Getting Familiar With More Residential Wellness Managers

Previously, we had introduced the Residential Wellness Managers (RWMs) of UTown Residence (UTR) and Prince George’s Park Residence (PGPR). Guess what, a few more RWMs have come onboard since then! In this article, let us get to know them better as human beings beyond their professional role, and find out about some of their hobbies and quirks. For more information on what exactly an RWM is, read till the end of the article!


Jaya Rajesh (RWM for LightHouse, Pioneer House, Helix House)

Hello, I am Jaya. I am the RWM in charge of LightHouse, Pioneer House, and the future Helix House. Some things about me: I am a social worker by training, and have a strong desire to support the people who need help. In my free time, I like to cook, bake, dance, and listen to music. I also keep and write a gratitude journal daily. And of course, I love to spend time with my family and friends!

With regards to the RWM role, I consider myself as a staff to the students in the hostels. As I am not part of the hostel management team or from the faculty, some students may be more comfortable to share their concerns with me. Moreover, as I’m from India, I can empathise well with international students who may face challenges adjusting to life in Singapore. As of now, I attend events organised by the respective Houses, and interact with students during the sessions. In addition, some students connect with me via Telegram if they need my help!

I was born in India, and received my Masters of Social Work upon graduating from the University of Kerala. I also went on to get a Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work from the University of Melbourne, Australia! 

I have nearly 18 years of work experience. I first started my career working in an addiction centre, and later, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). I then went on to undertake the role of a Medical Social Worker (MSW) in a hospital. This was the role that I worked in for 12 years, before finally joining NUS. Throughout my career, I have mainly worked with older people, including adults. Now, I am excited to transition to working with a younger population in NUS. 

In NUS, I frequent the PGPR canteen a lot, especially since it is located near to the Houses that I am in charge of. I love to eat mala there! I also enjoy having fish soup from Eureka Taste (Medicine Block 6) and Ayam Penyet from the Science canteen (Frontier). 

If I had the freedom to do anything in NUS, I would definitely choose to visit the PitStop at the Science faculty to relax for a day. I would probably lounge in the massage chair, have fun with the Nintendo Switch and enjoy some quiet time by indulging in a comic book.

What does wellness mean to me? Well, I think that it is a positive state of mind. Any activities or places that bring me joy could be a form of wellness. For example, after a long day at work, preparing meals for my family gives me happiness – therefore it is a wellness activity to me.

Jaya preparing food for her family

Here are some fun facts about myself: I currently learn Indian classical dance. I look forward to dance lessons every week, where I not only get to learn Indian classical dance, but also get to interact with my friendly classmates. Furthermore, I catch at least seven hours of sleep a day. To me, the most essential things are getting sufficient sleep, and spending time with like-minded people. I find that pursuing personal hobbies, engaging in social interaction, exploring meditation, getting sufficient sleep, etc., are some things that students can consider adopting, especially to cope with the stresses of life. 

Jaya on-stage for her recent Mohiniyattam (Indian classical dance) performance

While I have not experienced any major mental health challenges myself, I have definitely experienced my fair share of stress during my schooling days, especially during exam periods. Fortunately, I think that because I focused on enjoying the learning process rather than the outcome, I did not feel too pressured during my university days. I enjoy learning new things and want to continually improve my knowledge and skills! However, I have had classmates who I had observed struggling with depression; out of a sense of inadequacy, the priority became the outcome (their grades) and aiming for perfect scores. Hence, I would reach out to talk to them, and listen to their struggles and aspirations. 

With my current role as an RWM, I look forward most to supporting the students. I think (and hope) that it is a great feeling for them to have a outlet (RWMs) to share their problems freely without the fear of being judged. Building trust and rapport with the students is important for them to feel comfortable with opening up, and thus I try my best to take advantage of every opportunity to interact with students. With my years of experience in healthcare, I believe that preventive work is as important as treating health problems. Therefore, I see myself connecting with the students by organising workshops and events based on their needs (e.g. suicide awareness and prevention, self-care, etc.). When students have issues, they can reach out to me for help. I can be their first line of support during office hours. 

To conclude, here is some parting advice from me: Sometimes, we are unable to solve our own problems, and that is okay. It is a chance for someone who cares to connect with us again, and together, we can find better solutions to our challenges.


D’Cruz Joan Lavina (RWM for Temasek Hall, Eusoff Hall, Raffles Hall)

Hey! I’m Lavina, the RWM serving Temasek Hall, Eusoff Hall, and Raffles Hall. In my free time, I play a bit of Sudoku and take walks with my (very opinionated) pet husky, Isaac!

Lavina with her pet husky, Isaac

So far, interacting with the students at the respective halls has been eye-opening, and they have made me feel…young (haha)! But in all seriousness, I truly feel like I am part of something larger. With my team of students, I think that we can help bring mental health awareness to the forefront of important discussions and initiatives. Students not staying in these halls can feel free to approach me to talk as well!

Before coming to NUS, I was actually a trained psychiatric nurse with 13 years of clinical nursing experience. Moving forward from my previous career, I sought out more challenging opportunities in my field. I also hoped to provide life-changing support to others. I soon realised that a role as an RWM allowed me to achieve both of these aspirations.

As an RWM, I am usually based at S6 (Science) or UTown. But given my role, I am usually fortunate to be able to do my work wherever I need to. I recently visited the Yale NUS library with my colleague and fell in love with the place, so it might be my new haunt!

To me, wellness means incorporating healthy habits into one’s daily life. I take care of my own physical and mental wellbeing by taking evening walks around the park with my parents. I have also picked up pilates, and am trying to convince my colleagues to join me 😉.

There is a lot of research on the benefits of exercise and its impact on mental wellbeing. So, my advice is that a good walk around the neighbourhood will be a good start! Previously, there was a time when I was working overseas as a mental health nurse. I made a conscious effort to join a gym, learn how to box, and make friends with the trainers there; I even roped in my fellow colleagues to join me. Those activities kept me occupied, tired me out in a positive way, and allowed me to have a better sleep at the end of the day. I would also plan hikes with my new friends! Hence, I suggest engaging in some form of physical activity for students to work on their mental wellbeing – it is a constant process.

Lavina and Isaac out for a walk at the park 

Here is some parting advice from me: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken (Oscar Wilde).

To me, an RWM is one who is committed, open-minded and passionate. I look forward greatly to engaging with the students and hall staff, and overall being a friend to them!


Pragati Pritmani (RWM for Kent Ridge Hall, Sheares Hall, King Edward VII Hall)

Hi, I’m Pragati and I’m an RWM supporting three halls on campus – Kent Ridge Hall, Sheares Hall and King Edward VII (KE7) Hall. I love film photography, and exploring new places; I also have a soft spot for any kind of dumplings and noodles!

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to do the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal with my father and sister. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had to date. I find that trekking can be very much likened to life, where the final destination doesn’t matter quite as much as the journey there.

Pragati (left) and her family at the Everest Base Camp!

My career journey has meandered quite a bit after my graduation. I initially started off teaching English and Science to primary school students. I then went on to teach smaller groups at a neuro-educational start-up. While I loved the creative aspect of teaching using clay and process drama, I found myself taking a break from that, and eventually becoming a counsellor. As part of my training to become a counsellor, I interned at the Yale-NUS Counselling Centre, and loved the experience. I then explored working within a university after graduating, and chanced upon the RWM role here at NUS, which leads me to where I am now!

I was not a previous student of NUS, but I spent some time on campus when interning at the Yale-NUS Counselling Centre. I enjoy being on campus and am still exploring the different parts of it. So far, the coffee at Coffee Roasters has lived up to its name, and I love the Ma La Xiang Guo at PGPR. An ideal day here would be the balance of exploring the food options throughout campus while also being able to appreciate the lovely green spaces. During my university days, I loved grabbing food or coffee and sitting at any of the green spaces as a way to disengage from busy life and relax. 

Wellness to me is balance – it’s figuring out what it is that you’re prioritising on a particular day by listening to what your body or mind needs at the moment and focusing on it. For example, if I find myself constantly thinking about an upcoming deadline, I would explore what emotion is driving the thought; for me, that emotion is usually anxiety. I would then decide on what things I could do to cope with the identified anxious feelings. These things could be activities more external to the mind, such as speaking to family or a close friend about it, or something more internal, such as engaging with deep breathing for a few minutes throughout the day.  

One of the things I do to improve my physical wellbeing is to reframe exercise as movement, including practices such as walking a longer route home or going for a fitness class. Both these things help keep me physically active. Over the past year or so, I’ve tried different classes ranging from boxing to spin. I also regularly play tennis. As for mental wellbeing, I practise mindfulness daily and incorporate time where I get to decompress and relax for the day. This could entail spending time with my family, friends or even by myself.

Pragati on a nature hike                       Pragati with elephants in Krabi

I look forward to engaging with the students on campus. I am keen to see exactly how mental health is perceived by them, and what can be done to support students within this area. I’m interested in co-creation, such as where students and myself work together to develop programmes and initiatives to support the overall student body’s mental wellbeing.  

If you see me around campus, please say hi, and if you’re ever struggling with something, do reach out!


Si Wei (RWM for Tembusu College, RC4)

Hello! I am Si Wei, the RWM for Tembusu College and Residential College 4. I am also a Registered Social Worker by training. I love to travel around the world to explore new places and experience different cultures. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic when international travel ceased, I cultivated a new interest in home gardening at my balcony, which I take pride of, and started to practise mindfulness on a daily basis.

So far, I have been providing supportive and coaching sessions to students who require a listening ear, and trying to provide clarity when they share the challenges they face with me. I have also been training and supporting the Peer Student Helpers, such as Residential Assistants and Peer Student Supporters, to build their capacity in delivering the duties of care for the hostels’ residents. I get to outreach and interact with other hostel’s residents through events, such as WellNUS Festival in 2022. As RWMs, we are supporters, educators, advocates and partners for students’ personal wellbeing and growth. I feel that I am in a privileged position to be able to work directly with students and to advocate on the importance of mental wellness and self-care.

Si Wei (front, left) at a Wellness Workshop (Barista Experience Workshop) with RC4 students at The Coffee Roaster Infinity Coffee Studio

For non-residential students, NUS has an extension network of supportive resources like University Counselling Services, OSA Student Wellness and Faculty Student Support Managers. There is always help and support available as long as the students are willing to reach out when they are in need.

I first started my career as a teacher in a public school. I had the opportunities to work with many students from underprivileged backgrounds and it spurred my interest to find out more about social issues, such as poverty and mental health. Hence, I took a Master in Social Work and made a career switch to become a community social worker. This experience was a humbling one – while supporting families and individuals facing challenging issues, I also learnt a lot from their resilience and grit in overcoming multiple difficulties in life. Nonetheless, I found that I am still an educator at heart, and nurturing students was still my ultimate calling. Hence, I ended up with my current RWM role, which is a perfect combination of both education and social work!

I did not previously study in NUS, but I totally appreciate the diversity of the student’s population and the vibrant student life. There are always many activities and events happening on campus. At the same time, I am impressed with the extensive supportive network with NUS, and the addition of the RWM role would certainly value-add and compliment what is in place to reach out to the hostels’ residents.

I spend most of my working hours in UTown due to its proximity to the hostels I am working with. I like the greenery and the resort vibe in UTown. I personally love the Korean Food at Hwang’s as it sells good Korean food at an affordable price! An ideal day would be for me to explore different parts of NUS and do my work at different places. The campus is just so huge that I still have not visited many places.

I think that wellness is multidimensional in nature. Your physical wellness (physical health), mental wellness (self-awareness of your mental state and ability to cope with stressors), social wellness (adequate social support and network) and spiritual wellness (purpose and meaning in life) are all important in enabling you to lead a fruitful life. I believe that setting clear boundaries between work/studies and personal life is essential in maintaining good wellbeing. Being an advocate of mental wellness, it is of paramount importance for me to be a role model and practise what I preach. It is helpful to have a ritual in transiting out of work, such as listening to my favourite music while commuting home after work.

Here’s an extra tip: The NUS 7 PitStop Principles (Personal Skills, Interaction, Time-out, Sleep, Thoughtful Eating, On the move and Purpose) is an effective framework for guiding students to achieve mental wellness. Do find out more about it!

NUS 7 PitStop Principles

When I was a University student, I struggled with the overwhelming stressors from my academic work, CCA and other commitments as well. What worked for me was to know that I was not alone – that my friends and classmates were experiencing the same stress as well. Hence it was helpful to have a positive group of friends and comrades to journey through challenging times. I found it helpful to have a schedule to plan each timing and task to be completed until the end of semester, allowing me to see clearly when the difficult time would end. I would also intentionally plan time away from work regularly to do something I like, to ensure that I have the space to recharge and improve my capacity to cope with the challenges ahead. Having experienced university life already, I am now excited to be able to engage with current students directly, and journey with them through their time in NUS, as it will be the best time of their life.

Since young, we are all taught to be kind to others, but we are rarely being told to be kind to ourselves. Hence, many of us start looking into our personal wellbeing only when we have reached the tipping point. We are only human and we all have our good and bad times. During bad times, it is totally okay to be not okay, and it is not selfish to engage with self-care. Rest assured that there is always help available and it is okay to seek help. The day we can all comfortably acknowledge our vulnerabilities is the day where we will be able to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.


We hope that this article has demystified the warm and unique personalities of these new RWMs. Students – go forth and talk to an RWM if you ever need a listening ear! In the meantime, we have compiled a short FAQ section that details more on the role of RWMs and other questions that you might have after reading this article, so read on!

What exactly is the role of an RWM? 

An RWM’s main role is to provide emotional support to the residents with personal or mental health issues. They do check-ins and follow up with residents who are feeling overwhelmed or suffering from mental health challenges. They also meet with any students who need a listening ear. RWMs can also refer you to the University Counselling Services or University Health Centre if required. They can also accompany residents to see the counsellors especially when students are feeling uncomfortable or anxious about it. 

What about the SSM?

An SSM also plays a supportive role similar to the RWM. In addition, if your concerns relate to academic issues, it would be ideal to make an appointment to see them first. SSMs can advise on matters regarding modules, Leave of Absence and candidature. 

Who should I approach? The Residential Wellness Manager (RWM) or Student Support Manager (SSM) of my faculty?

The short answer is: It does not matter – both are good options! NUS is committed to your mental health and wellness. Both the RWM and SSM can provide support to the residents with personal or mental health issues. It is really up to you who you want to talk to. Both RWM and SSM are trained to refer you should you need other help and resources. You can discuss topics like academic concerns, relationships, personal goals and mental health challenges etc. 

Will other people know about what I share with the staff?

The matters that you discuss are private. However, in order to render help, there are times that other parties need to be informed. Talk to your RWM or SSM about this. 

I still think it is embarrassing to approach someone for help when I have some stress.

All of us go through some form of challenges and struggles from time to time. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but it is a sign of strength that you want things to get better! Seeking help from an RWM or SSM can provide you with other perspectives and options to your challenges and help you better cope with your concerns.

Inter-College Games 2023: Residents Share Their Experiences

The Inter-College Games (ICG) has flown by as quickly as the first half of the semester have passed. These games are held in the beginning of semester two of every academic year, and see groups from the various Residential Colleges (RCs) come together to engage in friendly and intense competition! With the relaxation of Covid-19 measures this year, student groups were excited to get back into ICG in its fullest form – without being restricted by last year’s safety protocols. To provide a glimpse into what went down in the 2023 iteration of ICG, we have invited a few students from the respective hostels to share their experiences and key highlights – read on!


An exciting and unexpected Chess game for Vaishnav from RC4

Hi! I’m Vaishnav Muralidharan, a Y2 Computer Science student and a resident at Residential College 4 (RC4). I enjoy playing chess and building new things with code. 

I played in the Chess event for RC4, and the tournament spanned over five rounds. In each round, we played a match with another RC across four (chess)boards. Teams usually send their strongest players to play on Board 1 and rank their other boards accordingly. The team with the most wins out of the four boards, wins the round.

Chess players playing games on different boards simultaneously 

“Can you prepare yourself in case I pass out?” I asked the arbiter jokingly, who laughed at my nervousness.

In this game, I was going up against a Candidate Master from NUS College, who is ranked as one of the top 10 chess players in Singapore. He was sent to play on Board 1, as he was considered the strongest player in his team. Having not played chess intensively for a while, I volunteered to ‘sacrifice’ myself to play on Board 1, so my teammates would have a higher chance of winning on their other boards. 

The pressure on me was low in the beginning, as everyone knew that I had less than a 1% chance of winning the Candidate Master. As such, my moves were bold – I took huge risks with my attack and was unperturbed about the safety of my King (a chess piece). I put a ton of pressure on my opponent’s position through my consistent attack, and he was forced to enter an endgame (a stage of chess when few pieces are left on the board), which gave me a huge advantage. By then, a crowd had gathered around our game and many people started whispering tensely.

Vaishnav (left) in a crucial moment of the game against NUS College

The fight wasn’t over – he wasn’t giving up. After many moves, he reached his hand out. I thought it was to move a piece, but instead, he stopped the clock. He was resigning! It took me a while to realise that I was the only player to win against the top seed (the player with the highest ranking) of the tournament.

Vaishnav and his ICG team (Left to Right: Bing Xuan Cheng, Kevin Tang, Bryan Chan, Lee I-Shiuan, Vaishnav Muralidharan, Tejas, Leong Hung Rey)

We eventually won silver for the overall tournament, thanks to our captain I-Shiuan’s relentless strategizing and my teammates’ efforts – a big shout out to I-Shiuan, Hung Rey, Bryan, Tejas, Bing Xuan and Kevin for putting their best into each of their individual games!


Winston’s experience with camaraderie in playing Smash Bros for NUS College

My name’s Winston Jin, and I’m a Y1 Biomedical Engineering student living at Cinnamon College under the NUS College programme. 

I chose to sign up for the Smash Bros event for ICG because it was the first ever video game that I picked up. Going into ICG, I had two goals: firstly, I wanted to have fun, and secondly, I wanted to get to know others who played Smash, so that we could play together outside ICG! Previously, I had a group of friends who would always meet up to play Smash together, but our group disbanded when the pandemic hit and everyone moved on to other games individually.

Winston (leftmost) and his Smash ICG team

I think the greatest experience I had playing in this ICG wasn’t winning the event; it was that during the event, the players from the other RCs gathered and asked if we wanted to start a small inter-college club of Smash players where we could find a time to meet up and play recreationally. To me, that was very heartening to see. Everyone who played in the event was super wholesome, regardless of whether they won or lost the games, and there was even another Nintendo Switch set up on the side for players to chill together and have a fun time playing the game we all love. I had an amazing time, playing alongside my team and playing against other teams, and I hope that the Smash communities in the respective RCs can continue to be so wholesome and fun.


Andrew on leading RVRC’s swim team

Hey! I am Andrew from Y2 Industrial and Systems Engineering and I currently stay at Ridge View Residential College (RVRC)!

I swim for RVRC and help lead the interest group. For ICG, I helped to roster and organise the swimmers for their various events. As captain, I wanted to help RVRC improve upon the results that we had in last year’s ICG as I believed that we had great potential to go far. Furthermore, this year’s ICG was the first time we could hold more events as Covid-19 restrictions were finally lifted. As a result, we had mixed relays (mixed gendered swimming relay) added into the line-up of events which made ICG much more enjoyable and exhilarating.

I competed in the men’s 4x50m relay event. Yale-NUS College has always dominated in swimming events, so we considered them one of our greatest competitors. However, I was able to come from behind in the last leg of the relay event, allowing us to beat Yale-NUS to obtain a Gold medal – this was something I felt very proud of, and was grateful that we managed to achieve this as a team.

Andrew (back, third from right) and the RVRC swim team

I struggled greatly to find players to compete for ICG, even up until the night before the competition. Hence, managing to find the necessary players to compete in the end was a great relief, and I am unbelievably grateful to all of my teammates who had participated. I truly would have been nothing without my team and I was pleasantly surprised by their performance. Beyond the context of my RC, I genuinely appreciated having this opportunity to represent my college whilst fostering valuable bonds with students from other RCs. I think that the ICGs are one of the things that help build integrity and spirit within the NUS community and hope that I will have more chances in the future to participate!


Yong Jun’s eye-opening Tchoukball experience with Tembusu College

Yong Jun (centre) and his Tchoukball friends

Hi! I’m Yong Jun, a Y1 Data Science and Analytics major staying in Tembusu College, and I played Tchoukball for ICG 2023. 

I chose to play Tchoukball as I wanted to try something different, especially after spending all of my schooling life in the performing arts. Having seen a few glimpses of the game in passing, I found there was something rather beautiful about the sport. The welcoming community of Tembusu Tchoukball was definitely a plus point as well. They were really open to beginners and took their time to teach and motivate us, even when we were clueless and made tons of mistakes. Thus, after going for a few sessions, I decided to commit to Tchoukball as an interest group member!

The ICG itself was a blast. It was fun playing against players who we did not normally get to play with. This pushed us to be more alert in game, and really focus on reading where their shots would go when defending. We needed to adapt quickly and change our attacking strategies on the fly if our initial game plan wasn’t working. Tchoukball is really as much a mind game as it is a physical sport!

Tembusu trio watching the ball keenly while defending

Great read and catch by a Tembusu player when defending!

The highlight of my ICG experience, ironically enough, was watching the matches on the side-lines. The final match between Tembusu and RC4 for the champions title was absolutely riveting. There were some really memorable shots taken and caught. The games progressed so quickly and moves that I never fathomed were played right before my eyes. It was truly an eye-opening experience, and the joy and pride I felt when my team won was something that is indescribable.

Yong Jun’s teammate hanging in the air to take a sharp shot 

Though the training leading up to ICG was tough and at times excruciating, I’m glad to have had the chance to participate in such an exciting event. As cheesy as it may sound, the friends that I made along this journey were worth every bit of pain endured, and I’m glad that we came out of ICG with a strong sense of camaraderie.

Tembusu’s Tchoukball ICG team photo


James and his fun Captain’s Ball team from Yale-NUS

Hello! I am James Ham, a Y2 Law & Liberal Arts Double Degree Programme student from Yale-NUS College (YNC). For ICG 2023, I participated in the Captain’s Ball event!

I first decided to join the Captain’s Ball interest group, as my friend, Tay Ying, was holding open sessions for the interest group during last winter break. These sessions catered to people who did not necessarily have experience, but wanted to try their hand at the sport – so I thought, why not try it out for fun? Eventually, when YNC Captain’s Ball needed players to compete in ICG, I decided to give it a shot. Since it has always been a bucket-list-type thing for me to play in an ICG event during my university life, I quickly took the opportunity to sign up!

I would like to give a massive shout-out to our team here. They were the most welcoming and chill group of people to play with, which was all I could’ve asked for. From the beginning, there was no barrier to entry and the team was very welcoming to beginners. The more experienced players helped to guide those who had just joined and brought everyone together. I know that sometimes, teams are framed as ‘open to beginners’, but they may not be as accessible in reality. However, that was definitely not the case with this team. It was the first time I felt genuinely welcomed and didn’t feel out of place or judged just because it was my first time playing the sport. That spirit of openness naturally flowed into our interpersonal relationships, and I’m very happy to say that I’ve made a lot of new friends who I look forward to seeing around school more often.

A BeReal photo of the team having supper together after training

Although we lost every single game during ICG, the highlight was in our last match, when we scored 9 points against the opposing team. We were so ecstatic by this achievement that we even took a picture with the scoreboard, despite the overall loss.

James (second row, left) and the YNC Captain’s Ball team

Photo of the scoreboard with 9 points to YNC – an exciting moment!

I have learnt that the most important thing in ICG is to have fun, and I will cherish these memories for a long time. Thank you team YNC for fulfilling my bucket list experience of playing for YNC in ICGs! I couldn’t have asked for a better team to do it with 🙂.


Eaindra and her second year of Netball ICG with CAPT

Eaindra (centre) and her netball friends

Hi I’m Eaindra Phyo, a Y2 student doing Psychology, and I’m from the College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT)! I played both the Netball and Captain’s Ball events for ICG this year, but I will be talking about my Netball experience here! 

I joined ICG because Netball is a sport that I’ve been playing for almost a decade and I find a lot of joy playing it on court. As such, competing for Netball ICG was not an opportunity that I wanted to pass up! Also, this year’s ICG had reverted to its full court version, which is something I haven’t experienced since A Divisions (National School Games for Junior College students). Hence, I was very excited to train for and play full court via a proper 7 vs. 7 match. 

This year’s netball matches were so intense and fun. It was very exciting to see everyone back on court for full court matches. It was also quite fun to recognise some familiar faces from last year’s Netball ICG games, plus see the new faces from the batch of Y1s this year!

Eaindra (second row, second from left) and her CAPT Netball ICG team

Unfortunately, I think the most startling thing about Netball ICG was the terrible number of injuries sustained throughout the three days of games. While everyone tried their best to play safely, accidents became inevitable when the matches became fast-paced and intense. I do hope that everyone is feeling better and resting well now!

Eaindra’s teammates putting on ankle guards before a game

Overall, I think that each team gave their all on court and it was very heartening to see each players’ perseverance and grit! I enjoyed watching the matches between other colleges as much as I enjoyed being on court, and I’m glad to have made new Netball friends at ICG ❤️.

Eaindra’s teammates practising shooting between matches

To future ICG players: Have fun and take care of yourselves (your safety is always the utmost priority and ICG is NOT worth permanent injuries). Take the chance to meet people from other colleges who enjoy the same sports you do and make friends! Perhaps y’all could even play together outside of ICG – I always find it so much more fun to play with new people because you’re unfamiliar with their playing style and it tests your ability to adapt quickly on court. It’s always important to play the matches with sportsmanship and grace so that everyone has fun together! ◡̈

The CAPT team doing a team cheer


Phew, the ICG season seems to have been an intense and exciting one! Time flies quickly, and soon enough, the respective RCs will begin training for the next ICG season. We hope that the stories shared in this article have been insightful, perhaps spurring you on to participate in ICG (if you haven’t already) or simply step out of your comfort zone to take part in similar events at your own hostel! If you have any ICG-related experiences to share, do post them on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife as we would love to share them with the rest of NUS!

Using Telegram: A University Student’s Starter Pack

Upon entering university, one would quickly realise that Telegram has become the staple communication platform for most university students and groups. While Telegram may feel foreign to many who had previously relied on the likes of Whatsapp and the Messaging app, it is a user-friendly tool that facilitates much of the activities and communication that goes on in school. Many university students have since turned to using Telegram as their main mode of communication since their onboarding! In this article, we endeavour to help you familiarise yourself with the uses and tools of Telegram, and hopefully ease you into the rhythms of university’s online experience.


Tele-Tip 1: Organise your chats

As the school term begins, it is likely that you would find yourself participating in an array of extra-curricular activities, events and engaging with multiple projects – soon, you are drowning in a blur of endless chat groups and messages that clog up your Telegram rapidly. One way of dealing with this is to produce for yourself an ‘organised-mess’ with the help of chat folders.

Go to ‘Folders’ under settings

Create or edit folders

Above is an example of how you could organise your chats in folders. Some ideas of folders could be an ‘Unread’ folder, a folder for interest groups (IGs), one for academic modules e.g. group project chat groups, etc. The key point here is to sieve out categories that would include multiple chats in their basket. 

The position of chat folders can be shifted too, so that most frequently used folders can be prioritised and placed at the front of the list, where they are visible and easily accessible.


Tele-Tip 2: Use ‘Saved Messages’ or channels as repositories 

One great hack is to use the ‘Saved Messages’ chat, or create a personal channel, to dump information for yourself (or for a specific few others, when it comes to channels)!

Collating materials for personal use through Saved Messages

For instance, sending files from one of your devices to another could prove difficult, especially if they are of different brands. However, you could easily send these materials to yourself through Telegram, and open the files from any device that you have downloaded Telegram on! This would be a fool proof method, for Telegram works on both mobile and desktop.

Channels are similar, in that they are typically used for the dissemination of information and materials. You could create a channel dedicated to a certain project, or even just for personal use, so that you can organise and collate information in one chat. Alternatively, you could create a channel to share information with friends or group mates! For instance, students going on exchange have chosen to create channels for their friends to subscribe to, so that they can share stories and photos of their adventures (and misadventures). 


Tele-Tip 3: Schedule messages, edit messages

Telegram makes it easy for users to plan out their messages, and make changes to their texts retrospectively. 

The schedule message function allows you to plan out messages and ensure that they are sent out at/by a certain time. To schedule a message, draft out your text first; right-click on the ‘send’ button (desktop), or press and hold the ‘send’ button (mobile). Afraid that you might oversleep and forget to send an important text out? Use this function to schedule your message beforehand, and allow yourself to catch some rest with complete peace of mind.

Schedule message function

Pop-up prompt to schedule message for a certain date and time

Made an error? You can also edit messages (that are not forwarded messages) by tapping and holding (on mobile) or right-clicking (on desktop) on them. Taking it further, you could completely delete a message if you decide that you no longer want it to be visible to the receiving party. Unlike the delete messages function in WhatsApp, Telegram allows for the deletion of messages with no traces of it left behind – except for the receiving party’s memory, if they have already read your text. 


Tele-Tip 4: Create polls

University students who participate in student-organised events and groups cannot escape the use of Telegram bots and polls. However, it could be a headache to navigate your way around using these features if it’s your first time.

Find the ‘Create poll’ option under the kebab menu (desktop)

To create a quick and simple poll, navigate to the kebab menu (desktop) or the file/attachment icon (mobile). The functions of this in-built poll are typically sufficient for multiple-choice polls to gauge interest or opinions for a certain prompt. Certain poll customisation options to note before sending your poll out would be the ‘anonymous’ function, for responses to remain anonymous, and the ‘multiple options’ function, for the poll to function as checkbox options rather than single-choice options. 

If you wish to create slightly different polls than that offered by Telegram’s in-built function, consider using Telegram bots! One popularly used bot is the @countmeinbot, which can be searched up easily through the platform’s search bar.

@countmeinbot options 

The bot is relatively intuitive and easy to use, as it guides users each step of the way.

Example of a Countmein poll

The polls can be published to any, and as many, chats that you wish to send them to. Names of respondents would be visible (upon them selecting an option) for all, which makes it easy for the collating of attendance for certain events!


Tele-Tip 5: Join useful channels

Telegram channels that disseminate relevant information

University life can get overwhelming, especially when it becomes a balancing act of juggling multiple interests and commitments outside of the classroom. Subscribing to relevant Telegram channels can ease this process, and ensure that you stay updated without having to actively seek out such information. 

Example of useful channels to subscribe to include news channels (e.g. The Straits Times), NUS channels and groups (e.g. The National University of Singapore group, NUS Lost and Found) and ‘lobang’ channels that are constantly updated with good promotions and perks (e.g. GoodLobang).


Tele-Tip 6: Privacy settings and restrictions 

Lastly, it is crucial to be attentive and cautious in our general use of social media/messaging platforms. Personal data and privacy has become a pertinent issue in this technological age – fortunately, Telegram provides extensive options for you to customise your privacy settings according to what you are most comfortable with. 

For example, you can restrict the visibility of your personal information, such as your contact number and ‘last seen’. Contact numbers are no longer crucial for messaging on Telegram, as all users are required to create a unique Telegram username, which allows them to be found and contacted by anyone else on the platform. As such, you can choose to make your phone number only visible to your contacts, or nobody at all. These options can be found in the ‘Privacy and Security’ settings on Telegram. Do adjust and play around with these settings to ensure that your experience on Telegram is best tailored to your privacy preferences! 

Note: a setting that many are increasingly turning to is to restrict the ‘Who can add me to groups and channels’ ability to contacts only.

Restrictive settings

It is likely that student leaders or event-organisers, many of whom may not be saved in your contacts, may want to add you to groups, especially when you first enter school or participate in certain activities. You might want to mention these privacy settings to the relevant parties (for they would not be able to directly add you to newly-created groups), so that they can send you an invite link to groups that you hope to join!

Overall, the list of Telegram’s functions is a non-exhaustive one.  While it can seem daunting to be thrown into using such an unfamiliar, but now widely-used, platform, we encourage you to adopt a positive learning mindset, and maximise the potential usages of this platform. Just from this article alone, you can see that it offers myriad usage areas, compared to many other messaging platforms.  For many students in university, Telegram has even become their main messaging platform! It is hence high-time for you to get in on the buzz surrounding this platform too. 

Ultimately, remember that such technology should be used as a tool to make our lives easier, rather than be a cause for greater headache. If you have found this article helpful, and perhaps have more tips to share, do post your thoughts on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife – we would love to hear them.

Imposter Syndrome: University Students Share

Imposter syndrome. You might have heard of this phrase before; perhaps, you already know it all too well. According to a medically reviewed definition of imposter syndrome, it is ‘the internal psychological experience of feeling like a phoney in some area of your life’, despite any achievements you have had in that field (Source). Does this feeling sound familiar? It is likely that you or your peers have had an experience of imposter syndrome before – how then does one overcome this troubling feeling that seems to nag at you constantly? In this article, we have invited a few students to share their personal experiences with imposter syndrome, and how they have tried to overcome it. Curious? Read on!


Yong Xin shares about facing imposter syndrome upon taking up a leadership role

Hello, my name is Yong Xin! I am a Year 2 student majoring in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, Economics) and I currently reside at the College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT). 

          “Do I really deserve this?”

          “Isn’t there someone who is better than me at this?”

          “Am I really good enough?”

Many of us have had such questions run through our minds before. No matter what stage of life we are in or how much experience we accumulate, the temptation of comparing ourselves to others remains strong. 

Towards the end of my first year in university, I was elected as the Director of the Social Innovation Wing in CAPT’s College Students’ Committee. Although this was not the first leadership role I’ve taken up, it was still challenging to adjust to the new roles and responsibilities. I recall that when I first stepped into this position, there were many times when I battled with feelings of inadequacy. I often wondered if I obtained my achievements through luck, and I consistently felt that it was only a matter of time before people found out that I wasn’t as good as I seemed. Furthermore, living on campus meant that I was constantly surrounded by my high-achieving peers who seemed to balance their work, academics and social life effortlessly. It was so easy to think that someone else was more competent or more suited to being in my position than I was. 

It is one thing to recognise the signs of imposter syndrome, such as my recognition of those feelings of inadequacy that I had felt upon taking up the role of a Director. But how do we go about managing such feelings? 

Firstly, reach out to those around you. While we often feel alienated in our struggles, we are never truly alone in facing them. One great thing about campus living is that so many people around you have faced similar situations as well. Sharing my experiences with my friends really helps me navigate through my insecurities, and I’m beyond grateful for this support system I have.

Featuring my lovely vice directors of the Social Innovation Wing who have supported me greatly in my leadership journey. 

We should also recognise that we are all bound to make mistakes. However, a fumble does not equate to failure. Learning to practise self-compassion was crucial in my own journey of overcoming imposter syndrome. While I am much more mindful of how I respond to my faults, I am still trying to be less critical of myself. After all, how well you sail a ship is shown during a storm, not in calm waters! 

Finally, (as cheesy as it sounds), believe in yourself! There is no point in wondering if you are the best person for this job. The only thing that truly matters is whether you strive to be the best that you can be. 

Stand tall and trust yourself. 


Saatvik on the fine line between imposter syndrome, being an international student and self-development

Saatvik (right) and his NUS College friends 

Hey, everyone! I am Saatvik Agrawal, a Y1 Engineering Science student staying in Cinnamon College under NUS College (NUSC).

Imposter syndrome, to me, is a common and often debilitating experience. It is a manifestation of internalised self-doubt, often leading to anxiety and burnout. This syndrome can affect anyone – it is not limited to individuals with lower self-esteem. The high-pressure environment of NUS, combined with the constant comparison to others, can cause feelings of inadequacy, fear of being discovered as a fraud or not measuring up to the standards of others.

I believe that imposter syndrome is a natural outcome of one’s mindset and environment. This understanding allows us to see imposter syndrome as a feature of life, not a bug. Any of us and our peers may experience it at some point in our lives. 

Knowing that I can learn whatever I don’t know yet, has proven to be a good strategy in situations that require me to project confidence. For example, in group projects, even if I am not fully familiar with all aspects of the project, I try to steady myself and be open to picking up foreign concepts along the way. This facilitates better cooperation among group members. It has also bought me time to gather information and make decisions, especially when faced with a complex or unfamiliar situation, instead of letting myself spiral. Note that it is still important to be transparent – if I am unsure about something, I would ultimately still acknowledge it and seek advice, rather than risk making a mistake or misleading others.

The pressure to conform to societal norms can also lead to feelings of impostor syndrome. When we strive to be seen as acceptable to our peers, we may feel the need to change ourselves to fit in. The fear of being discovered as a fraud or not measuring up to the standards of others can lead to feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. I have found that adopting a self-compassionate approach helps, such as by treating oneself with kindness. This can be achieved by embracing our authentic selves, reframing negative self-talk, practising self-care, and seeking help when needed!

As an international student in NUSC, I have come to realise that imposter syndrome is reflected in my choices and experiences while staying on campus. For instance, I fret over tasks that most of my local peers do not have to worry about, such as buying and getting items from home. I feel like an ‘imposter’ amidst others who are able to go about campus life with such ostensible ease. Furthermore, the language barrier fuels my imposter syndrome, as English is not my mother tongue. In social settings, I often feel self-conscious due to my limited language skills. This feeling of not belonging can be overwhelming and makes it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the college experience.

I have learnt to circumvent the overwhelming feeling of comparison by embracing diversity. By recognizing the diversity of experiences and perspectives, I have realised that everyone brings unique strengths and skills to the table. Talking to a variety of people has also helped me understand that everyone experiences imposter syndrome in some way, and that I am not alone in this.

In 2022, I participated in events organised by Yale-NUS College – they were very memorable, and were surprisingly effective in combating imposter syndrome. I particularly enjoyed the hands-on activities such as creating my tote bag, tie-dying and watching the ballroom dancing showcase. The ballroom dancing showcase extended my interest in theatre engineering as I was able to learn about the technical aspects of the performance and how it was executed. Participating in such events has been a valuable tool in helping me feel more confident, overcome some social anxiety and experience campus life more deeply.

Chrysalis Hackers and Makers 3D modelling workshop that Saatvik (centre, back) co-organised with another friend in Cinnamon College

To end with an artsy message: The torment of imposter syndrome can be a formidable force, never ceasing to hound in every moment. But to unravel its mysteries and harness its power, one must delve deep within and embrace the journey. And so, I discovered the beauty in failure, the gemstones of growth that lay hidden within its rough exterior, and the harmonious embrace of a community that uplifts at NUS and NUSC.


Ashleigh’s gradual process of dealing with imposter syndrome

Hi! I am Ashleigh Gan, a Y2 student studying Psychology, and I currently live in Tembusu College. My experience with imposter syndrome has pretty much lasted my entire schooling life, and I am happy to share about it with you.

In the academic context, especially at the beginning of my educational journey, I wasn’t exactly the brightest of the bunch. I didn’t really know what was going on in school, and I didn’t understand what studying even was. I’m blessed to have a mother who doesn’t harp too much on getting good grades, but back then I really think that I could have benefitted from some kind of help. As I got older, I slowly learned from my friends and teachers how to go about things and I started to work a lot harder, finally feeling like I understood my own ability and where I stood amongst my peers. 

However, this change did not come without its repercussions. The more I understood about my standing in class and in school, the more overwhelmed I would feel, desperately trying to break out of my old shell of (for lack of a better word) stupidity. I’d put in the work and won one or two academic awards, but it still didn’t change a thing about the way I perceived myself. It didn’t help much that I had just barely scraped my way into an elite school, where every other person was a scholar, and it felt like everyone around me was just better. It felt like the moment I made a mistake, everyone’s perception of me would change to match the one I had of myself: stupid.

These days I would like to think that I’ve overcome those feelings of inadequacy and taught myself that each small step is progress worth celebrating. This practice ensures that I do not discount any effort that I’ve put in, because I’ve already acknowledged it to myself. My advice to anyone dealing with imposter syndrome is to remember where you started, and tell yourself that without your own agency to actively make the choice to continue, and to work hard, you wouldn’t be where you are now. It might be hard to believe in these things at first, but the more you repeat it to yourself, the more you’ll be convinced of it.


Did you enjoy reading these stories? We hope that you have learnt some important things about imposter syndrome, an issue that is perhaps more prevalent than it seems to be. Do remember to talk to someone you trust, or seek help if you face any mental health issues – you are not alone. Here is a link to NUS’s student counselling services: Services. Remember to be kind to yourself, and look out for signs of imposter syndrome amongst your peers as well. If you have any stories or tips about combating imposter syndrome, do share them on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife – we will be sure to repost your valuable insights!


Residential College Module Reviews: 2022

Last year, we invited a few residents from various Residential Colleges (RCs) to share about the modules offered by their respective RCs (in this article). With the beginning of a new semester, we are back with a few more students to provide deeper insight into their experience with a new set of RC modules. For those considering applying to one of these RCs, this article could prove helpful in informing your decision on which RC might suit your academic preferences better. Furthermore, current students can also get to know more about the learning experiences of their peers from the other RCs. Did we pique your interest yet?


An unforgettable experience taking UTW1001O for Wang Tianyun

Hi, my name is Wang Tianyun. I am a Y2 student majoring in Design of Architecture and I currently stay in RC4. I am very happy to share my experiences in reading one of our Ideas and Exposition Modules (IEM) under the University Town College Programme (UTCP). I hope that my review will help incoming and current RC4 students plan your future studies. 

Here’s a surprising fun fact – I did not take a single IEM in Y1 of my studies, contrary to what most seniors would recommend. This was because of my major’s academic programme! Architecture has a rigorous curriculum and long working hours, in which one studio module is worth 8 module credits (MCs). Since IEM is widely believed to be content-heavy, I was not mentally ready to take it while I was still adapting to the fast pace and busy life of my very first year of studying architecture. I had overloaded* in both semesters of Y1 (taking 22 MCs and 28 MCs in semesters 1 and 2 respectively) so as to ease the academic pressure for my senior years. In Y2S1, I finally registered for  the writing module, IEM UTW1001O (The Urban and the Wild: Reading Urban Progress in Southeast Asia Ecocritically), when I only had 4 modules (20 MCs) for my Architecture major. 

Taking UTW1001O turned out to be one of the best decisions that I had made in university so far. Among all the possible topics for writing, ‘Urban and the Wild’ interested me the most. Expanding upon key concepts of anthropocentrism, ecocentrism and biophilia, this module aims to develop the ecocritical awareness essential for understanding and navigating cities in this age of climate crisis, by crucially examining the relationship between human and non-humans. The most important skill that I learnt was close reading, traditionally employed in literary analysis. However, do not be intimidated by this fact – this was not a literature module, but a writing module. The informative lessons taught us much about research and how to do citations, which are useful skills for writing in the future. 

The pictures below were taken with the class and the sunrise we saw at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. During recess week, when we were doing research about tensions between the human and non-human, we wanted to see real animals for inspiration. We went to the Sungei Buloh Wetland rather than the zoo because one of my friends was eager to find snakes (haha!). Compared to the zoo, Sungei Buloh is more natural, more preserved, and more ‘wild’ in a sense. There are places for people to observe birds without disturbing them. Sungei Buloh gave me a feeling that the natural environment is actually shared between human and non-human, hence the idea of ‘us’, as humans are part of nature. In class, we discussed the importance of shifting towards biocentrism in this human-centric world. But, at Sungei Buloh, it was my first time feeling that humans are not the centre of everything, not the rulers nor superior to other living forms. I learnt to appreciate biodiversity and to respect all lives.

Tianyun (third from right) with her UTW1001O classmates

Sunrise at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (taken 22 September 2022)

Professor Jinat is very passionate and knowledgeable. She is a very kind person, and it was a pleasure to be part of her class. Overall, I would recommend this module to anyone who has existing interests in city studies or studying the natural environment. 

(*Note: Overloading refers to taking more than the normal workload for the semester, which means registering for more than 20 MCs worth of modules.) 

Getting comfortable with abstraction in UNL2210 with Ng Jia Yeong

Hello! I am Ng Jia Yeong, a Y4 Economics student staying in Cinnamon College under the University Scholars Programme (USP) (now NUS College). 

As the title suggests, ‘Mathematics and Reality’ (UNL2210) deals exactly with the two topics. We studied mathematics as a concept and as a discipline. We learnt about the philosophy of reality, and the relationship between mathematics and reality. Since we humans model reality through science, we also discussed the discipline of science. While this module is classified as a Science and Technology module in USP, I don’t think it requires one to have good mathematical or scientific skills. Rather, it leans more on the philosophical side with its class discussions and essays.

This module is definitely very theoretical, and might be too abstract for some people’s tastes. Still, I took this module to learn about natural law – something different from the other ‘sciency’ USP modules I had taken so far. While most of us have previously done mathematics and science in school, the educational focus was usually on mastery of technique and application of theories. This approach towards mathematics and science is certainly valid, but there’s a more fundamental viewpoint that focuses on how mathematical and scientific knowledge is “discovered” or “invented”, which highlights their role in describing and understanding reality. Through this approach, we studied these disciplines at a very basic level to consider how mathematicians and scientists do their work. I think Professor Kuldip designs the curriculum well to demonstrate the key features of these disciplines, by focusing on key developments such as the number system, geometry, calculus, and motion and gravity.

Some of the questions we considered include: How did the ancient Greeks prove that the area of a circle is πr², and how did Newton and Leibniz develop calculus, which became such an important tool in classical mechanics? We also covered more fundamental questions: Should science seek to describe our observations of reality or literal reality? How do mathematical knowledge and scientific knowledge differ? Why has mathematics been surprisingly effective at describing reality? (Spoiler alert: These deeper questions are far from settled; for any answer you can come up with, there’s a counterargument out there.)

Notes during class discussion about the aim of science 

Of course, the philosophical side of this module gets very meta at times. We got to enjoy discussions – and existential crises, I presume – on the nature of reality, and our knowledge of reality. While the content taught in this module was very abstract, I found the assigned readings to be very useful introductory texts for those unacquainted to the topics, and the pace of the seminars was comfortable. Given the meta nature of the content, I appreciated the gentle learning curve which gave me time to wrap my head around the concepts. This was much needed for me to do the two major essays for the module!

Final presentation slides: The “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” is a key question in the module

In my opinion, the most important takeaway from this module would be appreciation for the foundations of mathematics and science, and perhaps a similar appreciation for other disciplines in general. As I had previously mentioned, we may already be familiar with mathematics and science, but it’s easy to forget that our knowledge, techniques, and application owe themselves to the foundations of these disciplines: things like how knowledge is acquired, the purpose of these disciplines, and the relevant premises, axioms, or assumptions. In a similar way, being aware of the foundations of one’s own discipline is useful to remind ourselves that there’s more to our field than just application.

TLDR: In ‘Mathematics and Reality’, you study the titular topics which gets very theoretical; this is a module for you if you want a richer understanding of mathematics and science as academic disciplines!


An eye-opening experience with nature in RVN1001 for Wang Yu Wei

Hi, I am Wang Yu Wei, a Y2 Industrial Design student from RVRC. I will be reviewing RVN1001 ‘The Great Extinction: Rewilding and Conservation’.

In this module, we focused on learning about the different factors that cause biodiversity loss, and wildlife conservation theories (mainly focusing on rewilding). It featured a “flipped classroom” style of teaching, where we read up on the content before class, and then discuss the readings through group activities during class. For instance, we would collaboratively create web diagrams based on the discussion topics. We also conducted peer teaching, which was integrated in the form of graded assignments. 

I appreciated the emphasis on collaboration with community partners such as the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS), where they came down to share on their rewilding project along the Rail Corridor. 

Starting from Week 3, every alternate lesson was a field trip to a different nature park in Singapore. The last two field trips were collaborations with NSS. We went down to Dover Forest (part of the forest was going to be demolished for BTOs) to dig up saplings to transfer back to RVRC for future rewilding. This was quite a tiring but new experience for most of us. Below are a few photos that I took during the field trip!

Nisitrus malaya cricket

Treehugger dragonfly

Asian weaver ants

A fig tree!

Overall, I felt that the workload for this module was manageable – we had two graded presentations, while the remaining lessons centred around discussions and field trips. However, the presentations were challenging as the content required to conduct them were quite foreign to me at the time. I learnt quite a lot about sustainability and conservation practices through this module. I enjoyed the field trips and the animal identification projects the most, as it was fun taking photos and identifying insects and birds. I am not sure if the Dover Forest sapling salvage will be continued for the new semester, but it would be quite a new experience for many, as we had to trek into the muddy jungle with digging equipment to dig out small saplings before trekking out with them. If you enjoy the outdoors and wish to learn more about rewilding, this module is probably for you!


A pertinent module shaped by a great teacher in UTW1001C for Yolanda Lei

Hi everyone, I’m Yolanda Lei, a Y2 Life Science student residing in the College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT)! 

I took UTW1001C ‘At the Edges of the Law: Ethics, Morality and Society’ because I heard a lot of good things from seniors and batchmates who took it before me. The module’s content sounded really interesting to me because I personally enjoy discussing controversial issues in society. Friends also said that Professor Jan is a very kind and understanding person. 

The topics proposed for this module were very interesting. These included freedom of speech, euthanasia and Singapore’s Section 377a. Since Professor Jan studies philosophy, we got a peek into philosophical frameworks and how they influence policy making. I really enjoyed the intellectual discussions that I managed to have with my friends through this module. We talked about our various stances on the relevant topics, whilst trying to back them up with evidence. Writing was a great way for me to express my enjoyment in discussing such content. 

Professor Jan was also an especially understanding prof, and I truly adore him with all my heart. Instead of the typical oral pitches that we are tasked to give in IEMs, he allowed us to do a recorded presentation instead – to me, this shows how understanding he is to those (like me) who are socially anxious and highly uncomfortable with giving presentations. He also almost always grants deadline extensions, even if it comes at the cost of his own marking time, which is really sweet of him (however, please don’t take advantage of that and only ask for extensions if you really need it!). I recall sending him an email to thank him for all he has done for the class and in general, thank him for being him. He replied to my email really quickly with an ‘essay’ expressing his own gratitude as well. Not only were the topics for this module highly relatable and intellectually stimulating, Professor Jan also made it a lot better because you could really see his passion for the topics. This was definitely a module that made me look forward to having classes, and I would recommend those interested to definitely go for it!

Yolanda and friends falling asleep after trying to write their essays

Yolanda (second from left), with Professor Jan and classmates


Interdisciplinary learning with Jade Gao in UTC2113

Hello! I am Jade Gao and I’m a Y2 studying Quantitative Finance and Statistics. I am currently a resident of Tembusu College. 

A module that left a great impact on me was ‘Gaming Life’ (UTC2113), taught by Ms Cera Tan in Semester 1. While I went into the module with the expectations that its content would be somewhat statistical due to the analytical aspects of gameplay, I was pleasantly surprised when the module delved into the political, anthropological, social and philosophical perspectives of gaming life as well. 

At the end of each seminar, Cera would always include a game that helps to illustrate the concepts learnt in class. In the following week, there would then be a pair presentation analysing the gameplay with respect to fundamental concepts taught in class. I really enjoyed the experience of taking a step back and looking at the game from a different perspective that epitomises the society that we live in; this also made abstract concepts easier to digest.

Illustration of concepts through an  Aesop’s Fable: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Due to the nature of seminar classes, the more you cogitate over the content, the more questions you have and the more you gain from the class. We got to critique the different societal structures and how power shifts from one agent to another. For our final work, we had the flexibility to choose the work’s medium and our topic of interest. I decided to make a diorama, which represented my understanding and predictions of the society of Control. 

Cera is a patient and encouraging tutor who would help you explore your work and bring it to greater heights. Despite being a science student, I greatly enjoyed the humanities-based intellectual discourse during the seminar. This module is beginner-friendly and I would strongly recommend taking this class!

The stories above have revealed how diverse and interdisciplinary learning is for students under the various RC academic programmes. We hope that prospective students have managed to get a glimpse into what life could be like, studying in one of these programmes, and that current students have gotten a taste of what others on campus are learning about! If you would like to share your own review of an RC module that you have taken, do post it on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife – we will definitely repost it for others to read!

10 Free Activities for NUS Students

Felt left out of the overseas travelling scene during this past vacation? Not all the fun has to be enjoyed in foreign places – in fact, your very own school campus could be a cool spot for you to make exciting or stress-relieving plans, both for yourself and your friends. Before the semester formally begins, why not take some time to get to know the campus more thoroughly, and indulge in one last bit of fun, without breaking the bank? Join us in this pseudo travel guide for some activities that you can plan and enjoy in NUS – for free! 


1. Unwind at Town Green

We begin our journey in the heart of NUS – UTown’s Town Green. The nicely trimmed field of lush green grass makes for endless possibilities. Fancy a picnic? Band with your friends to create a basket of food and beverages, and head down to a shaded patch of grass to enjoy a relaxing get-together on a cooling summer’s day. Pro-tip: Gather leftovers (that are still safe to eat) from the night before to invent new dishes or snack combinations to enjoy a delicious yet cost-effective picnic!

Looks like a good spot!

After laying down your picnic mat, there are various other activities that you could consider doing, depending on your capacity and resources. The photogenic field and its aesthetic surroundings could spark a casual photoshoot with you and your friends. If you prefer to take photos purely of the environment instead, this could take the form of a photography session – turn it into a mini competition for some invigorating fun, and challenge each other to see who can capture the best shots of the sights at Town Green! 

The vibrant greenery of the field could inspire an art jamming session too. Grab some paint and a brush, or just simply a pencil and paper, and unleash your creativity at the centre of UTown! Here are some ideas: illustrate an intriguing happening, paint the grass and trees of Town Green, or sketch a curious-looking passer-by. 


2. Sweat it out at the sports facilities

Hungry for more action? Head to the UTown gym for a good workout session, and maybe wade through the recreational pool right after for a refreshing swim, especially on a sweltering hot day. There are also fitness gyms open for free to NUS students at the University Sports Centre and MPSH 3. There is even one at the Bukit Timah campus to cater to the BTC (Bukit Timah Campus) students and staff! Check out the operating hours and live traffic of the respective sports facilities at this site.

UTown pool (Source: NUS UCI)


3. Run like the wind

If you would like to engage in more physical activity, and perhaps enjoy de-stressing by going for a casual jog, consider running around NUS! The campus has many nooks and crannies for you to explore, and it boasts an abundance of greenery to make for a pleasant run. The pedestrian paths lining the roads that wind through the Kent Ridge campus and around UTown are smooth and wide enough for you to have a relaxing jog, perhaps even accompanied by a running buddy.

A path frequented by joggers at PGPR

If you prefer to have a more structured, fast-paced run, head over to the NUS Field (opposite Ridge View Residential College) to run around the track! On a typical day, it is likely that you will find company in other students running on that track, or playing sports at the surrounding fields and courts too.

The open-air NUS track and field 


4. Appreciate art and culture at the museums

Did you know that the NUS Museum and Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM), both located beside each other, are free for NUS students and staff to visit? If you had already known about this but have yet to visit the museums, then this article is a reminder for you to make full use of your privileges and to make a trip there! With occasional newly curated exhibitions and collections that shed light on the culture and history of our region, the NUS museum will definitely expand your mind. A chill walk through the amazing collection of fossils in the LKCNHM would also be the perfect plan for a rainy day indoors. Plan your visit for the NUS Museum here and the LKCNHM here.

Amazing dinosaur fossils in the LKCNHM (Source: LKCNHM)


5. Flip through well-bound literature

The many accessible libraries in NUS await those who seek more mental, rather than physical, activity. A popular spot for students to study and read at is the Central Library (CLB). As the name suggests, it is located rather centrally in the Kent Ridge campus, found in between the campuses for the School of Design and Environment, the School of Computing, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Hence, it is highly-frequented by students from those faculties. The CLB is also connected to the Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library, which boasts a large collection of Chinese materials, and its serene interior makes it an enticing spot for some quiet reading.

Welcoming shelves at CLB (Source: NUS)

Another pair of libraries located in close proximity is the Medical Library and the Science Library. As they are found nearer to the edge of campus, you might be able to enjoy smaller crowds at these libraries. Bring your current fiction obsession, or perhaps some academic materials, and spend a comfortable afternoon at one of these libraries. Be sure to bring along your student card as well, in order to tap in and out these libraries!

A bonus library that not as many students may know about is the Yale-NUS library, found in the area of the Yale-NUS campus that borders UTown. Its warm, wood tones, traditional furniture and high ceilings create a cosy atmosphere, reminiscent of a ‘Harry Potter aesthetic’ to some (here’s a beginner’s guide to the Harry Potter aesthetic). This library is actually open to use for the general public, and is only limited to the Yale-NUS staff and student body after certain hours (learn more about their opening hours here).

Warm interiors of the Yale-NUS Library (Source: Flickr)


6. Take a ‘day trip’ out of campus

Perhaps you have gotten too familiar with the usual views on campus, and would like a change in scenery. The free shuttle bus service can take you down to the BTC campus for you to continue your adventures there! Simply hop onto the BTC bus, and you would unlock a fast ride down to the Botanic Gardens, where you could go on a long, peaceful stroll at the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore. Bring a book or a picnic basket there to enrich your experience, and perhaps befriend the swans at the garden’s ponds during your visit.

The beautiful pavilion at Botanic Gardens 


7. Chill under the stars

End your day back at the comforts of Town Green, under an inky blanket of the vast night sky. Lie down on the grass and count the stars as you have a heart-to-heart talk with a good friend, or reminisce about the good memories you’ve had over the break. You would be surprised by the wonders that a cushion of grass and some reflection in the safety of the night-time could do for your soul.

The middle of Town Green at night!

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and there are many spots to explore and cost-free activities to try in NUS. You could join a recreational club (even if you are a senior), attend the many fairs and events held by NUS staff, students, and more. We urge you to make full use of what the school offers, and enjoy your time to the fullest while you are still a student in university. The directions given by this pseudo travel guide ends here – go forth and explore!


We hope that you have gained greater insight into the possibilities offered to you in NUS, and the activities you could enjoy even if you stay on campus during the break. If you have any other fun ideas, or activities that you have tried yourself, do share about it on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife – perhaps you will be featured in our next article too!

The Art of Looking Out for Others

What does it really mean to look out for others? This question is especially relevant in the current season; exam results have recently been released, and some of us may be undergoing an emotional time reckoning with our grades. Furthermore, while the exciting festive season of Christmas has arrived, it may also be a turbulent period for those who have lost someone, those spending this season alone, or perhaps those of us who may be struggling with our mental health. The holiday blues are a real but oft unspoken experience. Hence it is imperative that we make an effort to look out for each other. 

Think about it – at your lowest moments, what do you crave the most? Many of us would likely answer that we would appreciate a show of concern from those that we are close to. As such, it would be nice if we, too, could equip ourselves with the necessary tools and mindset to offer comfort and assurance whenever we can. This article seeks to impart you with some of these useful tools, so that you can master the art of looking out for those whom you care about. Read on! 


Being conscious of changes in behaviours or tone 

The key to being aware of when others may need extra care and concern is to look out for any shifts in their normal behaviour or tone. This task might be easier said than done. On a daily basis, it is natural for you to prioritise your own well-being, and focus on looking out for yourself (source). In that sense, it might not be easy to keep track of how others typically act, and consistently look out for multiple people. Some levels of empathy and awareness are required here. Looking out for others would mean genuinely caring about their wellbeing, and noticing if their behaviour becomes slightly abnormal. If the feelings that they express, or the way that they present themselves sees great enough change to be a call for concern, do not hesitate to check up on them immediately.

Source: Pinterest


Be willing to devote your time and energy

Before stepping forward to properly care for someone, be prepared to invest your time and energy in being there for this person. From looking out for the changes in their behaviour, to approaching them, to following up with any form of help that they might require, all of this would require a certain level of devotion on your part. 

On a day-to-day basis, it might be difficult to extend your care to multiple people, especially if they require greater attention, such as having a listening ear. As such, identify when intervention from other parties might be required. For peers who are facing one-off troubles, a simple, comforting conversation might be sufficient. However, for peers who show signs of greater struggles in their lives, greater patience and sensitivity might be required on your part. If they express that their mental health has taken a toll on carrying out daily activities like going for classes, eating and sleeping – do not hesitate to offer to consult with other parties.  Some resource persons could be trusted peer supporters, adults, or even counsellors. The NUS University Health Centre (UHC) also has useful information on how to support individuals in distress on their website, here


Identify their love language

According to the author Gary Chapman, there are five kinds of love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gift giving (source). While many of us might relate the idea of love language to the context of romantic relationships, these love languages can actually apply well to platonic friendships as well! For close friends, and people whom you know well, think about what kind of love language that they would appreciate receiving the most. For instance, if your friend typically initiates linking arms with you, or embraces you with warm hugs, perhaps they would benefit from receiving quiet acts of physical touch, rather than elaborating greatly on their troubles.

Source: Mbg

Unsure of what sort of concern your peer prefers? Here’s a tip to test the waters: Gently try demonstrating a form of love language that you think they might appreciate. If it might be words of affirmation, perhaps drop a few encouraging remarks, and observe whether they react positively to you, if at all. However, always be aware of personal boundaries, and know when consent is given or not. If the person is uncomfortable with physical touch, or is in general not responding well to your acts of concern, be conscious of their discomfort and take a step back. While your actions are well-intentioned, not everyone might want you to look out for them in the way that you’re trying to, and that’s okay! 


Knowing when to give space

The art of looking out for others is also knowing when to allow them breathing space. The boundaries and preferences of each person can be extremely subjective, hence requiring you to practise empathy and being unafraid to voice out your concerns when in doubt. Everyone has different ways of coping with their troubles. Some of us may prefer a period of introspection as opposed to being supported by others. If the peer that you have reached out to expresses that they would like to be given more space, or if they flatly reject your concern, it is time to respect their boundaries and take a step back. This does not mean backing out of their lives completely – it simply means looking out for them from afar; being conscious of their behaviours and feelings, without being intrusive. 

Indeed, this process is a complicated one. For instance, there are peers who may be less direct in expressing their needs and wants – certain people may be hesitant to reach out to others, even when they desire greater care and concern; others may be too polite to explicitly say that they would prefer not to receive such attention. The best way to clarify any doubts is to make your intentions clear, and ask the person what they want directly (e.g. ‘Do you want to talk about something?’, ‘Can I give you a hug?’). Furthermore, being able to pick up on behavioural cues and body language would be extra useful. 


Be mindful of your own mental capacity 

Understand your own mental state, before deciding to look out for others. After all, how do we care for others if we are not mentally well ourselves? It is important to apply all of the aforementioned tips to yourself, too. Only when you feel at peace with your own mental health, then will you have the capacity to reach out to others, and share their burdens.

Source: Pinterest

Need some self-care ideas? You can refer to this other article we did, where we featured the mental health hacks that other students on campus had tried out!

Regardless of whether it is the school term or the holidays, it is always important to check up on each other’s mental health (including yourself). Life is filled with ups-and-downs, but having someone there to look out for you can make the low points feel a bit better. Hence, it would be great if we could all endeavour to be that person for someone else. If you have any stories about looking out for others, or about others who have cared for you, do share them on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife!

Winter Break: To Hustle or Not?

The first semester of the school year has just ended (phew!) and winter break has finally arrived. Most of you are probably ready to kick back and enjoy this short respite, especially after a hectic semester. However, there are definitely some of us who are considering taking up or continuing with additional commitments, such as working or doing an internship. Should you subscribe to hustle culture and continue working hard during the holidays, or take a well-deserved break? In this article, we will provide you with practical, unfiltered advice that will hopefully help guide your decision, or re-think your plans (if you have already committed to something). Read on!


1. Consider your motivations

Many of us in university have fallen prey to the demanding expectations of hustle culture. We seek to continuously load ourselves with extracurriculars and commitments, in an effort to remain competitive in this rat race amongst peers. As a result, many of us end up overloading, resulting in too many commitments that we are unable to properly see through. Some of us even burn out, and our mental health suffers. We implore you not to do this (at all, or anymore). Consider what your underlying motivations are, before hastily taking up a new opportunity that will eat up large amounts of your time. 

Source: Pinterest

If you are looking to take up a job or internship – is it because you need some income, or are you simply hoping to ‘do something productive’ during your holiday? It is alright to want to spend your time productively, especially if you are able to manage it well, and reserve sufficient time to still take breaks and enjoy your holidays properly. However, if you are seeking work just because your peers are doing so, or due to your fear of falling behind, perhaps it is time to reconsider these intentions.

While it is perfectly normal to feel afraid of lagging behind, especially in terms of earning that extra money, or enriching your portfolio for future job competitiveness, ask yourself whether this break is a good time to do so. In the grand scheme of things, would it hurt to give yourself a break, and devote this time to other things (such as enjoying time with your loved ones) instead? If your motivations do not align with your true needs and wants, you might want to reconsider them, and perhaps discuss them with others too! 


2. Reflect on your mental health

Think back to how your previous semester was like. Was it absolutely hectic, or emotionally draining? It is easy to forget how tiring the past few months were, especially if you have successfully overcome the obstacles and hardships that were thrown your way. However, the earlier you might have been desperately clinging onto the prospect of relaxing and enjoying time during the December holidays, in order to push through the semester. Now that the moment has finally arrived, it might be high time to give yourself that well-deserved break, especially if you have pushed yourself tirelessly the past few months.

Source: Love This Pic

Your body needs some rest too, even if you feel like you should be doing more. Studies have shown that chronic stress could weaken your immune system, leading to sickness and disease (source). Meanwhile, rest can boost creativity and even productivity (source), which is more useful for you, and the activities you wish to complete in the long run. Resting could mean more than just sleeping or lazing around (although those things are perfectly fine too!). It could also mean doing low-energy activities that you enjoy, such as watching movies, reading books, or going for slow walks. According to physician Saundra Dalton-Smith, there are seven types of rest that we should engage in to recharge. Refer to the diagram below for ideas on the types of rest you could consider applying to your own life these holidays!

Source: Medium


3. Weigh the pros and cons

In consideration of the relatively short duration of this winter break, is it truly worth packing your time with a short-lived stint? Needless to say, weighing the pros and cons when making such decisions would probably come naturally to most of you. However, we ask that you think through the positive and negative aspects of your decision in detail. List them out if you must. 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things to consider:

  • How many commitments are you taking up during the holidays?
  • How much do you treasure this opportunity?
  • How long will this commitment last for? If it extends into your school term, are you prepared to balance school with this commitment? (Think about the modules that you plan to take when considering this)
  • Do you have other obligations/commitments that require your time and energy? Do they clash? 
  • How much do you treasure alone time, and rest time? 
  • Are there other ways in which you can pursue similar endeavours? Is there another/better time when you can take up such an opportunity?
  • What are the things that you planned to/really wished to do during the break (is your to-read and to-watch list becoming endlessly long 😉)? Would you still have time left to do these things, and will you regret it if you don’t manage to?

Source: Pinterest


4. Discuss your considerations with people who care about you

Talk to the people around you who care – those who will give you proper, sincere, and balanced advice. It is easy to get blindsided, or get affected by certain biases that will skew your decision-making process. Having a second, even third opinion is almost always advisable, especially if you are trying to decide soon. Indeed, it is not advisable to simply go with the flow, and follow what your peers say to do (recall point 1!), but family and close friends can almost always be trusted to give recommendations with your best interests in heart.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide how you want to spend your holidays. Five weeks might not seem like a long time, but it is an adequate amount of time for you to accomplish something – such as rejuvenating your mental and physical health, or perhaps learning a new skill. Take some time to properly think about what your goals are for this winter break, so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. That way, you can return to school satisfied, refreshed, and ready to brave a new semester! After reading this article, what are your plans for the break? Do share them with us on Instagram by tagging us @nusresidentiallife – we would love to hear about it.

International Students Share: Living and Studying in Singapore

In our many articles about residential life, we have seen how living and studying on campus could bring about a myriad of interesting experiences. In NUS, there are more than 80 nationalities of students living on campus. For international students, their lives on campus are ever worth exploring – arriving at a new country, adapting to a foreign environment, and living there for an extended period of time must not come easy. How do they do it then? Curious about their stories, we have invited four international students who come from vastly different backgrounds to share about their respective journeys in coming to study in Singapore. Read on, and join us in getting to know them better!


Michael Gonathan

Hi everyone! I’m Michael, a Y1 studying Chemical Engineering, and I currently reside at PGPH (Pioneer House). 

Before coming to Singapore, I spent my schooling years in Indonesia. I had only recently arrived in Singapore around 28th July, right before the semester started!

Personally, I chose to come to Singapore because I was awarded a scholarship, and I felt that Singapore was an overall better option in terms of education, safety, and job prospects.

While I would say that I’ve adapted fairly well in terms of lifestyle, I admit that I’m still struggling to adjust to the academic rigour of NUS. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, oftentimes testing the limits of your capabilities.  In my opinion, this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it shapes you to become a smarter and more disciplined student; but at the same time, high levels of stress come with it. It has taken a toll on my mental health, and I’ve felt it worsen in the recent period of deadlines and exams.

Michael in the midst of doing an assignment for the general design module, DTK1234

While life on campus can get lonely, I feel that taking the initiative to hang out with friends can help alleviate this feeling. As such, I sometimes destress through playing games with my friends! If I have more time to spare, I would enjoy a solo casual walk around Singapore as well. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to spend some solo time outdoors! 

My advice for international students, and for local students as well, is this: If you feel like you’re the most lacking person in the room or cohort – do not fret, for you’re not alone. Although competition may be fierce, always look for the silver lining. While others may be better in some aspects, you have something to offer too. Instead of feeling discouraged, seek out learning points from those who are performing well, in areas that you find yourself struggling with. With this mindset, you can grow to be a better and happier person!


Advaith Karthikeyan

Hello! I’m Advaith, a Y1 Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) student staying in Cinnamon College, under NUS College (NUSC). 

I’m from South India, more specifically, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. For me, NUS and Singapore just made the most sense out of all the other options I was considering. There were plenty of reasons for why this was the case.

Firstly, I felt enticed by the promise of a high standard of education that would come with a top-rated university like NUS. Secondly, Singapore’s proximity to home meant that I can pop in and out of India with ease. Thirdly, I know that Singapore is an economic hub for various sectors and industries. It is a very “happening” place, which I looked forward to living in. I was also keen on gaining greater exposure to the melting pot of Asian culture, which the multicultural society of Singapore would offer. At the same time, Singapore is known as a generally safe country, which provided me with great assurance. Furthermore, I found it useful that Singapore’s weather is similar to India, for I would have little trouble adjusting! Last but not least, I liked that things would be generally accessible in Singapore. Apart from these apparent merits, one of the top motivating factors was the scholarship that I received!

I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t hard for me to adjust to life in Singapore. I faced a lot of difficulties when I first landed here, and I still encounter a variety of challenges, even after three months of being here. 

Singlish has been the bane of my existence. Its distinct staccato and colloquial idioms are hard to master, causing me to constantly have issues with understanding a lot of what people say to me. While they are usually happy to repeat anything that I might not have understood, it does eventually get tedious for them (and for me) after a certain point. 

Another problem I have faced is the lack of vegetarian food options on campus. While they definitely exist, they usually aren’t great when compared to the non-vegetarian ones! I would even go as far as saying that Singapore is still not very vegetarian-friendly – I can back this claim up with the fact that I know a lot of vegetarian students who ate exclusively at Subway for all of their meals during the start of the semester, especially since they were unaware about the vegetarian stalls/restaurants available on/off campus. 

I find that, while it is hard for students to adapt to cultures that they hadn’t previously experienced, it is important to keep an open-mind. It is really important to be culturally fluid. 

As time passed, I have grown more accustomed to the quirky and peculiar differences, with a lot of effort!  Through experiencing and dealing with all of the cultural differences, I grew to be a more open-minded person – a global citizen, if you will, just by being here. Being able to appreciate various ideologies and perspectives has influenced my way of thinking. Hence, I feel that coming to Singapore has truly been a transformative experience!

Staying on campus allowed me to experience everything that NUS has to offer, both big and small. It has checked off many boxes in my ideal college experience: from getting a better sense of campus life by engaging with the NUS community on a daily basis, forming close bonds with peers, to widening my skill set through the firehose of opportunities available here. 

Apart from the ones I had previously mentioned, there are plenty more perks to staying on campus as well, and I would like to share some of them. 

Having access to everything that I could potentially need on campus (libraries, supermarkets, food courts, labs, sports facilities, etc.) has made my life a lot easier than expected, and it has helped me settle down much quicker. Furthermore, the close proximity to all of my classes meant that I did not have to wake up early to commute (just have to get that extra 10 minutes of sleep). 

Living in a residential college (RC), I have never felt lonely. I am always surrounded by interesting people doing interesting things! This really did help with initial homesickness.

Advaith with his RC friends at Homecoming Night

Ultimately, staying on campus is truly a great experience that I recommend for everyone, no matter what goals you want to achieve during your time at NUS. 


Abel Chin

Hey everyone, I’m Abel Chin, a Y1 Computer Engineering student staying in Cinnamon College, under NUSC!

I’m from Malaysia, studying there up until my third year of Secondary School. I arrived in Singapore towards the end of 2017. At that time, I was trying to decide between the United States (U.S.) and Singapore for my Upper Secondary studies. I soon received an ASEAN Scholarship offer from the Ministry of Education in Singapore, before I had the chance to complete my applications for any U.S. High Schools. There was a tight timeline for acceptance of the offer, and I eventually decided to accept it. But I didn’t mind, as Singapore is known for being a really safe country, and that was a priority factor in my decision-making. Thereafter, I began my life in Singapore. 

Personally, adjusting to SG as an international student was easy for me – Malaysia and Singapore have many cultural similarities!

However, education-wise, it’s more rigorous in SG. Academic grading is stringent, and the curriculum pushes you to achieve a firm grounding in the subjects you study. Furthermore, the content can get highly overwhelming, causing life as a student to be rather stressful. There is a whirlwind of deadlines to work towards, and work to catch up on. As such, I have pulled an all-nighter virtually every week or so, and assignments just keep piling up. Yet, I think that we should give credit to the faculty for being supportive and committed to pushing us to grasp each module’s content well. I think of the high workload as a holistic package for us to filter and adapt to, according to our own progress and study needs. My advice is, don’t push yourself too hard if you can’t complete that one question; just try your best in everything you do. Nevertheless, I really appreciate such academic rigour as it helped me develop a keen interest in the subjects taught, even shaping my overall character and mindset to become more adaptable to future stressful environments!

Abel (bottom left) and his Understanding the Social World class at NUSC

Currently, life is great. I am leading a fulfilling life at University, exploring knowledge areas that I’m interested in, and pursuing my hobbies at my desired place of study. I am a fingerstyle guitarist, and am part of NUS Fingerstyle – a CCA under the Cultural Activities Club. We play the guitar as if it’s a band on its own, combining various elements such as melody, accompaniment, percussion, and bass, all at once. I also frequent the gym at UTown, or go for runs on campus!

Abel (bottom, second from the right) at the Fingerstyle CCA Showcase

Over time, I’ve changed a fair bit; that’s for sure. Being thrust into a foreign environment as a teenager, I have been exposed to multiple challenges with regards to social interactions, self-care, and simply making life decisions. For instance, I used to be rather ‘kiasu’ (a fear-of-losing-out attitude), and arrogant towards my peers. However, my time here has truly been a humbling experience. I have gradually, and subtly, stripped away my arrogant persona, and have learnt to be more personable.

I would definitely recommend international students to come to Singapore. Firstly, it is safe – don’t underestimate how much of a relief it can be, knowing that you can go for a run late at night and it is completely safe to do so. I can also go to public places without getting ostracised. This is because Singapore is very welcoming towards foreigners – as a Malaysian, I could blend into the Singaporean society with even greater ease. Secondly, the education is world-class, if what you seek is a certain level of prestige. Singaporean universities, notably NUS and NTU (Nanyang Technological University), have done increasingly well in the world University rankings. Apart from that, University life is also fulfilling and wholesome. At NUS, there are a host of events, programmes, clubs, and so on. I’m confident that you’ll find something that interests you, and that you’ll get to meet like-minded people! 


Cee Lee

Hi, my name is Cee and I’m a Y1 Life Science major living in Cinnamon College! I’m from Kuala Lumpur, and only came to Singapore to study in NUS. Prior to coming here, I have lived all my life in Malaysia, and have studied there since kindergarten. 

Living and studying abroad has always been a dream of mine. Everyone around me knew that I was bound to leave home to further my studies. Besides the fact that Singapore is so conveniently near home, it is also a country that provides notably good welfare to students, as well as generous scholarships – this was the final deciding factor for me to come to Singapore alone. Learning to be independent was very tough for me in the beginning. To be fair, it is tough living away from home, no matter where you are. Considering the fact that Malaysia and Singapore have similar cultures, my struggle as an international student might already not be the most unbearable one out there. 

The most prominent instances when I felt especially like an international student, and had a hard time being alone in this new country, was at the beginning of the semester. While everyone was busy making friends, picking modules, and choosing what CCAs to join, I was busy sorting out my student visa, figuring out my SIM card situation, getting used to the currency, and growing to be independent; while others were enhancing and kick-starting their university life, I was still stuck figuring out the basics, building the foundation for me to live in Singapore, focusing on survival more than anything.

It has been almost four months since my parents first dropped me off at the entrance of Cinnamon College, and to sum it up, the semester has been amazing. I love how living on campus with your friends forces you to interact with your peers and learn to live communally, in the best way possible. As a social creature, I really, truly love the fact that my friends are just an elevator ride away. As someone who left their comfort zone and comfort-people, being constantly surrounded by humans with good vibes and wholesome energy really compensates for the discomfort of distance, and the loneliness of living independently. Life on campus has been amazing to me – the people I’ve met; the events I’ve attended; the sports I’ve played; the connections I’ve built; the memories I’ve created; the conversations I’ve engaged in; the places I’ve visited; the food I’ve tried; the days I’ve lived; the midnights I’ve stayed up; the heart-to-heart-talks I’ve initiated; the growth I’ve achieved; the lessons I’ve learnt – the list is endless, but one obvious thing is that: I love it here.

The view from Cee’s little dorm room 

I have little to complain about, but let’s be real – constantly being surrounded by your peers also means that you’re constantly being surrounded by intelligent, amazing, and talented people. Oftentimes, you feel pressured by their presence, or you might experience peer pressure. Being away from home, I have no escape from this feeling. Unlike local students who may be able to escape school by going home on the weekends, I am stuck in my little room, which I call my home, away from home. I have absolutely zero escape, physically. Days where I struggle with peer pressure or homesickness, I dread being here. I want to go home. I struggled with living in Cinnamon College the most when I contracted Covid-19 – I experienced hands down one of the worst episodes of homesickness, and struggled strongly with the I-want-to-get-out-of-here feeling. I cried so many times in the isolation suite due to my reality of being sick, being away from family, and not being able to see my friends, my support system, for a whole week, all in addition to my Covid-19 symptoms. It was honestly very depressing. Nonetheless, those were days that I pushed through and here I am, happier than ever, grateful for the life I get to live on campus.

Through these stories, we hope that you have gained insight into the experiences of fellow international students living on campus.  Moving to a foreign place to live and study is an arduous process for anyone.  Having to adapt to cultural differences and a pressure-cooker academic environment on top of it, can push us to our very limits.  Hence, let us endeavour to look out for one another, no matter where we come from, and embrace each other wholeheartedly in our communities and culture, and into our social fabric. As this article has evidenced, everyone has a rich life story to tell, if you let them.

If you have any stories about your friendships with international students, or if you have a story to share as an international student yourself, do post them on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife, we would love to hear it. You might be our next feature!

Alone but Not Lonely

Many of us students have grown to be highly independent, especially those who stay on campus – from travelling to class alone to doing your own laundry, many daily activities necessitate a certain level of self-reliance. This transition towards doing many things alone and independently might lead to feelings of loneliness to arise. However, in this article, we will reveal why you don’t need to feel lonely even when alone. In fact, doing things alone could actually serve as a nice respite from the noise of our daily lives! Want to learn to embrace and appreciate the beauty of spending time with yourself? Read on.


The gratifying amount of freedom afforded by doing things on your own

Doing things alone means that you have a great amount of freedom to make decisions and carry out activities that suit your own preferences. Indeed, certain activities such as going out for a meal could be a fun and social activity if you were to do them with your friends. However, indulging in these activities yourself would in turn allow you to account for factors that would positively shape your experience and mood. In the case of having a meal, you would have the freedom to choose to eat the food that you might be craving for the day, the location that would best suit your convenience, and the time at which you desire to have your meal.

Source: Pinterest

In the context of one’s (likely) hectic University life, this benefit of doing things alone could prove extremely useful. As it is likely that you and your friends’ classes take place at varyingly different times of the day, being able to schedule group activities, such as meal get-togethers, or even do small things together, such as taking the shuttle bus to class, might be virtually impossible. Hence, rather than force-fitting your schedule to fit another’s for the sake of constant companionship, it might be advisable to place your own needs and schedule at the forefront instead. Give yourself the time and space to breathe, and at the same time reap the benefits of having the freedom to do things the way you want to!


The only one paying acute attention to you is yourself

It is natural that many of us are afraid of being judged for doing things alone – this is perhaps best encapsulated by the acronym, ‘FOBA’, which means ‘Fear of Being Alone’. However, such a fear might be largely unfounded.

FOBA (Source: Urban Dictionary)

Can you recall a time when you’ve judged someone negatively for being alone? It is likely that your answer is no, for people generally do not pay such great attention to the actions and behaviours of others around them. If you find yourself greatly self-conscious and hyper-aware of how others perceive you, it is likely that you are experiencing the spotlight effect. The spotlight effect causes one to overestimate the attention that others are paying to them, possibly leading to fears of judgement that could produce a level of social anxiety. 

In reality, studies show that we tend to believe others are judging us harsher than they really are. It is unlikely that others would judge you for doing things alone, for they either do not perceive being alone as a bad thing (similar to what we suggest in this article!), or they simply do not care that much about whether you are alone! Know that everyone is most concerned with their own activities – they are too busy to be focusing on what you are doing, and how you’re doing things. As such, let go of your inhibitions, if any, and embrace the time that you can spend alone, rather than put it off as a result of your fears of how others would perceive you. 


Alone time is precious time for introspection

For many of us, balancing school and other aspects of life can be wholly overwhelming. It is completely normal to experience feelings such as stress, anxiety, and frustration. The healthy practice would be to find an outlet to understand and release these emotions – spending time alone can prove to be extremely helpful in this regard. Recent studies found that having alone time in nature can be soothing for the mind, providing one with the opportunity to evaluate one’s life and reflect on one’s experiences (Source: The Inertia).

Source: MEME

Whether you choose to spend your alone time in nature or otherwise, giving yourself space to step back from the noise of your busy life and engaging in healthy reflection is crucial in maintaining a healthy mind. By sitting in your own thoughts, you get to know yourself better, perhaps gaining a clearer understanding of life and any problems that you might be facing. Furthermore, you could even gain energy and inspiration from your surroundings, as you properly observe your environment free from distractions.

“I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely,” wrote Haruki Murakami in his book, 1Q84.

Perhaps we can all learn to emulate this sentiment to some extent, as we go about our fleeting University experiences. The prospect of having meaningful alone time is brimming with much potential – go forth and experience it for yourself (if you haven’t already done so)! Share your experiences of spending time alone (but not being lonely) with us on Instagram @nusresidentiallife, as we would love to hear all about it.