Striking A Balance: Hall Life Edition 

Hall life got a lot of commitment sia, hard to juggle studies and CCA. If you’ve considered staying in Hall, one of the many residential options in NUS, you’ve probably heard this sentiment. Halls are known for their focus on co-curricular activities (CCAs) which help residents earn points to secure their stay for the next academic year. Many have mixed opinions on the point system in Halls. Some say it makes hall life competitive and create yet another thing to worry about in university, while others laud hall life and the exposure they receive through being part of the Hall community. What do students in Hall themselves think about their stay so far? This article shares first-hand experiences of Hall students and their stay thus far.  


Hall – what’s that? 

The NUS campus hosts a total of six Halls, namely: Eusoff Hall, Kent Ridge Hall, King Edward VII Hall, Raffles Hall, Sheares Hall, and Temasek Hall. Hall is one of the more popular hostel choices for NUS students who want to complement their academic endeavour with a vibrant student life. Over the many years, different Halls have come to develop their own unique Hall culture. Whether sports or arts, there is something for everyone who chooses to stay in Hall. One of the biggest platforms for Halls to showcase their Hall spirit is at the annual Inter-Hall Games (IHG). The IHG could be described as the ‘Olympics for Hall’. But this is not to say that the cultural arts scene isn’t equally thriving. From theatrical productions to bands, Halls foster many talents. Halls are largely student run, making Hall life an avenue for developing leadership skills too.  While most students will stay in Hall for two years, some choose to stay longer.  

For Chong Khai Tjie (Y2, Pharmacy) from Eusoff Hall, there were two main reasons for opting to stay in Hall. “I live around 50 minutes away from NUS, so staying in Hall provides a lot of convenience.” But more importantly, “I wanted to experience Hall life and especially play as many sports as I could while in university,” the captain of the Eusoff Road Relay team shared. 

Many students are attracted to the meaningful relationships that are built in Hall. “On Instagram, my seniors who stayed in Hall would share photos. It looked so cosy in terms of the camaraderie they shared with their Hall mates, from studying together to going to parties together,” Ivan Tan (Y2, Business) from Kent Ridge Hall pitched in. 


Over his time in Kent Ridge Hall, Ivan is most grateful for the friendships he has made. “I’ve grown so close to some of my Hall mates that we’ve promised to become each other’s children’s godparents,” he shared. 


Reuben Lim (Y2, Biomedical Engineering) from King Edward VII Hall had another perspective to offer, “Personally, I like to see university as more than just the academics. It’s also about the friends you make along the way and the experiences you have. This is what led me to choose to stay in Hall.” 

Reuben, now in his second year, is a Block Head under the Block Committee. The Block Committee is in charge of taking care of the residents in each block. This photo was taken during King Edward VII Block Committee’s outing to laser tag.  

(Bottom row left side: Reuben) 


CCAs – how many ah?  

Here’s where a lot of students get a little intimidated. What you’ve heard is true. Students in Hall, especially in Year 1, do take on quite a number of CCAs. “When I asked my friend how Hall was like, she mentioned that she had 7 CCAs. My mind was completely blown. Like are you studying or are you CCA-ing?” Khai Tjie laughed over our Zoom call.  

In Year 1, hall life can be a little heavy on the CCA side since residents need to accumulate points to secure their stay for the next academic year. In Year 1, Ivan, Khai Tjie, and Reuben had 4-6 CCAs. Now in their second year, they’ve dropped most and focus on just 1 or 2.  


With the increase in his course workload in Year 2, Khai Tjie now concentrates his efforts on a few CCAs, such as Road Relay. (Second from left: Khai Tjie) 


From speaking to these three Hall residents, here’s advice for you on how to manage your academics and CCAs: 

  1. Set your expectations right: Some courses are more workload intensive than others (eg. Medicine or Law students do not commonly opt to stay in Hall). If you are choosing to actively partake in Hall activities, do manage your expectations. If you want to ace all courses with an A, it may require some disciplined time management and intentional planning every semester.  
  2. Choose CCAs that interest you: Burnout is more likely if your CCAs seem like a chore. Pick CCAs that you will enjoy to a certain (or large!) extent so that they can become a means for you to wind down and relax. 
  3. Strategise: The greater the commitment to one CCA, the higher the points you can earn. A good mix of high and low commitment CCAs are the way to go! 
  4. Plan your time well: Most Hall CCAs operate in the evening after classes. Create a timetable for yourself and stick to it. Be aware of upcoming deadlines and exams and get the work done before you get absorbed in your CCAs later in the evening.  
  5. Hold each other accountable: The best way to stay on top of work is to do it with friends. Study together, attend events together, and hold each other accountable. This way, you won’t slip through the gaps. 


What if I’m not a pro? 

University is the safest space to try out new things before you graduate and enter the ‘real world’. Reuben reflected, “For me, it was important to join CCAs that would add on to my university life and help me gain new experiences and friendships.” As such, we encourage incoming Hall residents to try their hand at new CCAs too.  


Inter Hall Games are always something to look forward to. King Edward VII Hall came third place in Road Relay during IHG 22/23. The team, led by Reuben as captain, intends to keep the momentum going for this year’s IHG. 


“I joined Eusoff Drama with zero background in acting and went on to participate in two drama productions. It was a very fresh experience for me and one of the highlights of my Hall life,” Khai Tjie said. Hall gives a very safe space to try out new things and along the way you meet friends who are also trying out the same CCA for the first time.   


For Khai Tjie, new experiences have been the highlight of his time in Hall. From editing his first video ever to taking part in drama productions, he appreciates the safe space that Hall offers.  


Ivan also noted that most people in Hall are willing to lend a helping hand, “One thing that drew me to Kent Ridge Hall was that the Hall wants you to try everything. You can enter at beginner level and people around you want you to grow too. It’s something I really appreciate about Hall.” 


Is Hall for everyone? 

The seniors shared that Hall was definitely an important part of their university journeys that helped them develop a more holistic and memorable university life. Their advice to freshmen: keep an open mind and go for it. “I don’t think hall life is for everyone. But you would only know once you try. If you get into Hall and don’t think it’s the right fit for you, you can always leave the next year, or simply just not participate in certain CCAs or activities” Khai Tjie continued, “There is a large diversity of people in Hall, and there will always be people you can click with.” Reuben reflected on how it was important to step outside one’s comfort zone, “I think moving to Hall is a good step for university students to take. If you’re always going to be comfortable, it’s difficult to attain personal growth.”  

If your concern is whether hall life will impact academics, these seniors’ experiences suggest that with an open mind, proper balance and disciplined time management, students can certainly navigate both successfully. 


Hall can sure keep you on your toes. Ivan’s most important commitment is being part of the Junior Common Room Committee. They key is to surround yourself with a deep-rooted community that will keep you accountable. Ivan and his friends say: stay calm and join Hall! 


As this article is being published, the 23/24 Inter-Hall Games are back in full force. Do follow the IHG Instagram page to stay updated with match fixtures! 


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