NUS is Singapore's oldest university with its history back to 1904 and also the largest with 3 campuses in Kent Ridge (main campus), Bukit Timah (Faculty of Law, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and research institutes) and Outram (Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School).
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You can tell which university one comes from
Back at the times when there were only two universities in Singapore, you could easily tell which local university your colleagues came from. Not so much for those courses that were only conducted by a single university but for courses like engineering and computing where both universities gave different versions of the courses.
My personal observation was this. Students coming out from NUS were more theory based and they discuss more than they do the work. Students from NTU were more practical and they prefer to try things out rather than just talk things through. Not that any single approach is better but it is a clear distinction of how the courses were taught in the different universities.
I miss this place
It’s been a while since I last stepped in NUS, but images of the faculty buildings are still fresh in my mind.
The university has a beautiful and peaceful campus, really. Some of my favourite haunts were the Central Library, where I often spent my free time between classes, and the Sports & Recreation Centre, where I would practice capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) with friends.
And I remember I’d used to patronize each faculty canteen trying out the various stalls, mostly the one at Arts which I thought had some of the best food.
I should visit NUS again, one of these days.
my 1.5hrs journey from the east
Mention the word University and what comes to my mind is not memories of lectures and tutorials. To me it's all about socializing ... making friends ... having fun in general.
What motivated me to wake up at 5am and leave home at 6am to catch the bus, traveling 1.5hrs from the eastern end of Singapore to the west, was so that I could hangout with my buddies and go watch movies or shop along Orchard Road after class. Breaks in between classes were spent eating and hanging out in the different canteens and cafeterias all over NUS and the nasi lemak and prata stalls nearby.
If anybody were to ask me if I could turn back time, would I put more emphasis in my studies instead of having so much fun, my reply would be a straight NO! I've managed to pass all my exams and graduated, and the fond memories live on ...
My NUS experience (a decade and a half years back)...a recommended rite of passage for undergrads.
Following the trail of "bread crumbs" left by my parents, I stumbled into NUS after my stint in Junior College, it just seemed like the rite of passage for me to take then. I'd applied to study Economics, Sociology and Japanese Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences without flinching at the notion of quite possibly applying for anything else. I had ascribed to the preconceived notion that this was the safest and surest route (for me) to a career in Banking and Finance. Most unfortunately, Japanese Studies was dropped in my second year as my particular class was tutored by a Chinese lady. Mandarin was being used as the channel of communication and I passed Chinese by the skin of my teeth in JC. Till this day, I revere at my tenacity then to overcome the difficulties of picking up a foreign language through a language medium I was most unfortunately not too primed in.
A flurry of colourful memories scurry through my mind as I rethink my life in NUS. Though it’d been a decade and a half since I graduated from NUS, visuals of life on campus still seem so fresh. The Matric Fair where various clubs showcased what they offered to the freshmen, was where I was picked out from the crowd to be a pageant contender at the annual Union Ball. The Rag and Flag charity event similar to the Chingay procession, was where I had my first "sleep-over" with hundred others all huddled up outside a lecture all. The Jam and Hop was a prelude to my late nights at Zouk and my realization that one was never too young to tear a hamstring. Overall, life at NUS leaves a tingling sweetness on the frontal lobe of my brain; sweetness sufficient to cause massive coronary or cardiac arrest from one's first taste of a Creme Brulee.
After classes, came the coffee and lunch breaks at the "cobble-stoned" Arts Canteen which brimmed with life, much likened to the cafes and restaurants that line the alleyways of Champs-Elysees. The guys from other faculties (most notably the Engineering Faculty) would religiously make their way in droves to the Arts Canteen to ogle at the girls there; most of whom were models and pageant queens. For me, I succumbed to the instant gratification of quelling my hunger pangs with Char Kway Teow (more "si hum"), Seafood Hor Fun or Laksa Yong Tau Foo; washing them down with homemade Iced Lemon Tea. These were my top three "must-eats" at the Arts Canteen and I recall how theChar Kway Teow Auntie used to do her little dance as she pranced around the stove, which was next to her husband's. He was the Sous Chef in charge of dishing out the infamous Seafood Hor Fun. She used to tell us Char Kway Teow was her only sustenance and she maintained her "svelte" figure with her little boogie-woogie. Occasionally,for a gargantuan fare, I'd opt for the Western food at the Business Canteen which served the best Grilled Chicken Chop and Honey Roasted Chicken Leg. Sometime back, when I accompanied my Aunt to the Western food stall to place our order of Turkey and Honey Baked Ham for the Yuletide binge, the Uncle looked at me and said,"Grilled Chicken Chop with Pasta and Cole Slaw?". It was indeed a pleasant surprise that the Uncle still remembered my favourite dish alongside its selection of side dishes after all these years.
One would notice the different cliques as one walked down the passage ways from one lecture hall to another. There were,The Nerds - with their past season's wear and a perpetual sinusitis. As Court Clerks taking down a record of proceedings, they'd brandish a tape recorder in one hand and a lap top in another (as their dictation and transcription wares). Like gladiators into the ring, they'd trounce into the exam hall with all fervour. The Jocks - stood at the other end of the spectrum, being star athletes with aquiline, chiseled features and confidence that boarded on cockiness. They were the ones who attended the minimal number of lectures and tutorials in order to remain on the course. The first lecture was a prerequisite with the sole purpose of noting the nerds who took the same module. Thereafter ever so conveniently "run" into these nerds at the library and photocopied the notes for all the countless lectures they'd missed. The Hippies - were the epitome of "popular decadence" being social deviants of sorts in their era. Their lives somewhat mirror-imaged the clan from Beverly Hills 90210, The O.C. and The Gossip Girl. The pageant kings and queens hailed from this clique with their to-die-for good genes; they breezed by campus life without gaining a pound from Nasi Lemak suppers at Fong Seng during late night Juku sessions.
As far as teaching and administration go, I can't ask for better.
I'm only halfway through my second year, but I must say that my experience with NUS has been quite pleasant so far. The administrative and teaching staff are (well, most of them) very kind people willing to help out students in whatever way they could.
I seldom have any sort of administration-related problems but, when I do, help is almost always an e-mail away. I might also add that I get very prompt, almost immediate, replies. People might think this sort of efficiency is to be expected, so what's the big deal? I don't know about others, but I've had very bad experiences with the administrative staff in my secondary school. In those days, I remember having to make trips to the administrative office for various reasons and the staff are usually uncooperative, almost hostile. They're impatient and speak gruffly, brusquely, sometimes snarling, sometimes growling, at other times practically barking.
So anyway, I'm quite pleasantly surprised coming to NUS and getting served by humans. The library counter staff, especially, respond to my greetings and thanks, and do it with a (more than perfunctory) smile. I also appreciate that they're always so tolerant of my habit of holding on to borrowed books for too long. One can renew any book for up to three times, provided that it has not been requested by someone else. Once, I had a book renewed a fourth time, and I did it over the phone from home because I was too lazy to travel to school just to return an overdue book. :P
The teaching staff too are great. And by that, I don't just mean that they're experts in their respective fields of research and teaching, but also very accommodating people who seem to put the learning needs of their students before everything else in their busy schedule. They're always available by e-mail, if not consultation, and some are rather sympathetic to the typical student rushing to meet various deadlines in the last week of semester. I think we ought to appreciate such teachers.
Of course, what I've so far said is not true of all the staff at NUS, and there might be one or two crappy lecturers or admin people given to sulking and snapping. But, for me, at least, I don't think I can ask for any better.
As a 18 year old, I would say that my NUS experience is rather limited as I have yet to enter a university. However, I have visited NUS on several occasions, for my Chinese Instrumental Examination, as well as to watch a musical titled "The Promise" back then in 2008.
I remembered on the day of my actual examination I was really nervous but thankfully the staff there were really nice and wished me good luck before the examination. There is an air-conditioned holding room for candidates like myself to practice our instrument while awaiting for our turn. What I like about the place is the spacious and peaceful atmosphere which really helped nervous candidates like myself calm down a great deal!
"The Promise" is a Christian musical that my entire secondary school went to watch (My secondary school is a mission school). I was impressed by the grand theatre boosted by brilliant yellow lights, which I believed fulfilled every little girl's dreamlike fantasy. Therefore, I feel that the quality of the University Cultural Centre Theatre is definitely comparable to professional theatres despite being situated in a campus!
I spent most of my NUS days in Raffles Hall, a stone's throw away from the Faculty of Engineering, my home faculty. From waking up 5 minutes prior and then groggily stumbling into lecture theaters, to performing on the University Cultural Center's magnificent stage for a full house audience in my hall's annual drama-musical, and then again for the mega inter-hall dance performance, and not to mention the more than regular wild drinking 'parties' in each others' rooms, only to have us deeply regret them when the examination period draws near, my experience in Raffles Hall has left an indelible mark on my mind.
What really sets Raffles Hall apart from other halls in NUS is our long standing Uncle Vincent's supper. His kitchen whips up cheesy fries, various naans stuffed with chicken fillet, potatoes and tomatoes, and Thursday's highlight of cheesy apple-stuffed whole chicken. Sharing it with my close friends never fails to make me wonder if that is how a thanksgiving meal would feel like - warm and satiating. Indeed, it is all these experiences in Raffles hall that has made my university experience unlike any other.
School of Design and Environment
I study in the School of Design and Environment in NUS. Being the school for design and environment, its design should look appealing or at least have a decent standard of creativity applied to it. Sad to say though, the design is totally plain, backward and even worse than other faculties like the Arts or Business faculties! Their lecture theatres and even toilets are much nicer and conducive to study in. How jealous I will get when I visit those faculties and I will start to grumble about my own faculty's lousy toilets and old designs. I think it should be revamped since architecture students need to be exposed to a creative environment and not one that stifles their creativity!
The traditional career path to take
NUS provided me with a holistic learning environment for development such as exposure to overseas community involvement programmes, international student exchange programmes and undertaking internships. I feel that it is an independent environment where you have to seize chances and not wait for success to befall upon you. NUS's academic system can be brutal with the usage of a bell-curve system so even if you think you performed well, the grades attained may be below expectations, and this was really a headache for me. Overall, NUS provides a homely and pleasant environment ONLY if students take the initiative, but at least it is a good prologue to the corporate world in future.
My Choice University
Studying at the National University of Singapore has given me a great expanse of knowledge because of the way the module system functions. You are required to choose subjects outside of your main degree for the purpose of giving you a more well-rounded education. While some may feel that such a system impedes on one’s ability to choose the subjects you can score best in, others applaud it for it allows you to study more interesting subjects such as new languages, cultural studies and even film studies.
Studying at NUS can get stressful because during the school time, everywhere you look, there are people studying in some corner. However, NUS is not without its exciting events. The RAG and FLAG event held every year is truly a sight to behold as giant floats made out of recycled materials, by students, are displayed in a colourful and lively parade to celebrate the contributions of the public to the annual Flag Day. In addition, NUS also organizes its own marathons, triathlons as well as inter-varsity competitions which can be quite exciting if you are into sports.
As I stay in the NUS hostel, I get a taste of everyday life in school from morning till night throughout the school term. For me, school life is all about appreciating the exciting things that happen and not lamenting over the stressful. An experience in any university can be greatly enhanced with this way of thinking and your student life will be much more enjoyable!