NUS Residential College life (Tembusu College) – Ask Me Anything

NUS Residential College life (Tembusu College) – Ask Me Anything

Chances are, you stumbled upon my blog searching for more information on NUS residential college life. I think the concept started when I just graduated from NUS so most unfortunately, I wasn’t part of the cool crowd.

NUS UTown does provide a comprehensive FAQ section that answers most questions already. If you’re keen on residential college life, you definitely should read that first. I got my friend Jacob Tham, to help out for this particular entry. He stayed in Tembusu during his second and third year. So, his experience would have been somewhat different from a freshman but still, it’s a good place to start.

If you have any questions, drop a comment below and I’ll get Jacob to reply. But guys, he is a busy man working in a bank so please give him some time too.

We’re reaching almost the last of NUS series – We’ll be back on regular schedule soon!

1. Why did you choose residential college (RC) instead of hostel/residence?

There were a few primary reasons:

1) Brand new facilities
2) Exclusive modules that were only offered to RC students.
3) RCs differ themselves from Halls by placing some emphasis on a student’s educational upbringing.


2. I don’t know if I should choose College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT) or Tembusu leh. Help!

To my understanding, the core of each college is set by the respective Rectors. Tembusu was set to cultivate all-rounded international citizens of the future. CAPT on the other hand focuses on community awareness.

These differences are however superficial as activities organized by one college is usually open to students of the other. This does not include Cinnamon as USP activities are 9 out of 10 times solely for their own students.

Aesthetically CAPT is slightly nicer. The toilets/corridors/lounges are larger. Tembusu is however slightly windier because of the more open concept which it has. There are videos of top floor residents filming the extreme wind conditions they were experiencing on the 21st floor!


3. How long were you at Tembusu? How was your college experience?

I was a senior when I first enrolled so I was only entitled to a year’s stay in Tembusu. I was however lucky enough to be given an additional year there. My college experience was great. I made a ton of friends and managed to pick up Ultimate Frisbee there as well.

I also liked the fact that Tembusu modules were held in our own classrooms. That meant waking up 10 minutes before class! 🙂


4. Hmm, I don’t know if I should go for a suite or single room.

Suites are 6 single rooms that share a toilet within a small apartment. They have a small communal area which comes with couches and a table. I have seen instances of suite mates becoming extremely close and came together to personalize their suites with televisions and all sorts of other things. There are also suites that remain ghost towns and suite mates that never really get to know one another.

There are really no notable differences in staying in a suite or corridor because most floor residents tend to be close. Corridor people (single rooms) usually join in a suite’s fun and hang about in the various suites.


5. Singapore is so [insert swear word] hot. Should I opt for an air-conditioning room?

I spent my two years in a non-ac room and I can say that the fan is more than sufficient. If you open your door, the room becomes extremely windy and can get really cold.

Then again I was brought up not sleeping in non-ac rooms so this may differ for different individuals.


6. OMG the meal plans are so expensive! Why?

Yes, we have extremely pricey meal plans relative to students living in Halls. This is justified by the type of food that is being served in our dining hall. Each meal (breakfast and dinner) gives students 5 options to choose from (Noodles, Chinese, Western, Indian (with Vegetarian option), Muslim). Students are free to consume from any stall. Also, we have free flow rice/drinks/salads/bread/fruits. Servings are very generous but the menu can be repetitive. We also get festive meals during Christmas, Chinese New Year etc…

Meal credits usage can also be delayed or used in advance. For example, if I missed dinner today, I can have 2 servings tomorrow. Or if you are feeling hungry today, you can use tomorrow’s meal credits for today’s consumption as well. There are many instances where I have missed a meal or two and I invited some friends from out of the college to take their meals in Tembusu using my credits.


7. How are the University Town Residential Programme (UTRP) modules different from a regular NUS module? In your opinion, do you feel that it’s harder to do well in the UTRP as compared to a regular NUS module?

There are 2 types of modules offered in RC : Ideas and Exposition modules (They typically begin with the IEM code) and General Exposure Modules (GEM coded).

IEM modules are writing modules which are the same ones as the ones offered at CELC. The GEM modules that I would say are unique to RC. Having taken GEMs from regular NUS faculties and RC, the primary difference would be the class size and style. The typical GEMs are lecture style and the topics are usually somewhat related to something that is being taught on campus. (Math, Life Science etc…). RC GEMs are conducted seminar style (think SMU) and students are required to actively participate in class. The topics are also very very unorthodox and are usually offered for a couple of semesters before a new one is introduced. For more information on modules: Tembusu Education


8. Do you get to count these modules as academic credits?

Yes, these modules are calculated towards your graduation requirements. Freshmen are required to do 2 Junior Seminars (JS), 2 IEMS and 1 Senior Seminar (SS). That is a total of 5 modules which can be calculated towards your ULRs.

Of which (if I remember correctly), the 2 JS and 1 SS are S/U modules which do not use your 3 S/U options. The Senior Seminar counts toward your Singapore Studies ULR and the 2 Junior Seminars count towards the 2 GEM ULR.


9.YAY! Freshmen are enrolled into an automatic two year programme. I don’t have to worry about my second year stay. Wait – does that mean I don’t have to do any activities at all since I don’t have to “earn” my second year stay?

Technically speaking, yes. But the place is so diverse and intriguing, you will be doing something. There is also strong support for individuals who want to start an interest group of their own.


10. Since I have to stay for two years, does it mean I can only do my Exchange/Internship in year 3 onwards?

Tembusu college puts your stay on hold and you can return to the college after you return from exchange.


11. Freshmen are enrolled directly for two years, do people usually stay for the third year? Is it hard to gain entry into the third year? How are third years being considered?

I’m not sure what the criterion is exactly but I think it boils down to your contribution to the college. Typically, the more active people are given a third year stay.
12. Sum up your college experience in three words

Don’t waste it.

Singapore Dance Delight: Vol 5 – Wise words from previous champs

When… I was really young, I was taught by the previous champ of Singapore Dance Delight Vol. 4 for a while. I remember Mag as a passionate and patient teacher who drilled us in the basics of jazz. Fast forward… many years, Amin was teaching for a while and his classes were tough but I had so much to take away each time.

Mag + Amin = Megamint

They competed in SDD Vol 4 and repped Singapore in Japan Dance Delight. I bumped into them before the competition started and here are their top 5 tips for Flair Origins.

1. Rep your style hard

The judging criteria at each competition are different so check out the criteria before setting your piece. Go in-depth into your style instead of showcasing many styles. Amin had an interesting breakdown: 100% your style + 20% exploration because you need more than 100% for JDD.

2. Finding your crew’s identity

With so many crews at JDD, it is important to identify your crew’s Unique Selling Point and create your own identity. Mag shared something very important:

“Everyone’s dancing is so good, what makes you stand out from the rest?”

One of Megamint’s critique for JDD from the judges was that their item did not have a cohesive storyline. Having a flow helps your item stand out from the rest and keep the judges in the zone!

3. Plan your stage marking time well

Megamint’s item for JDD was five minutes long but they were only given two minutes to run the stage. Plan smart, if you have a stunt, run it full out. Chances are there wouldn’t be any time at all to run the item. Memorise the stage space.. within two minutes.

4. Disconnect with the audience

Well not really but competing away from home ground means.. you barely know anyone in the audience which may mean.. a deathly silence during your item. If feeding off energy from the audience is your thing, then it’s time to find another source to psych yourself. Mag mentioned that the audience seating is curved it, so the effect is almost 3D.

5. Soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the moment

Pretty duh right. Amin said that there were masseuse and physiotherapists on ground. Cameras are everywhere so look your best!

*Pictures used from Dance Delight Facebook

I was not paid to blog about Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5. This series is an invitation by to blog about this dance competition as a blog challenge. Two bloggers will win a sponsored trip to Japan which includes: flight, 3 nights accommodation and entry to Japan Dance Delight.

Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5: Finals (Part 1)

So… The Singapore Dance Delight Finals just concluded last Saturday at Kallang Theatre. I think this is probably my 5th time attending SDD but it feels so different this round – because I am an official blogger with a media pass!

If you don’t know what SDD is all about – shame on you! No, just kidding, cycle back to my infographic that I had specially created for SDD to get the lowdown.

I always like the different photo opportunities and photo booths F&N creates.

I always maintain that only dancers will patiently queue so long

3D photo booth

This is my personal favourite – a fluorescent photobooth

With other official bloggers

Before we get started into the crews specific since it is SDD Vol 5, my top five thought tracks around SDD as a whole:

  • It looks like the judges are bringing back “DANCE” in Singapore Dance Delight. The judge’s comments and critique for both finals and prelims seem to centre around the importance of good dancing. The flashy and entertaining bits – nah, they could do without them.
  • The most overused song is Snoop Dog’s Smoke The Weed Everyday. It was used in three different crews including the champs.

  • Sheikh Haikel is hands down one of the best emcees you can get for dance events – he even threw in a little dancing this year! Fun fact: Do you know that he usually wears shades while hosting? The stage lights are superbly blinding that’s why!
  • It’s interesting to see how crews radically change their item from prelims to finals. For example, Roosevelt and A.O.C (both of my interviewees!) took the judges’ critique and changed their items for the better. This change is also… reflected in their rankings I believe.
  • It is indeed… different attending SDD as a blogger and a regular ole’ dancer.

Check out the crews in action!

The Freak Chicks

Whatever Werkz


Pinoy Hip Hop

Colour of Life


Project 1.0



FMD Extreme


Limited Edition

Female Gangsta

All Out Crew (AOC)




The Dude

Flair Origins


Feel Good

Freekzy Bots

The Gentlemen Collective

*Crew pictures are used with permission from Thomas Tan Photography. Kindly do not use his images without his explicit permission.

I was not paid to blog about Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5. This series is an invitation by to blog about this dance competition as a blog challenge. Two bloggers will win a sponsored trip to Japan which includes: flight, 3 nights accommodation and entry to Japan Dance Delight.

Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5: Finals (Part 2)

Part 2 of SDD Finals

Judge’s line-up

Here’s a quick introduction to the judges and their comments on SDD Finals.

Pic cred:

Ryan Tan


One of the most respected pioneers of the local dance scene! Creative Director of Oschool and the man behind so many varsity and Oschool productions.

  • Don’t put on a concept around your item and forget about dancing altogether
  • While concepts/ideas are entertaining, the judges want to see the crew’s dancing

Shaun Evaristo

One of the most well-known choreographers in the entertainment scene. Some of his choreography includes: Taeyang’s Wedding Dress and Justin Bieber’s Believe World Tour. He’s also the founder of Movement Lifestyle – a choreographer management company/studio.

Henry Link

One of the pioneers/granddaddy in the Hip Hop scene. He was the founder of Elite Force Crew (of New York)  – which was one of the first crews to start dancing on tv/shows, hence, spreading the movement and culture globally.

  • Good concepts and dance crews
  • Great to see how the dance community has grown over the years
  • Don’t dance to be famous, dance because you love the craft


Lauded as one of the world’s best popper. His crews have won three instalments of Japan Dance Delight in 1998 (Vol.5), 2002 (Vol.9) and 2013 (Vol.20).

  • The SG dance scene has levelled up since his last visit in SDD Vol 1.
  • Important to have good dance skills and techniques because it is a dance contest


Member of Wrecking Crew Orchestra – if I can say – one of the dopest Japanese crews around. They’re the crew which came up with the LED dance performance: YouTube

  • Good effort all around
  • His most importance judging criteria is: the dancing has to be good.


I think the general consensus this year is: “Save the flashy bits and get down to dancing”.

And so, the winners are…

Congratulations to Flair Origins! They’ve been around the scene for the longest time (7 years maybe?) and I really admire their crew for sticking around so long. Individually, they are all fantastic and strong dancers (especially in freestyle) and are frequent faces in the battles. They’re true advocates of the local dance scene too, in fact, I heard they’re going on on tour to 8 countries to give workshops.

I’m sure they will do Lion City proud.

They win:

  1. 4D3N sponsored trip to Japan Dance Delight Vol. 21, Osaka Japan by F&N Sparkling Drinks
  2. X-Mini UNO Speaker
  3. Cathay Cineleisure Movie Tickets
  4. Lenovo Yoga Tablet
  5. O School $1000 CASH

In second place: 4:13 (Four Thirteen) from Indonesia. The crew will be seeded in JDD. The prizes include:

  1. X-Mini UNO Speaker
  2. Cathay Cineleisure Movie Tickets
  3.  O School $800 CASH


Freekzy Bots rounded up third place with:

  1. X-Mini UNO Speaker
  2. Cathay Cineleisure Movie Tickets
  3. O School $500 CASH



Congratulations to all the finalists and winners at Singapore Dance Delight. Big thanks to F&N for presenting and Oschool for organising SDD each year. With every SDD, the standard of the local dance scene keeps getting pushed up!

For everything F&N visit: They do lots to support the local dance scene so like their Facebook for updates!
*Stage pictures are used with permission from Thomas Tan Photography. Kindly do not use his images without his explicit permission.*


Conversations with Roosevelt

Last of the SDD interview posts!

This round, featuring the MANLY girls of Roosevelt! You must be thinking… how are these girls manly?

Like A.O.C., the girls are from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s hip hop dance club – New Revolving Age (NRA). Although they’re the sister crew to the boys, their style is so different. I think how NRA operates is quite different from NUS Dance Blast! – I know that NRA members attend classes that are taught by their seniors. In Blast, we only have one class a week taught by a single instructor (Pat).

The girls were put together by their seniors/instructors last year. Each of them started out with very different dance styles such as contemporary, Chinese dance and street jazz. It’s only with constant hard work and commitment, a crew starts to dance together as one.

Roosevelt started training intensively in February, usually about twice a week then it became 3…4… and soon, they were seeing everyone everyday.

Roosevelt first competed in SDD Vol.4 last year. I think this year, the girls showed a better standing and came out stronger.

Last year, the girls hit hard with an androgynous look. This year, they used a more feminine version of their “manly” look. In their words, last year they were “men”, this yearly, they are “manly”. Their look is quite distinctive too. The costumes were specially tailored and DIY-ed further to get the look they were looking for. The three buns are aerodynamic – it helps them dance faster!

I always don’t get how some people can dance with hair flying around. Hair-reography is tough. I always need my hair tied up.

Some of the choreography were done by themselves and some parts were by their seniors. The girls shared that they’re a very loving crew and seldom come across issues between themselves. They learn how to settle their differences very quickly and move on. I would have thought female dynamics are harder to work with! It always seems like the male crews last longer than female crews.

You can see throughout their interview, they’re constantly giggling and laughing!


Photographs are used with permission from Overide Photography. Please check out the Facebook Page for more pictures!

I was not paid to blog about Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5. This series is an invitation by to blog about this dance competition as a blog challenge. Two bloggers will win a sponsored trip to Japan which includes: flight, 3 nights accommodation and entry to Japan Dance Delight.

Nicolette says… #2

SY (to our colleague, Fithry whom we call Fit): “Fit, that’s such a sexy dress!”
N: “Her body’s really fit right!”

N: “If you’re a steak, you’ll be well done”
N: “If you’re a Transformer, you’ll be Optimus Fine”

On eating having Thai food for dinner last night.
N: “Thai 好吃了”



Conversations with Elders

I was actually a student of Temasek Polytechnic (TP) … for a grand total of maybe 3 days. When I was 16, I thought that perhaps, the diploma route was for me despite already being in another JC so I secretly applied for TP in the early part of the year. And got accepted way later.

My point is.. I could have been dancing with The Elders!

They’re all members of TP’s hip hop dance club, Temasek Polytechnic Dance Ensemble and have graduated into the alumni club – with the same initials but known as The Passionate Dancing Elders. How apt indeed.

The crew has a mixed range of ages, the eldest Elder has just finished National Service (Singapore’s conscripted army) and the youngest has yet to enlist which makes them between 20 to 23.

The Elders shared that Ben (the youngest Elder, left most) is the one who brought the crew together. He was itching to join SDD since Vol. 3 but never got around to it. This year, he decided it was THE YEAR. The Elders got together in Dec 2013 and started intensive training in Jan 2014.

The choreography is done by all five of them, it was really cute to see them using coins to personalise their blocking (more in the YouTube video). Doing the choreography together makes them feel like they own the steps and everyone of them feel for the steps.

The usual choreographic process is to come up with the steps, do the blocking then visuals. The Elders took it another round, they do the flow, blocking visuals then fill in the steps – this is sage advice from An An (one of the judges for SDD prelims).

The Elders are also a critical bunch of dancers – they mentioned that they are very OCD and perfectionist. I think it’s representative in their item and music choice too. Because they had such demanding criteria in their music choice, it took them quite a while before they could settle on song choice.

The Elders has been one of my top crews so far and I’m rooting for them this Volume.

Fun fact: The crew ordered their costumes online – leather pants and this floral jacket but they ALL tore their leather pants 2 days before the Prelims. I like their look – it’s fresh and vibrant.

The Elders will be tweaking their item for the Finals. Here’s my video interview with The Elders

Photographs are used with permission from Overide Photography. Please check out the Facebook Page for more pictures!

I was not paid to blog about Singapore Dance Delight Vol 5. This series is an invitation by to blog about this dance competition as a blog challenge. Two bloggers will win a sponsored trip to Japan which includes: flight, 3 nights accommodation and entry to Japan Dance Delight.