Hey there! Welcome back to our Uni Freshie Guide Series! Hope you enjoyed the first of our series – the NTU Freshie Guide. Buckle up, because this week I will be bringing to you the best of my buzzing and beautiful second home – NUS.

I am Charmaine, a Year One (Year Two next semester, oh my!) NUS Business student. I stay on campus in Cinnamon College and thus I spend a good 70% of schooling life right here on NUS grounds. After graduating from JC, and enjoying the amazing 7-month break (my advice: don’t let this half a year pass you by!), I finally had to face week one of my Uni life. The idea of “new school, new friends, new lifestyle” was quite daunting to me and living apart from family did not make things better. Thankfully, over the past year I met some like-minded and good-hearted people whom I now consider to be my second family and have fostered many fond memories with. Without further ado, let me introduce a few of my go-to places to shop, study and eat that have become ESSENTIALS in my Uni life!

 

 

1. SHOP

 


UTown     

Address:  2 College Avenue West 01, Stephen Riady Centre, S(138607)
Tel: 6601 2135

 


 

Photo Credits: NUS

UTown, otherwise known as University Town, is as the name suggests, the central area of NUS! It is where I often bump into friends both old and new and where I come “home” to every single day. It is not uncommon to see events and bazaars held in UTown because it is THE most happening place on campus!

 

Hotspot #1: Cheers

Address: Town Plaza, University Town

Opening Hours: 24/7 Daily

 

If you’re like me and just can’t live without snacks and suppers (goodbye diet), Cheers is your new best friend/enemy! This outlet is available to you 24/7 with quite a selection of cup noodles, chips, drinks and everything else you need to satisfy your 1am cravings. Aside from food, I regularly purchase items like air fresheners there too!

 

Hotspot #2: FairPrice Express

Address: Stephen Riady Centre, Level 1

Opening Hours: 7:30am-10pm (Mon-Fri), 7:30am-9pm (Sat, Sun and PH)

 

 

Fairprice is a cheaper alternative to Cheers. It has many things that Cheers offers, but at a slightly cheaper rate. A quick tip from me is to stock up on snacks from Fairprice so that you won’t have to spend more at Cheers after closing hours! Another plus side of Fairprice is that they carry more groceries such as meats, fruits and veggies if you feel like whipping up a meal in hall.

 

Hotspot #3: Guardian

Address: Stephen Riady Centre, Level 1

Opening Hours: 10am-8pm (Mon-Sun)

 

 

Back in sem one, I would frequently fall sick (The weather? Stress?) and would visit Guardian for any medications that I need! Girls, the makeup selection here is quite limited but they do have your basics. Students get to enjoy a discount too!

 

Hotspot #4: Book Haven

Address: Stephen Riady Centre, Level 1

Opening Hours: 10:30am-6:30pm (Mon-Fri), 10am-2pm (Sat)


Besides NUS Merch, most students visit Book Haven to purchase stationery (my correction tapes run out so quickly??). It is really convenient and there’s barely any queue at any point of the day – yay!

 


NUS Co-Op Shop @ Central Library Forum

Address: Ground Floor, Central Library Building 12 Kent Ridge Crescent S(119275)
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri, 9am-6pm
Tel: 6776 6145

 


 

Photo Credits: NUS COOP FB

Every NUS student is familiar with the NUS Co-Op because it is our go-to place to purchase textbooks and stationery (gotta stock up on those dx pen refills, amirite). Other than your everyday bookstore items, the NUS Co-Op also carries a wide variety of NUS merchandise, famous brands selling things from slippers to sportswear, adorable pocket gifts (last minute gift shopping, anyone?) and snacks! You name it, they’ll probably have it.

Psst… Students get a 10% discount at the Co-Op shop too!

 


One@KentRidge Mall

Address: Next to Kent Ridge MRT / NUH, S(119082)
Opening Hours:  10/11am-9pm Daily

 


Another plus side of NUS is that we have an MRT station that is basically part of the school compound – Kent Ridge MRT, and with it comes the NUH mall – One@KentRidge! This humble building right next to NUH stands at 4 levels tall with familiar shops such as Fairprice (a much larger one for all your campus living needs!), Uniqlo, The Coffee Bean, Penang Street, and many more! Here’s the directory should you ever want to stop by the mall before/after heading to NUS:

Photo Credits: NUH

 

 

2. STUDY

If you’re like me and just can’t concentrate studying alone in your room, don’t worry because study spaces in NUS are aplenty! (BUT Finals period is a different story! Remember, the early bird catches the worm. If you want your fav spot, you gotta work for it!)


The Study @ ERC, UTOWN


Photo Credits: gov.insider

ERC still buzzing with activities in the evening!

About ERC: Designed in tandem to NUS’ movement towards collaborative learning and a holistic educational experience, the Education Resource Centre (ERC) attracts students with its array of technology-infused and well-maintained facilities. Aside from the usual seminar rooms, the ERC also offers study clusters and group discussion spaces that are available to students 24/7 every single day! Talk about intense mugging sessions!

 

Photo Credits: NUS UTOWN

One such facility in ERC’s study cluster is “The Study” located on level 2 of the ERC. This space consists of 4 long rows of individual, partitioned “cubicles” but don’t worry about feeling claustrophobic because it is enclosed within glass panels, giving The Study a very open and airy vibe. Each cubicle has 2 power sockets, wireless connectivity and its own light. The Study is perfect for when you have to rush an essay out by the next day and need 101% concentration. Heads up though, it is a pretty popular study spot during finals period and seats can be filled since 9am, only getting emptier around 9pm. Oh, and strictly no (overnight) reservation of seats because your belongings will get confiscated!

 


Starbucks @ ERC, UTOWN

Opening Hours: 24/7 Daily (besides vacation period)


 

Check out my half-pained smile revisiting my mugging place for finals.

 

 

Starbucks is on level 1 of the ERC. It is filled with many different types of table arrangements suitable for studying, group discussions etc and is another popular study spot in NUS! If you’re that person who just can’t study in absolute silence and prefer a chill, open environment without having to control your volume then this place is for you! It is also mostly opened 24/7 (Yes!! Another overnight study spot!) and the starbucks drinks are slightly cheaper than those outside of campus. This has to be one of my favourite study spaces, also because it is just a few minutes away from food and my RC (Residential College)!

 

 

Pro Tip: The seats in Starbucks actually belongs to NUS and not Starbucks. This means that you can actually study here WITHOUT buying a Starbucks drink! (but hey, coffee always sounds like a good idea during study sessions right!)

 


Yale NUS Library

Address: 20 College Avenue West, #01-401, S(138529)
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-6pm
Tel: 6601 3551

 


Photo Credits: Harvard Magazine

Photo Credits: Yale-NUS

 

Another less-known study spot on campus is the Yale-NUS Library! The Yale-NUS College is a collaboration between Yale University and NUS that offers a liberal arts curriculum – the first of its kind in Singapore. The Yale-NUS compound is an enclosed area in UTown that feels more like a museum than a school! Most of the school compound is exclusively for Yale-NUS students, however the Yale-NUS Library allows public access to not only its vast library, but also the study spaces during opening hours.

 

I love studying in the YNC Library because of the rustic vibes (makes me feel like I’m in Hogwarts!) that is both calming and productive. It is definitely a good change from the usual white tables and walls of other common study spaces. The only downside? You’ll be ushered out at 6pm everyday which is when the area is reserved for Yale-NUS students only! Fair enough!

 


Bonus: Recreation Pool @ Stephen Riady Centre Level 3

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-9pm, Weekends and PH 9am-7pm


Photo Credits: blog.nus.edu.sg

AKA, the sort-of secret spot! I have friends who frequent this poolside to complete their weekly seminar readings. I mean, with a picturesque view and the sounds of water splashing against the walls, it is definitely the perfect set up for a calm yet productive reading session!

Plus Point: As it is an infinity pool, it is actually situated on the top floor of the Stephen Riady Centre which is also in UTown – thus, it is within the vicinity of many RCs, halls and food places for lunch break.

 

3. EAT


Fine Food @ UTOWN

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30am-9pm, Weekends and PH 9am-7pm

 



 

Who says food court foods are mediocre? Fine Food is the newest addition to UTown and it is always SO CROWDED during lunch and dinner hours because the food there is actually really good!

 

Fine Food Recommendation #1: Mala Hot Pot 

 

I’ve tasted mala from many places in and out of school (“The Deck”, Chinatown etc), and I must say that Fine Foods mala remains as one of my favourite mala places. I have a weak stomach so I always order “xiao la” (the least spicy), and the fragrance and flavour is seriously TO DIE FOR.

 

I was very very excited for mala!!

My usual order consists of: lots of pork belly (a MUST HAVE as all mala lovers would know!!), enoki and oyster mushrooms (another essential), maggi, Korean rice cakes and the less popular cow’s stomach. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!

Confession: There was a period of time where I would eat mala 3 times a week. Rain or shine, I HAD to have my mala fix.

 

Fine Food Recommendation #2: Xiao Long Bao

 

This stall sells other Chinese dishes but is most famous for it’s Xiao Long Baos. They may look quite ordinary, but mind you it is anything but! The skin is hand made from scratch by the chefs and each Xiao Long Bao is individually prepared upon order. Many agree that Fine Food’s Xiao Long Bao is actually comparable to that of Din Tai Fung’s and only at $4.50 for 6 pieces! Give it a try for yourself!

 

 

Fine Food Recommendation #3: Gong Cha (duh!)

 

What happens when you place a Gong Cha outlet at the heart of a university? We all know that millennials go crazy for bubble tea, which totally explains the 20-30 minutes Gong Cha queue during lunch hours. (Tip: If you go around 2-5pm, there will barely be a queue and you can get your Gong Cha in just a few minutes!)

 

 

NUS Gong Cha is fully automated with 4 ordering and paying kiosks, perhaps due to NUS’ efforts to move towards a cashless campus.

 

 

My order: Earl Grey Milk tea, 50%, with white pearls, Yu Xuan’s (the other intern) order: Lychee Oolong Tea, 30%, with aloe vera!

 

 


Waa Cow!

Address: 2 College Avenue West, #01-06, NUS UTown, Stephen Riady Centre, S(138607)
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 7.30pm
Tel: 8168 8777

Price: $15-$25


 

 If you’re feeling like a baller, Waa Cow! would be a great place for you to spend on a healthy yet delectable meal. Waa Cow! serves premium quality Japanese-inspired rice bowls in a quaint and minimalistic restaurant tucked away in UTown. Popular dishes, both below, include the Aburi Bara Chirashi Bowl ($16.90) – a medley of fine ikura pearls, fresh salmon cubes and juicy tobiko bursting in your mouth. Another dish includes Singapore’s FIRST flame-tourched mentaiko beef bowl ($17.90) drizzled with their house-made Nikiri sauce, this dish is simply perfection!

 

 

I’ve tried most of the Waa Cow! bowls and I must say that my favourite has to be the mentaiko beef bowl. It is SO flavourful and they are usually generous with the mentaiko (ie. Every slice of beef gets a hearty portion of mentaiko!), it transports me back to Japan and I highly recommend it!

Photo Credits: NUS OCA and Waa Cow! FB

 


Arts Canteen / “The Deck”

Address: 5 Arts Link Block AS7, Level 5, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, S(117570)
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 4pm

Price: $3-5

 


 

The Deck, or the Arts Canteen, boasts a 13-stall selection of good food at school food prices. It has two levels with the upper floor being air-conditioned, perfect for the hot and humid days! You will see plenty of Biz and Computing kids flocking to The Deck for meals instead of their own canteens because The Deck has many acclaimed foods that even seniors crave for long after graduation!

The Deck Recommendation #1: Yong Tau Foo

Photo Credits: MissTamChiak

If you’ve never had The Deck’s Yong Tau Foo, are you really an NUS student? Highly raved for it’s fragrance and flavours at dirt cheap price, it is not uncommon to see long queues (around 10-15 minutes) snaking out of this corner stall especially during lunch hours!

You get 9 pieces of ingredients, noodles and soup for just $3.50 – talk about getting a real bang for your buck! My favourite ingredients are usually the enoki mushroom, seaweed chicken and cheese toufu! Oh, and the laksa soup is a MUST TRY!

 

Photo Credits: digitalsenior.sg

First Timer’s Tip: Don’t get confused (like I did) when you see 2 queues at the stall! The queue on the right is for picking out your ingredients. Once done, you will pass your bowl to the aunty and re-queue at the left queue to pay and receive your food.

 

The Deck Recommendation #2: Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice

Photo Credits: MissTamChiak

If you’re at The Deck, you can give the acclaimed chicken rice stall a go too. Many of my peers (and online reviews!) love it for it’s tender chicken meat and light-based soy sauce.

Personally, I’ve tasted better chicken rice elsewhere, but hey $2.80 for that plate of chicken rice seems like a good deal regardless!

 


It’s only been a year in NUS and I am already learning to love school and campus life! I hope that this guide has given you an inkling of what NUS has to offer and should you have any more questions or worries, be sure to reach out to fellow NUS seniors (we don’t bite!) or even drop a comment in the comment box below, we would love to help you out!

Do you love to shop, study and eat at the places we’ve shared too? Or perhaps you have other recommendations of hidden gems in NUS? Let us know in the comment box too. See you in the next Freshie Guide article!

CONNECT WITH US