Navigating University Majors and the Campus Hostel Experience

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


Architecture (College of Design and Engineering) 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

A word of advice from Alisya to fellow FASS majors: 

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


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

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

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

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


Medicine (Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine) 

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

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

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


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

A word of advice from Adele to fellow medical students: 

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

Tan Jie Min

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