You have heard the news and seen the stories of the self-isolation. You may even have had friends who have returned from their overseas universities posting about it from their homes or hotel rooms. But what is it actually like to serve a Stay Home Notice (SHN)? Joanathan Ng, a returning student from the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme, tells us exactly how it is.

1. Tell us about yourself and where you were before being served with Stay Home Notice (SHN), and what you were you overseas for?

My name is Jonathan, a Year 3 student from Information Systems. I was interning in a company in San Jose as part of the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme in Silicon Valley.

2. Did you manage to at least start the NOC life before you had to return?

I didn’t manage to do many of the things I wanted to accomplish, which is obviously massively disappointing for me. Many of my long term goals were not accomplished. I wanted to take part in more hackathons, to get involved and volunteer with the community.

I did learn to drive and to cook though! It was my mission in the early months to work at being self-sufficient and I did accomplish those goals. I took a few trips and have made a few memories that were worthwhile.

3. How did you feel upon receiving the news that you were being recalled, and consequently of the SHN?

Of course, it wasn’t a complete shock when we received notification of our withdrawal from the States. We’d had an inkling of it since a couple weeks prior, when things started getting bad.

Some of my other friends were understandably distraught. For most of us, our internship in the States was an opportunity for us to accomplish things that we dreamt of, and to perhaps divert the course of our lives and careers. That opportunity being taken from us, was quite depressing. For me, I had mixed feelings. Things weren’t working out too well with my internship company due to some mismatch in expectations. As much as I was enjoying the freedom and opportunity that the NOC opportunity offered, I was missing home – a lot. In a way, being recalled was a wake-up call to be better, and a chance for a new start.

4. How did you prepare anything for SHN – stay-at-home activities, food, etc?

Next on my agenda is to prepare to apply to internships in Singapore for the remainder of my duration in Singapore. I bought an online course in frontend programming and I’m trying to finish it in the next couple days.

I am very appreciative of the very generous accommodations that NOC has provided to us. They have really gone to extraordinary lengths to make us feel at home. After some feedback, they even gave us more “Singaporean” food like hor fun, bee tai mak, etc. In addition to those, deliveries from my friends and family consisting of fruits, veggies, Gong Cha and Tori Q, have kept me very satisfied.

I also have been catching up on Netflix. I watched Bojack Horseman, The Good Place, Better Call Saul, Sex Education. There’s a bonanza of things to watch, learn, and it’s impossible to get bored.

5. How many days has it been for you now – have your emotions changed since the first day, and how?

It’s Day 9 right now. I’m starting to get a little stir-crazy, but I know I’ll be out soon, eating all my favourite food, sweating all over, and being with my friends again.

6. What are some tips you have for others on SHN (self-imposed or not)?

Keep yourself active, and busy. Everyone will probably get at least a little cabin fever, but it helps to have some light at the end of the tunnel, something to look forward to. Or you could see SHN as an opportunity to catch up on that project you always wanted to do!

7. What do you plan to do immediately after you are released?

Spend lots of time with my loved ones, and eat BIAP*.


BIAP: Beauty in The Pot, commonly abbreviated to Beauty In a Pot amongst Singaporean students.

All picture credits: Jonathan Ng

Lydia Gan

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