My Roomie and I

I don’t think I’ve ever written about my university hall room mate, Sabrina (aka Sabby) and I so perhaps, now, six years down the road, it is time.

These are very old pictures so please pardon the poor quality. Then, it was the time of Friendster before Facebook peaked.

Sabby and I were acquainted in junior college. We were in the same Chinese class but that was probably where everything ended. My impression of her was that she was that short and bitchy girl in Chinese class.

We have plenty of mutual friends but didn’t actually hang out with each other. Then, it was through mutual friends (or maybe Livejournal) that we heard both of us got into Raffles Hall. University being a whole new world, we were both a little hesitant and apprehensive of hall life and wanted a companion so I gave up my single room and went with a double room with her.

I like to think it was fate that we found each other.

She was also the one who got me onto Facebook

Continue reading “My Roomie and I”

My top tips for freshmen

It’s been a while since I was a NUS freshman, given the chance, I think I would have done my college years very differently right from the start.

1. I wouldn’t have gone for the modules because I wanted to try something new/do something different/stuck with the old. The decision to major in Psych and wanting to do Econs 1101E killed my CAP pretty quickly.

2. It’s technically correct that honours is not useful in the private sector because no one gives a shit about your CAP but CAP is important because it gives you the access to the exchange programmes. Without a good CAP, you can’t even apply for exchange.

3. Go for local exchange + an overseas exchange. This will maximise your exposure.

4. Go for freshman camps – I think the two main ones you should go for are the faculty camp + your major camp. I was one of those who didn’t go for any camps and witnessed first hand what it meant to have no friends to take modules or group with.

5. Make that two to three friends that you will take classes with. It’s really helpful to have someone to look out for you and copy notes off when you’re away/busy.

6. Join CCAs/clubs/societies that you’ve always wanted to try out, go alone if you must, take advantage of these activities that are funded by NUS because they will cost a bomb after you graduate.

7. Be consistent on your school work. I bucked up in my 3rd semester onwards but my first few sems kind of screwed me over, making me miss a lot of chances which I should have been eligible for.

8. Don’t party too hard, just don’t. It must be liberating to be free but at the same time, be smart. Alcohol and zouk are fun for a couple of times but weigh in your sacrifices (hungovers during morning classes, cab fares, drinks costs).

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.

NUS Hall life – Raffles Hall Ask Me Anything

Please understand that this post was written in 2014 and may not be relevant / up to date with current information and trends at the point you are reading.

Last update: 10 November 2015 – added extra question on hall stays for senior undergrads who are looking to gain admission into halls. 

Update: 27 April 2015 – added more on room mates and room allocations at the bottom. 

So, it is the time of the year where I see my site stats spike up with the search terms on “NUS halls” – I’m guessing it is the crucial period of applications/appeals for hall life now. So let me get it out right here – I am an advocate of Raffles Hall and I enjoyed my time there so I do encourage freshies to give this old but GOLD hall a chance.

If you are financially able, I think you should give staying on campus a second thought. In Singapore, realistically, if you’re a typical Singaporean, you’re likely to stay with your parents until you get your first apartment. Secondly, your highest chance of getting a campus stay is in your freshmen year sem 1. Your chance of getting a campus stay drops drastically after that. Unless, you’re a talent.

This is an entry by me (an old bird, I graduated in 2011) and I got my good friend Sebastian Tan (also, JCRC president in AY 12/13) to help me out here. This is the real-est, no icing added and most updated post you can Google. This is also a Work-In-Progress post, I will update it as I receive more questions.

This is an updated post from my 2012 Hall post and my earlier 2012 Hall life lessons. This is a very long post. I welcome any questions (that cannot be Googled), drop me a comment below! I usually TRY to reply to questions within 24 – 48 hours.

NUS Rag 2010

On Raffles Hall Ask Me Anything

1. Why did you choose Raffles Hall?

[SY] I didn’t choose Raffles Hall actually. I was young (and not very smart nor Google-savvy at that point of time) so I went with the choices my JC friends made which was Kent Ridge (so cocky here but didn’t want to go to a sports hall). Since I didn’t attend any of the camps, knew any seniors and also, not foreign, I had the barest chance of getting in. I was allocated Prince George Park (student residence) which got me in a panicky mode because it’ll be tough securing stay for the second year. I stay at the other end of the island! Thankfully, I was blessed to meet a dance senior who helped me appeal in based on dance. No regrets here.

[Sebas] Because SY convinced me that since I was going to study at Engin, I should stay in RH as it is only 5 minutes away. And so I put it as my first choice and was offered a place. All was good

2. So why not XX hall or XX hall?

[SY] Again, KR was quite a popular choice and since I didn’t go to camp or knew anybody but still wanted to try my luck so obviously I didn’t get in. I knew I won’t want to do sports nor actually enjoyed sports so the sports halls (at that point of time were EH, SH and TH) which didn’t leave me with much of a choice.

Also, I knew I wanted to dance so I wanted a Hall that is near all dance studios. Raffles Hall is literally across the road from University Cultural Centre (where all concerts are staged) and then, dance practices were held at UCC too. The current Blast! classes are at UTown which RH is relatively close to as well. RH also has one of the most number of Blast! dancers every year.

[Sebas] I think it really depends on what you are looking for in a hall. But for me, the proximity of the hall to your faculty is also important (hence I would never consider staying in Utown). The NUS campus map is a good guide for that. However, if you don’t mind waking up a little earlier and squeezing onto buses (or having to wait for the next next because the bus arriving is already full) to get to classes, or having to walk a little further at night to get some warm food, then you’ll be good anywhere I suppose.

The culture in each hall might be slightly different, but I would say that they are more or less similar in general. They change with the people in the hall (which changes every year due to various reasons), so it is hard to predict what a hall will be like in the next few years. Plus, if you find that things are not to your liking, you can always be the change you want to see 😉

Continue reading “NUS Hall life – Raffles Hall Ask Me Anything”

Best years of my life

Has gotta be the university years.

It was so liberating to stay on campus away from home. Not to sound like an ingrate but I enjoyed staying away from home and having so much privacy and space to myself. It sounds really silly but when I first moved onto campus, I was kinda homesick and kept heading home and skipping orientation.

Then I discovered dance on campus and…oh well, heading home seems to be the last thing on my mind. What a turnaround.

Sometimes, I’ll make Dadster pick me up and send me back again so that I can bring my a certain pillow/blanket home. This is something Dadster has been using as leverage to make me run errands/bake sweets for him. It’s been two years since I graduated… I really should put a stop to his guilt tripping soon.

I think I’ll be doing a post on some quirks on living on campus – those were some of the best years of my life. And also, probably also the period that my heart got trodden on badly too.

But those memories are what makes me who I am today.

Dancers are actors

I remember vividly, a choreographer of mine said that all dancers are actors but not all actors are dancers. A lot of times, a dance item is set in a particular scene, where you have to act out the character. Most of these items are with my dance items with Raffles Hall because the items tend to lean more on the entertainment value side.

I’ve had some crazy costumes and the best ones are those from rag I swear. I wear rags (literally) but I still feel like a star!

In year 2010 for rag, I was a scientist from the past. This costume was super duper hot, I think I lost 1kg from all the sweat but it was the best costume ever. My vest was made from haversack, the eyelet hooks were from tin cans and the ruffles were from some table cloth. My little tool bag had cool handmade tools such as a compass and ruler.

Of course, no Nike then.

Year 2010

I was the star of the show – a scientist

Continue reading “Dancers are actors”

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.

Click in to read more

Continue reading “Staying in campus – Hall life for freshmen”

10 lessons from Hall life

I can’t stand the morning travels even up till now. While travelling to work is an improved one hour travelling time from going to NUS’s 2 hours travelling time, it’s still dreadfully painful. I chose to stay in Hall for all my tertiary years and I have never regretted my choice. Initially, the plan was for me to stay for a year to ease into tertiary life but somehow… the hall life just never stopped.

Staying away from home wasn’t easy at first because I had to do everything on my own. Here’s some of the takeaways I had from my “home away from home”:

1. Learning how to use the washing machine: It’s actually not that difficult because really, you just dump in your clothes with loads of washing powder. Do dump in enough so that your clothes don’t smell funky.

2. The trick to not so crumply clothes without ironing: Flick out your clothes immediately after washing and smooth out any creases/crinkles.

3. Dividing your wardrobe into half and doing early clothes planning: This is a skill I swear. I usually kind of plan out my wardrobe week ahead so that I can leave/bring certain items that I will need from/to hall/home. A lot of times, I find myself buying two of certain stuff so that I have one each at hall/home.

4. Magic clean is your best friend: Because this is the easiest and best way to clean your room. You need wet and dry wipes.

5. Buy your supplies from provision/Value dollar shops: They sell the cleaning supplies that you need in packs of three at very low costs! I checked out the Magic Clean at NTUC/Cold Storage outlets, sometimes they can go up to three times the price. Venus beauty in the heartlands sell the cheapest shampoo.

6. Buying groceries that are microwave-able with extended expiry dates: I used to throw groceries into my basket without checking for expiry dates. Now I check to see that they have a minimum three months life time and I discovered canned food. Did you know you can get curry chicken in a tin?

7. Your online shopping bill increases: Now that you have a new address to send your loots to without your parents knowing and no one keeps tabs on your laundry, it’s the perfect opportunity for your online fashionista to come out.

8. Everything late night: I had all the nearby eateries that open till late memorised – the locations, menu and opening hours. It’s important to know how to travel back late at night as well! The best way I’ve learnt is bus 33 from city hall/Bugis.

9. Being able to sleep through anything and everything: This includes when orientation camps go on and when the sun comes shining through your blinds and you hear the birds chirp.

10. Your piracy tendencies and drama whore levels up: With the super fast broadband in your room, I think you can find yourself being a pirate more and streaming a whole lot more drama serials


Different universities call it differently.

I had my commencement in NUS on the 23rd of July. Was it fun? not really. Was it exciting? Hell no. I walked up when my name was announced, took my cert + transcript. Took a couple of pictures with a few friends who happened to be in the same commencement ceremony.

But it was a proud moment for my parents to see this transformation:

From 1 gown to another gown

Tembusu College

After checking my stats, I realised that a lot of people were googling and reaching my blog on “Lao Ban tau huay”. Before I started work, I still had time to drop by and queue for tau huay. But as a working adult now, I really don’t have the luxury and time to do that.

Moving on with work, let me show you my work station:

My two monitors

The desktop monitor is an extension of my laptop. I know I’m really lucky to have a wide screen monitor but I’m really not used to having my eyes cross over to the other side of the keyboard. A lot of times, the desktop monitor just sits and sleeps there.

I dropped by Tembusu College for a visit the other day. Didn’t get much pictures but here’s my meal that I had at Tembusu:

nom noms at Tembusu

I must say it’s case of what you pay is what you get. In halls, our meal plan cost $4/day for breakfast and dinner – both of which I have a tendency to skip a lot. I admit that I’m a picky eater though. As much as I miss my times at Raffles Hall, one thing that I don’t miss is the food. Except for maybe Tuesday’s fish soup special.

Tembusu College residents pay $8/day for their meal plan which is pretty hefty but the food is way better than the meals at hostels. They get to choose between Indian, Malay, Chinese, Western and noodles for dinner. I had Malay food that day I dropped by for dinner – curry chicken, beef rendang, fried rice and veggies which I think its pretty good and not a turn off.

I like the fact that they have free flow salad with dressing. Also, there are drinks like fruit punch and atas coffee available. My friend was telling me that for breakfast they have bacon, sunny side ups and scrambled eggs.

However, my friend did tell me that he hasn’t seen anyone da bao food before. I can’t imagine any dancers staying there because we’re perpetually not at dinners since we have rehearsals every other night or we’re taking classes outside. My friend my Tembusu did tell me that they can roll over meal credits for 2 weeks. But, I still don’t see how this would have worked out for me.

Also, when the meals cost so much, that would mean I have to get up early for breakfast and this totally doesn’t work for me. I don’t get up before 12noon if I don’t have any morning classes.

Some pictures to share:

Tembusu sits in University Town (or UTown) which has a 24hours Starbucks. I think it’s lucky that I don’t stay there anymore because I can imagine me splashing a lot of money on atas coffee.


This is how the rooms look like. They’re more of an urban jungle, somewhat like Sheares and Kent Ridge Hall. What’s special is that they have suites and rooms. I’m not sure how they allocate though. My friend stays in a suite where he shares a living room and toilet (with a few cubicles)  with 5 other people. The communal space gets cleaned once a week.

It’s kind of like living on your outside.

I miss staying in Hall i think – the private space and the freedom with no one nagging at you to wake up and to come home early. I think I’m lucky in the sense that my parents don’t believe in micro managing my life as long as I have the sense to text them that I will be home late.

And my beloved Raffles Hall studio 3rd renovation:

new mirrors and flooring