Super serious about exchanging to NUS? Not sure which accommodation to go for? Choosing accommodation at NUS really does impact your experience while abroad so it’s important to choose wisely. In this blog, I’ll enlighten you on my life at halls!
To give an overview, there are 6 halls (Kent Ridge, Sheares, Temasek, Eusoff, Raffles, King Edward VII), 5 colleges (Cinnamon, Alice & Peter Tan, Tembusu, RC4, Ridge View) and 2 student residences (Prince Georges Park, UTown) on campus. Firstly, let me just say that not all exchange students have all of these options – roughly half to three-quarters of the NUS batch I was with were only given the options for PGP and UTown, where most exchange/international students live. I was very fortunate to be offered all of the halls as well as PGP and UTown – I’m not sure what determines what choices you’re given so at this point I think it’s a bit of RNG.
My Reasoning For Housing
To start off, staying at halls is a very unique opportunity where mainly local Singaporean students live with dribs and drabs of exchange/international students as well. At first, my main reason for choosing Kent Ridge Halls was because it was the closest housing to my classes (Business School/Faculty of Arts).
After thorough research, Kent Ridge was seen to be recognized as the hall that was the most ‘crazy’ – they partied the most and were the most outgoing hall; the complete opposite of me. Despite this, I strongly believe that a student exchange should be a life-changing experience – one where you challenge yourself and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. So, by forcing myself to live in a totally different environment for 6 months with no way to back out, it was my first challenge and first step out of my comfort zone.
From what I’ve seen, most halls are quite similar – you’re given one room in a specific block and the toilets/showers/kitchen are all shared. On my floor, there are 16 people altogether with 3 toilets and 3 showers which does sound a bit yikes but it’s really not that bad after a few days when you get used to it. One big highlight for halls is that there is hall culture – something that’s absent from PGP/UTown. At halls, there are tonnes of events going on such as interblock games/interhalls games (competitive sporting events), block dinners and halls related groups. Also, you get some free NUS/halls shirts, so you can represent and be proud of your hall while being able to bring some memorabilia back to NZ too. When it comes down to choosing halls, it isn’t just simply picking a place to stay, it becomes more about choosing a community where you feel welcomed and happy to be a part of.
Another thing is that since you live with the locals, it becomes more of a cultural exchange where you learn the way of how Singaporeans like to live – study hard and play hard. The average UoA student takes four papers a semester whereas Civil Engineering students take an all-time high of five papers. Meanwhile in Singapore, these people take on average five to six papers per semester.
I found out about this during orientation when I was talking to a 2nd year business student and I asked how many papers he’s taking this semester and he said ‘I’ve got it quite easy this semester, I’m only taking 5 papers’. And I’m just thinking, yeah bro… real chill… I’m taking 3 papers LOL.
On top of that, I’ve seen students take seven papers because they’re doing a conjoint degree and want to graduate a bit earlier. Heck I’ve even heard of one student that takes EIGHT COMPUTER SCIENCE PAPERS WHILE STUDYING. I don’t even know if that’s even possible. Academics aside, the majority of the students are also in a tonne of NUS groups and sports teams, so their schedule is super packed.
That being said, while living at KR, I really do get to appreciate the ‘study hard/play hard’ culture. It’s not surprising to see people up at 1am everyday studying – it’s actually more common that not. I’ve even woken up at 4am to catch flights at KR and I’ve looked across some blocks and there are people in their rooms with their lights on, studying.
It was week 2.
Halls food is catered for the whole semester where you pay around $500 NZD for breakfast/dinner 6 days a week for about 18 weeks. You’re probably thinking the same thing as me – that’s DAMN cheap. That’s about $2 per breakfast/dinner. That being said, the food isn’t the most glamorous – it’s not some 5-star meal served with some wine or normal restaurant food. Some people like it, some people don’t – if you don’t then you can always just go out and get food which is cheap anyway.
Breakfast is usually cereal plus a small portion of fried rice or porridge or sandwiches. The main highlight for me about breakfast is there’s chocolate milk!! I basically drink two cups and I’ve got my money back, but breakfast is only served from 6:30am to 9:30am so if you’re a late waker like me, you’ve got to force yourself up to go eat – and what motivates me to do that? Chocolate milk 🙂
And then there’s dinner. It’s not the best food out there but it’s really not bad for $2 in terms of quality and quantity! It differs everyday but it’s usually chicken/fish plus two extras side foods like veges/fish balls/chicken nuggets plus some soup/drinks. There’s also ‘dessert’ but it’s usually just a small jelly or some fruit which isn’t bad either.
Overall, you’re getting quite a bang for your buck. It’s also a lot cheaper/more convenient than having to go out every day for every meal because those food and drink expenses really do rack up despite the cheap meals.
That wraps up the end of my blog for accommodation. Also, feel free to hit me up if you have any questions on the paperwork/admin processes or anything about life at NUS/Singapore at firstname.lastname@example.org! I know the process is gruelling and many factors can dissuade you from going but I’m sure I can turn things around for you!!