Felt left out of the overseas travelling scene during this past vacation? Not all the fun has to be enjoyed in foreign places – in fact, your very own school campus could be a cool spot for you to make exciting or stress-relieving plans, both for yourself and your friends. Before the semester formally begins, why not take some time to get to know the campus more thoroughly, and indulge in one last bit of fun, without breaking the bank? Join us in this pseudo travel guide for some activities that you can plan and enjoy in NUS – for free!
1. Unwind at Town Green
We begin our journey in the heart of NUS – UTown’s Town Green. The nicely trimmed field of lush green grass makes for endless possibilities. Fancy a picnic? Band with your friends to create a basket of food and beverages, and head down to a shaded patch of grass to enjoy a relaxing get-together on a cooling summer’s day. Pro-tip: Gather leftovers (that are still safe to eat) from the night before to invent new dishes or snack combinations to enjoy a delicious yet cost-effective picnic!
Looks like a good spot!
After laying down your picnic mat, there are various other activities that you could consider doing, depending on your capacity and resources. The photogenic field and its aesthetic surroundings could spark a casual photoshoot with you and your friends. If you prefer to take photos purely of the environment instead, this could take the form of a photography session – turn it into a mini competition for some invigorating fun, and challenge each other to see who can capture the best shots of the sights at Town Green!
The vibrant greenery of the field could inspire an art jamming session too. Grab some paint and a brush, or just simply a pencil and paper, and unleash your creativity at the centre of UTown! Here are some ideas: illustrate an intriguing happening, paint the grass and trees of Town Green, or sketch a curious-looking passer-by.
2. Sweat it out at the sports facilities
Hungry for more action? Head to the UTown gym for a good workout session, and maybe wade through the recreational pool right after for a refreshing swim, especially on a sweltering hot day. There are also fitness gyms open for free to NUS students at the University Sports Centre and MPSH 3. There is even one at the Bukit Timah campus to cater to the BTC (Bukit Timah Campus) students and staff! Check out the operating hours and live traffic of the respective sports facilities at this site.
UTown pool (Source: NUS UCI)
3. Run like the wind
If you would like to engage in more physical activity, and perhaps enjoy de-stressing by going for a casual jog, consider running around NUS! The campus has many nooks and crannies for you to explore, and it boasts an abundance of greenery to make for a pleasant run. The pedestrian paths lining the roads that wind through the Kent Ridge campus and around UTown are smooth and wide enough for you to have a relaxing jog, perhaps even accompanied by a running buddy.
A path frequented by joggers at PGPR
If you prefer to have a more structured, fast-paced run, head over to the NUS Field (opposite Ridge View Residential College) to run around the track! On a typical day, it is likely that you will find company in other students running on that track, or playing sports at the surrounding fields and courts too.
The open-air NUS track and field
4. Appreciate art and culture at the museums
Did you know that the NUS Museum and Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM), both located beside each other, are free for NUS students and staff to visit? If you had already known about this but have yet to visit the museums, then this article is a reminder for you to make full use of your privileges and to make a trip there! With occasional newly curated exhibitions and collections that shed light on the culture and history of our region, the NUS museum will definitely expand your mind. A chill walk through the amazing collection of fossils in the LKCNHM would also be the perfect plan for a rainy day indoors. Plan your visit for the NUS Museum here and the LKCNHM here.
Amazing dinosaur fossils in the LKCNHM (Source: LKCNHM)
5. Flip through well-bound literature
The many accessible libraries in NUS await those who seek more mental, rather than physical, activity. A popular spot for students to study and read at is the Central Library (CLB). As the name suggests, it is located rather centrally in the Kent Ridge campus, found in between the campuses for the School of Design and Environment, the School of Computing, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Hence, it is highly-frequented by students from those faculties. The CLB is also connected to the Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library, which boasts a large collection of Chinese materials, and its serene interior makes it an enticing spot for some quiet reading.
Welcoming shelves at CLB (Source: NUS)
Another pair of libraries located in close proximity is the Medical Library and the Science Library. As they are found nearer to the edge of campus, you might be able to enjoy smaller crowds at these libraries. Bring your current fiction obsession, or perhaps some academic materials, and spend a comfortable afternoon at one of these libraries. Be sure to bring along your student card as well, in order to tap in and out these libraries!
A bonus library that not as many students may know about is the Yale-NUS library, found in the area of the Yale-NUS campus that borders UTown. Its warm, wood tones, traditional furniture and high ceilings create a cosy atmosphere, reminiscent of a ‘Harry Potter aesthetic’ to some (here’s a beginner’s guide to the Harry Potter aesthetic). This library is actually open to use for the general public, and is only limited to the Yale-NUS staff and student body after certain hours (learn more about their opening hours here).
Warm interiors of the Yale-NUS Library (Source: Flickr)
6. Take a ‘day trip’ out of campus
Perhaps you have gotten too familiar with the usual views on campus, and would like a change in scenery. The free shuttle bus service can take you down to the BTC campus for you to continue your adventures there! Simply hop onto the BTC bus, and you would unlock a fast ride down to the Botanic Gardens, where you could go on a long, peaceful stroll at the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore. Bring a book or a picnic basket there to enrich your experience, and perhaps befriend the swans at the garden’s ponds during your visit.
The beautiful pavilion at Botanic Gardens
7. Chill under the stars
End your day back at the comforts of Town Green, under an inky blanket of the vast night sky. Lie down on the grass and count the stars as you have a heart-to-heart talk with a good friend, or reminisce about the good memories you’ve had over the break. You would be surprised by the wonders that a cushion of grass and some reflection in the safety of the night-time could do for your soul.
The middle of Town Green at night!
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and there are many spots to explore and cost-free activities to try in NUS. You could join a recreational club (even if you are a senior), attend the many fairs and events held by NUS staff, students, and more. We urge you to make full use of what the school offers, and enjoy your time to the fullest while you are still a student in university. The directions given by this pseudo travel guide ends here – go forth and explore!
We hope that you have gained greater insight into the possibilities offered to you in NUS, and the activities you could enjoy even if you stay on campus during the break. If you have any other fun ideas, or activities that you have tried yourself, do share about it on Instagram and tag us @nusresidentiallife – perhaps you will be featured in our next article too!