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

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NUS Hall life – Raffles Hall Ask Me Anything

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 😉

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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

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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

NUS

Because today is Good Friday (Jesus died for men), it also seems apt to start giving my thanks to my favourite things within NUS:

1. NUS the school: For without you, there would be no 3 years of most memorable academic years. Although you are hateful in certain ways (the horrible amount of stairs, taking away thai food in Upper Deck and not letting me SU modules from my home faculty), I am still grateful for these 3 years of  “vibrant undergraduate life” as they always like to tell prospective undergraduates.

2. My favorite food stalls in NUS which includes (a must try if you stumble upon this, NUS freshmen) :

Arts canteen: Laksa Niang Tau Foo from arts canteen, the cheesecake & mocha drink from arts canteen drinks stall, mango milkshake from arts fruit juice stall

Engine canteen: indian food, Indonesian Panggang/ ayam penyet and the japanese/western fusion stall’s salmon seaweed cream pasta

Science canteen: the chinese soup stall and shui jiao mian, BBQ chicken sandwich from Megabites Cafe

Business canteen: you suck except for the banana/walnut muffin from western stall

3. NUS Dance Blast: Thank you for taking away my CAP 5. Okay it’s not very true because I have known of dancers with almost perfect CAP (not very common but yes) and with  prestigious degrees e.g. the 5 lawyers i know and an alumnus who’s a doctor. Thank you for all the concert memories, the chance to dance under/with awesome dancers, the dance lobangs for that bit of pocket money and most importantly, for reigniting the love for hip hop as well as the number of friends I have made whom I do hope that I will keep. My favourite-est concert memory has to be EMCC 2010 and SUAD 2011. I can’t decide which.

4. Raffles Hall: Although I am an ultimate slacker and sometimes a phantom who manages to get by with slack activities, I am still grateful to Hall for giving me a home away from home. How cliche but how true. And also, without hall, I wouldn’t have done so many things nor met my love(s). Without Hall, there would be no warm bed for naps or a quick retreat after tiring dance rehearsals.  Although I don’t have a lot of friends in hall and I lead a sad hermit life in my room, I am still glad I got lured in here instead of PGP.  Thank you hall for teaching me that to do chores such as mopping the floor and understanding that washing clothes are a bitch so I learn how to treasure my maid more and be nice to her. Also for the sun scorching, thick make up and gaudy costumes of Rag day where I dance with/on a float made out of transformed rubbish but yet everyone treats me like a star.

5. RH Dance: I am grateful for RH Dance and all it has given me. I couldn’t have met better dancers for such a lousy choreographer like me. Also, for the opportunities it has given me to learn under dancers who are sincere in teaching and imparting knowledge to their juniors. I am glad I was able to stage My Almost Lover which took away some of the pain somehow – that was the peak of my RH Dance. I know I won’t be able to do such an item again, I don’t want to anyway. No more tears on stage.  I learnt how beautiful collaborations can be.

Other random things I’m happy for:

1. Free NUS co-op vouchers for the random contests joined

2. The many bazaars at central forum that sucked my money. and also the many freebies given at international fair/middle east fair/computer fair.

3. The vending machine that sells Heaven & Earth’s green tea for $1/bottle because Cheers sells it at $2/2 bottles which I usually cannot finish.

4. The New Paper at 50 cents from Science & Engin Canteen and Science Co-op.

5. Teh-cinno peng from Al ameen

6. Shit this has all become about food. Okay, modules that test topics after mid terms only. these are fantastic mods that do not kill my brains.

7. The fast broadband in my room at 1.0 Gbps. I will miss streaming videos at such a fast speed.

8. NUS being in an area that has a lot of buses so that i can come back late at night with no problem.

9.  giving me important people that mattered in my life.

10. for giving me the degree that will determine my career.

Reflections

Just had an interview on saturday and I’m glad that I pretty much aced it but there are other factors that do come into place.  Eager to hear the results and crossing all my fingers that I will get it because this is what I have been waiting for. I even went to the trouble of putting make up on. Maybe this was a bad move, everyone was asking me if I just finished doing a show and even my choreographer reaction was “WAH”. Pfft. Maybe I should shock people once in a while and put more make up on.

2 more months of education until I end my education journey. It seems too fast.

Moving home is going to be a torture. After so many years of freedom and independence, going home to stay is going to be weird and somewhat, maybe awkward. Not having my own personal space and privacy is going to need some getting used to.

The thing that I am going to miss most are my dance friends and having a dance studio which I can play in all night long. I’ll miss doing concerts semester after semester, the bonding and spending time with my friends. It is all so precious now. I have no idea where my path brings me to next.

something to share

I am finally managing a decent round-off and I hope to master my back hand spring & back walkover soon. I enjoy gymnastics much, sometimes, I think even more than dance. The adrenaline rush is amazing.

This year i’m finally not doing jazz for my DU item. I think my genre is more hip hop than jazz this year.

Oh, and something came from Hong Kong for me. Shall stay positive & upbeat about it.