Down the rabbit hole of NTU hall life
I think of university life as a metaphorical Alice In Wonderland tale; Alice, the wide-eyed freshman, and university, the magic key that opens the door to the wonderland that is hall life. You see, while university is a whole new world, hall is where things start to get a little cray. Alice In Wonderland isn’t exactly your run-off-the-mill sunshine-and-rainbows fairytale after all.
You may not think much of Singapore’s watered down Sigma Delta Apa Kabar Phi fraternity/sorority equivalents, but true hall devotes will know there is a fair share of rabak-ness that goes down behind closed hall doors. That said, we’ll try to keep this listicle as PG13 as possible.
With the new semester fast approaching, and Freshman Orientation Camps around the corner, we thought it might be helpful to paint you Alices a picture of what uni hall life can be like – from firsthand experience – so you don’t get hit by culture shock once you’re in.
1. OGLs compete for OG members based on social media profiles
Know what colour bra or panties your fave influencer is wearing? That’s for beginners. Orientation Group Leaders (OGLs) take social media stalking up a notch to recruit members for their OGs, and if they deem you to have the makings of a Hall Influenza, they’ll swipe right and you’ll get added to their OG list.
But the game doesn’t just end there. If you’re everybody’s fave, it’s likely you’ll have a few other OGs clamouring to get you into their Maseratis too. OGLs will then compete for you in fun games like chugging, stein hosting and chubby bunny – somewhat like in the Hunger Games.
Moral of the story: up your Insta game, and remember to smile, k?
2. Secret Partner games are a catalyst for matchmaking
If you’re not already sick of swiping left on Tinder till your thumb cramps, have you actually been living in this century? Not to worry – in hall, we like to kick it old-school, with real-life matchmaking and blind dates!
Parents will be relieved to know that their children will not be left on the shelf, as hall guarantees a 69% success rate for all SP matches. A sophisticated algorithm allows one to find the perfect match – with the main criterion being height.
OGLs understand the trauma of first date jitters, so they take the liberty to help SP matches break the ice – with a whole range of games with just the right amount of intimacy, guaranteed to get blood pumping and hearts racing.
Do go all out to impress your SP – even though the fine print says your SP gift should be capped at $10, you’re encouraged to be extra. Bringing her on a nice dinner date to Din Tai Fung (DTF) will increase your success rate tenfold!
3. Ardent worship of the Bell Curve God in times of need
There’s one “religion” that hall residents all seem to subscribe to – Bell Curvism. Patronage at the Sacred Altar Of The Bell Curve God spikes at 2 intervals every year. Offerings in all forms – Pocky joss sticks, welfare pack snacks, past year papers – are accepted.
You know it has to be legit when students dedicate a whole website to worshiping him.
Alternatively you can just stop studying and help “tank” the bell curve for everyone. Take one for the team and be the god you were destined to be.
4. Pinching your pennies to enjoy air-conditioned comfort
Be prepared to give up avocado toast if you want to enjoy the luxury of cool air while you sleep. Meet the Aircon Card – the school’s answer to ensuring capitalistic distribution of a blanketed night’s rest.
To enjoy the comforts of a 23 degree celsius abode, you’ll have to pay for aircon usage per hour, on top of the extra you’re already paying just for the aircon vent in your room.
Fun story: apparently, some enterprising students successfully hacked the system by fashioning card top-up machines of their own – which allowed them to add $50 value into the cards and charge a $5-$10 fee for them. Well, this is just a rumor – ask your seniors if it’s true! Either way, we don’t encourage you to do this because it’s not exactly the most legal venture.
Heard through the grapevine that some residents in a particular NTU hall were caught for suspicious aircon consumption (basically leaving their aircons on 24/7) and made to produce their bank statements to prove they had legitimately topped up their cards. YIKES.
5. Collecting alcohol bottle “trophies” to mark your descent into adulthood
You’d think only the female species would actually devote effort into room decor. Well, some guys do too. But instead of fairy lights, Instax walls, and boho mandala tapestries, guys prefer displaying their proud collection of trophies – empty liquor bottles.
A nod to the drinking culture in halls, this exquisite art installation represents a coming of age as the artist reaches the crossroads of adolescence and adulthood. The free-handed positioning of each bottle hints further at the slow descent into a degenerative lifestyle and nonchalance for the patriarchy.
Read our article on other types of hall rooms here.
6. Suppers are the key to bonding
Your school career guidance counsellor might beg to differ, but the best networking sessions are held in hall TV lounges. There’s no better way to engage in stimulating conversation and make meaningful connections than over a steaming packet of Ah Lian Bee Hoon or Extension’s Ba Chor Mee.
The only midnight oil you will catch me burning is the oil on my plate of Ah Lian Bee Hoon Source
If you don’t want to miss out on the latest scoop and dirt going on in hall, you’d best be prepared to sacrifice your sleep, waistline, and morning tutorials too.
Fun fact: rumour has it that NTU’s Ah Lian Bee Hoon is named as such because the stall owner has a reputation for being fierce to girls but flirty to guys, and has a butterfly tattoo on her bosom.
7. It’s easy to let hall life get in the way of your studies
Ah, the irony of hall life – you stay in hall to have close proximity to school, but you end up not going to school because…hall.
Face it, if you haven’t played 5 sports, 3 rec games, planned 4 social events, acted in a production, and competed in both the inter-hall cheer and dance competitions, have you really stayed in hall?
While it’s easy to suffer from FOMO and just say yes to every activity thrown at you, it’s only fine if you’re a genius who can juggle everything at once. But for the rest of us average folk, you’ll have to learn how to say “no” to some things – and we don’t mean your schoolwork.
8. Getting ghosted
Just like how some of us ghost our Tinder dates, hall residents too have a tendency to ghost on their OGs. Common cases include: being crowned Hall King and then hiding in your room from the paparazzi, dumping inter-hall games for a new girlfriend, and relocating to a more conducive place to study, such as the library.
But unlike in the dating sphere, ghosting from hall activities shouldn’t be particularly stinging. Everyone has their own lives which don’t necessarily revolve around hall. You shouldn’t have to feel pressured into joining hall activities you aren’t keen on, just for the sake of appeasing your hall mates.
If you were hoping for some real ghost stories of instead, check them out here.
9. Eviction due to “slipper overcrowding”
Some girls have a knack for collecting slippers – every night you’ll find a new pair of Havaianas, Ripcurls, or Riders at their doorsteps.
But even hall security isn’t that oblivious to the difference between a girl’s slipper size and a guy’s. Don’t blame us if your “group project” *cough* ends up in a raid and eviction.
10. Rooming with foreign exchange students just to get hall points
Some local students go out of their way to make friends with international students living in their hall, and ask to be roommates. Only the caveat is: their intention is just to get the additional 2 hall points from rooming with a foreigner. Once they get the room they will illegally swop roommates to stay with their Singaporean friends again.
That said, university life is all about new experiences, so go out of your comfort zone and make an effort to get to know exchange students from different parts of the world if you can!
11. Strange people lurking where you’d least expect
Weird things don’t just happen in Yishun. Sometimes they make a guest appearance in the wild wild West too.
Case 1: Creeps entering unlocked rooms in the middle of the night
Possible theory: Brave resident of Yishun making a run for it under the cover of nighttime. The only place that can offer him refuge is the forested fringes of the West.
Case 2: Underwear thief
Possible theory: My guess? Some desperate birthday boy, victim of the “tear, tear, tear, underwear” celebratory spectacle, grabbing whatever was convenient to cover his man bits and buttcrack burns.
Case 3: Guy secretly taking videos of other guys showering
Possible theory: Hall residents love to showcase their vocal prowess in their prIvate toilet cubicles. This fella was probably helping to record their singing as audition tapes for Sing! China. The next Nathan Hartono could very well be amongst us!
12. Guest appearances from wild animals
Young homosapiens aren’t the only inhabitants of these resorts in the far West. Here, you might also find snakes, wild boars, monkeys, and even the rare pangolin.
Ever so often, the NTU hall “resort” is also visited by swarms of flies, likely coinciding with mating season. This leaves students locked in their dens, and they’ve no choice but to find ways to entertain themselves and each other indoors.
Open secrets of NTU hall
In all seriousness, hall life will be one of the best phases of your life if you make it out to be. You’re only young once, so grab life by the horns! Go on and do everything you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the chance to, and use this time to find who you really are.
My only word of caution is to be wary of “hall myopia” – hall life can get overly consuming, so constantly check in on yourself to avoid revolving your life solely around hall. Remember: everything in moderation, kids!