Just NUS things: Anecdotes from campus life that make me laugh

Image Credits: Drina Lim

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There are a couple of things about NUS that make me burst into tears—I mean, laughter. And as a writer who’s able to utilise this platform for social good, I have little choice but to take on the integral role of sharing anecdotal bits of my NUS life.

Either way, here are some of my funny stories from my three years here. I hope they make you laugh!

1. The Campus Rider going Tokyo Drift style

I no longer go on campus as frequently as I used to—and if I do, I usually take a straight public bus. However, for the entire stretch of Year 1 and pre-orientation, I often had to board the Tokyo Drift 101 (i.e. free shuttle buses) from Kent Ridge MRT.

I don’t know what possesses the driver or bus, but every time it reaches the bend at UTown or barrels down the incline towards CLB, I feel like I’m clinging on for dear life. Slamming against bodies while I teeter here-and-there with a weak grip on the one pole that (of course) thirty other people are holding…this hardly makes for a fun college experience. There’s also something really humiliating about not being able to keep your balance on the bus, and I don’t know why.

The funny thing is that right as I was editing this, I came across a post that sums up my sentiments. (This also heralds the start of an influx of Reddit screenshots in this article.)

*Anyway, sorry to the guy I bumped into when I was trying to angle my body against the gravitational pull of the bus. (I may have gotten my driver’s license, but I haven’t taken Physics since secondary school—so don’t quote me on that.)

2. Passwords….Passwords1…Passwords11

The security measure of changing passwords at the end of every semester just doesn’t do the trick. I just know in my gut that I’m not the only one who adds one character at the end of the password, or changes the symbol at the end; unlike other platforms where you can’t use ‘similar-looking passwords,’ NUS doesn’t have this measure. So every semester, all you’ll get is me just guessing how many symbols I have every time I need to log into something NUS-related. Did I put six symbols? Or five? Did I change the symbol? Or did I not?

(@NUS IT: This is just a joke. Haha, good one, Yuki! You better not alter this security measure after I publish this. I still have three more semesters left. Consider this an empty threat because I am harmless.)


Listen, it’s a good joke, it’s a great joke even, but I’m going to need you to stop anyway. 

As a ‘problem’ recognised by all NUS students, there needs to be a limitation on NUS naming conventions–—or maybe an expansion, because it really pains me that NUS tries to shoehorn itself into everything: geNiUS, uNivUS, LumiNUS, NUSync, conNectUS. Everyday, these play in my head like a broken record player.

Oh my gosh, CoNectUS and BriNging US together have TWO NUS’.
How sacrilegious.

Plus, I can think of a few non-PG words that could be included in this. I mean, if you’re going to make this decision, then you better know what you’re setting yourself up for.

Regardless, since this is such a NUS quirk, I’ve decided to call this move the NUSesque. Isn’t that a fantastic name, especially since it does exactly what it’s named after? Call me a geNiUS. (This is inducing a visceral and reactive cringe in me.)

4. IT department scams

Every now and then, the IT department sends out fake phishing emails to keep us on our toes.

The latest mock phishing email I’ve received

Similar to this Redditor (shoutout to @tim_side, 2021), initially, I used to think that it wasn’t necessary; but as @merimus_maximus (2021) explains, it’s actually important to have these exercises. It’s an integral part of their job as well.

Did I just cite Redditors like they were APA authors? Yes, I did.

Recent incidents have also reinforced the importance of this exercise. I sound so serious saying that, but what I mean is that, contrary to popular belief, it exists for good reason—and that was because my friend actually fell for it. Yes folks, you heard that right. She clicked on the email and was genuinely worried that $80 was being funnelled out of her non-existent FinancialFriend account. She was phished. She. Was. Phished.

I think I spent a good 10 minutes laughing at her mistake that day. I mean chortling. Haughty chortling. But to be fair, I’ve been scammed three times before—so this is just the pot calling the kettle black. How hypocritical. Perhaps I’ll share my horrifying (and equally embarrassing) experiences next time, so that others can also relish my suffering as well!

5. RBR

I find that I no longer need RBR material as urgently as I did in Year 1 and 2. But during the semesters when I needed to scan books from RBR—which can only be on loan for 2 hours at-a-time—I found myself frantically scanning or photocopying before the time was up. One time in Year 1, I couldn’t find anywhere to sit in CLB, so I decided to just sit in the CLB toilet to take pictures of the textbook. That’s a whole new level of pathetic.

It was only in Year 2 when my friend told me that I could bring RBR material home if I stayed until the last two hours–—which, by the way, reminds me of the NUS hacks article we just published. But back to the main point about making a fool of myself. Sometimes I think back and wonder: Why on earth did I do that? (Freshmen anxieties? Sigh.)

6. Is it Lumi-N-U-S or Lumi-nous?

As evident from the many screenshots, I’m a plebeian who likes to camp on Reddit for many hours. One time, as I was doing my due diligence and grinding the NUS subreddit, a poll caught my eye.

How do you pronounce LumiNUS?

Prior to this poll, I’ve never given this much thought—and obviously, an overwhelming number of NUS Redditors read LumiNUS as “Luminous.” But in retrospect, a few of my professors actually read LumiNUS as “Lumee-N-U-S”—as in, they articulate N-U-S, letter-by-letter. I feel bad for laughing but rather than something to tease them over, I think it’s quite endearing and sweet. It’s all part-and-parcel of personal idiosyncrasies, anyway. (Let me know if your professors do the same.)

7. Oversaturation of CCAs

Some CCAs have a low barrier to entry. By that, I don’t mean that the activities are any easier or more fun—what I mean is that membership is highly accessible, especially through the ease of Telegram links on IG pages and NUSync which just whizz you away to massive CCA groups and group chats.

Tempted by these offers, I often just spam click and join. Sadly, deep down, I am quite privy to the fact that I will never, ever attend these CCAs.

Dear Diary: Today, I joined a CCA’s Telegram group.(couple of years later)
Dear Diary: I didn’t go for any of the CCA sessions. I’m still in the group though.

On one hand, I do have an interest in these CCAs—really! On the other hand, I am often so easily excitable that I treat CCAs like I do vacation preparations: always have extra, just in case! To basically sum up my thought process, it goes like: What if I have some free time, and suddenly feel like joining?

Unfortunately, I tend to take on the role of a wallflower in some CCAs—meaning, I simply exist to add numbers to the CCA headcount, and on the off-chance that I do attend these CCAs, it’s usually for one to two sessions, and it ends there. Among the list, I only seriously commit to three to four CCAs as of now, and that’s more than enough for me. (I also cower when joining new CCAs where people seem much more passionate about the niche interest than I am…)

Henceforth, I would like to formally apologise for being a peripheral member in these CCAs. I genuinely promise I won’t do this anymore, and I’ll go ahead to do some spring-cleaning as well (i.e. clearing up Telegram chats and exiting co-curricular groups). Since I’m soon going into Year 4, I’ll also need to stop putting myself through the self-inflicted inundation of CCA Telegram groups.

8. Power plugs

Searching for available power plugs has to be one of the biggest challenges in NUS. I’ve been driven to use the plugs at the Deck—which, for some reason, is strangely embarrassing as people chow down around you.

One time, in fact, I was so desperate that I sat next to the benches at the CLB entrance. (Keeping in mind that CLB’s entrance used to be on the fourth floor.)

The power plugs are snug against the ceiling, and I actually achieved the impossible by physically scaling the ledge (safely?) to smack my power plug in like I was LeBron James.

Do you see the plug at the very top? Yea, I couldn’t reach it. I also definitely uploaded this picture just recently, because I was too lazy to go on-campus for a month.

Slam-dunk! I managed to charge it and attended my Zoom meeting. In the words of yours truly…if the power plug exists, then use it. Why should I be judged for that?

Then again, at what cost? At what cost?

Disclaimer: Please don’t do what I did unless you are really, really desperate. If so, please be careful! If possible, do get someone taller. (You also need to understand that 95% of my coursemates are girls who are around the same height.)

9. Texts from bae <3

They always say that if you start your morning right, this sets the tone for the rest of the day. What I love to do is to wake up, stretch, drink a glass of water, and scroll through texts from my bae <3. I just love getting regular updates. It makes me feel so cherished and loved when they greet me (what a green flag). Even a simple “Good afternoon!” just makes my day.

10. Online university

When I’m really tired or delirious, I try to pause my live Zoom lectures. Yes. I try to…press the spacebar on my laptop…to…pause the lecture… 

Nonetheless, I still make a valiant effort to attend my synchronous lectures during the allocated time slot. Personally, this is because I lack the basic human discipline to watch asynchronous Zoom lecture recordings–—and for some reason, if I let lecture recordings run at normal speed (1x), I lose concentration and fall asleep; but if I let it whoosh by at twice the speed (2x), then I feel restless and pause every 5 minutes to take a break.

I guess you just can’t beat the system—and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em (in live lectures). But to be frank, I do feel a little terrible if I don’t attend the lectures and there’s a low turnout. The lowest number I’ve seen was three people: the professor, me, and my friend. It was terribly awkward.

11. I’m lost

Getting lost and confused is a norm when it comes to navigating NUS. However, I’ve personally always set aside time or asked strangers way in advance before class—because, admittedly, I’m kiasu as heck. Anxiety will definitely build if I don’t go early.

Sadly, one time I was at the rear end of FASS—at a location closely adjacent to Ventus, somewhere near LT13—and a student came up to me to ask for directions. I took out my earphones and stopped eating sushi to ask him where he needed to go. He proceeded to ask me where E3 was. As I was a little taken aback, I asked for the location again. Unfortunately, it really was Engineering 3.

E3…E3…E3…as my mind was churning this information, I checked the clock. It was 1:47pm. His lesson was at 2pm. Poor guy.

12. Class participation

I’m literally in Year 3, and it still takes me a good two to three weeks before I become re-accustomed to class participation. I’m not saying that it has no value, but when class participation takes up, say, 20 per cent of your grade, I start shaking when my hand hovers over the unmute button on Zoom. Since I’m from FASS, this doomed fate repeats in a vicious cycle of torment every, single, semester. Oh well. Get good, I guess.

If you look closely, you can see me raising my hand to enthusiastically participate in class (I’m at the back as a blurred calefare). Actually, I’d say this is a pretty accurate reconstruction of how class participation is like in NUS in every class. Always confident. Never fail. Never stumble.

13. Awkwardly spaced stairs

One of my favourite places to study at is the Town Plaza at UTown; but my gosh, the spiral stairs. They’re so awkwardly spaced; while they’re distant enough to make you stretch your limbs to an uncomfortable distance, you also can’t take two steps on each step to counter this, because the space on each step is too small as well. So whenever I ascend them, I feel like a stretchy bigfoot. Thankfully, everyone has to go through this whenever they ascend this never-ending flight of stairs. 


P.S: If you don’t know where this is, take the spiral staircase outside of Fine Foods @ U-Town. Take it and let me know if you feel ‘stompy’ while going up. Yes, ‘stompy.’

14. Closing sales

Last year, NUS’ Bookhaven closed down and was marking its books down to absurdly low prices. As an avid reader, I was quite excited to browse their books. To my dismay, I could not find time to go down early, and by the time I went down, authors I wanted—like Elie Wiesel—were out. Practically all the books were sold, and that is not an understatement: only three of the same sort were left.

However, by some major stroke of luck, among the three types of books available, two were books that I was eyeing up on Thryft for close to a month at that point. (If you don’t know, Thryft is an online website that sells second-hand books.)

What’s even more outrageously fortunate about my visit was that these three books proved to be so unpopular, that they were sold in bulks of three at $1. You heard that right, folks, I snagged three books–—of which two were what I wanted–—at $1. Everyday I look at those books on my shelf, and just smile to myself.

The two books I wanted were William Blake’s Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence—the last one being an academic text on cartography that was too heavy for me to hold up in frame.

At the end of the day, after all the anti-climatic moments in NUS, I must say that this was one of the best things to have happened to me. It truly is another one for the books. (Cackle.) I’m sorry, I just love making terrible jokes.

15. We’d like to hear from you!

This was pretty fun to write. If you have any interesting tidbits to share, drop us an email or share your story under the ‘Got a story?’ student submission column.
P. S.: If we get enough submissions, we might do up a ‘Just NUS Things 2.0.,’ featuring views from the student body! We’ll also retain anonymity if needed. Otherwise, I’ll keep trudging along to create more stories.