Work Hard, Play Hard: Ways to Win at Recess Week

Recess week is finally here! After six weeks of unending lectures and tutorials, it’s finally time for you to take a break (or at least we hope you will!). While it is tempting to just sleep the whole week away, or spend it stuck in the Education Resource Centre grinding for your midterms, Reslife is here to offer some suggestions on how you can spend this week getting the best of both worlds – working hard but also playing hard!

 

1. Plan Your Days

Source: AIHR

(If you’ve read our recent articles, you would know that we’ve talked about planning to no end. But planning is so important that we need to talk about it again!)

Carpe diem! Seize each day of your recess week, for it is too precious to let go to waste. To do that, you need to do the not-so-glamorous work of planning out how each day of your recess week is going to look – this will ensure that you’re setting aside enough time to finish any school work you may have, and it also gives you the chance to schedule in some fun activities you might want to do. Without a plan, you might waste precious time each day wondering what to do, or find that the friends you wanted to hang out with are no longer free ☹ So, create a to-do list and use a calendar to plan out your week!

 

2. Catch Up With Old Friends & Family

Source: BuzzFeed

Let’s be real, having been so busy with your residential and academic commitments over the past six weeks, the main human interaction you’ve had would be with your friends in your residence and your group project members. But now that you’re no longer tied down by lectures and tutorials, perhaps it’s time to reconnect with the friends you’ve been wanting to catch up with for a long time, or even your family members. If you have a local home, staying on campus has definitely reduced the amount of time you spend with them, and for those with family members outside of Singapore – finding time for a Zoom/Facetime call at the end of another Zoom lecture day can just be too much during the term. During recess week, set some time aside to meet with these people and invest in the relationships close to your heart.

 

3. Do Something Fun!

When was the last time you did something fun? Recess week is literally a week for you to take a recess – that is, a “period of time in which an organized activity such as study or work is temporarily stopped” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). Not to take the fun out of having fun, but we just wanted to make a point that there’s even a formal definition for recess! So, whether you feel like you deserve it or not (c’mon, you do!), put down your books for a while and take a break! Schedule in some time to do something relaxing and enjoyable this week, and if you’re not sure what you can do, here are some of our suggestions:

 

For the Outdoor Adventurer

 

1. Kayak for Free While Picking up Trash

Source: PAssion Wave

 

What better way to relax than to spend some time bobbing on the calm waves of the sea (or a reservoir)? The best part is that you can do this for free, while also helping Mother Nature out! For the month of September, you can rent a kayak for free from 9-11am or 2-4pm on Wednesdays to Fridays at any PAssion Wave outlet, in exchange for picking up rubbish while you kayak. Each week’s slot bookings open on the Monday of that week at 12am, so if you want to get your desired slot, do remember to book it fast.

There are a total of six PAssion Wave outlets – three sea outlets (which require a minimum one-star Kayak certification): Sembawang, Pasir Ris East Coast, and three reservoir outlets (no certification needed): Jurong Lake Gardens, Marina Bay, Bedok Reservoir.

For more information, head over to PAssion Wave’s Facebook Post.

(If there are no more slots for the week, not to worry – there are various places in Singapore where you can rent a kayak for around $10 for 2 hours. Check out this guide to kayaking rental spots in Singapore to find out more.)

 

2. Go for a Hike

There are many scenic routes around Singapore where you can take a leisurely hike and clear your mind. The infographic below shows some possible hiking routes you can take – to find out more, visit this article by Homage for trails ranked by difficulty.

Source: Homage

 

  1. For the Movie Lover

Lying in bed and watching a good movie sparks its own special kind of joy. If you’re looking to curl up in bed and spend some time watching a good show, here are some highly rated movies you can consider!

 

1. Minari

Source: Angelus News

Synopsis: A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their American dream. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Genre: Drama

Rating: 7.5/10 IMDB, 98% Rotten Tomatoes

 

2. 3 Idiots

Source: Cinema Express

Synopsis: In college, Farhan and Raju form a great bond with Rancho due to his positive and refreshing outlook to life. Years later, a bet gives them a chance to look for their long-lost friend whose existence seems rather elusive.

Genre: Comedy/Romance

Rating: 8.4/10 IMDB, 100% Rotten Tomatoes

 

3. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

Source: Movie Time Guru

Synopsis: After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey) from her mind. When Joel discovers that Clementine is going to extremes to forget their relationship, he undergoes the same procedure and slowly begins to forget the woman that he loved.

Genre: Romance/ Sci-fi

Rating: 8.3/10 IMDB, 92% Rotten Tomatoes

 

4. Slumdog Millionaire

Source: Michael Ashworth

Synopsis: As 18-year-old Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) answers questions on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” flashbacks show how he got there. Part of a stable of young thieves after their mother dies, Jamal and his brother, Salim, survive on the streets of Mumbai. Salim finds the life of crime agreeable, but Jamal scrapes by with small jobs until landing a spot on the game show.

Genre: Romance/Drama

Rating: 8/10 IMDB, 91% Rotten Tomatoes

 

5. The Godfather

Source: Viator

Synopsis: Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this mob drama focuses on the powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). When the don’s youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino), reluctantly joins the Mafia, he becomes involved in the inevitable cycle of violence and betrayal. Although Michael tries to maintain a normal relationship with his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), he is drawn deeper into the family business.

Genre: Crime/Drama

Rating: 9.2/10 IMDB, 97% Rotten Tomatoes

 

For the Historian

If you’re looking to do something a little more unique, here are two activities that will evoke some nostalgia and bring out the historian in you.

 

1. Visit the National Museum Exhibition, “Home, Truly: Growing Up with Singapore, 1950s to the Present”

Source: National Heritage Board

This highly rated exhibition takes you on a journey through the key moments and experiences of Singapore’s past and present, with plenty of interactive elements to keep you engaged and immersed in the stories told. If you’re interested in taking a walk down Singapore’s memory lane, this exhibition is sure to evoke warm feelings of nostalgia and patriotism, as well as prompt you to reflect on what Singapore means to you as a home.

The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 7pm (last admission at 6.30pm), until 3 October 2021. Admission is free, and it is located in the Basement Level of the Exhibition Gallery in the National Museum of Singapore. For more information on the exhibition, click here.

 

2. Go Cafe Hopping in Kampong Bahru

Source: The Straits Times

 

Have you ever heard of Kampong Bahru? Kampong Bahru Road is a stretch of 44 commercial shophouses opposite the Singapore General Hospital, and unbeknownst to many, the area is full of interesting bits of history, as well as numerous cafes and Instagrammable spots. It demonstrates an interesting balance of the preservation of history and the simultaneous embracing of modernity.

If you’re feeling adventurous, this little-known part of Singapore is perfect for a day of exploring, and at the same time, you can fill your stomach with good food by patronising the many different cafes in the area. During your visit, some unmissable places include the Blair Plain Conservation Area (a cluster of conservation shophouses built in the early 1900s),  the NUS Baba House (a heritage house which contextualises Peranakan Chinese material culture and aesthetics within a domestic setting), and the Kampong Life Murals by Yip Yew Chong at Everton Road.

If you end up visiting this interesting space and posting about it on Instagram, do tag us @nusresidentiallife – we would love to see your adventures!

 

4. Study (… but maybe somewhere other than NUS?)

Source: The Best Colleges

While you should find time to rest and unwind during the week, the reality is that your midterms and submissions are right around the corner too. Factoring in time to study during the week is important so that you don’t end up rushing all your work on the weekend before school restarts, undoing all the stress-relief activities you might have engaged in. If you’re looking for some study spots around NUS, check out a previous article, Seven Great Study Spots in NUS.

Studying in school all the time can be boring, so for a change in scenery, grab some friends and head out to cafes or libraries nearby to study. The National Libraries near NUS with a conducive atmosphere for studying include Jurong Regional Library and Queenstown Public Library. If you would rather study in the more laid back setting of a cafe, check out this list of study-friendly cafes compiled by NUS FAT (Food and Travel) Club.

 

 5. Sleep

Source: Parents.com

Last but definitely not least- remember to catch up on some z’s! It can be tempting to forgo your sleep as you work hard and play hard – however, the first six weeks of the semester might have already caused you some sleep debt, and it wouldn’t be wise to add to it. Research has also shown that sleep is important in aiding the processes of focusing, learning, and memory consolidation – this means that sleeping more can actually help you learn and study more efficiently! So do yourself a favour and rest up – your body will thank you later :).

Now that you know how to make the most of your recess week, go forth, and have a wonderful week ahead!

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We hope this article has been useful in helping you plan out how your recess week will go. How else might you be spending your recess week? Tell us in the comments or DM us on our IG @nusresidentiallife!

 

 

How to Thrive (& Not Just Survive) in Campus Life & Your Studies

Why do you stay on campus? For some people, it’s for the mere convenience of being near to classes. But for many, it might also have to do with the unique experience of campus life – having supper with your friends past midnight, participating in fun residential activities, and so much more!

While you may want to join in with all the exciting activities happening on campus, there’s always that nagging thought at the back of your head, “Should I really be doing this? Shouldn’t I use this time to do my assignments instead?”. This then leads us to the million-dollar question: “How can I be active on campus, but still keep on top of my studies? Is there a perfect balance?”

If this is a question you’ve been wondering about, you’re in luck! Speaking to three of our very own residents who are highly active in their residences, Reslife discovers how they balance residential life with their studies. We’ve consolidated their tips and tricks, did our own research too (yup!) and we’re proud to present you with this handy four-part summary.

 

  1. Know What You’re Signing Up For & Why

There are vast amounts of activities you could possibly sign up for in your time on campus, but unfortunately, the time you have is limited. So how might you discern for yourself which activities are worth your time?

First, know what you’re there for. You don’t want to sign up for something that doesn’t meet your expectations and/or with no objective – that’s just a waste of time.  Gillian Yeong (Yr 4, Linguistics & Sociology Major, CAPT) has some advice on this matter: “Talk to people who have been in that role before. This way, you’ll get a clearer picture of how much work the role requires, whether it’s something you want to put your time into, and whether it’s something you’re passionate about.”

Gillian (left-most) with some of her friends from CAPT Kamal

Researching about the role and knowing the “what” is important, but knowing the “why” – your reason for joining a particular project, is arguably more important. This idea is supported by Simon Sinek, a popular author who is famous for creating and popularising the Golden Circle concept – starting with “why” before you think about the “how” and the “what” in order to be successful at what you want to do.  Watch his famous Ted Talk here.

Golden Circle Concept: Start from the inside out of the circle
Source: Brian Tan

Chloe Yung (Yr 3, Political Science Major, USP) agreed: “Every time you do something, you take a step in a direction.  But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll be walking in circles. Think about some things you want to leave university with, maybe three main qualities, then set your sights in that direction. Build a compass for yourself!”

In essence, find your “why”, and the “what” will naturally follow.  If you’re doing something that you care deeply about, you’re more likely to be able to find the strength to put quality effort into both your studies and your residential commitments.

Source: Goalcast

 

  1. Tap Into The Strength Offered By Community

Chloe (bottom) with her University Scholars Club friends

Community inspires and uplifts.  Being the Honorary General Secretary in the University Scholars Club, Chloe taps into the strength of her network to support her endeavours: “Emotionally, friends help a lot.  Everything is so much easier when you just tell people when and where you need help, so that they can help you figure it out.  When you do that, you realise that everyone is trying to help each other.”  Gillian affirmed this, sharing: “It is important to communicate your needs. Learn to say, “I don’t know this”, “I need a bit more help”, and also “If you need help now, I am ready to give it”.

A single stick can be easily broken, but a bundle of sticks is harder to break.  There is much strength to be found in your community; learn to own it and gladly receive it.

 

  1. Plan Your Time Well

The secret to managing all demands of life – not just residential life and school work – is to plan your time well.  Everyone knows this, but is there a tested way to do it?  In Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he introduces a time-management quadrant that can help with prioritising the tasks that are most important first.

Source: Franklin Covey

A quadrant model for scheduling your life – really?  As it turns out, it’s not that farfetched.

Rachel (Yr 3, Medicine, CAPT) already applies this in her life, explaining: “I segregate my time into blocks. For example, exercising in the morning, then studying for the rest of the day. The time after dinner is reserved for hostel things like socialising with my friends and event meetings. It is definitely an effort to stay in Q2! You will have times of FOMO, like when you’re studying but you can hear your friends hanging out together in the corridor.  But learning to say no and staying disciplined will pay off in the long run.”

There are myriad ways to schedule your time, with Google Calendar being the scheduler of choice for most NUS students, but Gillian dishes on a crucial tip: “Prepare time to prepare! You need time to plan ahead, but we often don’t plan for the time to plan. Whether it’s half an hour on a Sunday night or Saturday morning, use that time to sit down and plan for the week ahead.  Planning ahead also allows you to adapt quickly if your plans change, as you already know your priorities for the week.”

 

  1. Be A Ballerina

How curious.  What does a ballerina have to do with finding balance in our lives?

Gillian enthused: “We often think of balance as a perfectly set-up arrangement.  For example, what is the magic formula of residential commitments I can take on in order to be in a good place with both my studies and residential activities? But let’s think about a professional ballerina. How does she keep her balance when she puts her leg up while balancing on her toes? You will find that she’s not trying to keep everything in place all at once, but she’s making minor adjustments everywhere in her body as her leg raises slowly – just that you don’t see it.”

Ballerina balancing
Source: Aurelie Dupont

Likewise, you might look at someone achieving in both school and campus life, and think that they have achieved a perfect balance, but the secret is that they are probably making minor adjustments in their personal lives everyday behind the scenes that you don’t see.  This means spending more time on assignments when you must, and spending time with your friends only on weekend every fortnight when you can.

To think that you can strike a perfect balance from the start and maintain it forever, is fiction.  Balance is a constant, dynamic process of learning to give and take in various areas of your life.  Let go of your own high expectations and recognise that life is hardly ever a perfect balance – just an ongoing balancing act.

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We hope these nuggets of wisdom from our seniors have been useful to you! Do you have any other advice or tips on how you can be active on campus and also manage your studies well? Tell us in the comments or DM us on our IG @nusresidentiallife!

Psst! Visit us on IG to view bonus study tips that the interviewees dished!

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More About Our Interviewees

Chloe Yung

Chloe is a Year 3 Political Science student who is also part of the prestigious University Scholars Programme (USP). She stayed in USP’s Cinnamon College for the first two years of university. Chloe was the Honorary General Secretary in the University Scholars Club, as well as the Editor in Chief for the USP student publication, the Cinnamon Roll.

Gillian Yeong

Gillian is a Year 4 Linguistics and Sociology student who stayed in CAPT for the first three years of university. Gillian was a CAPT House Head and CAPT Kamal’s Project Director – a mentorship project for Normal Technical students in Queensway Secondary School, as well as a Summer Camp for students in Dream School Foundation in India.

Rachel Ong

Rachel is a Year 3 Medicine student who stayed in CAPT in her first two years of university. She was the project director for CAPT’s annual Community Engagement Fest, a largescale event where CAPTains can embark on several trails to learn more about hidden communities that most people would rarely have the chance to interact with. Some communities include morticians, rough sleepers, sex workers, vanishing trades – just to name a few.

10 Simple Lunches You Can Prepare in Your Pantry

Imagine this: Lunch time is here again – but maybe it’s raining, or you’re in a lazy mood and you don’t want to go out to buy your food. Wouldn’t it be great if you could whip up something quick and tasty right in the pantry of your residence?

Fret not, all of us at Reslife know exactly what that feels like.  We’ve done the research for you and now, we present 10 simple dorm-friendly lunch recipes that the most beginner of chefs can follow. What’s great is that these recipes use easily sourced ingredients (that can be found at Clementi NTUC or Sheng Siong) and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes – perfect for the busy and very hungry NUS student.

Let’s get cooking!

 

  1. Aglio e Olio

Source: Binging with Babish

Probably the easiest of pastas to make, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans, this Aglio e Olio will be ready in just 10 minutes. Feel free to customise it and add in other ingredients to your liking as well!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

2 cloves of garlic, separated and peeled

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

58g (about 1 handful) spaghetti

1/4 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Heavily salt a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta until slightly underdone while completing the steps below.
  2. Slice the garlic cloves thinly, and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until barely shimmering.
  4. Add sliced garlic, stirring constantly, until softened and turning golden on the edges. Add the red pepper flakes and lower the heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the pasta, drained, with about 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice over top, and mix into the pasta with the fresh parsley. If the sauce is too watery, continue to cook for 1-3 minutes, until pasta has absorbed more liquid.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

 

Adapted from: Binging with Babish

 

  1. Spaghetti Bolognese

Source: Erren’s Kitchen

If you’re looking for a more classic pasta dish, Spaghetti Bolognese is the way to go. This simple but delicious recipe is sure to hit the spot for any spaghetti lover.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 large onion finely chopped

113.4g (½ cup) ground beef

1 crushed tomato

1 clove garlic chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

58g (about 1 handful) spaghetti

1/4 tablespoon dried oregano (optional)

Grated parmesan cheese to serve (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  4. Add the ground beef; fry until fully cooked and no pink shows at all in the meat (about 8 minutes).
  5. Add the oregano (optional) and tomato paste and mix with the meat.
  6. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Season with the salt and pepper.
  7. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for at least 15 minutes (you can cook longer for a deeper flavor).
  8. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Drain and serve topped with the sauce and cheese (optional).

Tips:

  • Seasoning the meat with salt and pepper adds an extra kick of flavour which is key to speeding up the cooking time of this sauce.
  • Make this sauce your own by adding whatever fresh or dried herbs of your choice or even some red wine which can be added and cooked down before adding the tomatoes.
  • When adding the dried oregano, try rubbing it between your palms to release maximum flavour.
  • Use good quality tomatoes when shopping for ingredients – don’t skimp, the better quality the tomatoes, the better the sauce will be.
  • If you have the time, simmering the sauce for longer will add a deeper flavor.

 

Adapted from: Erren’s Kitchen

 

  1. Carbonara

Source: Jamie Oliver

Creamy carbonara can taste like a gourmet meal, but it actually can be made quite easily! If the previous two pastas are not to your liking, perhaps this simple carbonara recipe will win your heart.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

3/4 tbsp. salt

2 strips of bacon

1 egg

Black pepper

½  Tbsp.  olive oil

58g (about 1 handful) spaghetti

30 g Parmesan cheese , plus extra for grating

Steps:

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
  2. Slice the bacon in ¼ inch strips and place in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with half a tablespoon of olive oil and a really good pinch of black pepper. Leave it to get super-golden and crispy, flipping occasionally, then turn off the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the egg in a bowl, then finely grate in the Parmesan and mix well.
  4. Transfer your pasta straight into the pan and toss with the bacon.
  5. Pour the Parmesan eggs into the pan, and keep everything moving, loosening with splashes of the pasta cooking water until you have a silky sauce. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot otherwise the eggs will scramble.
  6. Plate up the pasta, and finish with an extra grating of Parmesan.

 

Adapted from: Jamie Oliver

 

  1. Pesto Chicken/Mushroom Mug Microwave Pasta

Source: Sweet Peas and Saffron

Don’t want the hassle of washing your pots and pans after cooking? This microwavable mug pasta is for you. It’s easy to make, easy to clean up, and most importantly – it tastes great!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

½ cup pasta (macaroni, fusili or penne)

1 cup water

pinch salt

1.5 tablespoons pesto

½ cup cherry tomatoes halved

½ cup spinach torn

½ cup cooked chicken breast (cubed) OR sliced cooked mushrooms

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (or any cheese, square slices work too)

pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Steps:

  1. Place the pasta and ⅔ cup of water in a meal mug. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place a paper towel under the mug, and heat on high (NO LID) for 5 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  3. After the 5 minutes is up, stir the pasta and add the remaining ⅓ cup of water. Heat for 2-3 more minutes (NO LID), or until pasta is cooked through.
  4. Stir in the pesto until pasta is coated. Add in the tomatoes, spinach and chicken/mushrooms, then microwave on high for 30 seconds-1 minute (LID ON), until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are soft.
  5. Stir in the cheese, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, and enjoy!

Tips:

  • For Vegetarians, here’s how you can quickly cook mushrooms in just a microwave:
    • Place thickly sliced mushrooms in a microwave-safe bowl.
    • Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once.
  • For Non-Vegetarians, here’s a simple chicken breast/thigh recipe if you have no cooked chicken on hand:
    • Ingredients: 1 chicken breast/thigh, dried basil, salt, pepper, 2 tsp oil
    • Steps: Season chicken thighs with dried basil, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and sear on both sides until golden brown, cooked through and no longer pink. Remove and set aside.
  • Alternatively, if you’re in a residence that offers a dining hall, use a meal credit to get extra chicken, or side dishes that might be served during breakfast/lunch!
  • If not, you can choose to skip the chicken or replace it with ham/sausage/luncheon meat.

 

Adapted from: Sweet Peas and Saffron

 

  1. Japanese Curry Rice

Source: NoobCook

Japanese curry is delicious, and thanks to the sale of instant curry sauces in most supermarkets, you can now make it easily on your own too! Add some rice, carrots, chicken and potatoes, and you will have yourself a classic Japanese dish.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1 tbsp cooking oil

1 boneless chicken fillet cut to large chunks

¼ large onion roughly chopped

1/4 potato peeled and cut to small chunks

1/2 carrot peeled and cut to small chunks

250ml water

25g of instant Japanese curry sauce (1 cube if using S&B brand)

1 bowl of leftover cooked rice

Steps:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken chunks and stir until golden brown, cooked through and no longer pink. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add onions to the same pot and cook on medium heat until they are soft and translucent.
  3. Add potatoes, carrots, browned chicken and water. Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.
  4. Add the instant Japanese curry cubes and stir through until they are dissolved. Adjust the consistency of the curry (simmer for a few more minutes if too watery; add water if the curry is too thick).
  5. Serve curry with rice

Tips:

  • If you don’t have a rice-cooker or leftover rice, this is how you can cook rice:
    • Measure ½ cup of rice. Put the rice in a pot, and cover with about 2 inches of water. Let the rice soak for 15-20 minutes on the counter. Once the rice has soaked, drain off the water it was soaking in. You should now just have a pot of soaked rice.
    • Add ½ cup of fresh water and pour it into the pot (for brown rice, add a little more water).
    • Put the pot over the stove on medium high heat. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for around 10-15 minutes (white rice) or 20-25 minutes (brown rice). And that’s it!

 

Adapted from: NoobCook (Jap Curry) and The Woks of Life (Rice)

 

  1. Vegetarian Microwave Mushroom Risotto

Source: Taste

Here’s another microwavable meal for those who would rather not use the stove. This microwave risotto is fully vegetarian can also be customised with various ingredients to your liking – remove the leek, add carrots instead, add eggs – you’re the chef!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

60g butter, chopped

1 leek, halved, washed, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cup arborio rice

3 cups mushroom broth (or any other chicken-stock substitute)

400g mushrooms, sliced (we used Swiss brown cups, buttons, shiitake)

50g parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Steps:

  1. Add butter, leek and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover loosely with paper towel. Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 2 minutes or until leek is soft.
  2. Add rice. Stir to coat in butter mixture.
  3. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH (100%) for 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups stock.
  4. Cover and microwave on HIGH (100%) for 5 minutes, followed by 7 minutes on MEDIUM (50%).
  5. Stir in mushrooms and remaining stock. Cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for a further 7 minutes. Let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
  6. Add parmesan, parsley and remaining butter. Season with pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon into bowls. Serve.

 

Adapted from: Taste

 

  1. Upgraded Instant Noodles

Source: Omnivores Cookbook

Everyone knows instant noodles and university students are inseparable. However, eating plain instant noodles alone probably makes for one of the least nutritious meals out there. Here are a few additional ingredients you can use to upgrade your instant noodles and make it more of a meal and less of the bare minimum to keep you alive.

Bacon & Eggs

Right before you take your cooked instant noodles off heat, crack in an egg for poaching. Turn off the heat and let it cook with the lid on for about two minutes before tossing in some chopped fried bacon. You could also choose to add in hard-boiled eggs instead.

Sliced cheese squares

After your ramen has cooked, place a couple cheese slices (no such thing as too much cheese) on top and let it melt!

Luncheon Meat & Sausage

Spam, sausage, or whatever protein you still have in your pantry – bring it out and fry it up! You can drop it in your steaming bowl of instant ramen for added flavour, or have it on the side.  Vegetarians: we hear that Omnimeat is a fine alternative for luncheon meat!

Frozen vegetables

If you happen to have frozen vegetables, or any vegetables for that matter (eg. carrots, peas, spinach, broccoli, etc.), you can toss it in and cook it with your ramen. Added fibre is always good!

 

Source: Klook

 

  1. Microwavable Loaded Baked Potatoes

Source: Recipe Runner

Calling all potato lovers – this delicious loaded baked potato is sure to satisfy your stomach!

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1 large potato (or 2 small potatoes), skin scrubbed clean

1/4 cup low fat cottage (or feta) cheese

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any other cheese)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

¼ green onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of paprika (optional)

Pinch of black pepper

1 strip of bacon, cooked and diced (Vegetarians: Replace this with omnimeat or cooked mushrooms!)

Steps:

  1. Pierce the potato all over with a fork then place in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 5-6 minutes, then turn them over and microwave again for another 5-6 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking add all the remaining ingredients to a bowl and toss together until combined, forming a cottage cheese mixture
  3. When the potatoes are done cooking, split them open with a knife and spoon the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the top of each one.

 

Adapted from: Recipe Runner

 

  1. Fried Noodles

Source:  Yummieliciouz Food Recipes

This recipe may be a little on the unhealthy side, but once in a while, you might need to satisfy your craving for fried noodles, so let us show you how!

Ingredients:

1 pack of Instant Noodles (Can use Maggi/Indomie)

Seasoning (Dark Soy sauce, Salt, Pepper, can replace with seasoning packet of instant noodles)

1 tbsp Oil

2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped

2 Eggs

Additional toppings of your choice (Suggestions: bacon/sausages)

Water

Steps:

  1. Boil water and cook noodles according to packaging instructions
  2. Crack and beat eggs into a bowl, season with a pinch of salt
  3. Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat
  4. Fry garlic in oil until slightly golden-brown
  5. Fry any additional toppings of choice until almost fully cooked
  6. Add in eggs and stir in the pan
  7. Add in noodles when eggs start to turn solid
  8. Add in seasoning as desired (recommended: whole seasoning packet from instant noodles, or Dark soy sauce, pepper, and salt to taste)
  9. Continue cooking until everything is fully cooked.

 

Recipe contributed by Ryan Cheung, a Y4 Linguistics Major and resident from the College of Alice and Peter Tan

 

  1. Vegan Soba Noodle Salad with Edamame Beans

Source: The Cheap Lazy Vegan

This Soba Noodle Salad is 100% vegan-friendly and delicious – what’s better is that it can be easily whipped up in just 10 minutes. Skip the cup noodles and make yourself this healthy lunch on your busy days.

Ingredients (1 Serving):

1 serving soba (buckwheat) noodles

1/2 bell pepper

1/2 carrot

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame beans, thawed

Sauce recipe:

1/2 tbsp soy sauce or equivalent

1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar

Optional:

1/2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Steps:

  1. Cook noodles according to instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, chop bell pepper and carrots in thin, long pieces
  3. In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients together until well-combined.
  4. When noodles are done cooking, drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
  5. Add noodles, veggies and sauce into a bowl and mix well.
  6. Top with toasted sesame seeds and green onion and you are ready to devour!

Tips:

  • For added protein, consider mixing in some tofu cubes – here’s a tofu recipe you can use:
    • Heat a pan over medium heat and add 1tbsp olive oil, 200g tofu and 1tbsp soy sauce.  Cook tofu until browned and crispy.  It doesn’t take long at all! (Source: SheLikesFood)

 

Adapted from: The Cheap Lazy Vegan

 

Give these recipes a shot and do tag us on IG @nusresidentiallife if you make them! Are there other dorm-friendly lunches you love cooking? Tell us in the comments or DM us on our IG. Happy cooking! 😊

Preparing For the Semester Ahead: 5 Things to Remember

It’s a brand-new semester and academic year! Whether you are a freshman excitedly entering into the new world of university, or a slightly less excited senior hoping the new semester treats you well, all of you have one thing in common: wanting to do your best and make the most of your time in the coming semester. At least we hope that you do!

Here at Reslife, we’ve come up with 5 simple but important things you can remember as you prepare for a great semester ahead. Let’s dive straight into them!

 

1. Work Hard but Remember to Take Care of Yourself

It’s safe to say that a key priority of every university student is to do well in all their modules and graduate with a good CAP. However, all too often we sacrifice sleep, meals, and even our social lives for the sake of putting in extra effort into our assignments. Working hard is important, for it shows that we are being a good steward of the opportunities that have been given to us. But as for all things in life, achieving a balance is important. Even as we work hard, we must take care of both our physical and mental well-being, lest we get overwhelmed and burn out.

One way to achieve this balance is to plan your time in advance. Be it a physical planner, or an online planner like Google Calendar or Notion, use it to block out enough time to complete your assignments while also scheduling in breaks (Yes – include your breaks in your schedule as well!).

Use Google Calendar to schedule breaks and block out time for assignments

This minimises the likelihood of you pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines, as well as ensures that you’re setting aside time to rest and spend with the people you care about.

Remember – your physical and mental health are not secondary to your assignments; they are on par for importance!

 

2. Find Good Friends and Be a Good Friend

When the going gets tough, it’s the friends around us who make the journey a little more bearable. This is why it’s important to surround yourself with friends who will be there for you through thick and thin. These are the people who can lift your spirits just by being around you, the people who remind you not to sleep too late because they care deeply about you, and the people whom you can always count on for a fun time or a warm conversation.

Good friends remind us to take care of ourselves!

It takes two hands to clap, so remember to also be to your friends all that they are to you – encourage them, support them, look out for their physical and mental well-being, and let them know how much they mean to you. Aim not to just have friendships of proximity and convenience that don’t stand the test of time, but friendships that can last through the ages.

Supper picnic outside the lounge at CAPT

If you’re wondering how you might find and build friendships, one way is to make an effort to participate in the exciting activities your residence has to offer. There are so many interesting people to meet, and incredible friendships that have yet to be formed!

 

3. Make a Budget and Don’t Overspend

Living on campus might be a little more expensive than just staying at home. For example, you can no longer enjoy the groceries and snacks your parents buy, or use the washing machine and printer for free. You might sometimes also want to bless your friends with bubble tea, or participate in residential events like Angel and Mortal and night-cycling. All these little expenses do add up, so it’s important to create a budget and spend within it. This way, you won’t be shocked when you look at your bank account after the semester is over, and you’ll also learn to plan and manage your finances.

Using a budgeting app is a great way to keep track of your money. Popular budgeting apps include Buddy for Apple phones, and Monthly Budget Planner for Android phones.

Simply create some categories of expenses and think about how much you want to reasonably limit yourself to spend in each of those categories (eg. Printing -$5, Laundry – $8, Food – $200, Transport – $30, etc.). Remember to also factor in how much you want to set aside to save. Every time you make a transaction, record it in the app and the app will show you how much you have left to spend in each category, reducing the likelihood of you overspending.

Creating Budget Categories Using the Buddy App

Living on campus is a great opportunity for you to start taking charge of your personal finances, so take this time to plan ahead and learn to be a good steward of the resources provided to you.

 

4. Set Goals

Everyone knows about goal setting, but not everyone does it enough to reap the benefits. Goal setting is important for helping you visualise where you want to be at the end of the semester, and providing you with the steps to get there. The problem is that we often feel the pressure to set lofty goals, and we get discouraged when we cannot meet them. New Year resolutions, anybody?

If you have a large goal in mind, it often helps to break it into smaller goals to act as steps leading up to the main goal. Instead of setting a goal like “Get A for all modules”, maybe try smaller, more manageable goals like, “Submit all work on time”, or “Don’t miss any lectures”.

Goals this writer set (and met! 😅) after reflecting on her first semester in Year 2

Try not to set too many goals as well – two to three small goals is enough. This way, you can remember what your goals are and focus on achieving them. Small steps are better than no steps at all!

 

5. Have Fun!

Last, but perhaps most important – remember to have fun! University, and especially living on campus, is so much fun. Don’t just focus on studying – step out of your comfort zone and try new things, get to know your neighbours, make lifelong friends, and create memories you can look back upon fondly. You’re not going to remember the hours spent alone cramming for exams, but you will remember the time you stayed up talking with your friends until the sun rose, the epic Angel and Mortal pranks, and the feeling of warm friendship surrounding you as you chatted with your friends over supper.

Fun Memories: Angel & Mortal pranks, staying up to watch the sunrise

This opportunity to live in school and have fun with your friends is not going to last forever, so don’t take it for granted. Allow yourself to enjoy it as best as you can.

House dinner in CAPT (taken before COVID-19)

If you ever find yourself getting a little lost as time goes by, may you hold onto these 5 reminders, recalibrate, and refocus on what is important. The road ahead may seem long, and there will be ups and downs, but take a leaf out of Muhammad Ali’s book and don’t count the days – make the days count. Here’s to a great semester ahead!

 

Are there other important tips that have helped you make the most of your semester?  Tell us in the comments or DM us on IG @nusresidentiallife!

 

What I’ve Learnt From Writing 22 Articles In a Year

A peek into my Reslife diary: Intern Reflection by Residential Life Marcom Intern – Chloe Low Yen Ting.

It’s been a year of writing for Reslife and this article is in some sense, my last homage to the blog that I’ve held ever so dear to me. Through sharing the compelling stories of others, I’ve also shared some pieces of myself, my worldview and thoughts on subjects that I have come across in my own residential life. This blog holds a sliver of my journey in University, and is somewhat of a time capsule of the things that I’ve discovered along the way. In this heartfelt reflection, I share my happy moments, the growing pains and the stronger me that came out of it.

Kicking back after finals, with a group of treasured hall mates.

Growth doesn’t come all at once, it creeps up on you in ways that you may not even realise. Interviewing people from all walks of life, I have gained a wider perspective of the world and reaped inspiration from the strengths of its people — each having their own unique story to tell. Speaking to Amber, who works as a student COVID-19 Swab Tester, I’ve learnt to pursue resilience in hardship and trying times. Hearing the story of Wenbo, a Peer Student Supporter, taught me that it only takes one to make a difference. From my supervisor, Bell, I’ve learnt to be kind and say “thank you” often. To not take for granted the work that others put in and to show appreciation for the little things in the day to day. Unknowingly, I’ve morphed into a better version of myself — one more tolerant of different worldviews and empathetic towards those that I meet.

Learning didn’t stop there. While the deliverables of my job were a steady constant of two articles and twelve Instagram posts a month, it never felt the same as each semester came along. There were always new ways to flesh out an article, different tones of voice to explore and innovative methods to improve the make of our Instagram designs. Even as the year came to a close, I wouldn’t say that I was fully satisfied with what I had left behind, as I still see much room for improvement and areas in which I have fallen short. But there’s beauty in that. Doing the same thing again and again, but never getting bored of it. The will to improve is an attitude, and that’s a takeaway that has been deeply ingrained.

Screengrab from my last interview with Bell and our interviewee, Assistant Professor Caroline Lim.

But that’s all the good stuff. The stuff I’ll willingly put out into the world. As a parting gift, I thought that I’d also talk about the other side of things — the equally important parts that aren’t so shiny or well put-together. As Reslife moved towards a greater emphasis on mental health during my term, in some ways, I’ve been forced to come to terms with my own mental health as well — and as a struggling university student, it isn’t always pretty.

Pictured: A small, year one, semester one me not understanding how University works and yet, feeling the weight of it. It really does just get overwhelming sometimes.

Other times, good friends make all the difference.

Living on campus is a rather unique situation: you’ll be studying, socialising and figuring things out, all whilst surrounded by other university students who are also studying, socialising and figuring things out. There will be times that you will experience self-doubt, feelings of loneliness and exhaustion to the point of being driven on just coffee alone. You will experience feeling lost in life, tired-out and possibly, even go through the worst heartbreak of your entire life. 

But that isn’t all, of course. With all that you go through, I promise that there will also be times where you’ll laugh the hardest, achieve your greatest milestones and make some of the best memories that you will ever make — and these experiences will outlive the bad, and last a lifetime.

It’s truly an experience that needs to be lived-out, and I can’t fully encapsulate its beauty in only less than a thousand words. So as I leave my Reslife journey here, I hope that you too will be able to experience all this and more. For I promise that while it is a crazy journey, it’s definitely one well worth the ride. 

I wish you all the best and more.

Signing out with love, 

Chloe

 

The Real Reason Why We Ghost and Why We Shouldn’t

We have all done it, at least once in our lives. Although the term “Ghosting” is typically used in the context of dating, it can be applied to other areas of our life as well.

Have a friend you haven’t texted back in a while? A project group mate that you were too lazy to update? Here’s a few possible reasons why we ghost, the effects of ghosting and three practical ways we can try to avoid it.

Source: ABC

Why do we ghost, really?

When life gets busy, we tend to switch off and ignore the heaps of spam coming into our inbox. We do it unintentionally: a message comes in when we are in the middle of something and we make a mental note to reply later…except that later never comes (whoops). Texting our friends back takes a backseat over work; work gets busy and we forget to reply – we are always chasing an endless chain of things to do next.

Sometimes, we do it intentionally. Maybe we’ve been on a date that was so awkward that we contemplated escaping during our “bathroom break”, or we just didn’t feel like turning up for a CCA thing after pulling an all-nighter on an assignment. It just seems easier to not explain ourselves. We feel like it would make things more awkward, we don’t know how to phrase things, or maybe we even feel like we don’t really need to reply – after all, we don’t owe anyone an explanation right?

Well, here’s the simple reason why we shouldn’t ghost.

It all comes down to this: in dealing with human relationships, we should also consider the impacts of our actions on others. While life still goes on even if you don’t send that text back, or tell that awkward date that you have decided to move on, it leaves things on assumption, creating unnecessary hurt and a potential build-up of negative emotions. Think about it this way: we’ve all ghosted on others before, but we’ve also been ghosted too. Surely, it can’t feel nice being on the receiving end. Ghosting creates friction in our relationships with others and chips away at the bonds forged, regardless of whether we notice it or not.

If you hate being ghosted, then don’t ghost others.

Good news, we can learn to avoid it.

Let’s start by being more accountable to the people in our lives. This means that we need to make an effort to communicate where we are at – be it mentally or physically – so that the other person can better understand where we are coming from.

Revisiting some of the scenarios brought up earlier, let’s find better ways to respond in those situations.

Most likely to occur in our daily lives: ghosting in friendship.

Perhaps you haven’t talked to this friend in a while or you happened to be occupied when their text came in. Instead of blue-ticking them, you can send a quick text their way (especially if they were talking about something important to them).

It only takes a second.

Not replying can unintentionally signify that you might not want to engage in conversation, and the other person might then reciprocate this in future – widening the gap in your friendship. While it does take some extra effort, such little things make all the difference when it comes to meeting each other halfway.

The same goes for work. If you’re swamped at the moment, just let the other person know, and when you can get back to them soonest. Be it a group project or meeting, don’t stay silent and tune everyone out. You could even take it a step further and let others know when exactly you will finish your assignment – and then, do it. This will boost your dependability and others would greatly appreciate the effort made to stick to your word.

Source: The Career People

And the most sticky of all: dating. Dating can sometimes feel like a calculated game of chess, where no one wants to be the first to show their hand. So we ghost instead – the universal sign for “I’m no longer interested”. But while you know the reasons behind your actions, the other party doesn’t – this creates a toxic dating culture, where the other party is left feeling weathered down and confused.

You might think that you are doing this in order not to hurt the other person’s feelings, but when we leave the other person hanging, we usually end up hurting them even more. Take ripping off a band-aid for example: you do it once and then it’s over. It’ll be much easier for them to process what went down, and hopefully, move on. So lay down your pride and craft a well-phrased response, sprinkling in a few genuine compliments to soften the blow.

Avoid pinning the blame on the other party. Instead, use pronouns like “I” instead of “You”.

Ghosting has become a norm, but it doesn’t need to stay that way. Let us all be more present in our communication with others and strengthen our relationships through the small efforts that we make on the daily. After all, it’s only fair to treat others the same way that we would want to be treated — and that’s with respect and accountability.

6 Free Things Exclusive To NUS Students

Be it sweet deals or products on discount, nothing beats getting something completely for free! As long as you are an NUS student, you can sign up for various software and courses, and save money on applications that you might have already been planning to use. So save those dollar bills and treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee, because here are six things you can get for free as an NUS Student.

1. Zoom

Have you ever found yourself passionately discussing your group project when you got cut off by the “end of meeting” notification? We’ve all been there.

Well, say no more to your “40-minutes basic plan” and hello to Zoom Premium! If you’re a Teaching Assistant, a CCA leader, or are involved with any event that requires the licensed Zoom account, you can sign up here to gain access to Zoom’s premium functions. 

Do note: It might take up to three working days for the administrators to approve of your application.

With a Zoom Premium license, you can now hold Zoom meetings for an unlimited time, record your meetings onto the Cloud, and stream services to Social Media (Facebook, YouTube). 

2. Design Software (Canva Pro/Adobe)

Regardless of whichever faculty you’re in, you would still need to use some design software to create slides for presentations or posters — and that’s where Canva Pro comes in. Easy to use, Canva is a fool-proof design application that allows you to select ready-to-go templates and create aesthetically-pleasing designs in seconds. 

Under Canva’s education package, you can gain access to premium features such as millions of images, fonts, graphics, videos, and animations and thousands of educational templates and learning resources. 

If you’re interested in upping your design game, NUSSU also offers monthly licensing for Adobe software such as Photoshop, Lightroom or Premiere Pro. Applications will be accepted between the 15th to the second last day of every month, to be in use for the following month.

Check out the NUSSU NUSync Page, for more details.

 

3. Student Insurance

If you’ve ever gotten a nasty injury during CCA practice or suffered a long-term infection, you would know that the costs of regular visits to the doctor do add up. Luckily, all full time NUS matriculated undergraduates, graduates and non-graduating students are included in the university’s medical insurance scheme, with varying levels of coverage. 

Sample of a student bill for a Singapore Undergraduate. If you take a look at your student bill in EduRec, this would be something that is covered under your student expenses.

This scheme provides all full time students with basic medical and personal accident insurance coverage, so you can claim up to $1000 per year. However, do note that not all health-related services are included, so do check the University Health Center’s Website beforehand — eg. oral care is not covered. 

Take all the time that you need to rest, but also note that you have to submit claims within 30 days from the date of treatment.

4. edX Courses (DYOM)

Thinking of taking courses outside NUS to improve your skills in more niche areas? Since the Design Your Own Module (DYOM) scheme was introduced, students are allowed to pursue self-directed learning, with up to 8 MCs within the UE space. There are a range of modules under different faculties that you can pursue, including modules on more hand-on topics like music or cooking!

Want to know the science behind cooking? Take this module where you can eat your own experiments, in the kitchen!

Best of all, the modules will be graded on a ‘CS/CU’ (Completed Satisfactorily/Completed Unsatisfactorily) basis — so you can feel free to explore whatever you’d like, without affecting your Cumulative Average Point (CAP). You can read about the full details here or explore the modules offered as shown below!

Under Luminus, click on “My Modules” then go to “edX modules”.

5. Microsoft Software

We are all no stranger to using Microsoft Software; but did you know that you can save up to over $100 just by signing in with NUS? 

All NUS students are eligible to use Office 365 ProPlus — which includes all core Office productivity applications including Access, Excel, OneDrive for Business, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Skype for Business and Word. Once you are no longer an NUS student, your installed Office 365 ProPlus will enter into reduced-functionality (or view-only) mode. 

Likewise, there are also other Software Installations (NUS IT Licensed Software) — like Mathematica for mathematical analysis or OriginPro for data analysis — that you can explore, so check out the details at this link.

6. Notion

If you haven’t checked out this life-changing application, wait no further! Notion is one of the most popular productivity pages that boasts a myriad of components like databases, kanban boards, wikis, calendars and reminders — perfect for students to get an overview of their semester.

Simply put, Notion is an all-in-one platform for you to custom organise your life, in any way you’d like to. While it costs $4 a month for the premium pro plan, NUS Students can get it for free under Notion’s Education Package. Just sign up with your NUS Email and you’ll be on your way to unbeatable productivity!

Source: Notion

Keep yourself updated by following this space, or @nusresidentiallife on Instagram. What other content would you like to see? Let us know by dropping us a comment down below!

 

 

4 Common Misconceptions About NUS: Debunked

Let’s talk about life in NUS — like, really talk about it. You’ve heard these opinions stated time and time again: from staying on campus is better than not, to needing a high CAP to succeed in life. Do these statements have some element of truth to it or are they really just misconceptions? 

Today, Reslife spills all as we discuss some of these long-standing claims, held by NUS students or the public alike. Dive right in as we share our two-cents worth, debunking four common misconceptions about life in NUS.

1. You Can’t Join CCAs After Freshman Year

Source: Temasek

As with any situation that would involve participating in a new activity or immersing yourself in a new environment, there would always be this fear that you might not fit in or that others might judge you simply for arriving late to the party. Past freshman year, many are afraid that everyone else their age might have already settled in, or that it’s too late for them to adjust to a new culture. However, the beauty of university lies in the freedom of choices that one can make — and that includes friendships with those of different ages too! 

Most CCAs hold their own welcome orientation for incoming newbies so you can get to know your peers. So don’t let this idea of being “too unfamiliar” or “too late” to something hold you back. Just go in with an open mind and have fun. You never know what would come out of it unless you try, and don’t discount yourself until others have had the chance to see what you’re made of!

2. Staying On Campus is The Only Way To Live a Vibrant Student Life

First, let’s define what a vibrant student life entails. To most, it typically means an experience where you learn new things, grow as a person and gain meaningful connections. If we are looking at these components individually, it is definitely something that can be achieved off-campus as well. 

Many assume that staying on campus is the only way to fully immerse yourself in student life, and indeed, it is the most convenient way to gain access to a myriad of activities and opportunities. However, this doesn’t make either option better or worse — each has its pros and cons. Staying on campus has its own set of social commitments that can easily become overwhelming if not kept in check, and staying off campus doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on anything.

Check your NUS Email often so you don’t miss out on the activities. Other than joining student clubs and societies, there’s also programmes like the Student Exchange Programme (SEP) or NUS Overseas Colleges — where you can study and travel simultaneously. If you’re just looking to meet new people, you can also venture into platforms like Project Aphrodite — a dating project for NUS & Yale-NUS students using a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm to find one ideal match, or NUS Chat Bot (@nuschatbot) on Telegram — which matches you with anonymous strangers online. 

Find out more student activities to participate in in our very own Reslife article featuring “Fun Things To Do On Campus”.

3. You Need a High CAP To Succeed in Life

As full-time students, we often fall into the trap of associating our self-worth with our grades. Especially in Singapore’s highly competitive culture, it has become all too easy to feel as if our future is fully dependent on whether or not we do well in school.

Confession on NUS Whispers (anonymous confession page for students) discussing how their CAP affects their self-worth.

Your CAP doesn’t define your worth as a student. While there are employers who still judge a candidate solely by their CAP, it doesn’t mean that we are doomed if we don’t get that A grade or graduate with an elusive first-class honours. 

To put things in another perspective, you can see the time you spend in NUS as a safety net. Try everything you want, while still in school. There is great value in honing your own wide repertoire of skills and doing what you enjoy — be it in building a startup, an Instagram shop, a home bakery, volunteering, teaching and so on. Beating yourself up over achieving academic success is not worth compromising on the development of other areas of your life. Education comprises more than just academia — redefine what is most important to you and then go from there.

Another perspective on NUS Whispers.

4. You Can’t Make Friends in Tutorial Classes

In our previous article on building lasting friendships on campus, we discussed The Friendship Formula: Proximity x (Frequency + Duration) x Intensity. Referencing this equation, it may seem unlikely to make deep, lasting friendships with those we meet in passing during tutorials. Especially now as remote learning is par for the course due to the pandemic, it’s natural to feel like real friendships are a myth. 

While nothing beats getting to know someone in person, that’s not to say that making friends in the new normal is impossible. In fact, holding classes over Zoom has its own set of opportunities. 

Being willing to switch on our camera on Zoom during more intimate settings like group project meetings or breakout rooms, or even using functions like the private chat box or personal Telegram to interact, are great ways to create a warm environment online. After all, our lecturers or facilitators are trying their best to create a nurturing environment for us to learn, so it’s always good to help out where we can and meet them halfway.

Every friendship starts somewhere, and in a connection-starved pandemic world, every bit counts. Be open and see where that takes you.

Source: NUS

Do you know of any common misconceptions held by students here in NUS? Drop us a comment down below or email us at at reslife@nus.edu.sg!

3-Step Guide To Lasting Friendships in Residence

The art of dealing with people is arguably one of the hardest, yet most crucial skills that we have to master throughout our lives. If you’re already living on campus, you’ll know that fostering healthy relationships with our peers is of utmost importance — it makes or breaks the entire experience. The initial strangers living with us in residence will eventually become almost next-of-kin as we get to know them over extended periods of time. 

Be it your first time living on campus — or your last — read on as we share Reslife’s 3-Step Guide to building strong relationships in residence (psst…tried-and-tested tips from some very seasoned campus residents will also be included). 

Happy residents after celebrating a hall event. (Source: Roy)

1. Take the first step.

University is a time where we discover more about ourselves, and living on campus amplifies just that. You will encounter many new friends and activities and it’s important to keep an open mind towards trying new things, even if it is out of your comfort zone!

Living in a campus hostel, it is all too easy to walk past the same few people all the time, but never initiate a conversation…unless the other person does so first. That initial connection is always the hardest, but when we are willing to open up to others first, friendship comes naturally. As humans, we tend to mirror the way others treat us when it comes to social situations, so why not make the first move? 

Observing this phenomenon, Daniel Ong (Yr 4, Biz & MechEng) experimented by greeting people that he used to just absentmindedly walk past. After repeated greetings, he noticed that the simple hellos eventually turned into full-blown conversations — allowing him to make new friends he wouldn’t have otherwise made.

Daniel Ong stayed in Eusoff Hall for a total of four years and was a Block Head in his second year. Fun fact: Daniel did not attend orientation camp in his first year!

That said, not everyone will become a close friend and that’s okay. Not every conversation will turn into a friendship. Take stock of the situation and move on if your interests and values are not aligned! Just keep an open mind towards those around you and you will eventually find a group of friends that you can resonate better with.

2. Join CCAs to make friends, but also to do the work.

While living on campus, many also join CCAs as a great way to get involved with their residential community and find common interests with their peers. CCAs are a great way to build new skill sets, knowledge and experiences. Coming in as a freshman, it is common to hear the age-old advice to “just join any CCA” that you may be interested in. However, not many would then follow up by telling you the opposite side of the coin: commitment to CCAs are just like committing to any other responsibility, and should be non-negotiable.   

The lines between work and friendship are easily blurred in a campus hostel setting, so it is important to remember that friendship is not a replacement for good work ethics. Do not join a CCA simply to make friends, with zero intention to do the work. 

Roy Francis Mohanan (Yr 4, ChemEng, Eusoff Hall) shares: “If you do take on any sort of role in a CCA, you should note that a certain level of accountability will be expected from you. So before joining multiple CCAs and overloading your plate, think about whether you will be able to manage your workload, so you can fully put your heart into the work that you do.”

As with most things in life, you’ll tend to reap the most benefits and contribute more meaningfully if you invest full time and effort into your community of choice. 

Roy (pictured in a grey long-sleeved shirt on the left) stayed in Eusoff Hall for all four years of University. Notably, he served as the Student Affairs Director in the Junior Common Room Committee in his third year.

Working relationships can lead to finding the best friends of your life, but could also sour existing friendships if not managed carefully. While conflicts are unpleasant and inevitable, they are not necessarily bad. Too much agreement within a group can sometimes lead to groupthink — which more often than not, can be destructive for progress and diversity of thought. Rather than avoiding conflict, learn how to apply appropriate conflict resolution methods like collaborating and accommodating to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Identifying the working styles of your team via personality tests may also be helpful in conflict resolution.  

Roy mused: “Using the DISC framework to view conflicts, someone with a higher dominance score may perhaps need to feel like their points are validated. So as a friend or team member, it is important to let them express their opinions freely and engage with them. This does not necessarily mean that you force everyone you know to take these tests — familiarising yourself with personality types can help you to identify them even without such a test. You can then learn to adapt and accept each other.” 

Source: Thomas Kilmann

3. You need to actually make time for your friends.

When it comes to making friends for life, The Friendship Formula provides an interesting view. It consists of four basic building blocks: proximity, frequency, duration, and intensity. These four elements can be expressed using the following mathematical formula: Friendship = Proximity x (Frequency + Duration) x Intensity. Who knew that there was a science to friendship? 

Looking closely at each component, we can begin to understand why friendships formed in campus hostels tend to blossom more quickly than friendships made anywhere else. Staying on campus is conducive in facilitating these factors, because we’re constantly around each other x (all the time + for long periods at one go)!  

As a campus resident, there is a deluge of activities to participate in. From CCA outings to random late-night suppers, it is easy to let your work snowball if you do not manage your time well. But this does not mean that you hole up in your room 24/7 just chasing academic and work deadlines — that’s not what campus life is for. If you do want to live a fulfilling residential life, balance is key. Learn to not only schedule in time for meetings, but also for quality time where you really get to know the people you want to be friends with. 

While proximity, frequency and duration of contact can be fulfilled easily, the last factor, intensity — how strongly you are able to meet another person’s psychological and physical needs — rests on the opportunity to go through shared experiences together. 

Jing Xiang is a Y1 Chemical Engineering Student staying in RC4. Fun fact: Jing can’t wink.

Ng Jing Xiang (Yr 1, ChemEng, RC4) asserts: “Many people I know typically state the need to study as their reason for missing out on the activities — which is perfectly understandable since we are full-time students. However, to stop yourself from falling back on that reason too much, don’t say you will make it for supper if you finish studying. Say that you will finish studying so that you can make it for supper.” Learn to maximise your time so you can fill the rest of it with things that are equally important — in this case, forming lasting relationships with those in your residential community. 

Lastly, when it comes to maintaining friendships after graduation, it is best to realistically acknowledge that most friendships in life tend to be seasonal. Many good friends arguably cannot beat a few closest friends that you’re aligned with in interests and values. This is especially since after graduation, the friendships that you have formed are no longer bound by the convenience of staying together — making a gap in the Proximity x (Frequency + Duration) factors. 

Don’t amass all the friends you could possibly make in quantity, and lose out on the opportunity to deepen the connection with that precious few that will end up being your lifelong friends. 

Some friends in Eusoff Hall. (Source: Daniel)

At the end of the day, remember that this is one of the best periods of your life to grow as an individual and grow together with like-minded people in such close proximity. Relish your time together, and make full use of every opportunity to be together. You will never have this time again!

What other content would you like to see? Tell us in the comments below or shoot us an email at reslife@nus.edu.sg!

Meet The Multi-Hyphenate Young Entrepreneur, Gururaj Parande (Forbes 30 Under 30)

The young, creative and brilliant minds on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list are coming in strong and taking the world by storm. Defying all odds as we face the ongoing pandemic, they are infecting the world with a new form of virus — ground breaking, innovative ideas that are leading a whole new generation of change. 

Here at Reslife, we are so proud to announce that one of our very own Resident Assistants (RA) at Prince George’s Park Residences (PGPR), Mr Gururaj Parande (Guru) made the list.   

Together with his partner, Mr Vyasaraj Manakari in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, they started Magloy Tech, specializing in the research and development of bioresorbable magnesium implants – basically, implants that will dissolve safely in the body over time. We managed to score an exclusive interview with Guru, so read on to find out more about how he managed to study, work, be an RA and still found a start-up!

Gururaj Parande and Vyasaraj Manakari, pictured on the left and right respectively, were put on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 under the Healthcare & Science section. 

Magloy Tech was chosen as one of the 20 leading MedTech start-ups in Asia-Pacific region transforming the healthcare industry by MedTech Innovator and was part of the 2020 MedTech Innovator Asia Pacific Accelerator.

1. Hi Guru, let’s get to know you! Can you introduce yourself and some of your hobbies?

Hi, I am Guru and I’m currently a Research Fellow here in NUS’ Department of Mechanical Engineering. I have also been a Resident Assistant in Prince George Park since 2017. Graduate studies tend to be very solitary as we work independently most of the time, so being an RA allowed me to expand my social circle and have fun.

Guru also enjoys many hobbies outside of work — some hobbies include watching and discussing sports, and hiking.

2. Could you share a little more about your company, Magloy Tech and how it came to be?

Magloy Tech is a start-up that has invented OrthoMag – a biocompatible, non-toxic magnesium alloy for developing bioresorbable implants (meaning that it dissolves in the body over time). Current implants used for orthopaedics and cranio-maxillofacial fracture fixations are typically made of titanium or steel and need to be removed via a revision surgery. As this brings on side effects like infections, pain and death of healthy body tissue (necrosis) — along with the need for an additional hospital stay — the invention of OrthoMag significantly reduces post-surgery complications and the long-term physical, financial and emotional burden on patients.

If a bone is broken, a metal implant may be used to support the healing skeleton until the bone is healed. (Source: The Independent )

I was working with magnesium for my PhD project where we had to develop magnesium-based materials for the medical sector. It was then that I realised that it could also be used to create an innovative version of bioabsorbable implants. Currently, magnesium elements that have the ability to degrade in the body are already being used in other medical treatments like Angioplasty (where stents are used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart). So I would say that our discovery was more of an innovation rather than a completely new invention, because we simply developed a way to use magnesium-based implants – in orthopaedics, specifically. If you compare it to cooking, the procedure is kind of like how rice on its own is basic but with spices added to it, it can become elevated to a whole new level! 

3. Let’s talk about how you manage to find the time to work, run a start-up, do research and also be an RA at the same time…plus get enough sleep maybe?

I like to categorise my tasks according to what my greatest priority is at that moment. I plan everything well ahead so I know exactly what I have to do when I wake up in the morning — and then, I just step up and do it. There isn’t really a secret to it but I think it helps to figure it out for yourself and discover when you are most productive. For me, I prefer doing tasks that require me to be more focused — like my research — during the day, and leaving the more “chill” activities for the night — like planning events or replying to emails. 

In between hours like during meal times or when I’m on the train, I’ll be watching old movies because that’s also what I love. It’s my own way of finding time away from work and relaxing so I can continue with my day. I can’t not do anything at any single point of time!

4. What drives you to accomplish all these projects?

The nature of the tasks that I engage in are very different. When it comes to research – it’s more academic; for my start-up – it’s all about learning different business aspects and being an RA I get to hone more soft skills like interacting with others and making new friends. The opportunity to try new things and learn from these experiences is what sustains me. I taught private tuition a while back but I stopped because I felt that it was too similar to what I was already learning in school. So while the extra pocket money was nice, I tend to be more driven to pursue work that allows me to become a more well-rounded person. 

 But that said, research will always be my first love — a non-negotiable. 

 5. What was the process of setting up Magloy Tech? Were there any difficulties you faced?

I think that Singapore’s business ecosystem is very supportive of entrepreneurship, so there weren’t any major difficulties faced when setting up the company. With everything being digitised, I could easily register my start-up online and we were all ready to go! The only challenge that I would say hindered the work flow was the pandemic, that we are still facing now. At that time, we could not go to the lab to test things out, so our progress was virtually zero — but we are playing catch up now, so it’s all good.  

Also, I wanted to give a shout out to the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (NUS GRIP) for giving us what we needed to scale our business and solidify our footing in the market. NUS GRIP is a comprehensive step-by-step guidance programme that enables postgraduate students and researchers to transform research into deep technology start-ups. They provided us with the perfect platform needed to get things going and I am so grateful for the support they provided! 

Check the NUS GRIP page here for more information.

6. What was the most important lesson you learnt from setting up Magloy Tech?

I think my own perspective has broadened. Being a Research Fellow, I was heavily influenced by the culture of academia where my path already seemed to be quite set out for me. Most of us going into a PhD want to just study, complete our PhD and then apply for those few, coveted spots to become a Professor. But after setting up my own company, I’ve taken on a fresh perspective on what I can do after I graduate. If I don’t go into academia then that’s okay, there will always be opportunities elsewhere and different paths to go down in life. So don’t limit yourself to just one route; it might change a little along the way and that’s perfectly alright! 

7. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are currently still schooling?

If an opportunity presents itself, go ahead and pursue it! Although many already have passions and goals that they are actively working towards, there is also another group of people who happened to chance on an opportunity — and that’s the category that I fit into. I’m an accidental entrepreneur. There are so many things to explore; go ahead and try things just to figure out if you like it or not. No one really expects you to be super successful when you’re still schooling and just starting out, so be open to taking risks and accepting that failure might be a part of it. 

Of course, be wise about it. Before taking on these projects, ask yourself these two questions: First, are you ready to do it and second, are people ready to accept it? If either one of these components are missing, then maybe you’ll need to tweak your plan along the way. But once you’re in it, dialogue with professionals in your community and communicate with everyone — there’s lots to learn! 

If there’s one thing that we took away from speaking with our accidental entrepreneur Guru, it is that life will surprise us in many ways when we work hard and seize opportunities as they come along. In the closing words of the ambitious man himself“If you don’t take the chance, then you lose the chance to complain”. And how true that is – we miss 100% of all the shots we never take. If there’s something you’re dreaming of doing or trying, you should do it. Take this article as your sign, and go for it!  

Gururaj continues to be an RA in PGPR Residence 4 today, and we’re so grateful for his driven nature and spirit to be part of the residential community. 

Do you know any interesting people we should feature next on our blog? Tell us in the comments below or shoot us an email at reslife@nus.edu.sg!