Which Hall should I stay?
What should I join in hall?
What is the Hall culture like?
As a prospective university student, you must have a sleuth of questions and uncertainty about hall life. In this Uni Freshie Guide edition, we offer different personal experiences from our stay in NUS Hostels (Kent Ridge Hall, Raffles Hall, Cinnamon College) and NTU Halls (Hall 11, Hall 16) to help you with your decision making process!
In sum, there are 7 Halls of Residence, 5 Residential Colleges and 2 Student Residences in NUS while NTU has 24 Hall. All of them have different niches and culture.
Kent Ridge Hall is closest to NUS Business School and Entrance C of NUS. It has 5 blocks (A to E) with the lobby unofficially referred to as F Block. In the vicinity, the Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library and I3 are popular study areas. The nearest food places are Spread, Reedz Cafe and The Deck (although you have to walk up a slope). You can get to Kent Ridge hall by taking any bus from Opposite Haw Par Villa MRT Station and alight at Opp Heng Mui Keng Terrace (16061) at the 5th stop.
In KR, you can join Committees, Culture (collectively known as K6) or Sports interest Groups that are all student-led. For me, I wanted to try something new in university and joined KR Steppers Cheerleading Team, KR Rockers and KR Inspire. KR Inspire is a music writing and composing interest group while KR Rockers is a rock band. Both music interest groups offer performance opportunities such as NUS Open Day and Appreciation Lunch, Timbre and The 2017 Marina Bay Prudential Carnival.
Photo Credits: KR PhotoComm
KR Steppers Cheerleading (our Niche Sport) offers something refreshing. Despite being a Hall Cheer Team, we participate annually in a Regional and National Cheer Competition organized by Singapore’s Cheerleading Association and also do regular external performances. Our past awards include ACIC 2017 Champions!
Through hall, I met seniors who provided extra classes on infamously difficult modules (CS1010) and shared their notes or materials from a particular module. There are also many talented sportsmen, musicians and artists in hall who are willing to teach you new skills from scratch. Musicians from Local bands RoyalEstate and Terrestrea started their musical journey from KR!
Integrating every resident into one big family has always been the focus of Kent Ridge Hall. I remember how we always had meal time jio, be it lunch, dinner or supper. When it was time for dinner, the block head or committee usually echos “D BLOCK, DINNER NOW!!” in the stairways to rally everyone to the dining hall.
Throughout the academic year, residents engage in hall activities such as concerts, night cycling inter-block games or welfare supper to mention a few. In particular, the whole hall would go down to support a match during inter-hall games season as a mark of the hall’s united spirit.
Photo Credits: KR PhotoComm
KR is known for its culture CCAs and offers something for everyone. We are known to play hard but study hard as well. I know of seniors in hall who excel both in sports and academics. During exam periods, we usually study together and help each other out whenever possible. There is a real sense of community where you can easily approach anyone about anything.
KR is also a good place to take up leadership opportunities and try new things. I was engaged in many activities in hall and they often required collaboration with new people. Seeing how life can get really busy, it is important to have deliberate time management and discipline (waking up early despite sleeping late). You would want to pace yourself to avoid being burnt out mid-semester.
Raffles Hall is smack in the centre of NUS, arguably the hall most accessible to everywhere in NUS, but at the same time not really near any faculties other than FASS and Engineering. It is just a stone throw away way from the main examination halls and a 7-11, something most other halls can’t boast about (except RVRC).
Photo Credits: RH Facebook
TL;DR: My Typical Day
Personally, I am a morning person so I will always wake up for breakfast. FYI, meals (breakfast and dinner) in NUS Halls are catered for. The food at Raffles Hall currently (2018) is AMAZING. Resident do actually want to eat Hall food and there will be a long queue.
Most hall CCAs begin at around 8pm and are usually once or twice a week, with more practices nearing competitions/performances. Depending on the number of CCAs commitments you have, your day may end after midnight. It is not uncommon for committee meetings or band practices to start after midnight as well, depending on the availability of all your members.
I had 3 hall CCAs in year 1, on top of my commitments in Bizad Club (faculty club) and an external mental health organisation. I was busy almost everyday and typically ended my day at midnight before I started studying. The average sleeping time in hall (when most lights are off as seen from the windows) is about 4am. But this depends highly on your lessons the next day, For me as I usually have morning lessons, I will try to sleep before 2am.
7am: Hall Breakfast
8am – 6pm: Group project meetings/NUS CCAs/Back to hall (Depends on when lessons end)
6pm: Hall Dinner
8pm: Hall CCAs
12mn: Back to room, shower
1230am: Study/prepare for lesson
Photo Credits: RH Facebook
RH is known for being a chill hall, participation in CCAs and hall events are encouraged but many don’t do them anyway. Hence its a good hall for those who prefer to be more flexible in their schedules and not risk peer pressure. We don’t organise as many events as some other halls so the environment is usually pretty peaceful. In terms of the student community, due to its proximity to certain faculties, we do have a large proportion of engineering students, followed by Science and FASS. Culture-wise, I lived in RH for 1.5 years and I still don’t know who my neighbours are so I assume that the interaction levels are not as high as other halls.
RH is relatively more culturally (aka performing arts) inclined as compared to sports.
From my personal experience, RH is one of the most established Choirs (in terms of average choir size and quality) and also Rockbands (called Rhockerfellas). However, because we aren’t the best in many CCAs, this means that it is actually easier for the average Joe to join these CCAs.
Cinnamon College is located in NUS UTOWN, it is one of the oldest Residential Colleges (RC) in NUS (first RC built alongside Tembusu). Therefore Its architecture is slightly different with less spacious hallways and different coloured tiles and furnitures. Primarily meant for USP students, a lot of further learning takes place within our hall as our residential community includes professors from our faculties. Furthermore, the many amenities and greenery in UTOWN offers convenient and comfortable living. See our Uni Freshie Guide: NUS – Shop, Study, Eat for more amazing places in NUS!
Photo Credits: USP Facebook
Thus far I’ve been most committed in the Welfare Comm for USP + FOP projects. I would say USP people are really great to work with because most people are self motivated, responsible and creative so ideas are bounced off quite well and things can be done efficiently (yes they r very efficient people).
I live in a suite so I have 5 neighbours. Suite life has been really great but note that only in your first year, you won’t be able to choose your suitemates. However in general, as long as you’re willing, friends isn’t really a problem. This is especially so when you live with these people and can easily friends that you can click with.
My RC friends make me feel very at home so I guess don’t worry too much about the social aspect, just be yourself (v cliche but true). You will definitely be able to find friends who appreciate you and all you have to offer, especially since USP has a wide range of people for everyone regardless of what type of person you are!
Photo Credits: USP Facebook
Living Cinnamon College has it’s advantages. For instance, there is no fomo pressure that some halls might give due to the point system, so you have the liberty to really choose what you want out of campus life and not over commit. In addition, the environment pushes your comfort zones and independent learning.
However, meal plans are expensive and the food does not justify the cost but it’s currently undergoing improvements. Since Cinnamon is tagged along with the University Scholars Programme, I feel that not everyone will enjoy the constant rigour! Nonetheless, I really love how everyone is passionate about SOMETHING here. There is an eagerness to listen and help each other in growing in their passions or life in general which is very comforting.
The community here is really open-minded (even if your passion is something really unconventional). Students will be interested to find out more and the residential fellows here are also very eager to get involved in any learning process you wish to uptake because they are passionate about USP.
Ultimately, my advice for USP is if you think the programme itself is something that you will enjoy, campus life will be a blast for you.
Overlooking the condo-looking North Hill Residences opposite, Hall 11’s exterior may pale in comparison, but the rooms in Hall 11 are one of the more spacious yet cosy one.
The rooms are furnished with wooden flooring, necessary furniture with a full-length mirror, ceiling fan, aircon, and ample space for you to dance around (a luxury that students in the newer but smaller halls yearn for), and this will become a safe haven for you to seek respite after a busy school day.
Photo Credits: MissJoyce
Each block is also fully equipped with a lounge, washing machines, dryers, and pantries with induction cookers and water dispensers – catering to the daily needs of residents. Some residents may even leave their condiments in the pantry for the block to share, how nice!
Although Hall 11 may be a distance from the academic buildings, you can use the campus shuttle bus to get to your classes easily.
What about food? Wel, Hall 11’s canteen vendors serve some really nostalgic dishes. Their Cai Fan stall magically transforms into a Tze Char stall in the evening, and you must definitely try their Salted Egg Pork Ribs Rice! Apart from Cai Fan, the Japanese stall is worth trying too – especially its Japanese curry selection. North Hill Food Court, Tamarind Food Court, and Canteen 9 are also within 5 minutes’ walk from Hall 11, if you want to explore alternative food choices!
Photo Credits: Hall 11 Facebook
Most of my friends in Hall 11 will agree that Hall 11’s Freshman Orientation Camp (FOC) was the most memorable, fun, and interesting one, compared to faculty and union camps! As someone who is resistant to camps, I made some of my closest friends in NTU from the 4 days of fun and laughter. Our Hall seniors were also really caring and entertaining in a bid to make us feel comfortable with the best camp experience. It was also heartening how they never pressurized us to take part in any games. Oh, how I wish I could relive this camp again!
Fortunately for me, many of the seniors and friends I made through the FOC were from the same course – business! Even prior to the start of the semester, the seniors shared many tips ranging from the professors to choose to the electives to take, in order to score that A. Many of them also generously shared their personal notes and past assignments for us to acclimatise to the steep learning curve. As for the freshies, we went for classes together and even grouped together for projects. Phew, this helped us escape the awkward introductions in new classes.
Even though I did not sign up for any CCAs in hall due to various external commitments, I can say that I still managed to have a very pleasant hall experience! Some of my hall friends will check on me through text messages or visit me at the Coop@NTU store where I work if they do not see me in hall; some offered their help amidst the busy exam period to help me with my weaker modules; and some even surprised me during my birthday with a cake!
A place is only as good as the people you know in it, and it’s the people that makes the place. What is important is to find a group of friends that you can trust and click well with, and you’re off to a great start for a pleasant hall experience!
Photo Credits: Hall 11 Facebook
Different halls in NTU have different niches – some focus on sports, the others focus on cheerleading, dance, or recreational games. Hall 11, however, is known to be a family oriented and laidback hall. Even though you can join CCAs and hall events, most residents are not pressurized to join, which allows them to sign up only for what they truly love! Hall 11 is a good place to be if you want to try out different CCAs as they really welcome the beginners to join, learn, and grow together. Some halls are also infamous for tying their students down to hall activities. Hall 11, however, allows you to find balance between hall commitments and studying!
Hall 16 is made up of 5 different blocks (A to E) all linked by bridges. All of our rooms are air-conditioned. Each block has their very own pantry and lounge that is equipped with a TV and comfy sofas. The main study room, printing room, JCRC (the Hall ex-co) room and others are all in Block B.
Located just beside NIE means that we are the closest hall to North Spine! Walking to classes from hall all the way to South Spine via North Spine only takes you less than 10 mins which is actually faster than our campus bus during the off-peak hours. Otherwise, our nearest bus stops would be the ones just across the road.
Blue Line – Hall 3/16
Red Line – Hall 12
Our canteen is famous for their mala but if you need a quick bite or too lazy to head out from hall to get food, we also have the usual caifan, Japanese and Indian cuisines for you. But don’t have to worry about the food, you’ll have plenty of options! In fact, you can find more at Uni Freshie Guide: NTU – Shop, Study, Eat.
In Hall 16, individual sports captains will organise trainings with their teams to get them ready for inter-hall games (December winter holidays to February). I was part of the netball, hockey and tennis teams in 16 during my first year! Despite the competitiveness, your hall and team supports you in all matches which actually boosts your confidence especially those that you have never tried before. I played my very first tennis competition despite not knowing how to even serve! If I can do it, so can you!
Photo Credits: Hall 16 Facebook
It was really through these activities that I got to meet a lot more people. 16 (like any other halls) would try to recommend incoming freshies into the hall based on certain talents, in which you are expected to contribute back in that aspect. I was actually rec in by my senior prior to entering uni which actually saved me the worry of being placed in a hall that is not for me or the more expensive newer halls. While the IHG games can get pretty rough on court because everyone wants to do their best for their hall, one thing about the culture across all halls in NTU is that what was on court, stays on court! Everyone is back to being friends once we are off court and I think that is truly one thing I am very comforted by.
Moving onto another notable CCA in 16 is our Cheerleading team, Team Xtreme, who clinched second in the 2018 Inter-Hall Cheerleading Competition (IHCC) after many nights of rehearsals.
Photo Credits: Hall 16 Facebook
For those geared towards the performing arts like dance, come join 16’s dance team, Strawberry Stretch! The dance team takes part in the Hall Olympiad Closing Ceremony (HOCC) which is a competition among dance groups from different halls. You will be able to experience the adrenaline and the pride of standing on stage and performing for a theatre full of audience.
There are other interest groups like Jam Band and also an annual Inter-Hall games for board games such as Scrabble, Pool, Chess etc.
Photo Credits: Hall 16 Facebook
If you are part of the Hall 16 XVI Knights family, you’ll be known as an all round over-achiever simply because the culture here in 16 is one of endurance and teamwork. We strive to be the best in all aspects of hall life which is why we earned our name as the Jack of All Trades. 16 is for you if you are looking and want to expand their horizons and try to become the best they can in their new experiences. Now, let me tell you more about us!
I would recommend you to 16 if you looking for a balance between doing well and yet also being able to have your very own privacy in hall because I’m sure we all know that hall life can be quite “rabak”. That includes staying up till dawn hanging out at your OG mates room or going out to the nearest extension – just right outside of NTU – for supper. I personally recommend you to find out from your seniors about the culture in their hall and what are some of their strengths. So that from there, you can decide if the hall is really for you. Hope to see some of you guys in 16 in the upcoming year!
Given the above information about the halls that we are all staying in, we hope that you are clearer about what to expect from the various halls. At the end of the day, hall life is really up to what you want it to be! If you feel that this hall is not for you, you can always move to another hall that makes you feel more home.
So, let us know in the comments below about your hall experience and hopefully, we will get to catch some of you coming into our halls too!