Staying in campus – Hall life for freshmen

A few younger readers have asked my opinion on whether they should stay in residential halls during their university days so I thought I would write a quick piece on this. Writing this based off the NUS perspective.  In NUS, there are six halls – each with their own strengths and personas of course. FYI, I stayed in Raffles Hall for three years.

1. Are your parents willing to pay or do you have enough money to pay? (Costs based on 2012 rates!)

I think the most important factor that comes into play is the money issue. Firstly, hall stay is not cheap. The hostel rates in NUS are flat across the entire campus. Check out the NUS’s Office of Student Affairs website for the rates.  A single room will cost $3.5k while a double room, $2.45k just based on rental alone, per academic year.

On top of that, there is still a compulsory meal plan for the six residential halls at about $800 approx per academic year. Every semester, there is a $25 approx electricity charge — approx $50 a year. I used to keep a fridge — $60 per sem, $120 per year.

So for a single room in an academic year: rental, meal plan, electricity charge, fridge will cost you: $4370 per academic year.

For a double room, it will cost $3420.

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2. What about vacation?

Halls do not offer vacation stay although there are typically subsidies for vacation stay which are unique for each hall. My hall used to subsidise sportsmen and holiday project committes (rag and hall camps). This means after each sem, there is the big haul up which I absolutely abhor.

I find it quite quite ridiculous to move back for six weeks during the year end break but my mum dud not budged and she refused to pay for vacation stay each year. Oh well. I really really hate packing by the way.

3. I hear that hostelites are very busy people

I don’t deny this at all! Each hostelite has to “earn” their stay which means committing their time to hall to participate in activities, which makes up your very “vibrant” hall life. Each resident is expected to participate in approx. 3-5 activities which ranges from sports, committees, arts (music, dance, drama) etc. Each activity gets you X points and if your activity wins something, your points get inflated.

4. What do these points do?

These points serve as your entry to your next residential stay. If you do not mean the cut-off points, it means that you will not be allocated hall stay and you may have to hall hop or stay in student residence.

5. What are student residences?

Student residences are like NUS halls without the need to do activities. While this may sound appealing but this means you will need to find some other avenues to earn points!

6. Hostel residents do not sleep early and dress crappy

The thing is that hostel activities do not start early, I have gone to rehearsals that start at 11pm or even 12am because there is no need for people to catch the last bus/train home. With regards to dressing, I have seen residents who head to class in FBTs and hall shirts. I guess since you do not travel out of campus, it kinda takes the fun out of dressing and that when you tumble out of bed 15 mins before class, you don’t have much of a choice!

7. There is no air con in my room! I have to have air con!

When I stayed in hall, I had two blankets. My hall was not structured like that of flats (which is what Sheares and Kent Ridge halls are like), we are low-lying shophouse like buildings. It was super cold at night for me. If I had to relate to air conditioning temperature, I would say it’s like 22-24 degrees. Of course, this also depends on your room allocation and Singapore’s erratic weather.

8. Should I get a single or double room?

If you have a good friend, that’s great. If not, I would seriously advise a single room. I cannot imagine sharing room with a stranger. While it may sound all exciting, the cultural exchange and all, it is really all not that exciting. You can still participate in activities with people all around the world, but living together takes it to another level all together.

9. How do I get into halls?

When applying, be sure to highlight about the stuff that you can do, especially if you have certain strengths. Be sure to do some research — E.g. Eusoff and Temasek are known to be sports halls. Kent Ridge has always been strong in arts activities.

10. Be prepared!

Start learning household chores because no one is gonna help you do your chores.

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