Pause for a Moment to Savour the Beauty

I was struck by the following message on NUS Confessions. This message posted at night on 31 Mar 2013 was simple but poignant, and it resonated with me.  I reproduce it here in full:


“My friend and I stayed overnight at Utown last night, we sat outside Starbucks throughout the night, doing our work slowly and having some laughs at random and trivial things that we said and did. People who knew us asked (with “oh i am really sad for you” eyes) if we were rushing projects. No we were not, we wanted to stay overnight because we wanted things to slow down, time to pass less quickly, we wanted to enjoy the breeze at Starbucks without having to rush for the last train. 


The truth is, I am graduating and I am starting to miss being part of this physical space, I am starting to feel the amount time left for me to be “in the moment” with the surroundings in school is only that little. Just because we are burdened with the fight with the bell curve and there’s a need to excel amidst it, we often unknowingly forgo the experience of being just as who we are and who we want to be in this physical space. 


It was a quiet and slow night, I had a lot of flashbacks of snippets of memories with different NUS friends (who were once just project mates), memories from mundane activities. Many times we think it is the fun and exciting things that we will miss the most, but in fact it is not, but the ordinary activities we do like eating bee hoon from The Deck, sharing a molten chocolate cake from Starbucks, walking along the link ways, meeting people you haven’t seen for semesters and getting encouragements from them. 


There are just way too many simple things that warm your heart (and you may not even realise it until you stop getting all these), but we are too caught up in the race we forget to slow down, to pause for a moment (or a day) to savor the beauty of these things. I know week 11 is coming up and many of us have endless reports and assignments/projects to complete, but trust me, take half day off from the race and just chill in school, you won’t regret.”


In the hustle and bustle of life, we are all too caught up in our own affairs – studies, activities and what have you. (Myself included – I have been told I am a workaholic.) How often do we pause to relax and reflect? Or to simply allow ourselves to experience and enjoy doing nothing?


The next few weeks will be particularly stressful for most of you, but heed this advice – take some time off to chill out in school. And I agree with the author of the above message – you won’t regret it. Best wishes for your examinations!

EduSports Complex at University Town

Welcome back to a new semester!  I would like to wish one and all an exciting and fulfilling 2013.

As we begin a new year, I am also happy to announce the opening of a brand new facility at UTown – the EduSports Complex.


Designed as a mixed-use complex, EduSports has something for everyone.  For the sports enthusiast, there is a rock climbing wall, a well-equipped gym to challenge your strength and endurance, two multipurpose sports halls with badminton and basketball courts, as well as a recreational pool.

Challenge your skill and perseverance at the 15-metre high rock climbing wall (Photo by Leong Mun Wai)

If you are more inclined towards the performing arts, there are dance studios and orchestra practice rooms.

The NUS Wind Symphony in action at a practice room.
A bookstore on campus for e-gadgets, books and more
Flavours@UTown (food court) on level 2

EduSports also offers a range of dining choices, including a large food court overlooking Town Green, Japanese, Taiwanese and vegan food outlets.  For those with a passion to read, Book Haven, stocks a range of books, magazines as well as e-reading gadgets. For students or staff looking for a space for an activity or simply a group discussion, there are seminar rooms, an auditorium and four lecture theatres, as well as open discussion spaces which you can utilise. The ground level of EduSports features a  Visitors Centre, which is co-located with the NUS Office of Admissions.

The completion of the EduSports Complex brings  the construction of UTown to completion. The sporting and arts dimensions offered by EduSports complement the existing educational facilities at the Education Resource Centre, bringing full circle to our vision of UTown as a pulsating hub for both academic pursuits as well as the holistic development of our students.

When we conceived of and planned for UTown, we wanted UTown to be a place that will enrich the experiences of all our staff and students. It is exciting to see how UTown is shaping up and I hope that UTown will form part of the fond memories you have of NUS.

See you around the campus and at UTown soon!




Getting Enough Sleep

Here is a recent string of tweets on UTown:

  • “utown is packed and my friends couldn’t find a seat”;
  • “found an awesome spot to study in utown”;
  • “camping at utown”;
  • “utown lvl 1 to 3 r all full, going to ctrl lib to mug instead”;
  • ”redbull giving out energy drinks at utown”;
  • “oh, so now sec 4 kiddos are studying at utown”;
  • “security doing checks on ppl in utown. Apparently too many NTU people crashing our study rooms already”;
  • “Utown is fully packed on a Saturday! Stop studying so hard dearest NUS”; ….

This is the Reading Period, which means that exams are around the corner. Our students are all ‘mugging’ hard, hoping to ‘squeeze in’ as much content into their heads as possible. UTown has proven to be a popular study spot and outsiders are also gate-crashing the compound! We are taking steps to ensure that our facilities are accessible only to NUS students.

To me, sleep is most vital, particularly during this trying period. Everyone’s physical make-up is different and our sleep requirements vary. But, insufficient sleep will lead to drastically decreased daytime alertness, and suboptimal performance.

Perhaps that’s why zombies are sometimes associated with sleep deprivation.

Studies have shown that a person’s performance, after 2 continuous weeks of less than 6 hours of daily sleep, can be as dysfunctional as someone who has gone without sleep for the past 48 hours at a stretch. I guess many of our students are in either situation now.

And students have devised ways and means to stay awake. My son told me that a 6-pack of Red Bull can keep him up for the entire night, and it is much cheaper and more effective than 2 cups of Starbucks coffee. This explains why Red Bull is giving out free drinks at UTown. From Wikipedia, Red Bull is plenty of caffeine plus sugar, and conventional (and scientific) wisdom suggests that one should not depend on that for too long!

This is a stressful period for many. Thus, the Counseling and Psychological Centre has been conducting classes and stress-relief clinics; the Centre conducted a ‘Stress No More’ class at UTown last week.

Whatever you do, do rest and sleep well!

University Town Opens

It is almost surreal to witness UTown springing to life. From ideas and concepts to plans on paper; from architectural drawings to the piling and construction; from a hole in a ground, to a delightful town; it has been quite some years. 

Education Resource Centre  The Residential Colleges

 There is something in UTown for every NUS student. Those wishing to hit their books can retreat to the many quiet and conducive study areas for some peace, solitude and focus. Friends or project mates can gather for pow-wow sessions at the discussion areas that are freely accessible and equipped with handy boards and markers. The Town Green lawns are proving to be popular grounds for rest and relaxation; the Learning Café is lively even during the weekends and into the wee hours of the night.  The pilot residential college programmes have taken off this semester at Cinnamon and Tembusu Colleges, and we are keenly watching how students take to the immersive educational model of living and learning. I will be sharing my thoughts on residential living for undergraduates in a later post.

Town Green by day 

There are admittedly teething issues with UTown, such as the frequency of internal shuttle services and leakages at various locations and we had sought to resolve them expeditiously. More water dispensers will also be installed. We seek your patience, and I can assure you that the relevant University Offices have been working tirelessly to iron out the problems encountered. We’ve also been reading through twitter posts on UTown. After the first couple of weeks, the tweets are generally very positive. It’s heartening to hear how students are beginning to discover and develop an affinity for UTown.

UTown is for the NUS community; do make the best of it. I think UTown has become a definitive feature of the campus, and I hope it will add to fond memories of your life at the NUS. Do share your thoughts on UTown.