Hostel Buddies Travel Diaries

After an eventful semester, summer vacation is finally here! Students usually do a range of activities during the three-month long break—ranging from summer internships to part-time jobs to travelling! Other than solo travelling or travelling with family, travelling with friends is also common among students. Let’s hear from three students who are embarking on exciting overseas trips with the friends they met through the various hostels in NUS! 

 

Alanis Joy Tay 

For Alanis (Year 1, Chemical Engineering), travelling overseas with friends is not a first! This summer break, she will be embarking on an 11-day buddy trip to Japan with her friend she met through Ridge View Residential College (RVRC). How exciting!  

As an orientation group formed in RVRC, Alanis was initially planning to go on a trip with her fellow groupmates. However, they could not reach a final decision on the country to visit together. The indecisiveness as a group ultimately ended up in no confirmation on the trip. Regardless, Alanis and her friend were certain since the start that they would like to travel somewhere together. 

While Japan is known to be a popular travel destination, Alanis and her friend had their own reasons for choosing the country as their destination. “I love going to Japan as I went there for my graduation trip after graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year. And since my friend has not gotten a chance to experience the cities of Japan, we both decided to go there together,” she shared. 

It will be Alanis and her friend’s first time travelling together, but she is confident that their friendship will still stand strong after the trip. She shared, “I’m quite sure that we will still be friends despite the minimal fights we might have throughout the trip, so I’m not worried at all. I’m also quite excited as we will both be doing things we have never done before!” Travelling together with friends is often said to make or break the friendship, but in Alanis’ case, their upcoming trip will most likely make their friendship even stronger than before! 

 

Alanis (left) at her friend’s performance at University Cultural Centre (UCC)

 

Joyce Fan  

For Joyce (Year 1, Sociology), her upcoming trip to Seoul, South Korea will be her first time travelling with a friend. They met through a common Sociology tutorial, and discovered on the bus that they both coincidentally reside in Prince George’s Park (PGP), with Joyce residing in Helix House and her friend in Pioneer House. Ever since then, the pair have become close friends who study and visit cafés together.  

Another popular travel destination, Seoul is famous for its cafés and is perfect for tourists who love café -hopping. As a pair, Joyce and her friend enjoy café-hopping in Singapore and exploring new places together, which are reasons why they collectively decided on Seoul as their travel destination this summer.  

When asked about how the decision to travel together came about, Joyce shared, “We were joking about flying off to get away from studying and we didn’t think it would eventually become a serious thing.” Now that the semester is over, Joyce and her friend can finally make their dream come true and fly off to catch a breather from studying! Like most people before embarking on a trip, Joyce feels very excited yet somewhat nervous. Let’s hope Joyce and her friend will get to enjoy exploring the aesthetic cafés in Seoul! 

Joyce (right) and her friend enjoying açaí on one of their outings together. 

Loo Sin Rou 

For Sin Rou (Year 1, Psychology), she will not be travelling with just one friend, but seven other friends! Under NUS College (NUSC), Sin Rou is set to visit Chiang Mai, Thailand for two weeks as part of an NUSC course. Titled “Food Production and Society in Southeast Asia”, the course teaches about agriculture and the various farming methods. In this 2-week field trip, Sin Rou will be visiting four different areas in Chiang Mai to learn about and experience industrial, organic, lowland and upland farming methods. What an insightful learning opportunity! 

While this is not Sin Rou’s first time travelling with friends, this is her first time going on an overseas school trip. As someone who loves Thai cuisine, she is looking forward to eating the food in Chiang Mai, especially since her professor has mentioned that they will be eating quite a fair bit on the trip. Apart from indulging in Thai delicacies, Sin Rou is also anticipating the trip as her professor has planned for them to try out a year’s worth of farming from seeding flooding to harvesting in just one day! 

With all the exciting events Sin Rou can look forward to, she also has her own concerns. “Two weeks is quite long for a school trip and we will be visiting rural upland areas, so it is going to be a tough journey and we might not get internet in some places. Hopefully, I can get used to the food and environment there as well,” she shared.  

Sin Rou (right) at the airport with her friends from NUSC. 

As this article is being published, Sin Rou has just begun her trip to Chiang Mai! 

 

And that concludes the three exciting friend trips! No matter what you are doing this summer vacation, we hope that you get a well-deserved rest after completing another semester. If you are thinking of a short getaway this summer break, be sure to check out this article for some getaway inspiration! Happy summer vacation!  

Language Learning Through NUS Hostels

Learning a new language in university is often a popular decision among students, given the freedom to plan one’s courses. Apart from language courses offered in NUS, courses including a language learning component are also offered by various hostels in NUS. Named as the Southeast Asia Friendship Initiative (SFI) course, SFI courses seek to deepen students’ understanding of a Southeast Asian country through lectures on its history, politics, and society, tutorials introducing its national language, and an immersive study trip to the country itself. Through SFI, students can look forward to learning a new language and embarking on a study trip to one of the countries in Southeast Asia, depending on the hostel you reside in. Let’s hear from three SFI participants from King Edward VII Hall, Pioneer House and Eusoff Hall about their experiences! 

 

King Edward VII Hall 

Last semester, Chin Sek Yi (Year 3, Data Science) signed up for the SFI2014 course, offered by KEVII Hall. As part of the course, Sek Yi attended tutorials teaching Bahasa Indonesia throughout the semester and travelled to the Riau Islands during winter break. The language tutorials proved crucial as they helped with communication with the villagers on the islands.  

Learning a new language is no easy feat, which is why peer support is extremely important. For Sek Yi, staying at KEVII Hall and taking the same SFI course as her hostel mates meant that she was able to find the peer support that she needed in her language-learning journey. “The students who took this course also stayed in the same hall as me, so I could practice the language with them after class or when we had our meals together,” she shared. Staying together and attending classes together definitely made it easier for Sek Yi and her hostel mates!

When asked about her thoughts on exploring a new language, Sek Yi shared, “Learning a new language not only exposes you to a new culture, but also new ways of thinking. It broadens your mind, allowing you to view things differently. It is also fun to learn a new language with your friends!” Indeed, learning a language through tutorials and putting it to use during conversations with the local community is a worthwhile life experience! 

Sek Yi (in white) on board a sailing boat named “Four Friends”, along with boat Captain Blake and her fellow coursematescourse mates. The meal was prepared on the boat itself, by the Indonesian staff! 

 

Pioneer House 

Also in Indonesia, Esther Toh (Year 1, Political Science) is set to embark on a study trip to Malang this upcoming summer break. Upon signing up for the course with her friends, Esther went through five tutorials that taught her the basics of Bahasa Indonesia, such as simple self-introductions, numerals, telling the time, and asking for directions. These components were thought to be very practical to Esther. “I signed up because I wanted to explore a new culture, and since I have many Indonesian friends, I wanted to converse with them using Bahasa Indonesia, even though I might sound like a preschooler,” Esther laughed as she shared her reasons for participating in the course. 

Learning a new language requires consistency and daily practices, and this was exactly what Esther did throughout this semester. Just like Sek Yi, Esther was able to practise the language with her fellow course mates, who were also her hostel mates, and even throw in some newly unlocked vocabulary in their daily conversations. Since Pioneer House has its fair share of Indonesian residents, Esther was able to approach her Indonesian friends for help. “I also sought the help of my Indonesian friends staying on campus, such as when I had to look through my notes and couldn’t remember what the teacher meant, I could turn to them for help,” she shared.  

Some words of encouragement from Esther to anyone who is thinking of learning a new language: Just go for it! It will no doubt be tough, memorising and learning a whole different language. But you always have Google! And friends who speak the language too! Life is not graded, just take it easy and learn at your own pace with no pressure. 

Esther’s Bahasa Indonesia assignment on numerals. Mastering the numerals in Bahasa Indonesia is extremely important as it can be useful when asking for the price of an item while shopping in Indonesia!  

 

Eusoff Hall 

Learning a new language is nothing new to Eira Tan (Year 1, English Literature and Communications and New Media) as she had already started learning Korean under the Language Preparation Programme (LPP). Under LPP, Eira will be given priority for semester exchange in Korean universities. Currently enrolled in SFI under Eusoff Hall, she has been learning conversational Thai throughout the semester. “I joined SFI for the overseas opportunity with my hall friends, and I was also interested in the course’s content in general,” Eira shared. Apart from the exciting overseas study trip and language learning component, SFI courses also contain enriching lectures about the country’s history and politics! 

 

Staying in Eusoff Hall has also provided Eira with ample opportunities to practise Thai with her hallmates and SFI classmates. She also shared that some assignments allowed her to do video recordings in Thai with a partner, so staying in near her SFI classmates made completing the recordings more convenient.  

 

Eira having fun while learning the Thai language! 

A word of encouragement from Eira to anyone who is thinking of learning a new language:  

If you are interested, just give it a shot! It’s better to take language classes in NUS now than pay for them outside. Especially in Year 1 since you can S/U!  

 

 Learning a new language can be difficult at times, especially when one has to grapple with various commitments at the university level. Many may also find it more difficult to grasp a new language as an adult learner, not to mention the (sometimes) hefty costs!. However, with courses offered by hostels such as SFI, perhaps the journey will be less intimidating, especially with additional peer support 

Cultural Showcase and the Interest Group Experience at PGP

Missed out on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour tickets in March? Residents at Prince George’s Park (PGP) got to enjoy a night of fusion cultural performances that were just as exciting – if we may say so ourselves! Hosted by Pioneer House, performers from various interest groups of the three respective houses (Pioneer House, LightHouse and Helix House) came together on a Tuesday night to jam and dance the night away. Let’s hear from three performers about the preparation of the PGP Cultural Showcase and what the interest group experience at the houses is like!

 

Pioneer House 

For Rachel Ou (Year 4, Life Sciences), the Cultural Showcase was a huge learning experience. “I’m really happy with the performance we put up! It was also nice to see the process of our item coming together over the few months of preparing for the showcase! After all, it is a learning journey and a new experience for most of us,” she shared. As the dance captain of Pioneer House Dance, Rachel was also one of the choreographers and performers at the Cultural Showcase.  

Preparation for the Cultural Showcase did not come easy as Rachel had to come up with a storyline for her choreography. Despite the challenges, she found the preparation process amusing. “I think it was quite a funny process for me and my fellow choreographer. I really wanted to choreograph “Don’t Blame Me” by Taylor Swift, so we started from there. We then sat down to choose another song, and we ended up with “Ex-calling” by 6LACK because we liked the song,” she laughed. Combining both songs, they wrote a storyline of the dancers being desperate exes. The desperation was strikingly conveyed through their dance performance! 

Other than a storyline and choreography, Rachel also had to decide on the outfit theme with her team. “We were searching for flowy oversized shirts and ultimately decided on maroon and brown because we thought these colours could match each other and they seemed to tie in with our storyline as well. My fellow choreographer decided to name our item “red flags” from there,” she shared.  

 

Rachel (bottom row, first from left) performing “Ex Calling” by 6LACK and “Don’t Blame Me” by Taylor Swift with fellow Pioneer Dance performers. 

Pioneer Dance holds dance sessions once weekly, where short choreographies are taught. Instead of having open classes every week as usual, the interest group spent most of their sessions this semester preparing for the Cultural Showcase. Last semester, Pioneer Dance also spent much of their time preparing for their Halloween performance. The amount of effort, time and dedication poured by every performer into their performances is admirable! As part of Pioneer Dance, Rachel reflected, “I think the fun parts are getting to bond with the other members during our sessions and the show day itself!” 

 

LightHouse 

For Teh Chern (Year 1, Mathematics), the Cultural Showcase was a successful event. “The audio, the lighting, the decorations, everyone put in the effort to make it a success. We had so much fun performing on stage too,” he fondly recalled. In LightHouse, residents can join the band-jamming interest group Soundhouse to meet liked-minded peers and form their own bands within the interest group, and that was exactly what Chern did. Together with his band “Fortnite Skin Collection”, they played the last songs of the showcase, “Give Me Novacaine” and “She’s a Rebel” by Green Day.

When asked about the preparation for the event, Chern shared “We had more performers as ours was a collective performance where we switched performers for different songs. It wasn’t easy for everyone to get together to practise, but we managed to pull everything off during the actual showcase.” Soundhouse’s performance at the Cultural Showcase consisted of nine performers in total. 

Held two days before the actual event, the rehearsal had to coordinate nine bands and dance teams. With audio adjustments and sound checking coming into the picture, the rehearsal took almost half a day to complete. Despite the long hours, Chern noticed the tough job the event team had to take up. “Props to the event team who had to move and prepare all the heavy equipment during the rehearsal and the actual day itself,” Chern acknowledged. The famous Chinese proverb that says “Ten years of practice for one minute on stage” has never been truer! 

At Soundhouse, the band usually meets up once a week for around two hours to jam to songs that they are in the mood to play for the session. 

 

Chern (second row, second from left) with fellow Soundhouse performers Namit, Zhanhong, Kishan, Erwin, Roma, Alyssa, Letizia and Nicholas (in clockwise order).  

 

Helix House 

For Rachel Tan (Year 3, Electrical Engineering), the Cultural Showcase was an exceptional experience. “The experiences and bonds formed were priceless. The performance turned out great as well, with the audience hyping us up. It felt like our efforts paid off due to the great turnout rate and crowd response. It was also the first time performing for some of the Helix dancers, and they enjoyed this performance opportunity,” she shared.  

As Helix Dance Society’s Interest Group Leader, Rachel also choreographed part of the dance item and coordinated the dance practices and performance for the showcase. At the Cultural Showcase, the respective dance interest groups of Helix House and LightHouse came together to deliver a joint performance. 

Just like every other performer, Helix Dance Society practised for hours throughout the semester, even late into the night at times.  

Helix Dance Society mainly holds two sessions a week. On Tuesdays, they hold joint practice sessions with Lighthouse’s dance interest group. During these open class joint sessions, the regular members will teach various choreographies to the attendees. Apart from regular members, dance professionals occasionally teach choreographies during the open classes. With such variety of practice sessions, members can then explore more genres and eventually find their preferred dance styles.   

 

Rachel (front row, third from left) with her fellow Helix Dance Society Performers. 

 

What a night for the PGP residents! We hope that through this article, you managed to gain some insight into what the interest groups at the houses are like! Like the CCAs offered in Halls, the interest groups at PGP are just as active and diverse. With interest groups ranging from sports to crafts and ground-up initiatives, residents are spoilt for choice! Apart from the existing interest groups, residents can also start their own. In fact, all three houses have seen new interest groups formed just over the last year!  

 

A Guide to Mental Wellness in University Life

As we approach the final lap of the semester, many of us can feel increasingly stressed out, or even burnt out. Assignments and deadlines are piling up incessantly, and the content covered in lectures are getting heavier and faster. It feels hard to keep up. Before we continue to drown in the heavy workload accumulated over the weeks, let us take a step back and prioritise our mental (and physical) health, and not just during a long weekend!

 

What is Mental Wellness and why is it important? 

According to the Singapore Association for Mental Health, Mental Wellness is a positive state of mental health. By first understanding what Mental Wellness is, we can then work towards sustaining it in the long run. Mental Wellness is important as it plays a huge role in our quality of life. Poor mental health could potentially affect our daily lives, relationships, performance, overall well-being and even our physical health.  

 

Setting Boundaries 

 

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

 

Personal space is vital in ensuring our Mental Wellness. By setting boundaries when necessary, we are safeguarding the personal space that we need in order to recharge. Learn how to say no when needed. If you are extremely worn out from a long day of studying and attending classes, and all you want is to lie down on your cozy bed and get a good night’s rest, learn how to say no to others. Decide for yourself what is best for you and act on it, instead of giving in to the fear of missing out (FOMO). If you are too tired to get supper with your friends, you can always say no and get some well-needed rest instead. By establishing clear boundaries when necessary, we can safeguard our mental wellness while learning to make decisions for ourselves. 

 

Dealing with Loneliness 

With everyone having different schedules and lives, loneliness can get even more prevalent in University. For those staying in hostels, the loneliness can intensify over the winter and summer breaks when most local residents have moved back home. Homesickness can also intensify at times.  

To deal with loneliness in University, consider being more involved in various activities, such as through Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs)! Some CCAs are ongoing even during the semester breaks, so you can always find like-minded people to engage in your hobby together. Within hostels, there are also interest groups that you can form and join. Consider bringing an item from home that makes you feel at home—it could be a stuffed toy from your childhood, pictures of your family and friends, anything! You can also try to maintain contact with your family and friends back at home through frequent video calls.  

 

Finding Help and Seeking Support 

Ready to find help and seek support but not sure where to start? Here is a list of services provided by NUS that you can consider reaching out to. 

 

University Health Centre (UHC) 

UHC offers a wide range of healthcare services. 

University Counselling Services (UCS) 

Counselling services where you can speak to mental health professionals are available for free for all full-time NUS students. 

NUS Care Unit (NCU) 

NCU provides coordinated end-to-end care to NUS students and staff affected by sexual misconduct through a variety of channels and services. 

Faculty Student Support Managers 

Faculty Student Support Managers can help you through your academic journey, as well as refer you to services such as UCS if necessary.  

Lifeline NUS (+65 6516 7777) 

Lifeline NUS is a 24-hour hotline for life-threatening psychological emergencies.  

Peer Student Supporters (PSS) 

PSS are situated at PitStop@UTown, who will be able to lead you to the necessary help you may need.  

PitStop 

PitStop provides NUS students with a cosy place to recharge during the day. There are currently five PitStops operating around campus.  

Student Wellness, OSA 

OSA Student Wellness is a team of mental health professionals who provide students with socioemotional support during times of distress. They also provide training for students to increase their knowledge of self-care and seeking help.  

Lecturer/Tutor/Professor 

You can always approach your lecturers, tutors, or professors if you need help, especially in the academic realm. Speak to them about the difficulties you are facing, and they will be ready to listen to your concerns.  

Family and Friends 

Your family and friends know you the best. While mental health professionals can offer you specialised help, the emotional support from your family and friends is unique and valuable.  

Hostel Residential Life Staff   

Each hostel has their own Residential Wellness Managers (RWMs), Masters and Resident Fellows to provide residents with the support they need. 

List of RWMs of the respective hostels. 

 

 

Navigating University Majors and the Campus Hostel Experience

Choosing a major in university may be one of the most significant decisions a student can make as they navigate their way through their academic journey. Shortlisting a handful of majors and ultimately deciding on one or two may seem like a big step in shaping your future career. Behind every faculty, major, and degree, there are bound to be unique trials and triumphs to be faced. Let’s hear from some of our fresh undergraduate students, who are also residents of the various hostels in NUS! 

 

Architecture (College of Design and Engineering) 

For new Architecture student Xing Huiying (Year 1), striking a work-life balance has proven to be difficult for her. From design projects to technical drawings and model-making, the Architecture programme is highly intensive. “Managing this amount of workload can be quite challenging for me, especially when balancing it with other commitments. I’m always struggling to manage my time effectively to meet deadlines and juggle multiple projects simultaneously,” she confessed. Considering the amount of work students from the College of Design and Engineering (CDE) must grapple with, it is no wonder that the stereotype of CDE students not getting sleep exists. 

While there may be inevitable struggles Huiying has to go through, there are also as many moments of joy as an Architecture student. “One such moment is when I see my hard work come to life. For architecture, we always have a final presentation for our projects. After countless hours of hard work, we present our design to our peers, tutors and professors. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after the presentation as all my hard work and dedication are finally paid off,” Huiying shared. All the blood, sweat and tears poured into Huiying’s numerous projects eventually culminated in joyful feelings! 

As a Helix House resident, Huiying has met a few fellow Architecture students to study in the lounge with, which in turn motivates her to study. The power of study buddies! Apart from having neighbours as her study buddies, staying on campus has made Huiying’s commute more convenient. “It helps to save a lot of time as I don’t have to travel all the way back to my house, which takes about an hour, so I’m able to spend more time on my project,” she shared. When necessary, Huiying also stays over the weekend to work on her projects.  

Huiying (second row, second from right) at her final project review  

A word of advice from Huiying to fellow Architecture students, and students considering majoring in Architecture: 

Pursue Architecture only if you have a genuine passion for it as it is a demanding and competitive field that requires dedication, perseverance, passion for design, as well as a strong mentality to deal with pressure. I do have friends and studio mates who are not interested in Architecture, but they chose it because they had “no choice”. Ultimately, they end up struggling a lot and plenty of them are considering changing majors. 

 

Political Science and Second Major in Philosophy (College of Humanities and Sciences/Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) 

From struggling to keep up with weekly readings to entangling in disagreements, to receiving unexpected grades, Alisya Binte Mohamed (Year 1) has had her fair share of hurdles to cross. She elaborated, “It can seem like an exaggerated stereotype that students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) have to read 10,000 readings before the next week, but it can be true to some extent. Being a Political Science and Philosophy major means that I am bound to meet people from all walks of life, people with different ethos, values and ideologies. This can oftentimes mean major disagreements. I thought the Humanities were subjective, but sometimes I get a shock when I get a grade I least expected.” 

While having too many disagreements can pose a struggle to Alisya at times, she enjoys engaging in such discussions where various enlightening views are brought up. In order to propel the discussion further, Alisya jokingly mentioned that she enjoys playing devil’s advocate. On top of such discussions, Alisya enjoys seeing her learning bear fruit. “I’m happy when I get to apply a political or philosophical theory to real-life contexts. I know people can get tired of Political Science majors talking about politics, but when you realise that almost everything in life can be seen through a political lens, it’s so enlightening. This also means that I finally understand a concept,” she reflected.  

As a resident of Ridge View Residential College (RVRC), Alisya finds her hostel to be in a prime location. “Everything is a stone’s throw away, including my examination venues.” Despite being the only Political Science major in her friend group in RVRC, Alisya has no trouble studying with them. “Everyone is so willing to be my support system even when I have to write back-to-back 3000-word essays while they have to do their 3000-word report. It is also really convenient to chat about exam matters before an examination in my room,” she shared. 

 

Alisya (bottom row, first from left) with her RVRC friend group, celebrating one of their birthdays in RVRC. 

A word of advice from Alisya to fellow FASS majors: 

No opinion is wrong (unless you haven’t read the required readings before class), so speak up! That’s how you get to learn.  

 

Data Science and Analytics (College of Humanities and Sciences/Faculty of Science) 

As a fresh Data Science and Analytics major, Chaemin Lee (Year 1) has never learned coding before. This intensified her academic difficulty in the beginning. “Taking both R and Python courses in semester one was quite a task for me,” she shared. Indeed, coding is never easy, especially for a beginner! 

While Chaemin had to overcome her struggle with coding, which makes up a huge bulk of her major, she fondly remembers a success story, “I once came up with a solution for a CS1010S assignment after spending 8 hours on it.” What a featconsidering the amount of pain, perseverance and patience Chaemin must have had in order to successfully complete her assignment, despite the difficulties she faced throughout those 8 hours!.   

To Chaemin, staying on campus makes going to classes extremely convenient for her. “Lecture theatres and tutorial rooms are very close so I can spend more time studying,” she noted. Chaemin is a resident of UTown Residence, which is located in the heart of UTown. 

 

Medicine (Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine) 

Widely known as a highly demanding course, Adele Lim’s (Year 2) experience is testament to this sentiment. Apart from the academic stress that comes with being a medical student, having to balance life outside of school can be difficult for Adele at times. “Given the pretty high workload of my course and the huge amount of content to cover, there is quite a bit of academic stress especially nearing the examination period. With the relatively heavy schedule of lectures daily, there is also the challenge of being able to balance my time between school and other aspects of my life, such as playing sports or hanging out with my friends,” she shared. 

Despite the inevitable academic demands, Adele finds joy in putting her learning to use. “There are allocated sessions where we are attached to hospitals to practice our physical examination skills. To be able to successfully complete an examination on patients, who are extremely patient with us, and interact with them brings me small moments of joy. I also think that being able to witness how our learning from lectures translates to real-life conditions patients face puts things into perspective and reinforces the relevance of what we’re learning now.”  

Although it is well known that staying in Hall requires one to be actively involved in its activities, and that most medical students choose not to stay in Hall, Adele has stayed at King Edward VII (KEVII) Hall as a Year 1 student. As KEVII Hall is located near the Medicine+Science Library and the Medicine buildings, Adele has managed to get essential extra sleep since it only takes around 10 minutes to travel to class. She has also managed to study in the library with her friends till late since their hostel is within walking distance. Adele highlighted, “More importantly, staying on campus with friends also has its perks. We can hang out in the wee hours and take study breaks together. Having a good support system has been essential in making sure that I don’t get burnt out during the school term. The occasional welfare provided by Hall was also nice. It acted as a morale booster to me.” 

 

Adele (bottom row, first from left) making a meal with her friends at KEVII Hall. 

A word of advice from Adele to fellow medical students: 

There will be some compromises that will have to be made along the way, but it is a process of learning how to prioritise different things at different points in time. I think it’s always important to have balance! To have a life beyond school with interests that keeps you going and connections that bring joy. School might be tough, but we are tougher!   

Recess Week Retreats: Short Getaway Destinations

Recess week—a week of revision for most, a week of travelling for some, and a week of rest for a few. As the semester enters its halfway mark, we hope that you are coping well and getting enough rest this week. Even if you’re still hustling hard this recess week, you can bookmark this post for the upcoming long summer vacation in May!

 

Bali 

What better place to enjoy a few days of relaxation by the beach than in Bali? Best known for its iconic beaches and resorts, Bali is also home to sacred temples and volcanic mountains.  

Source: Tripadvisor 

Handara Gate—one of the most photographed spots on the island. 

Whether you are looking to unwind through a rejuvenating stay at one of the many resorts, explore the island, or ride the big Bali waves, Bali has something for everyone. Within the domain of food, Bali almost never misses. Vegan food is known to be good there! 

Source: Tripadvisor 

Vegan Nasi Campur 

 

Rough breakdown of costs: 

Flights: From $180  

Accommodation: From $80/night 

Food and Activities: From $60/day (Spas usually range from around $30 to $40 per session.)  

 

Ho Chi Minh City 

With Vietnamese fashion brands on a steady rise, why not travel to the country’s largest city to procure your wardrobe for the rest of the semester? Create your very own curated wardrobe with trending local brands like Cara Club, Rechic, and Tiem Mem, just to name a few. For those looking for a suit that fits you perfectly, look no further as Ho Chi Minh has multiple tailors to put together a custom-made suit just for you! 

Source: The New Playground 

The New Playground—a one-stop store housing various local clothing brands. 

 

Apart from the endless coquette fashion items, Ho Chi Minh City is a food paradise for Vietnamese cuisine lovers. With 1SGD food options like Banh Mi and Bun Bo Hue, a few days in the city alone will surely leave you wanting for more Vietnamese food. For coffee lovers, get your daily caffeine fix with the strong and robust Vietnamese coffee! 

Source: Tripadvisor 

Rough breakdown of costs: 

Flights: From $180 

Accommodations: From $40/night 

Food and activities: From $50/day (Depending on the amount of shopping, clothes from local brands can be on the pricier side.) 

 

Bangkok 

A popular getaway destination among Singaporeans, Bangkok has its charms. Just like Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok boasts a wide range of trendy local clothing brands and street food options. With Siam Square revamped into a hippy shopping district catering not only to tourists but also mainly to local teens, you can shop for clothes to your heart’s content just within the district. From the Singaporean favourite Gentlewoman to stores selling items from local indie brands, there is plenty of exploring to do! To enhance your shopping experience, enjoy some vibey street performances in the evening.  

Source: Pattaya Mail 

Bangkok’s Chinatown has rows of street food during the night. From piping hot noodle soup made from a hundred-year-old recipe to crispy fried dishes, the district is truly a treasure trove of authentic Thai (Chinese) food.  

Source: Tourism Authority of Thailand 

The main street of Bangkok’s Chinatown at night is full of brightly lit signboards, making the street strikingly picturesque, especially in-person. 

 

Rough breakdown of costs: 

Flights: From $180  

Accommodations: From $40/night 

Food and activities: From $50/day 

 

Johor Bahru 

Closer to Singapore, a short getaway to Johor Bahru requires no flight at all. In fact, if you are lucky, you can reach Johor Bahru from Woodlands in under 40 minutes! While most travellers from Singapore enjoy going to Johor Bahru for a short day trip, opting to stay a night or two can make for a fun getaway too. From popular 1SGD Lok Lok to café hopping, there are plenty of food and activities to explore. Additionally, with the exchange rates between the Singapore Dollar and Malaysian Ringgit at an all-time high, a short trip in Johor Bahru is even more affordable now.

Source: TheSmartLocal 

Besides indulging in the multitude of food options available, you can opt for a wide-ranging list of activities to do. From visiting cafes with quirky activities like toast painting, to thrifting and even go-karting, your days in the city will be filled with fun. Whether you are looking to shop, eat or partake in both indoor and outdoor activities, Johor Bahru is the closest one-stop city away from Singapore.  

Source: Confirm Good 

 

Rough breakdown of costs: 

Flights: – 

Accommodations: From $50/night 

Food and activities: From $50/day 

 

And that concludes our list of destinations to consider travelling to for your upcoming recess weeks! Whether you are studying, travelling, or resting, we hope that this recess week will serve as a good break for you! 

 

  

Campus YouTubers

7-15 seconds. That’s the recommended length of an idea reel, as suggested by Mireia Boronat, Senior Content Marketing Executive at the Social Shepherd. With the rise of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, long-form video content may have lost its allure for many in the audience. An oft-cited statistic is that humans have an attention span of 8 seconds, even shorter than that of a goldfish. Interestingly, this number has been debunked as nothing more than an extrapolation made out of context. However, what science does show is that immersive storytelling holds the secret to capturing the human imagination 

While short-form video content is more accessible (at the flick of a finger on your Instagram app), and more addictive (switch to the next video by a single swipe), perhaps demanding less intentionality while watching, can they really beat the charm of an old-school YouTube vlog? The familiar “Hey guys, welcome back to the channel,” has a well-worn warmth to it. And with that, we present to you some YouTube storytellers in the realm of university content for you to enjoy while slurping down cup noodles during the school week.  

 

1. Charlene Yap 

A still from one of Charlene’s videos titled ‘finals week at NUS | studying for 4 finals, lots of coffee, exam study tips’. 

 

Charlene is a current NUS undergraduate student. She documents her life through silent vlogs that are accompanied by soothing background music and slow visuals. From her life as a university student to her travels, Charlene’s vlogs share her insights in a short and sweet manner. A perfect channel to pop by if you are looking for something more relaxing.  

 

2. Zhishinn 

Valentine’s Day celebrations at Raffles Hall shared by Zhi Shin in her vlog titled ‘6AM UNI VLOG📚 | NUS open day, hall life, valentine’s day!💗’. 

 

Zhi Shin is a Business student now in her final semester at NUS. An international student from Malaysia, Zhi Shin shares her days as a university student through her YouTube vlogs. They are uplifting and lighthearted, sprinkled with Zhi Shin’s bubbly personality. The videos are subtitled in English for non-Chinese speakers. If you are looking to find out what the day-to-day affair of an NUS undergraduate looks like, do check out her channel! 

 

3. Daniel Tamago 

A still taken from Daniel’s tour of study spots in NUS, a collaboration between him and NUS.  

 

Perhaps a household name in NUS, Daniel Tamago is a former student turned entrepreneur. While his newer vlogs focus on his life journey, scroll down a little bit and you will come across videos taken during his university days. Packed with energy and Daniel’s infectious personality, his vlogs take you through not only his daily routine but also his tips on productivity and personal growth. Head over to his channel to find out more! 

 

4. Nicole Bernadette 

Nicole in Vietnam during her NUS Overseas College (NOC) experience, taken from her video titled ‘My NUS Overseas College Experience | NOC Ho Chi Minh’. 

 

Nicole is a recent graduate from NUS. She shares small tidbits of her life through her video journals on YouTube. Her videos focus on inner growth and takes viewers through her various seasons of life. Narrated in her soothing voice, Nicole’s vlogs are the perfect watch for those who are looking to end their evenings with warmth and positive notes. 

 

5. Jia Yee 

A scene from Jia Yee’s first month at NUS vlog where she attends the NUS Student Life Fair 

 

The excitement of starting university is unparalleled. Heading to your first lecture, exploring campus, finding your favourite study spot, and the list is endless. Jia Yee is a freshman at NUS and her vlogs take viewers through her experiences as a newcomer to NUS. We look forward to seeing more from her! 

 

NUS has a wealth of creatives who put out wonderful pieces of content for the student community here. They come from all walks of life and reflect the vibrant student life at NUS. We hope this article introduced you to some of them (and there are many more). Go show them some love and support 🤗. Happy watching! 

Residential Colleges: Shaping Citizens of Tomorrow

Living-learning ecosystems are found in many universities across the world, and are increasingly adopted by more and more universities. What sets them apart from traditional university housing is that the student communities at these hostels take part in academic and/or extracurricular pursuits, formed around a specific theme, outside of their core disciplinary studies. They are credited with providing a more holistic university experience that combines technical knowledge with real-life experiences and skills. The Residential College (RC) programme in NUS, too, was implemented with this objective in mind. Offering four residential housing options, the NUS RC programme infuses the best practices from overseas living-and-learning programmes with a Singaporean flavour. Read on as we explore the different RCs in NUS and what they have to offer! 

 

College of Alice & Peter Tan  

The College of Alice & Peter Tan was previously known as the Angsana College, named after the Singaporean heritage tree of the same name. The Angsana tree still features on the RC’s crest, symbolic of the RC’s commitment to nurturing many talents and qualities, much like the Angsana tree’s role in sheltering and nurturing various life forms.  

 

College of Alice & Peter Tan, or CAPT for short, is located within the University Town complex. With its characteristic maroon and golden crest, this residential college is designed around the themes of active citizenship and community engagement. There are various approaches to reaching out to communities. You could choose to go the charity route, which focuses on one-way giving back to the less-privileged groups or the service-learning model, where you provide a service to a community and analyse their needs through the experience. “At CAPT, however, we place a strong emphasis on a community engagement model. You are engaging with the community deeply to learn what their assets and strengths are,” explained Dr. Kankana Mukhopadhyay, Senior Lecturer and Resident Fellow at CAPT. “The vocabulary is very consciously incorporated in all aspects of classroom and out of classroom learning. We are not here to serve, help or raise funds. Students are encouraged to build a critical consciousness of what active citizenship means by engaging with marginalised communities. Where are my privileges and what are my responsibilities: these are the kind of questions we want students to ask themselves.” 

Dr. Kankana, who joined the college in 2014, describes the student community as being hardworking and creative. “I have no hesitation in saying that the culture of CAPT is strongly shaped by our students,” the proud CAPTain shared. For her, CAPT is a place for students to be bold and outgoing with their ideas, even if they fail and have to try again. “It’s been as much of a learning experience for me as it has been for the students.”  

Undergraduate life is definitely a very precious time in a student’s life as they transition into adulthood. There is a lot of unlearning and re-learning involved in the process. “Tertiary education goes beyond just being trained in your discipline. This education is about being able to critically question and process complexities,” Dr. Kankana said. She encourages all students to consider what they would like to get out of their time as an undergraduate in NUS and make a choice that aligns with their values! 

 

Dr. Kankana catching up with CAPT alumni. 

(Credits: CAPT Alumni) 

 

CAPTains on a study trip to Nepal.
(Credits: CAPT STEER Nepal 2023 Photography and Videography Team) 

 

RC4 


An ORCA is the mascot of RC4, the youngest residential college in UTown. The name stems from “One RC4”. ORCA stands for Open, Respectful, Caring, and Appreciative, reflecting the values of RC4. 

 

Small systems, big hearts: so goes the tagline of RC4. Located within UTown, RC4 has two focal themes: systems thinking and more recently, entrepreneurship. From its beginnings at MIT in the 1950s, systems thinking is about zooming out of looking at a problem as a lone-standing issue and considering the processes that influence and inform the problem at hand. While traditionally taught in Engineering departments, RC4 takes the systems thinking approach to every problem and discipline we face. “My studies aren’t going so well. So you think the solution is to stay up late and catch up on work. But what happens as an after-effect? You are more tired and stressed out leading to weaker grades,” Dr. Lynette Tan, Director of Studies at RC4, explained through a very simplified example. “The idea is that a single action can have long lasting repercussions and must not be seen in isolation. At the basic level, it is a concept that can be applied to every field,” she added on.  

A newer area of interest for the RC4 community, following its focus on systems thinking, has been on Technology, Innovation and Enterprise. The residential college is headed towards encouraging entrepreneurial efforts by students guided by a systems thinking approach in the coming years. Recently, RC4 launched two new courses emphasizing community engagement through systems thinking, facilitating social cohesion among Singapore’s aging population by involving RC4 undergraduates, seniors from Active Ageing centers, and secondary school youth in an intergenerational and tri-generational co-creation. 

“The students at RC4 are warm, welcoming and keen to learn new things,” Dr. Lynette, who has been involved with the college since its beginnings, reflected. “When you come into RC4, you have the opportunity to be and to grow into the person you want to be. Whatever the cohort is, that’s the direction that RC4 takes,” she shared on the student culture at RC4.  

The most important quality to become an RC4 resident is a growth mindset. You must be willing to learn, fail, and try again. “We want to see that you can fall and then pick yourself back up,” Dr. Lynette said. It goes without saying that every residential college experience also has a focus on community building. “Character builds community. We hope to see students have a good heart, take an interest in the world and are willing to contribute at RC4.”  

 

Dr. Lynette Tan and students from RC4 during Inter-College Games (2019) when Dr. Lynette ran alongside the residents! 

 

Sweet moments from a baking session led by Dr. Lynette where she teaches students how to bake brownies, pizza, and pineapple tarts.  

 

Ridge View Residential College  

RVRC is otherwise known as the “College in Nature”, being surrounded by lush greenery with an emphasis on sustainability stewardship.  

 

Ridge View Residential College, often shortened to RVRC, is the only residential college located outside of UTown. With its focus on sustainability and workplace readiness, RVRC has nurtured many cohorts of conscious students. At RVRC, sustainability is seen as a holistic connector with not just environmental but also economic, social and cultural significance. Dr. Corinne Ong, Director of Studies and Senior Lecturer at the college shared, “While the formal curriculum under the college is important, we are always thinking about the informal curriculum too. How do we connect the students who live in RVRC to learning beyond the classroom and beyond coursework?.” She continued, “This is where activities that fall outside conventional class timings come into play: whether it is a walk that has a charitable or environmental cause or other outdoor learning opportunities like interacting with our industry partners in Let’s Talk dialogues or industry visits themed on sustainability or workplace readiness, organised by College Fellows.” 

Dr. Corinne noted that students at RVRC are driven and passionate towards the cause of the college, “Even with a lot on their plates, students step up to take up service positions, committee roles or engage in interest groups. These are all very vital to forming a strong community at the college.” Living in a community means that incoming students play a role in nurturing one another and contributing to the development and growth of their fellow  RC residents. By taking on leadership roles and proactively taking part in RVRC initiatives, the students co-create a vibrant student-led community.  

If you are considering applying to an RC, Dr. Corinne advised that students ask themselves whether they are willing to live with, contribute, to, and develop themselves through a community that is passionate towards sustainability and workplace readiness causes. With its focus on experiential and outdoor learning, this residential college welcomes all with passion, drive, and grit.  

 

Word is that RVRC student leader trainings take place against the backdrop of Marina Bay! 

 

RVRC’s Intertidal Walk and Clean initiative at Pulau Semakau 

 

Tembusu College 

Tembusu College was the pioneering Residential College in NUS which started off with a pilot project of just 51 students. 

 

It all started with Tembusu College. Back in 2010, a pilot programme consisting of just 51 students housed in Prince George’s Park Residences marked the humble yet promising beginnings of the Residential College programme at NUS. Almost 14 years later, Tembusu College is now a thriving residential college located in UTown. “We did not theme our RC definitively. Instead, our programmes and the courses we offer take a strong interdisciplinary approach across a broad spectrum of interests,” shared Dr. Kuan Yee Han, Senior Lecturer at Tembusu College. Dubbed ‘The Home of Possibilities’, Tembusu values the development of each student according to his or her own path through life. From offering courses that explore the intersections between science and technology to out of classroom learning  programmes such as the Urban Farmers, Tembusu College strives to ensure that all residents are afforded an interdisciplinary experience.  

Central to the Tembusu experience has been the student community and their involvement with the college. “The student life experience has really evolved through every batch that has come into our college,” shared Dr. Yee Han. The rule of thumb, as Dr. Yee Han put it, is “don’t do nothing”. Tembusu offers various platforms for students to engage themselves in from pursuing their passions while also supporting them at it. The possibilities are endless in this home of possibilities if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone just a little. Although no longer residing in Tembusu College, Dr. Yee Han occasionally still visits the dining hall for a meal, “The best part about Tembusu for me is really the small informal interactions I have with the students outside the classroom. It’s always good to hear about what the students are learning and experiencing.” 

“I would encourage incoming students to come with an open mind and curiosity to learn. You will encounter new ideas and alternate ways of thinking. RCs are a great avenue to make lifelong friends and interact closely with professors in small-classroom settings,” Dr. Yee Han, who has been with Tembusu College since his graduate student days, added on. The curated and holistic educational experience offered by Tembusu is truly what makes it stand out. 

 

 A snap from Tembusu’s formal dinner 

 

 Tembusu Art Week features performances in the lobby by resident artists at the college! 

 

Kurt Hahn, devoted German educationalist, believed that “there exists in everyone a grand passion, an outlandish thirst for adventure, a desire to live boldly and vividly in the journey through life” and that “this passion must be embraced in wholesome ways”. In a way, this is what the Residential Colleges of NUS set out to do for every student who walks in through their doors. If you are a student looking to explore big, bold ideas and truly understand communal living, Residential Colleges are truly for you. We hope to catch you there soon 😉! 

 

Psst! Wondering why NUS College isn’t here? NUSC is an honours college with residential components, with students having access to more than 50 majors, minors, specialisations and other programmes, as well as facilities and opportunities across the University. While also having the word ‘college’ in its name, its nature is closer to a faculty. More on NUSC here. 

Valentine’s Special: Campus Sweethearts

February—the month of love! February could be dreadful for some, especially for all the singles out there who will have to put up with the seemingly incessant Instagram stories of your friends with their Valentine’s dates. February could also be an unforgettable month for those with a date, as they lovingly celebrate the occasion with each other. Follow us as we take you down memory lane of the love stories of three couples who met in NUS!

 

Joshlyn and Po Yan

Joshlyn Looi (Y3, Economics) and Chuan Po Yan (Y4, Business Analytics) met in Pioneer House while working together as student leaders. Joshlyn initially thought Po Yan was a completely different person compared to when she saw him leading a Zoom meeting. “He came off really unexpected as he was pretty quiet the first time we met in person”, Joshlyn shared. For Po Yan, who fondly remembers how Joshlyn thought of him the first time they met, shared, “She was helpful and friendly. I received a lot of help from her even though I was supposed to be guiding the team. I also remember her saying I was awkward the first time we met.”

 

Joshlyn (left) and Po Yan (right) at McDonald’s when they first befriended each other.

“He used to have no emotions”, Joshlyn joked.

For Valentine’s Day this year, Joshlyn and Po Yan are planning to have dinner at McDonald’s, their go-to place for celebrations, as evident in this picture.

 

The couple enjoys hiking from Kent Ridge to Harbourfront, as they think it is a good way to take a break from studying. When it is not a good time to hike, Joshlyn and Po Yan find joy in watching shows together. In fact, they have finished the entire Japanese Anime series Attack on Titan together, and are now starting on the Japanese Drama series Fermat’s Cuisine!

 

The couple on one of their many outdoor dates.

 

The couple also enjoys going out of NUS for their dates. “We love looking for good food, activities and window shopping—anything that brings us out of NUS. I love my greens, and he loves steak so it’s hard to find a balance of both, but the options outside expose us to more cuisines and dishes”, Joshlyn shared. Sometimes, these dates not only go out of NUS and within Singapore, but also out of the country.

 

Joshlyn and Po Yan on a trip to South Korea.

 

When asked about having to juggle between university and a relationship, the couple agreed that they did not find it hard to do so. “She actually benefited a lot academically from the relationship as I became her private tutor for subjects that I don’t even take”, Po Yan shared. “He is the reason why I decided to try things that I was afraid of, like being a Teaching Assistant in the Economics department. His constant presence and encouragement helped me find my passion in education, an area which I would love to pursue in the future”, Joshlyn shared. Seems like Po Yan has provided extensive help in turning Joshlyn into an academic weapon!

“He benefitted a lot emotionally from the relationship as he smiles and laughs more now and is generally a happier person. He finally has emotions now”, Joshlyn continued with her joke.

 

When asked to share a heartfelt message to each other, Po Yan expressed, “Having you in my life has made it more exciting”, while Joshlyn reflected, “People say that university will be the best time of your life, but I entered university during Covid years, and I thought my university life was going to be pretty sad. But, thank you for appearing in my life and adding so many colours to it! I can’t wait to create even more memories with you. University is now the best time of my life.”

Some words of advice from the couple:

Po Yan: While academics are important, cherish the time you have with one another while you’re still a student.

Joshlyn: Uni can be quite stressful at times, but the affirmation and encouragement you give your partner can mean the world to them and they are what keeps them going. Ultimately, the end goal is not to run fast alone but to run far together!

 

Pauline and Sourabh

Just like Joshlyn and Po Yan, Pauline Wo (Y4, Business) and Sourabh Jaiswal (Y4, Computer Science) also met in Pioneer House. (We promise we weren’t specifically looking just at Pioneer House – it’s just a coincidence!) Through an event organised for international students, Pauline and Sourabh’s story started when they were coincidentally assigned to the same group. When they first met, Pauline was captivated by Sourabh’s musical talent, “This guy is very talented in playing the guitar. He is also smart and hard working”, she shared. For Sourabh, he thought Pauline was “a very cheerful girl, who knew what to say to avoid awkward silences”. Seems like both Pauline and Sourabh are both very talented individuals!

Sourabh showcasing his guitar skills. No wonder he caught the attention of Pauline!

Serenading someone through music has long been a prized skill and has left its mark everywhere, even in Greek Mythology. From Sourabh, we can see that such a skill still works till this day.

A regular date within NUS usually comprises of the couple studying together. As final-year students, they must have plenty of study dates together! Outside of NUS, Pauline and Sourabh enjoy food hunting, ice skating, and travelling overseas together. From planning the trip to being on the trip, travelling together as a couple is a thrilling adventure that creates memories that last a lifetime! For Valentine’s Day this year, the couple did not reveal their surprise plan. How exciting! We hope that they will enjoy their date with each other!

 

Pauline and Sourabh on a trip together to Thailand.

 

When prompted to share a heartfelt message to each other, Pauline expressed, “I really appreciate your company when I was experiencing highs and lows for almost 4 years. It was really sweet to meet you here.” Thinking about the future, Sourabh anticipates, “I hope to make more memorable moments from our couple trips to trying out new activities and all the jokes we make to cheer each other up.”

 

For Pauline and Sourabh, having to juggle between university and a relationship was not a huge challenge. Instead, the relationship has helped the both of them get through the tough times in university. “You have a common understanding and are open about your university commitments, it feels good to have someone you can share anything with and support each other through the hardships”, Pauline shared.

 

A word of advice from the couple:

Ensure that communication is always open and always explicitly discuss expectations which would include your financial/personal situations since we are still university students.

 

E Ler and Kar Yi

Ng E Ler (Y1, Business Analytics and Economics) and Yong Kar Yi (Y1, Real Estate) met through mutual friends at a gathering. “We talked for a bit, but she “forgot to reply” me for a whole month and decided to initiate the conversation again. That’s when I asked her out for dinner”, E Ler shared. During the dinner, it was apparent to him that they clicked well. “She was really bubbly and energetic and the conversation kept flowing throughout the night. We were only supposed to meet for dinner but we ended up going for drinks as well. I could tell that she is a very down-to-earth and genuine person who takes very good care of her family and friends.” For Kar Yi, E Ler’s height certainly left an impression. “I thought he was way too tall. But I also felt that he had super good and fun vibes because he matched my energy really well. My most memorable impression of him is that he is very hard working because he was always pulling all-nighters to study”, she shared.

 

According to Kar Yi (left), the freshmen couple has a 26cm height difference.

 

Just like most campus sweethearts, E Ler and Kar Yi spend most of their time studying and having meals together on campus. On top of having meals, the couple also enjoys watching movies and attending seasonal events together outside of NUS. They also shared that their plan for their first Valentine’s together this year will be a surprise. “But we are most likely going to spend most of the day attending lessons.” Even though lessons might take up most of the couple’s day, we hope that they will still enjoy Valentine’s Day with each other’s company!

 

When requested to share a heartfelt message to each other, E Ler shyly conveyed, “I really appreciate you for all the little things you do for me—from bringing me meals to taking care of me when I’m sick, you understand me really well as a person. Thank you for being someone I can share anything with without being judged and for giving me a safe space to express myself. Thank you for always ensuring that we never go to sleep being upset with each other and for always trying to be the bigger person when we have disagreements.” Kar Yi, who is just as thankful as her partner, shared, “I really want to thank you for everything you’ve done so far. Despite my imperfections, you’re always forgiving and I really appreciate it! Because I always suffer from bad period cramps, you’d always be there to check up on me every month without fail, doing whatever you can to make me feel better. Yet, this is just one of the many things you do for me and I’m just so thankful.”

 

E Ler and Kar Yi never fail to express their gratitude for each other.

 

Luckily for the couple, they are able to meet regularly as they both stay on campus—E Ler resides in Kent Ridge Hall, while Kar Yi resides in Cinnamon College. When asked about the difficulties of juggling between university and a relationship, the couple quoted their stay on campus as one of the reasons for their smooth-sailing journey. The couple also makes sure to include each other as much as possible, such as during gatherings with their friends. Yet, they have also managed to ensure that they both have personal space. “We do give each other a lot of space to do the things that we wish to do”, E Ler shared.

 

Words of advice from the couple:

Communication is very important!! It’s inevitable that couples argue from time to time and to be very honest, arguments are really important for our growth as it helps us to understand the way we express ourselves better!

Finding a good balance in your relationship is very important too! Be it with school, family or friends, I think being in a relationship does not mean that you change your life entirely where it just revolves around your significant other. Instead, it’s always about finding a middle ground and being accommodating, and still having some time for yourself as well.

 

And that concludes the wholesome stories of our three campus sweethearts! We wish Joshlyn and Po Yan, Pauline and Sourabh, E Ler and Kar Yi all the best and a Happy Valentine’s!

 

 

Making The Most out of University Life: Tips for Making Friends in University

In university where everyone has their own hectic schedules and lives, it can be lonely at times, especially if you do not have a single buddy there for you. Yet when you decide to start looking for one, you realise that making friends has never been more difficult. One-off coursemates where everyone leaves right after the lecture or tutorial ends, classmates who have very different schedules from you…the struggle is real. Diving into some tips and advice from students and their success stories, this article hopes to guide you through your quest of looking for a friend in university! 

Join a CCA 

While oft quoted, joining a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in school is a great way to make friends. What better way to make friends than through meeting new people who share the same interests and hobbies as you! International student Wynnona Pheeby Yansen (Y2, Data Science and Analytics) hails from Indonesia, and has lived in various parts of the country including Makassar, Kalimantan and Surabaya. For Pheeby, joining a CCA in NUS has played a big role in her friendship-making journey. She is a student volunteer in the NUS Rotaract Club, and a member of NUANSA Cultural Production.  

 


Pheeby (bottom row, second from the right) with her friends from NUANSA Cultural Production.  

 

“Take part in as many activities as you can (of course you need to strike a balance with academics too!) because friendship [requires] a two-way communication, if you imprison yourself in the library or in your room, you suppress your chances of making friends”, Pheeby shared. “I think as university students, the most challenging part is to find a common timing where everyone can make it because of our own schedules and priorities.” This is where CCA sessions can help ensure that you and your potential friends get to meet at least weekly or fortnightly! Regular sessions where members take part in their favourite activities; be it a sport, the performing arts, or volunteering, it is no wonder why so many lasting friendships were formed through CCAs. With a wide-ranging list of CCAs to choose from, there will certainly be something in store for you! If you decide that the CCA is not for you, fret not as most CCAs are generally flexible with their memberships.  

 

Stay on campus 

Every semester, hostels see lasting friendships bloom among their residents. Living together in close proximity for the entire semester will naturally facilitate the forming of friendships. As student leaders of Pioneer House, Joshlyn Looi (Y3, Economics) and Chuan Po Yan (Y4, Business Analytics) met while working closely together for hostel events. For the pair, a meet-up does not require months of planning and scheduling as they spend a large amount of time planning and executing events for residents together to begin with. On top of that, Joshlyn and Po Yan meet up regularly with their mutual friends from Pioneer House to have meals or to go on a breezy night run to West Coast Park.  

 

What a cute duo! Keep a lookout for our upcoming Valentine’s article featuring campus sweethearts including Joshlyn and Po Yan, as we take you through their journey from friends into lovers! 

 

As you navigate your way through living on your own along with your fellow residents, you will most likely end up with at least one friendship (or even a relationship, just like Joshlyn and Po Yan)! 

 

Be proactive 

While staying on campus makes it easier to meet new people and forge lasting bonds, it is not a compulsory factor when making friends. Despite not having stayed on campus throughout her four years at NUS, Hasanah Haja Mydin (Y4, Psychology) has made her own fair share of friends. “You have to be proactive and take initiative to ask people. If you want to be friends with them, just ask. The worst they can say is no”, she shared. One of Hasanah’s many friendships sparked at the Central Library, which she frequents. She initially developed a hi-bye relationship with a fellow Central Library frequent, before engaging in study sessions together. Today, they are close friends. Outside of class, Hasanah maintains her friendships by proactively setting time aside for her friends. “For me personally, the whole ‘see you when I see you’ won’t really allow you to maintain a good friendship”, Hasanah added. “I think it takes intention, and we must learn to manage our expectations, as well as develop empathy.” Indeed, forming and sustaining a friendship can be no easy feat!  

 

Hasanah and her friends on the last day of lecture. 

(Bottom row right side: Hasanah) 

 

As a Utown gym regular, Hasanah admits that she has made two friends in the toilet near the gym. “I made two friends in the toilet. One friend introduced herself and we had the usual What’s your name and major conversation, while another friend started the conversation by asking me if I gym often.” From Hasanah, we’ve learnt that friendships can start anywhere, even in toilets! All it takes is to be proactive and reach out to people.  

 

Be open-minded 

University is substantially made up of students from diverse backgrounds and with various personalities, so you can’t expect everyone you meet to be the same, or to be the perfect ideal friend you have in mind. Being open-minded not only helps you get along with others, but it can also be beneficial for others as well! When Pheeby first reached NUS, she knew no one as she had missed all of the orientation camps before the start of the academic year. Yet, she still managed to befriend her CCA mates and classmates as they were extremely open-minded and welcoming towards her. “People here are just so nice and open, so after a few CCA sessions or tutorials, it was easy to start a conversation and build the connection” she shared.  

As an exchange student, Andrea Nugrahaputri (Y4, Chemical Engineering) from Jakarta, Indonesia initially struggled with living alone and making friends in a foreign country. “For the first two weeks or so, it got a bit lonely, but I tried my best to step out of my comfort zone and just say hi to my neighbours” she shared. Andrea also reached out to her friends and family from back home for advice. “They told me to be a bit more open to others and step out of my comfort zone more. And so that’s what I tried to do.”

 

Andrea (far right) with fellow exchange students enjoying Singapore’s traditional breakfast, Kaya Toast!  

 A tip from Andrea to fellow exchange students in NUS: 

Join any (smaller) activities whether it’s an NUS Club or Interest Group within the hostels, as I feel that it’s easier to make friends from there.  

 

Don’t rush 

In reality, not everyone you meet will be the right friend for you. Give the new friendship time to blossom, and there’s no need to rush into trying to make it work. Instead, be proud of yourself for taking the first step in making a friend. On top of advising Andrea to step out of her comfort zone, her friends and family from back home also reminded her that there is no rush when it comes to befriending others. “I got tremendous help from my family and friends of mine back home to remind me that making friends might take time”, she shared. Similarly, Joshlyn and Po Yan pointed out, “Remember that [forming a] friendship takes time and that you won’t click with everyone immediately.”  

The university is huge, you can take your time and eventually, you will meet the right friends. Slow and steady wins the race!  

 

And that brings us to the end of our friendship-making guide! Of course, these tips are not exhaustive and completely foolproof, but we hope that you have at least gained an idea of how to go about making friends in university. All the best and have fun in your journey of making friends!