games (IFG), where 3,000 students and staff across faculties compete in nearly 20 different sports across four weeks for the coveted Tan Chorh Chuan Challenge Trophy. For more information on the club and their member clubs, check out their website at http://www.nussportsclub.org. OTHERS There are also several other clubs and societies that cater to niche hobbies and specific interests. The Community Engagement Programme Network provides an avenue to promote awareness and understanding of the various faiths and cultures within the NUS Student Community. Nonfaculty clubs such as the NUS Students’ Community Service Club and the NUS Students’ Political Association promote heightened political and social awareness by providing avenues for community engagement through regular and special activities. There are also a substantial number of non-academic societies, such as the Toastmasters Club, Entrepreneurship Society and the Astronomical Society. In addition, magazines such as NUSSU The Ridge and the Kent Ridge Common recruit writers and editors every year, so keep a look out for their open calls by following them on their respective Facebook pages. With so many clubs and societies to choose from, you are bound to find something to occupy yourself with outside of class. If not, NUS always welcomes students to start their own interest groups to further enrich student life on campus. For a full list of student organisations, visit http://www.nus. edu.sg/osa/campus-life/explore-student-organisations.html.
What job can I do with __ degree? 4 Life lessons from seniors/graduates RENNES LEE ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, YEAR 3
You might be thinking, ‘it’s 3/4 years until I graduate. Why do I need to think about this?’ Well, based on my own experiences, you really should. Here are some real life conversations that I have had with seniors and graduates so that you don’t make the same mistake that they made.
1 YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT INDUSTRY YOU WANT TO WORK IN Me: Looks like you’re all set with your engineering degree! Friend: Yeah but I don’t want to work as an engineer. Me: Huh? But you got a scholarship already right? Friend: Yeah but I want to be a video producer. Me: What? Did you take any extra curricula activities to help you with that at least? Friend: Yeah. But only in my last year. Me: Is it because you only figured out what you wanted to do in the last year, that’s why it took you so long? Friend: Haha. No, actually I already knew it from the beginning but I was too busy with other more fun things so I procrastinated until I had a quarter life crisis the year that I wanted to graduate. Possibility of getting job: 10/10 (Scholarship) Possibility of getting the job in the industry you want: 3/10 This is a very hard one to answer because many undergraduates come in really excited at what the future holds but have no idea why they are studying what they are studying. Please be realistic, if you want to do research in a pharmaceutical company, you wouldn’t want to take a degree in arts. Please take the right degree or take on extra curricula activities that are best suited for you to find a job. Having fun in your extra curricula activities is great but don’t just do things for fun, balance it with practical and useful occupations. (If you’re sure of what you want to do as a career, seize opportunities and do it! If you don’t, fret not – after all, you are still in your freshman year. Do however spend time thinking it through and giving your future proper thought. You’ll thank yourself for it later!.)
LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS/FRIENDS IF YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT 2 DON’T TO DO Friend: I never wanted to study ___ degree. Now that I graduated, that is my biggest regret. Me: Wait doesn’t that just mean you wasted 3 years in university? Friend: Yeah. Me: Er. Okay. Friend: I’m going to study more and get a degree in music. I want to be a performer or instructor. Me: Why couldn’t you just do that in the first place? Friend: I don’t know. My parents lor. Possibility of getting job: 4/10 (After first degree with no working experience) Possibility of getting the job in the industry you want: 7/10 (After Second degree) One of the biggest dangers is taking a degree that was forced on you by your family or friends because of its practicality. I’m not saying that that ___ degree is useless or thatyour family makes you make poor life choices, of course as people that care for you, they want you to have the best headstart in life. BUT if you hate what you are doing or you already have a strong passion in something else then just do it! I constantly get attacked by friends that are just devastated that they have wasted all their time and money doing a degree that never appealed to them in the first place. Of course, circumstance might make it difficult for you to do the degree you want, but just think for a moment that you are an adult, you can’t spend the rest of your life blaming others for something you willingly chose to do.
3 LOOKING FOR A FRESH GRADUATE WITH 2 YEARS WORKING EXPERIENCE. Friend: This is rubbish. How can I study and have working experience at the same time. This is just unfair. Me: Well. I think it’s possible if you… Friend: No it’s not. Our ___ degree doesn’t give us the same opportunities as ____ degree to get work experience. Me: Actually if you just went to look for them yourself… Friend: Myself! What? I don’t even know what I want to do, how would I know what to apply for? Me: Eh. Please get your act together and stop complaining about your life can. I’ve already had work experience before university but even if you start now it’s never too late. Friend: But I don’t know what I want to do! Me: Look, I don’t know either, but if you never work at anything or do anything out of studying, you are never going to find out. Possibility of getting job: 4/10 Possibility of getting the job in the industry you want: 0/10 (Simply because you don’t know!) I always hear my fellow friends lamenting at their lack of work experience. Then when I talk to them I find that they never went to search for them in the first place. What are you expecting? That a job just magically falls on your lap? Stop dreaming and start doing. If you don’t have work experience, go and find an internship/part time job/ volunteer. Do something with your precious time in university, don’t waste it away lying at home during the holidays watching reruns of shows.
4 YOUR DEGREE IS NEVER GOING TO GUARANTEE YOU A JOB. I’m going to end with the most important life lesson on jobs there is. If you have not figured it out in the previous few sections about this then it’s time to hit you with the biggest truth bomb. During this year’s open house, many prospective freshmen kept asking me what job can I get from ___ degree or they confidently tell me they are doing this ___ degree because it has the most prospects. Then when I slap them with this truth, they stare at me in shock because I just destroyed their bubble of ignorant bliss. Please know that your degree is never going to guarantee that you can find a job. It depends on a multitude of things. Most importantly may be work experience or a high CAP, and if you have both, then the chances of you getting a job is significantly higher than the complainer with none of these. University is one of the greatest and most defining moments of your life. Time will fly by and before you know it, this amazing student life will be over. You dont want to look back and realise that you missed out on all the friends you could have made, opportunities and experiences you could have had because you were afraid. Learn from your seniors and don’t miss out on life because of external pressure, fear, ignorance or laziness. The best time to explore your interests and find a fufilling occupation is now, because in university, this would be the last time you can truly invest a large amount of your time in your passion. Don’t be scared to pursue your goals. Trust me, nothing is scarier than going out into the working world with no experience. You will have to struggle so much harder and have to face so much more rejection. Make the most out of every moment here and don’t let it go to waste.
STAY ON CAMPUS Here we give some insights on our writersâ€™ experiences staying on campus!
MY END, YOUR BEGINNING LIM JIN KAI ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, YEAR 4
I still remember it like it was yesterday, being dropped off by my parents at the small roundabout in front of Temasek Hall (that I now know better to refer to as ‘the porch’). This kind senior (thanks Terence) helped lug my luggage to my room, where I discovered that my roommate had already picked his side of C109, and that his mum had cleaned his side up, but not mine. Little did I realise that that day, despite how it may have sounded, was the start of four wonderful years that passed by way too quickly in a place that some call hostel, but I came to call home. Being a final year student, people often ask me what my most memorable hall experiences have been. I never could make up my mind, because hall life is not just defined by one singular experience but by every memory, no matter how big or small. I was once a freshman (freshperson, if you are easily triggered by gendered pronouns) like you. I used to think that merely participating in hall events will earn you the points necessary to stay on in hall. (SPOILER ALERT: It does not. You need to do more than just turn up for events: like actually joining the committee that plans it.) And so, I did. I will never forget taking part in a dance production with my fellow final year friends. Most of us have honed our skills on the dance floors of various nightlife spots, but showing them off on stage was an entirely different matter. Likewise, I will not forget the first or the last time I donned the white jersey of Temasek for soccer. Every win and every loss, in their own unique way have made an impression on me that shaped my growth. Then there are the smaller, more mundane, everyday things: Things like knowing that whatever the day or time, there is always someone in hall for you. There is always someone who needs food, just as you are looking for a supper buddy. Making friends with people from diverse backgrounds, picking up a new sport or even an instrument. Being able to identify your neighbor’s clothes because you share the same rack. Finding that one person who will always sing Bohemian Rhapsody with you and match your enthusiasm. I will miss being able to wake up 15 minutes before the start of lessons at FASS and still be punctual. I will miss the feeling of knowing that I am always a door knock away from friends. Friends who should really be termed family because I have probably spent more time with them than my actual family. But my time is up. For better or for worse, hall life has been consigned to a mere memory. You though, you still have time ahead of you. Me leaving means that there is now an empty room in Temasek hall waiting to be filled, maybe by you. Hall life was a defining part of my University experience, giving me opportunities to do things that I enjoy, and also things that I never thought I would do. If you have the chance, I strongly urge you to apply for a place to stay on campus. It could be the beginning of one long memory that you will always cherish.
7 things you need to know about staying in RVRC LIVIA CHAN ◼ FACULTY OF SCIENCE, YEAR 3
Have you decided to stay on campus during your freshmen year? Can’t decide whether to stay in a Hall or Residential College (RC)? In this article, I introduce 7 things that you need to know about staying in an RC and why I think it will be a fulfilling experience for you. But before that, here’s a brief overview about what NUS residential colleges are!
• There are 5 residential colleges in NUS. Cinnamon College (USP), Tembusu College, College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT)
and Residential College 4 (RC4) are all located within UTown. The fifth, Ridge View Residential College, is the only one located outside of UTown, between University Hall and Yusof Ishak House. • Residential Colleges cost slightly more to stay in per semester compared to halls. For instance, staying in RVRC costs $2340 in semester 1 (18 weeks) and $2210 in semester 2 (17 weeks), compared to $1980 and $1950 for a single room in a hall. • They also often incorporate interesting academic programmes and modules which you can enrol in! Since I stayed in RVRC for a year, I will be sharing with you 7 things you need to know about staying in RVRC, and why I never regretted choosing it over other RCs!
TO AMENITIES AND MOST 1 PROXIMITY FACULTIES
CHANCE TO MEET FRIENDS 2 GREAT FROM FIVE DIFFERENT FACULTIES
Are you a Science, Engineering or FASS student? Have you ever wished you could wake up just 20 minutes before your lecture and still be able to make it in time? Then RVRC is the RC for you! Located in the heart of NUS (almost), it takes just 10 minutes to walk to Science, Engineering and FASS, which means you can sneak in more shut-eye. As time starved uni students, I am sure we all appreciate a little more downtime in our hectic schedules.
RVRC is different from the other 4 RCs in that it offers a one-year freshmen programme exclusive to freshmen from Faculty of Science (FOS), Faculty of Engineering (FOE), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), School of Computing (SoC) and School of Design and Environment (SDE). In my block alone, I got to make new friends from all of these faculties! Seeing these friends every day amidst my daily routine really allowed me to bond closely with them. Celebrating the Birthdays of January babies from Block C!
3 MODULES One of the most memorable things about RVRC was the 3 compulsory modules we were required to fulfill: ES1601 Professional and Academic Communication, GEM1917 Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability and WR1401 Workplace Readiness. Most students found ES1601 the most useful module because through our assignments, we learnt how to build our personal brand, conduct effective meetings, analyse academic writing and write emails to different target groups. WR1401 was a module that helped relieve stress in the midst of our hectic school life. You may wonder why it is called Workplace Readiness, when most of the modules involved physical activity rather than, say, learning how to write meeting minutes. Well, we were told that through playing sports, the teamwork, patience, amongst many other values we gained would help us thrive better in the workplace in the future. If you are a Singaporean, WR1401 would strike you to be the most similar to PE lessons we had back in school. We learnt team sports in the first semester, and individual sports in the second. I was glad I took up floorball and rock climbing respectively as they were sports I have never done before. Floorball taught me the importance of understanding my role well in the game while rock climbing taught me to challenge my fears by pushing myself to climb higher. My efforts were acknowledged when I was rewarded with a Level 1 rock climbing certification at the end of the module! GEM1917 was a continuous project based module that lasted for one whole year. My group embarked on a project on water consumption through showering in RVRC, as we wanted to target water wastage. (RVRC is a sustainability college so our project was something along the lines of saving resources). Throughout the year, we were busy defining our project thesis, measuring the amount of water consumed using a flowmeter, while refining our poster again and again. Eventually, this led up to the GEM symposium where we had to present our research findings to the RVRC community and invited guests.
My GEM group and I after our presentation at UTown
Creating a poster for the symposium was one of the requirements for GEM1917
4 MEAL PLAN For food, we received meal vouchers because we did not have a dining hall then (there will be one slated to function in in AY 2017/2018 semester 1). Each meal voucher is worth $5 and we paid for about 80 of these vouchers as part of our hostel fees. They can be used at Subway, Sarpino’s, The Royals Bistro, Hwang’s, Spice Table and Alcove. You either love or hate the meal vouchers. Health conscious people deemed the choices unhealthy. Moreover, travelling all the way to UTown was just too inconvenient for some people. However, supporters absolutely loved that the vouchers can be used at the various restaurants in UTown, especially Royals’ Bistro. Not only does Royals’ Bistro provide a pleasant ambience for friends to gather and talk, the food is delicious as well. Its usual range of food includes local favourites like Mee Siam and Nasi Lemak and Western standards like Shepherd’s pie. Meals even comes with a drink! The food selection is so good that it is hard not to put on weight while staying in RVRC!
5 CLOSE-KNIT COMMUNITY It was not hard to form a close-knit community with my block mates. Seeing each other every day was never a problem! Every day, there will be “jios” (invitations) on the block Whatsapp chat group to head to UTown for dinner. Through many such dinners together, conversations were created and bonds were formed. Given that we stay in such close proximity to each other, we usually open our doors so we could see our neighbours and feel their presence. Occasionally, when I need a listening ear, I just walk a few steps to reach my neighbour. Last year, we had many mass gatherings as a block, including this one during Chinese New Year, when one of our block mates invited us to her house for steamboat and BBQ!
Chinese New Year Gathering with Block C
6 OPPORTUNITIES Staying in RVRC, many opportunities await. There are 1) leadership opportunities: to become Interest Group leaders, or to run for student council roles, 2) career opportunities: to go for industrial visits, 3) team and sports opportunities: to participate in Inter-College Games (ICG) and Inter-Block Games (IBG), and also 4) opportunities for personal growth: Residential College Mentorship Programmes. I have personally experienced leadership, team and personal growth opportunities. However, one of the most memorable memories for me was the RC mentorship programme that I joined after being convinced by my senior. Initially, I was apprehensive and reluctant because the screening process seemed very long. However, after I applied and got accepted, I never regretted my decision. Through meeting my mentor Mr Stuart Shee, I earned life advice like “success is a progressive realisation of your goals”, and even took part in a rather life-changing experience, “The Entrebuilder”, in end 2015, which he recommended me to join. Not only did I hone my public speaking skills through asking people to do surveys at City Hall and speaking to a crowd of 100 at NUSS Guild House, I was also equipped with financial knowledge through this programme.
Block C friends who also attended the RC Mentorship Programme
My team during Entrebuilder with my mentor, Mr Stuart Shee of Great Eastern’s Advisors-In-Sync
Thumbs up after finishing the presentation of our agency blueprint!
7 GETTING CLOSE TO NATURE Finally, staying in RVRC means you will get up and close with the creatures of nature. Residents of RVRC have encountered animals like mynahs, tree shrews, and even snakes (don’t worry, the snake has been caught) within its compound. Staying in the Old Kent Ridge compound, I myself had an encounter with the local wildlife. One day, stepping into my room, I saw a fleeting shadow behind my blinds. Suddenly, the shadow jumped out from behind the curtain, and onto my bed! The shadow turned out to be none other than a (relatively) harmless tree shrew raiding my room for food. What I saw next was a mess of food remnants strewn all over the floor. I was actually more afraid that it would pounce on me, and was about to scream for help when it slipped out through a gap between my window panes. I heaved a sigh of relief.
LIVING ON CAMPUS - RESIDENTIAL LIFE AKANKSHITA DASH ◼ FACULTY OF SCIENCE, YEAR 4
NUS offers a variety of choices for students who want to live on campus. For those who want a quiet, peaceful life with the option of participating in ad-hoc social events, residences are the way to go. 1. AVAILABLE OPTIONS There are two residences on campus for students, UTown Residence (UTR) and Prince George’s Park Residences (PGP). Out of these two, undergraduates may only apply to PGP for accommodation. That is, unless you’re a Resident Assistant or part of a special academic programme, the Design Centric Programme by the Faculty of Engineering, for instance. 2. HOW TO APPLY Applying to PGP is simple, as outlined below. When – There are two application windows every academic year. If you want accommodation for the whole academic year or just for Sem 1, apply in early March. For accommodation in Sem 2, apply in November. Do take note however, that the exact dates will change ever year. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) will usually sent out an email informing students of application dates, so keep a lookout for it, and DO NOT mark OSA as spam! Where – Apply on the online portal https://uhms.nus.edu.sg. If you have not matriculated yet, click on the ‘non-matriculated student’ tab, else click on the ‘matriculated student’ tab. There are three types of rooms in PGP – Type A with an ensuite bathroom and air-conditioning, Type B with a sink, and Type C, which is exactly like Type B minus the sink. There is a nonrefundable fee of $26.75 for every application. Pro-tip: The sinks in Type B rooms may seem extraneous but they are in fact very useful! Moreover, Type B rooms are located only in Block 9, 10, 11 and 12, which are the closest to the bus stop. What happens next – After you apply, wait! The results will be out in less than a month and if you are successful, you will have to make another payment of $200 (non-refundable but transferable in case you shift to another accommodation on campus). International students are guaranteed two years of accommodation on campus, after which their application will be processed under the Residence Admission Scheme (see next point). In case your application is unsuccessful, you can appeal! Guarantee your accommodation – PGP offers accommodation to undergraduates under the Residence Admission Scheme (RAS) (http://nus.edu.sg/osa/documents/housing/undergraduate/residence_admission_scheme.pdf). If you are active in a CCA that participates in this scheme, you can seek admission under four categories – Category A for NUSSU Exco members, Category B for student athletes and Centre For the Arts (CFA) members, Category D for members of NUSSU constituent clubs and volunteer societies, and Category E which covers the remaining vacancies. Category E is a little risky as it is based on random balloting, so it is best to be in a CCA that has a tie in with the RAS. 3. AMENITIES IN PGP AND PLACES TO EXPLORE` PGP has two food courts (one of which is air conditioned!), great study rooms and comfy lounges to chill with friends. It also has a gym, a basketball court, an indoor court and a mini-mart (essentially, PGP is a mini city). Students frequently snack at Reedz Café (bye bye Supersnacks) which is open till 1am for late night supper cravings! West Coast Park is a short walk away from the back gate of PGP. Try to catch the sunset there, it is beautiful! If you are feeling more adventurous and are in need of a day trip, Haw Par Villa is 10 mins away on foot and 2 mins away by bus. As for food, Al Ameen satisfies every NUS student’s butter chicken cravings and is open till 3am (they also deliver!). There is also a 24 hour McDonalds and McCafe at West Coast Park too. Small snacks and essentials can be purchased from a 24 hour 7/11 right behind PGP’s back gate.
MY EXPERIENCE AT PGP I was a scared little international freshie, confused and reluctant to explore housing options at NUS in their entirety, especially ones that had a social component attached to them. I guess at that point, I needed to NOT worry about the social anxiety of having to interact with people. To my panicky brain, PGP seemed like the perfect choice – very few compulsory activities, no extra courses, no obligations to join events and most importantly, the pictures on the website looked fabulous. Also, a lot of the other freshmen from my country (India) seemed to be applying to PGP, so I figured I would at least see a couple of friendly faces. But what started as a hesitant, experimental option in freshman year turned into a full time living experience that I am now reluctant to part with (I have lived in PGP for 3 years now!) There are so many perks of living in PGP. The A1, A2 and D2 shuttle services all start here, so you are pretty much guaranteed a seat to your destination, even during the rush hour. Instead of fighting with others over seats, I can quietly look out of the window at Kent Ridge MRT station, watching people struggle to get on the bus, and thank my lucky stars that I do not have to experience this everyday. The Biz faculty is a 5 min walk from PGP; SoC and FASS are a 7-10 min climb away. Science is 20 mins away if you take the long shuttle bus route and 10 mins if you take a super secret route known only to evil seniors like me (Alright fine. Almost everybody knows this route, or discovers it eventually - it is all uphill, through KE7 and NUH, and there is a boatload of stairs to climb and descend so please just take the bus). You can pretty much wake up just 20 mins before class and still be on time (I cannot recall the number of times I have walked proudly into S17 with frightful bed hair, FBT shorts, a Faculty T-Shirt and flip-flops. Yes, hall people, you don’t have a copyright on this look, PGPians do this too). Of course, one advantage of living in PGP is that you do not have to pay for a compulsory meal plan. There are lots of food options both in and around PGP! Two food courts, one air conditioned and the other not, serve PGP from 8am to 8pm, offering many different kinds of cuisines. Reedz, a popular cafe from Biz, has moved to PGP too, merging with (or replacing?) Supersnacks to provide comfort (read: junk) food to hungry students till 1am. A short walk away is Clementi Road, a haven for more late night snacking. My favourite is the famous Ameen’s (now known as Al Amaan) which serves butter chicken till 3am. I love walking over to West Coast Park right after supper at Ameen’s – helps digest the food! There is also a kitchen in every cluster for those who do not want to eat out. PGP is a very appealing choice for those who want a quiet and peaceful place to just wind down at the end of the day. Specially for those who are a part of demanding courses/CCAs and are perennially short of time - not having to participate in compulsory social events does bring down the stress level! But fret not – PGP is not boring at all! There are many community events like Welcome Parties and Destress Parties organised every semester, as well as fun workshops like kite-flying, cooking and candle-making! These events are held regularly and present a great opportunity for interacting with other residents; all you need to do is sign up (it is recommended that you do so way in advance – spots go out like ‘that’ *snaps fingers*). Apart from these events, you can also chill out with your friends in the lounges that are situated in every residence, or mug full time at the study rooms when it is exam period. PGP offers an ideal no-frills, independent lifestyle and it is perfect for me. What about you?
Best Food on Campus NICHOLAS COLIN ONG ◼ FACULTY OF SCIENCE, GRADUATED AY16/17
While the NUS campus may be somewhat inaccessible, there’s hardly any need to head out for good food. With many dining options scattered around the campus, students and staff at NUS definitely find themselves spoilt for choice with numerous options to satisfy their every craving.
ASTONS, FLAVOURS@UTOWN, STEPHEN RIADY CENTRE Representing the western food stall at the Flavours @ UTown food court, Astons has been dishing out affordable comfort food since its inception. The Astons brand has grown from its humble coffeeshop beginnings to the many outlets and restaurant outfits across the island – you could say Astons has indeed spread everywhere, with an outlet located right on our campus.
◀ Teriyaki Chicken (source: Burrple)
The brand has certainly won the hearts of many western food aficionados and is synonymous with affordability and quality. While I wasn’t surprised by the long queue during lunch hour, my stomach was growing impatient.
▼ Grilled Fish with Herbs (source: Astons)
Fortunately, I did not have to wait a long time. The stall emphasises efficiency – upon placing your order, you get a buzzer that will prompt you to collect your food from the counter. Within ten minutes (a perfectly reasonable waiting time considering the staggering queue), my Grilled Fish With Herbs (NUS $7.50, Public $9.50) (with a choice of Mac & Cheese and Garden Veggies as my side dishes) was ready. The fish was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The sauce, however, I didn’t like too much; it was too viscous and lacked flavour to complement the fish. The dish would do just as well without the sauce. But the sides were thoroughly enjoyable – the pasta was cooked al dente and the vegetables well cooked. All in all, with the exception of the sauce on the fish, I couldn’t have asked for a better meal. With my western food craving satisfied at a lower price compared to other Astons outlets, I will return for another affordable meal again.
OPERATING HOURS 11am – 10pm daily THE GOOD The waiting time was adequate and I was spared the agony of watching my friends eat their food first. THE NOT-SO-GOOD I was a little disappointed with the
sauce that accompanied with the fish as it lacked flavour and was too thick for my liking. EDITOR’S RATING ★★★✩✩
HWANG’S KOREAN RESTAURANT, TOWN PLAZA, UNIVERSITY TOWN This place never fails to draw in crowds and can get really packed during lunch hour. The variety of food and drinks, coupled with their affordability, contribute to Hwang’s overwhelming popularity. Serving traditional dishes from Dak Bulgogi (spicy marinated chicken) to Dolsot Bibimbap (stone bowl mixed rice), this is where you should go to get your quick fix of authentic Korean food. Do note that you have to decide on your preferred dish before you join the queue. The staff’s efficient service means your order will be taken as soon as eye contact is made from a reasonable distance away.
OPERATING HOURS Monday – Saturday, 10:30am – 10pm (last order at 9pm)
So although the queue appears long, it moves at a quick pace which means you’re able to get your food within a short time.
EDITOR’S RATING ★★★✩✩
Dak Bulgogi Dak Bulgogi (NUS $5.50, Public $6.50), or spicy marinated chicken, is definitely one of my recommendations when you’re dining at the restaurant. Besides a generous amount of chicken, the set also includes seaweed soup, a bowl of rice and two side dishes of kimchi and seasoned anchovies.
Dolsot Bibimbap The Dolsot Bibimbap (NUS $6, Public $7) is perhaps one of Korean cuisine’s most definitive dishes. Literally meaning “stone bowl mixed rice”, the proper way to eat it is to mix the vegetables, egg and rice together with the red pepper paste. What you get in each mouthful is a rich blend of flavours and textures.
The chicken, each piece a mixture of spiciness, sweetness and saltiness, were also accompanied with sliced onions to give each bite an additional texture and flavour. What’s more, the dish was served on a hot plate, keeping my food hot while whetting my appetite as it sizzled. THE GOOD The serving size was just right, so I was delightfully full! THE NOT-SO-GOOD The dish could probably be served with more onion slices to better accentuate the taste of the marinated chicken (though this is up to your personal preference!).
Hwang’s take on this dish consists of handfuls of four different types of vegetables, with chicken pieces and a serving of fried egg atop white rice. Served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, the rice at the bottom of the stone bowl turned golden and crispy, keeping the other ingredients hot while mixing it. An alternative version that’s served in a metal bowl (Bibim Bap) is also available at a slightly cheaper price (NUS $5, Public $6). Similar to the Dak Bulgogi, the dish is also accompanied with a small serving of kimchi and seasoned anchovies. THE GOODThe vegetables are freshly prepared and offered a good crunch even after mixing with the other ingredients. THE NOT-SO-GOOD The serving size could be larger, especially the amount of rice.
AYAM PENYET, FRONTIER, FACULTY OF SCIENCE Located in the Frontier (also known as the Science canteen), this Indonesian Panggang Uncle Penyet Fusion stall never fails to draw a long line of hungry students seeking to satisfy their deep-fried food craving. The stall does not just serve greasy food; it also caters to the needs of the slightly more health conscious (and thriftier) individuals with dishes like Steamed Chicken ($3) and Bakso (Beef Ball Soup) ($2.50). As for myself, I couldn’t resist ordering one of their deep-fried dishes, and chose the stall’s renowned and award-winning Ayam Penyet (it once clinched a Grand Winner for Best Food on Campus Contest award.)
OPERATING HOURS Monday – Friday: 7:30am – 4.pm (several stalls operate till 8pm) Saturday: 7:30am – 3pm EDITOR’S RATING ★★★★★
Ayam Penyet The stall’s rendition of Ayam Penyet ($4.30) comes atop a bed of salad (lettuce, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes) with a piece of fried tofu and a portion of white or brown rice (for an additional $0.10) covered with curry. The fried chicken was perfectly cooked, the skin crispy and the meat tender. Moreover the crispy bits of batter atop the chicken gave the dish additional texture, which accompanied the rice well. Apart from the chicken, another highlight of the dish was the stall’s iconic chili sauce, which would normally be served with the rice. But this sauce is not for the faint-hearted because of its intense spiciness – in fact, there used to be a sign saying “WARNING: CHILI IS VERY SPICY” placed at the cashier. It shouldn’t be underestimated! As someone who can take the heat, I did not find the chili overpoweringly spicy – in fact, it gave the dish a good kick, and its absence would certainly diminish the overall experience. That being said, those who are unable to tolerate too much spiciness should start with only a tiny bit of the sauce first; don’t set your mouth on fire! THE GOOD Definitely the fried chicken. THE NOT-SO-GOOD The greens and the fried tofu were a little dry for my liking.
YONG TAU FOO, THE DECK, FACULTY OF ARTS & SOCIAL SCIENCES Situated at the entrance of The Deck (also known as Arts canteen), the Yong Tau Foo & Laksa stall is hard to miss. It is even harder to miss it during the lunch hours when there’s a long queue (or two) in front of the stall! With a wide variety of ingredients to choose from, as well as being easy on a student’s wallet, it is no wonder the stall attracts students from all over the campus. Yong Tau Foo is a Hakka Chinese dish which, unlike its name, does not solely consist of Tau Foo, or Tofu (bean curd). In fact, the amount of ingredients ranges from vegetables like bok choy and tomatoes, to fish balls and fried wanton. Although the ingredients may vary by stalls, typical choices also include eggplant, quail egg and stuffed bitter gourd. There is a particular way to order your food at this stall. There are two queues, with the one on the right for selecting your ingredients. Once you have handed your order over to the cashier, join the queue on the left (which is usually longer) and wait for your turn to pay and collect your food. Rest assured that you’ll receive the right order! Do look out for the yellow A4-sized paper located on top of the ingredient shelves to aid your order. It will give you a breakdown of your costs and inform you of the available carb accompaniments. I decided to have an early lunch to avoid the lunch queue (which has been known to stretch past the entrance of The Deck), and arrived at the stall at around 10am. There were only about two students in front me for the right queue, and only five on the left.
OPERATING HOURS Monday – Friday: 7.30am to 4pm (though by this time all the good choices are usually gone and you might have to have something like three servings of xiao bai cai) Saturday: 7:30am – 3pm PRICE With Noodles (Minimum 6 Pcs)* Without Noodles (Minimum 8 Pcs)* Items Price Per piece $0.30 Bee Hoon/Noodles $0.40 Rice $0.40 Laksa Gravy $0.40 Egg $0.40 Take Away $0.10 (Additional Charge) *Note: Egg not included
EDITOR’S RATING ★★★★✩
Yong Tau Foo I have to admit that this meal was one of the most value-for-money food choices on the my entire trail. Priced at $2.80 for 8 pieces of ingredients ($0.30 per piece) and a bowl of rice ($0.40), it definitely made both my stomach and wallet happy! The highlight of the dish, well-agreed by many supporters of the stall, is the stall’s unique soup base. Flavourful without being too salty, it gave my vegetables a sweetness that helped accentuate their individual flavours. One would certainly enjoy drinking the soup without the all-too-familiar thirst that accompanies dishes rich in MSG. The rice was also cooked just right, without the grains clumping together. As for the condiments, the sambal chilli sauce was not too spicy, yet giving enough heat; while the black sauce was sufficiently sweet. THE GOOD Without a doubt, the soup base will certainly keep me coming back for more! THE NOT-SO-GOOD The fried wanton that I had ordered was not re-fried, and was soaked in the soup, giving the dumpling skin a soggy texture.
supper spots near nus NICHOLAS COLIN ONG ◼ FACULTY OF SCIENCE, GRADUATED AY16/17
Up for some scrumptious food to fill up your tummies and satisfy your sinful cravings? This popular area along Clementi Road amongst supper lovers, especially the many NUS students who stay on campus, will be sure to meet your gastronomic desires! Here, we present you with five such supper spots that will not only go easy on your cravings, but on your wallets as well:
FONG SENG FAST FOOD NASI LEMAK Allowing you to select from more than 10 different types of side dishes to pile onto your plate, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you’re creating your version of Nasi Lemak, a traditional and well-loved Malay dish. ADDRESS 22 Clementi Rd, Singapore 129751 OPERATING HOURS 6:00am to 4:00am THE GOOD The sambal chili, which was both pleasantly sweet and spicy, and the otak-otak, which was not too spicy and boasted a good texture with fish chunks. THE NOT-SO-GOOD The ikan kuning was hard and not as crispy as it looked.
FEI FEI WANTON MEE If you intend to go for some good ol’ Wanton Mee, or dumping noodles, we’ll bet that this place which prides itself on this classic noodle dish will win you over! ADDRESS 22 Clementi Rd, Singapore 129751 OPERATING HOURS 6:00am to 4:00am
THE GOOD Both fried and boiled wanton were given in a single serving and the noodles were springy. THE NOT-SO-GOOD The dish was a bit too dry overall as it lacked sauce.
PUTERA PUTERI MAKAN PLACE Putera Puteri serves up a wide variety of Malay and Thai cuisine, from fried rice kampong to seafood tom yam soup, at affordable prices. ADDRESS 14 Clementi Road Singapore 129741 OPERATING HOURS 24-hours
THE GOOD The rice in the fried rice kampong dish was moist and delivered a good kick of spice. THE NOT-SO-GOOD Their take on the tom yam soup pandered more to a sweet palate and not as sour and spicy as tom yam soup we were used to.
NIQQI’S THE CHEESE PRATA SHOP Niqqi’s, like many other prata restaurants, doesn’t disappoint as it serves up many variations of this doughy delight, depending on whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory, or both! ADDRESS 14 Clementi Road Singapore 129741 OPERATING HOURS 6:00am to 4:00am THE GOOD The Niqqi special cheese prata (a combination of cheese, egg and potato) is definitely one that you must order, delivering a hearty punch with this special mix of ingredients. THE NOT-SO-GOOD The plain prata was only slightly crispy and was dry, while the curry provided with the prata was diluted and cold when served.
AL AMAAN RESTAURANT If you’re in the mood for some comfort food, you’ll be very pleased with Al Amaan and its offerings! From finger food to hearty dishes, this eatery will satisfy all levels of late-night hunger pangs. ADDRESS 12 Clementi Road Singapore 129742 OPERATING HOURS 11:00am to 3:00am THE GOOD The naan had a good doughy consistency to it and was paired nicely with the gravy. THE NOT-SO-GOOD The portion of sambal chili served with the fried rice kampong dish was small and the rice was on the dry side. PHOTO LAI YINZUO AND DESHAWN TOH
NUS LIFE Hereâ€™s how to live your university life to the fullest!
For The Overenthusiastic ESTHER YEOH ◼ FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, YEAR 3
For what it’s worth, I thought I’d write this. This article goes out to those who I would call the overenthusiastic freshmen. The madness of the semester has made you want to try everything. You see potential in yourself and so much ‘sparkling’ promise in every club booth you’ve walked past during the Student Life Fair (this, of course, is an exaggeration but you get the point). When it all comes down to it, you realise you have signed up for five clubs and god knows how many other events. What a treat. ‘Chill’ is clearly not in your vocabulary and you’re on the cusp of doing just about everything you’ve ever wanted to do. Here are some thoughts in that light. (Take this from me, I did more than 10 events in Semester 2 of freshman year, joined 3-4 clubs/committees, played sports, did fitness training … and studied!)
1 DON’T SHORTCHANGE YOURSELF
2 REMEMBER TO SLEEP
It’s freshman year - you have a gradeless free year! Expose yourself to different kinds of interest groups, sports or committees. Consider your stamina and capacities, but also never forget that university is a great place to push your boundaries and supposed limits. People will often tell you that you’re crazy and too hardcore. Even so, never sell yourself short solely because people are imposing their limits on you. My advice? Just do it. Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone and gain some learning experiences on the way.
NO ONE in university actually sleeps sufficiently. Doing everything can be fun and satisfying, but without sleep, you won’t just burn out way faster than you imagined, you would also be unable to properly enjoy everything. So do try to get some shut-eye every now and then!
3 SET GOALS
4 KNOW YOUR CAPACITIES
Enroll in clubs, interest groups or sports with specific goals in mind. Join them with the intention of picking up a skill and/or gaining something, be it marketing, publicity, or leadership skills. It’s always good to join something for the fun of it, but wouldn’t it be entirely more fulfilling if you are motivated to do so?
Only you know how to best tailor your time and energy to suit your limits. You can find things you’re interested in, but you don’t have to do everything at the same time in the same semester. You have four years to work it out. Push back some stuff because you can always come back for it later.
5 DIVERSIFY YOUR INTERESTS (Linked to 3.) University is the last time you will get to enjoy yourself before work comes and devours you. Personally, to date, I have joined a cultural club, a sports/outdoors interest group, an academic society and participated in external projects with another academic society. All these have taught me diverse skills in various positions with different people. You will gain varied experiences and soft skills which will help you in the future. In the working world, people don’t just look at paper qualifications. In fact, many employers look for people who adapt, learn quickly on the job, and have good interpersonal skills. However, this is just my opinion. If you believe that you should join one CCA and stick to it all the way through, go ahead and do what makes you truly happy.
6 DON’T FORGET YOU’RE A STUDENT.
7 PLAN – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLAN.
Prioritize what you need to do, and when you need to. Play hard, but study hard too. Don’t procrastinate. Not only will a lot of things fall into place, you will also find yourself having extra time to do more stuff. If your schedule is packed, spread out your work and start your final essay or project as early as possible, NOT during week 13. Start in week 8 if possible. The faster you finish studying, the more time you have for other pursuits.
Planning for your commitments is key. Don’t spend your time rushing around school. It helps with number 6 too, especially when the event is nearing and you’re barely studying, and you forget that your assignment is due the next day.
All in all, the learning curve for you, as a freshman, will be steep and experiences will be great if you make it so. Your university life is what you make it to be. So take advantage of this opportunity to start your journey right, and for those who did not start on the ‘perfect’ note, it is never too late to try again. Mistakes will be an essential part of the journey, so go ahead and ride the rollercoaster that will be your NUS career!
Life of an international student in NUS AKANKSHITA DASH ◼ FACULTY OF SCIENCE, YEAR 4
Congratulations on getting into NUS; you made it! Your years of hard work and effort have finally paid off, and you’re ready to reap the rewards of your success at one of the best universities in the world. But I’m not writing this just to congratulate you. I’m not trying to put a damper on your spirit, but I feel compelled to tell you this - being an international student is hard. Studying in another country is a huge change, and however much you prepare for it, you don’t really know the culture until you experience it. I was 18, naïve and inexperienced when I came to NUS in August 2014 for my undergraduate degree. I was also nervous, excited and very eager to make friends. I couldn’t wait to get started with my major and experience life as depicted in those glossy college brochures that the admissions office sent over. As you can guess, things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to (they rarely do!). I felt lost in the maze that was NUS. I was consistently late for classes, often took the wrong shuttle bus, couldn’t follow the academic content, didn’t eat much and was constantly homesick. Within a month, I had bombed my first midterm, made no proper friends, was losing weight at an alarming rate and desperately wanted to go home. It didn’t help that all my friends in India seemed to be having a gala time and I was missing out on all of it. I still remember a phone call I had with my mum back in those days; she said that it was perfectly alright to come back home and go to a college in India if I felt NUS wasn’t meant for me.
In the back of my mind, I missed being in India (I did spend the first 18 years of my life there!) but then Singapore didn’t seem that different from home anymore. Of course there were ‘oops’ moments – nodding along awkwardly in a conversation littered with Singlish slang I didn’t understand, messing up orders at hawker centers, being a complete noob about public transport (I can’t remember the number of times I’ve taken the wrong bus and ended up in the middle of nowhere) – but all these problems were all solved by experience. Even though it’s embarrassing and annoying to keep asking someone to repeat themselves, most of the time people are pretty understanding. So when I didn’t understand something, I asked. Pretty soon, I got used to Singlish. I became a pro at ordering local food and traveled everywhere like a baws. The biggest challenge, for me at least, was finding the right people. College can be pretty lonely, and even more so for international students, as you’re away from everything that’s familiar. You can’t go home at the drop of a hat. I got lucky in the sense that I managed to find good friends in NUS, but the journey wasn’t easy – it took me almost 2 years. It’s a sad fact, but most friendships in college are arbitrary and transitory. People come and go, and the friends you meet in your first semester will probably not be those you hang out with for the rest of your NUS life. What really helps, though, is keeping an open mind about meeting people. Sometimes, chance meetings with people can help you find your group of friends (I ended up becoming really close to a girl I met at a random Spanish class organized by iCare, a student organisation under OSA).
But I’m glad I stayed. The conversation with my mum acted as a wake-up call for me. I decided to take charge of my life, and actively seek out people instead of waiting for people to approach me. I started interacting more with my course mates. I invited the girl from my floor for a meal. I started speaking more in class and asked professors for extra help when I needed it. I joined CCAs I was interested in. That’s how I found people I clicked with. My Singaporean friends introduced me to delicious and inexpensive food around campus, beginning my love story with chicken rice. I found a nice community of Indian friends who would invite me to their house for meals. I discovered cool study spots and made them my regular haunt. My academics finally started stabilizing too. I established a routine of sorts – sleep, eat, study, socialize and exercise. (Fine, I’m kidding with the last one.)
There are still some difficulties to deal with. I have always been very close to my parents, and even though I’ve been away for 3 years now, I do miss them from time to time. (Well, if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s mostly the homecooked food that I miss). Academics are rigorous, and my degree programme isn’t exactly a piece of cake. Doing laundry sucks. In a nutshell, what I’m saying is that being an international student is a fast track to adulthood, and I hate adulting. It is HARD and you can’t quit being one. But time and experience definitely make things easier. So dear incoming international freshmen, to make the best of these 4 years, my advice to you is this:
JUST STICK TO PEOPLE FROM 1 DON’T YOUR OWN COUNTRY
MAY BE STRESSFUL 2 –ACADEMICS SO MINGLE WITH PEOPLE
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Familiarize yourself with your home for the next 4 (+3/+6 for my fellow bonded mates) years by befriending Singaporeans. Go for OWeek, orientation camps, and join CCAs you’re interested in. You may feel scared and nervous about doing it, but trust me, all the other freshmen feel the same way as you. Interact with international students too. Even though you’re from a different country, you’re probably going through a similar journey and fighting the same battles.
I cannot stress how important it is to be around people. It’s bad enough being stressed as it is; imagine being stressed AND lonely.
I get it; language and cultural barriers can be hard to break through, but you won’t know till you at least try, right?
Academics in NUS are demanding, and I’ve seen the bell-curve drive people insane. So if you hate studying alone, get a study buddy (because misery loves company). Go out with friends after a night of studying; you’ve earned it. Don’t ignore social outings just because you have studying to do. At the end of 4 years, what would you rather remember- fun moments with friends or long hours of relentless studying?
EXPLORE, RELAX - TAKE 3 EAT, SOME TIME OFF
4 GO HOME AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN
At the same time, do things alone too – some ‘me time’ is essential. Treat yourself to a night of Netflix and sleep, a home-cooked meal, or a refreshing run (West Coast Park is great for those living on campus). I know us millennials are highly prone to FOMO (fear of missing out) but I’ve found that the key to staying sane in college despite all the glitzy social media posts is having some time to yourself to do the things you really love.
If it is financially sensible and you can afford it, go home. It may sound bleak and depressing, but once you enter the workforce, there’ll be even fewer chances to go home, so maximize your opportunities to do so while you’re still a student and have regular breaks!
NUS has been really good to me – from doing amazing internships to going on exchange abroad, I’ve been granted opportunities that I had only dreamed about. My peers are amazing and inspiring; my professors, world-class. Sure, I’ve had bad days, but they’ve been superseded by the good ones. I’ve had a fulfilling three years so far, and I’m really looking forward to the next two. So my dear li’l freshmen, hope you have a wonderful time in NUS, and once again, welcome! From your friendly senior, Dash
NUS FRESHMEN ORIENTATION PROGRAMMES NUSSU UNION CAMP Did you know that the NUS Students’ Union’s (NUSSU) Union Camp is the largest annual cross-faculty freshmen orientation camp? The 4 days, 3 nights camp aims to familiarise freshmen with the NUS school compound and to forge new friendships. Participants will not only meet fellow incoming freshmen, but also seniors from different faculties who are ready to share tips and personal experiences. Orientation activities such as the Union Camp can definitely help freshmen integrate into NUS life! NUSSU RAG AND FLAG NUSSU Rag & Flag (RnF) has been part of the NUSSU’s Orientation Programmes since 1957. Held in early August before the start of each academic year, RnF is organised to instil a culture of giving and volunteerism in NUS students while creating a memorable university experience for them.
DATES TO TAKE NOTE OF 8th August 2017 – Flag Day 12th August 2017 – Rag Day
RnF begins with the NUSSU Flag Day, where NUS students from various faculties and halls flag collect donations from the public across Singapore. The proceeds go directly to the various beneficiaries of RnF. The second part of the project is Receive and Give (RAG). To thank the public for their kind donations during Flag Day and celebrate the efforts of students, NUS faculties and halls come together to put up performances. The creative floats and stunning dance choreographies performed on Rag Day reflect/display the fruits of labour of NUS students during the summer break. Rag Day also provide great opportunities for incoming freshmen and NUS seniors to interact, forge strong bonds and create unforgettable memories! As one of the highlights of NUSSU orientation programmes, NUSSU RnF is a great chance for freshmen to step out of their comfort zones and take part in this once in a lifetime journey! Be prepared to experience an orientation like no other, only here in NUS!
NUSSU STUDENT LIFE FAIR A makeover of the Matriculation Fair, the NUSSU Student Life Fair (SLF) is an annual campus-wide event that caters to both newly matriculated students and current NUS students (yes, even current students are welcome!). A threeDETAILS day event held on the first week of each academic year at University Town, Date: 17th to 19th August 2017 the SLF showcases the diverse non-academic opportunities available to all Venue: University Town NUS students, which promises to inject vibrancy into each studentâ€™s NUS life. The SLF comprises more than 150 interactive booths (comprising student committees, clubs and societies, and NUS Departments and Offices) and each student is bound to find to a CCA or an academic program that will enrich his or her university pathway. Moreover, look out for freebie giveaways and fun activities offered by the SLF Committee and their sponsors! Providing a comprehensive display of the countless opportunities available in NUS, the SLF is definitely one of the best platform for everyone to explore and experience every aspect of NUS at one go. Do visit the SLF to experience the buzz of university life before assignments and deadlines kick in!
NUSSU Council Funding Have a project idea that will benefit students in NUS? NUSSU Council Funding aims to support and encourage undergraduates to be involved in student-led activities. To find out more, visit nussu.org/articles/councilfunding
NUSSU VPC Photography Services Capturing memories at your school-related event doesn’t need to cost alot! For a small fee, NUSSU Video and Photography Club can take professional photographs for your event! Check them out on Facebook (fb.com/ nussuvpc)
NUSSU Van & Logistics Rental Require some logistics for a project or event? Check out our logistics list at nussu.org/ articles/logistics-rental to see if we can help. (Psst, it’s free!)
BURSARY AWARD & BOOK GRANT We know just how financially taxing university fees can be! If you’re in need of financial assistance, apply for the NUSSU Bursary Award and Book Grant. To learn more, check out nussu.org/welfares/financial-aid
NUStyle Discounts Scheme Always thought that your matriculation card was just used in school? That’s where you’re wrong! Flash your NUS card at our partner shops and enjoy great deals and discounts, brought to you by our very own NUSSU Bizcom. For the full partner listing, visit nustyle.sg!
NUSSU Student Lounge Did you know that the Student Lounge at Yusof Ishak House is run by NUSSU? The Student Lounge is a place where you can study, have meetings or simply chill out with your friends!
To find out more about NUSSU, do visit our Facebook (fb.com/nus.students. union) and Instagram page (@mynussu), or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you! :)
NUS1101 (2017) - A Senior's Guide to Navigating NUS Life. An annual publication by NUSSU The Ridge.
Published on Aug 8, 2017
NUS1101 (2017) - A Senior's Guide to Navigating NUS Life. An annual publication by NUSSU The Ridge.