More than just an academic backdrop to the university student life, the NUS campus is perpetually moving in motion with students and staff shuffling to get to their next classes or meetings. While the aesthetics are invigorating and uniquely imbued with gentrified inklings, the true beauty of the campus is what takes place on its rousing grounds.
Over the past year and a half or so, I have experienced the waving tides of the semesters from the comforts of my lemon scented room in Ridge View Residential College – a place that I had to call home upon my arrival freshman year. In the midst of rushing to classes and stressing about projects and finals, I have acquired a needy taste for coffee and homemade almond brownies and maybe, just maybe, learnt a thing or two.
These are 5 things I have learnt from Living on Campus.
- Take care of yourself
Yes. Living on campus, being away from your parents, means being away from the rules and curfews, but it also spells trouble. In my first semester, I inherited a 3am to 10am sleep cycle that ramified into missed class and a terrible sense of focus. I was also privileged with the choice of an abundance of food which may have included unhealthy options that was just so hard to resist – hash browns I’m looking at you. In times of independence, I discovered how important it was to take care of yourself. Eating healthy, sleeping right and even taking a day off can really help with your mental and physical health that becomes especially important during the exam periods. It’s interesting, how being away from rules and curfews made me impose a few on my own.
- Plan Baby Plan
There are house meetings, midnight supper trips to Ameens (actually called Al Amaan but NUS tryna to be cute) and random musings at your neighbours’ dorm. There is an a plenty of activities and distractions that come with living on campus. Of course, being a full time student in university, school work is a priority, but so is being a learner. There are so many things that you can learn from outside classrooms. Engaging and talking with your peers can provide you with opinions and insights to experiences that you may have never thought of or could have learnt in lecture. It is as important to learn from the things from different avenues, the world is full with knowledge aplenty, and the best way to do this is to plan, plan, plan. Plan your study sessions, schedule your dinner dates with your friends and make space for down time to reflect and introspect everything that you have experienced because that’s important too.
- Creating your home – Making the most of your dorm experience
I walked into living on campus with a fixed outlook on how it is going to be. The biggest regret of my university career thus far. The hall or residential college may not be the one you had in mind, but that does not have to stop you from getting the experience you deserve and want. There is spectacular in every experience and before you stop focusing and picking on the negative aspects, you cannot live for the good ones. I realized that there was so much there was to offer in every opportunity and that some opportunities allow you to be more passive than others, but it does not give you an excuse to not try. If you want to do something artistic, join the art club. If there isn’t one, create one. To quote the pre-wrecking ball and twerk-fest of a persona of 2009 Miley Cyrus, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock”. Your experience is what you make of it.
- People are not as scary as you think
Probably one of the hardest things I struggled with. To say hi or not to say hi. To even make eye contact or not to make eye contact. Truth to be told, everyone wants to be said hi to and talked to. Most of us are just shy and insecure and resort to a stoic front. A tip for future campus residents: it is best to say hi or talk to your neighbours during the first few times you meet. This prevents that awkward period in the middle of the semester when you clearly know of each other but just pretend that you don’t know each other. Try it!
- Be Open
My time in Ridge View Residential College was something that was very different from what I have expected. From the friends that I will make, to the activities that I will join, it was not what I had imagined it to be but it turned out to be an amazing experience altogether. Being open to people and experiences and not so fixated on the things that you expected only made me to discover more about myself and the world around me better. To have thought that I would not have given some things a shot or talked to some people would have prevented me from having an amazing time that I did not think I would have had. So keep an open mind, you will not regret it.
Residing in the labyrinth of the Kent Ridge campus permitted the close inspection of the university’s husstle and busstle via an immersive experience in the NUS life. Sleeping, eating, learning, breathing in the NUS environment 24/7 endowed me with invaluable life lessons that bore the fruit of my university career. As I move out from my dorm, the experiences and growth that I am sure will bring to the next tenant brings me a sense of comfort. Through the constant flux of students commuting and residing in the NUS campus, the experiences that come with being in the university makes it more than merely an academic landscape but the foreground of the future that invites better leaders of tomorrow.
This article is also published in the first issue of The Ridge Magazine for AY17/18. Get a copy at your nearest magazine stand located across the campus.