From Pandemic to Graduation: Reflections from NUS’ Class of 2024

As another academic year draws to a close, we celebrate the achievements of yet another batch of graduates! The current graduating batch of students has experienced university life like no other, as they entered NUS during the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. Let us hear from three students from the class of 2024, who will share their unique experiences, insights, and the impact their time at NUS will have on their lives.

Jessica Thee 

For Jessica Thee (Economics), residing in Residential College 4 (RC4) for two and a half years was a major highlight of her university life. Identifying as more reserved in nature, Jessica was not particularly active as a freshman as it was difficult for her to participate in activities alone. Coupled with a late move-in to RC4 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many opportunities to make friends were closed off for her. However, with the help of a few friends she initially made in RC4, Jessicia eventually managed to open up and made even more friends. With their encouragement, she decided to join the then upcoming RC4 orientation camp as an orientation group leader (OGL).


RC4 Orientation Camp 

It was the RC4 orientation camp that marked the start of Jessica’s friendship-making journey in NUS. Through joining the camp as an OGL, she not only made more friends, but also realised that she did not have to be afraid of signing up for activities alone as every other participant is usually very chill and friendly. The friends she made from this camp quickly became some of her closest friends in NUS. From trauma-bonding through the difficulties of managing a committee to joining interest groups together and jamming to music, Jessica made many fond memories with her friends. “I will forever be very grateful that these friends approached me and talked to me even when I was pretty quiet, and jioed me to do activities together often. If that did not happen, I don’t think I would have enjoyed my stay as much and would not have thought of applying for senior retention as well,” Jessica reflected. Indeed, it is the people that matter!


Late-night talks and a hair-dyeing session 

Jessicia also shared a few of her favourite memories with her friends at RC4. Like many night owls, she enjoyed jamming to music at night with her friends. These jamming sessions would turn into late-night talks that would extend into the next morning when they caught the sunrise together. “It was a pretty healing experience for me as we usually do it after our exams have ended and it is nice to catch up with one another while having a jamming session,” she added. Jessica also had movie nights planned with her friends during their stay at RC4. These movie nights helped her unwind after a long day of studying and exposed her to various movie genres that she most likely would not have watched otherwise. After the movie ended, they would come together to discuss the movie too! 

In preparation of RC4’s formal dinner, Jessica helped her friend dye her hair. “It was funny as we were all inexperienced, but we just wanted to try out the box dye for fun and since formal dinner was happening soon, they thought of helping one another dye their hair, and I just offered to help as well. My suitemates were always having random spontaneous ideas and this is just one of the many weird but interesting activities we did together,” she recounted.  

For Jessica, being part of various committees has also contributed to her favourite memories. As part of RC4’s College Student Committee, she had to pack and distribute welfare packs, which was cited by Jessica to be one of the most logistically-tiring events. However, as tiring as it was, she still found joy in packing and distributing them especially when she did it with her friends. Jessica was also involved in Arts Night 2022, as part of their logistics committee. She spent hours contributing to the decoration for the Arts Night, and the time and effort eventually paid off when she saw how beautiful the decorations were in real life. “I felt the most satisfaction seeing our crafts come to life and seeing that our decorations really played a part in creating a suitable vibe around the whole college during Arts Night. The neon light boards that we set up were left in the lift lobby as an official decoration of the college now, which made me feel very proud as we spent the most time decorating and trying to set that up,” Jessica shared.


Advice for incoming and current students 

Having stayed on campus for two and a half years of her university life and making the most out of it, Jessica highly recommends the once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Staying on campus gives a unique experience that you would not get elsewhere. Having friends that you meet daily just to have a meal together or study together is something I would miss, and I think it is a really good experience since I don’t think I would be meeting my friends daily anywhere else. This is really an advantage that only being in proximity with your friends can give. Realistically speaking, staying on campus is especially good if you do not stay near campus as well. You can save a lot of travel time by staying on campus!” Indeed, being able to stay in a hostel in NUS has many perks! Lastly, Jessica also gave some insightful advice, “Join as many activities as you can handle while you still can! Even if you are not staying on campus, there are a wide range of NUS CCAs or committees that might interest you! As much as results are important, I think having fun in university is also very important as these are the memories that will stay with you after you graduate.” 


Plans after graduation 

Jessicia will be embarking on a graduation trip to South Korea with a friend she met through an online Economics orientation back in 2020 when they were both freshmen. “I think it’s quite amazing that we hit it off so well and stayed close throughout our four years of university as we attended classes together. We have always thought of going to Korea together after graduation. After coming back from my graduation trip, it will be time to face reality and step into the workforce,” she shared. What a long-lasting friendship they have! We wish Jessica all the best as a working adult in the workforce!


Jessica (first row, second from left) with her fellow RC4 friends at RC4’s formal dinner.  “As RC4 is a huge part of my university life, I don’t think I would have had this much fun in university as well.” 

To all NUS students, especially the freshmen, don’t be afraid of going into a camp or any event alone! As we’ve learnt from Jessica, you might just start your friendship-making journey through that very camp or event! 


Shirmin Lim 

For three years of her university life, Shirmin Lim (Life Sciences) was one of the residents who stayed in Prince Georges’ Park House (PGPH), now known as Pioneer House. Some of her favourite memories during her stay includes late-night cooking sessions, weekly hangouts with her fellow housemates after frisbee training, Christmas party and gift exchange, and Inter-House Games. What an exciting list!  

When asked if she would recommend the experience of staying on campus, Shirmin shared some in-depth advice from her perspective, “Definitely! But you need to put effort into getting to know your neighbours, residents and participating in interest groups and events. Having your own space can also give you a sense of ownership and independence. Staying on campus also shortens your travelling time and gives you many opportunities to meet new people! But of course, meeting people on-campus doesn’t just mean meeting other hostel residents — simply spending more time on campus gives you more chances to interact with other students as well.” 


Meeting people in NUS 

For most people, university is the place where one begins to meet a diverse array of people. And such was the case for Shirmin, too! One of the things that she is grateful for during her time in NUS was getting to meet so many people, regardless of the place they met and the duration of the interaction. “They probably don’t know but many of these interactions helped define my journey in NUS and made it memorable,” she shared.  


What she would have done differently 

With travel restrictions in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no saying when overseas programmes would return, which is why Shirmin used up quite a bit of her units left for unrestricted electives on Design-Your-Own-Course (DYOC) and edX. However, she still had sufficient units for an agriculture course that took place in Hokkaido during that summer. In retrospect, Shirmin felt that she should have spent more units on overseas courses instead. She also occasionally thinks about her missed opportunity to go on a semester exchange programme (SEP) to Sweden. However, she managed to make the most out of her stay in Singapore, making her ultimately content with her decision. 


Plans after graduation 

For Shirmin, life after graduation is full of possibilities! She intends to gradually look for available jobs on the job market while she weighs out her options and decides whether she wants to further her studies.  


Shirmin (last row, second from left) with her PGPH Frisbee friends. 

A word of advice from Shirmin to incoming and current students: Don’t be afraid to try out new things! Be it a new CCA, an opportunity or an event, you might have an enjoyable time & make memorable memories & even meet like-minded friends! If anything, it serves as an experience! There is no harm trying!


Joel Lim 

For all of his four years in NUS, Joel Lim (Pharmaceutical Science and Film Studies) resided in Eusoff Hall. As a veteran resident of Eusoff Hall, Joel looks back on his four years in Eusoff Hall and reflected, “I think my batch, being the “COVID batch”, would agree that our freshmen experience was a, to say the least, different experience. Back then, being fresh out of the army, the biggest worry on my mind would not just be about making friends, but making the best of the little opportunities I had due to the pandemic. Hall back then to me was the easiest solution, giving a platform for me to easily build relationships and serve as a place where I could try out new things and of course, have fun.” Apart from his growth as a person, Joel is also grateful for the friends that stuck with him through thick and thin. He added, “My parents used to say that university friends are the ones that you will remember and are the ones you call when you really need someone to back you up. I think that is definitely true. So much can happen in the span of four condensed years, and even more so in Hall where we see each other basically 24/7. Friends have come and gone, and whether for the moment or for life, I’m undoubtedly thankful for each and everyone of them that have impacted my life.” Joel’s ability to articulate his gratitude in such heartfelt words is reflective of his growth as a person.  


Core memories made in Eusoff Hall 

To Joel, four years is “a bit of a blur of many moments”. Of these many moments, he cites his little conversations with his friends that took place in the wee hours by the benches as one of his favourite memories. Apart from these heart-to-heart moments, he also fondly recalls walking barefoot into the dining hall, the innumerable Halloween pranks and even attempting a hall-wide trickshot with a frisbee. Joel definitely had a fun four years at Eusoff Hall! 


Studying and new hobbies 

When asked what he wished he did in his four years in NUS, but didn’t, Joel felt that he should have studied a tad bit harder to graduate with an honours of a higher class. “ Although, “pushing yourself” is one thing, I think this probably alludes to me needing to plan, prioritise, manage commitments and make my life better,” he reflected. 

Other than studying harder, Joel wonders what it would have been like if he explored even more activities than he did. “I definitely did my fair share of everything in Hall, dancing for the first time in my life, playing in a band, but perhaps now having graduated, it’s just a thought that is at the back of my head like what other things could I have done! I’ve heard stories of my other friends having tried out all the sports in Hall, exploring fun and new hobbies like climbing and bouldering, and even wonderful people who conquered literal mountains.” Well, Joel, you can still try out many more hobbies after graduation! 

Advice for incoming and current students

As someone who has seen his own growth throughout these four years in NUS, Joel says, “The biggest advice I heard from a graduating senior when I was in Year One was, “you do you”. Back then of course I didn’t really put much thought into it but now in hindsight I think that’s something that really helped me through these four years. One way or another, these four years aren’t going to be completely smooth sailing. Don’t try adopting strategies, mindsights, or plans you see your ‘successful’ friends doing. I think finding your own pace, and way of living is extra important, and if university is a place of learning, take all that time to learn about yourself, what motivates you, what helps you work etc.” Indeed, everyone’s lives are different and learning to make decisions based on our own circumstances is a skill! 


Plans after graduation 

Joel is currently applying to do a Post-graduate Diploma in Education, and hopes to teach under the Ministry of Education (MOE) afterwards! He is also enjoying the “free” time before work starts!  


Joel (front row, second from right) celebrating his birthday with his Eusoff Hall mates. “Enjoy the last few years of freedom! After University there is basically only mundane work out there for you, so treasure the little time you have left! It will fly by super quick!” 


As with most students from the class of 2024, Covid-19 definitely impacted their university life in the first few years and shaped their academic and personal growths in different ways. However, they managed to make the most out of their four years in NUS and we are so proud of them! As Jessica, Shirmin and Joel, along with the rest of NUS’ class of 2024 bid goodbye to their university lives, we wish them all the best as they start their new chapters in their lives! 




Tan Jie Min

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