Saturday, April 30, 2016

NUS Hall Life Q&A [Should I stay in hall?]

Hello readers! 

My exam ended yesterday so I'm now back with a blog post, titled "NUS Hall Life Q&A [Should I stay in hall?]".

I decided to talk about this because a lot of my juniors have been asking me this question and back then, when I was still a freshman, this question bothered me the most. I don't know why but it was a pretty tough decision to make, and especially more choices are available now in NUS (residential colleges etc). 

I will pick some of the most frequently asked questions and answer them here. But if any of you have any other questions, feel free to drop a comment and as usual I will answer them as soon as I see them! Do note that I previously stayed in King Edward VII hall (KE), so I would not be able to provide in depth information about other halls, residential colleges and Prince George Park residence (PGP). 

Here's a picture of my room in KE:

Took it at night with my old phone, so please pardon the quality. :)

1. General question: What are the available types of accommodation in NUS? What are the differences between them?

This is how a single room in Kent Ridge Hall looks like. (Source: Google)

There are three types of accommodation in NUS, namely halls, residential colleges and residences. There are 6 halls, 4 residential colleges and 2 residences in the main campus (Kent Ridge). If you stay in hall, you will need to take part in hall CCAs and activities to earn 'points' for your subsequent stay the next year. Your admission only guarantees an academic year of stay. For residential colleges, you will have to take up extra modules outside of those that you take in school called the University Town College Programme (UTCP) and your admission guarantees you two years of stay. Residences are generally quieter and they are just like normal apartments with minimal activities. 

2. Should I stay in hall?

I would ask you to consider staying in residential colleges first because they are newly built, so they have better facilities, more modern interior and cleaner surroundings. I heard they have better food too. The thing about residential colleges is that they require more than a year of commitment. So once you are enrolled, you have to stay for more than a year to get certified for the 'extra modules' you take. But if residential colleges are out, then I would recommend you to consider staying in hall, for at least a year. The reason is firstly, there isn't any commitment pressure if you decided not to stay for the second year. If hall isn't for you, you can always excuse yourself from those activities and not get any offer to stay next year. 

The reason why I recommend halls is because you can take part in CCAs and experience what hall life is. This is especially important you have not been staying away from home since young. They have more than 20 CCAs available for you to choose. Say you really like hall after staying for a while, you can always take part in more CCAs so as to earn sufficient 'points' to get a spot for yourself next year! So it is better in the sense that you won't get tied up and you can choose to leave anytime. I mean, when will you get another chance to stay with your schoolmates from different faculties after uni right? So seize the opportunity when you still can!

For PGP wise, they are more like an apartment. There are minimal activities, no catering services like residential colleges and halls, plus admission is based on balloting. There are however hawker stalls nearby which you can get your meal from. But if you prefer to have more privacy, quieter environment, but you want to stay near school, then PGP may be a better option for you. They also have air-conditioned rooms, so this may be a bonus!

3. Is registration for catering in hall compulsory? How is the food in hall?

Tembusu Dining Hall (Source: Google)
Yes, it is compulsory. If you want me to rate the food in KE, it would be a 4/10. I'm not a fussy eater but I just could not appreciate the food cooked in hall. Breakfast was generally fine because they normally prepare sandwiches and some other cooked food. And I would always take the sandwiches, I mean you can't go wrong with bread and egg mayo. Sadly, there is no way that you can opt out from that. If you are like me, you will most likely end up wasting money on meal plans. 

There is however an open air common kitchen which can get quite dirty at times. So occasionally, I would prepare my meals there. If not, I would either head to the hawker stalls located at PGP, if not, to Kent Ridge MRT to settle my meals. (Yes, PGP is right opposite KE)

4. Are there air-conditioned rooms in hall?

A single room in King Edward VII Hall (Source: Google)

No. Honestly it can get really hot in the afternoon and perhaps at night if there isn't any wind. On some days, it can be quite cooling too. But if you really need an air-conditioned room to study, you can always head to the common study room in hall or those mini study rooms in PGP that offer more privacy. 

5. I heard that hall life can be quite hectic. What if I can't cope with studies?

KE hall friends

Don't worry, like I have mentioned earlier, there is no commitment pressure in hall. So if you feel it is getting harder to cope with studies, then just excuse yourself from all the CCAs and focus on your priority. But be prepared to lose your space in hall the next year if you do that. You wouldn't know whether you can cope until you really join hall. I mean it is just a year, no harm trying anyway. 

But do note that if you intend to stay for the second year, you have to take part in at least 4 CCAs. That means you will be busy with CCAs 4 days in a week, each session can last up to 3 hours. 

6. How does the hall point system work?

Honestly, I don't really know. But very briefly, for KE, you have to take part in at least 4 CCAs to get qualified for the second year stay. That is the minimum. Then you will be awarded points based on your attendance, performance, leadership position held etc. You will also get extra points if you sign up to attend hall plays or hall activities like dinner and dance. The system is also 'bell-curved' in the sense that there will not be a clear threshold on how many points you need to obtain in order to qualify for a second year stay. It is entirely dependent on the competitiveness of the batch of people that are applying. 

7. What facilities do hall residents get to enjoy? How does the room look like?

Us at the common kitchen 
In KE, there is a multi-purpose hall where you can play badminton table tennis and other sports; a grand piano which residents are free to use; an air-conditioned study room which opens 24 hours; a dining hall where residents have their food; common lounges with television, board games and sofa for residents to chill; a general lounge with a projector where residents can screen movies from their laptops; a gym room; common kitchen on each level and laundry rooms at each block.

When you move in, you will get a study table, a chair, a single bed, a book rack, a wardrobe and a fan. There is a common washroom on each level with hot shower.  

It will look something like that 

8. You said there are 6 halls in total, which one should I choose?

You should take into account factors such as: the distance between your faculty and hall, their hall culture (some halls are well-known for sports -Eusoff hall and Temasek hall; some halls are better known for arts - Kent Ridge Hall etc), the facilities they offer, the food, accessibility and more. Choose the one that suits you best. 

For further details, you can visit the Hostel Admission Services website here. Alternatively, leave your queries in the comment box below!