New beginnings, fresh hopes

08 September 2017 | Education
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One month into the first year, NUS freshmen share some of their experiences adapting to campus life

The start of every academic year brings with it thousands of fresh, new faces into the University, each person with a different story to tell. A month into their first year, three NUS freshmen share some of their experiences, aspirations and hopes as they adapt to life on campus.

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Sneha (3rd from left) at Tembusu College's Welcome Week (Photo: Sneha Sudha Sanjay)

Sneha Sudha Sanjay, NUS Arts and Social Sciences, resident at Tembusu College

  • What is the biggest challenge you have experienced so far in adapting to life on campus?

Prioritising and self-discipline. The freedom that comes with University life has been so overwhelming that sometimes I find myself losing sight of what I need to prioritise. Social engagements become so common, especially while living on campus. You not only have to prioritise between family, academics, sleep, and social life, but also within social circles.

Self-discipline is something that comes along with that — whether it's procrastinating on doing laundry or readings. I've realised that University life demands a fair share of independence.

  • Did anything about NUS surprise you?

I got quite a shock at how real the 'Freshman 15 Syndrome' — gaining 15kg in the freshman year — was. Suppers are almost a daily ritual which I was definitely not used to before! I love how everyone has claimed ownership over the eateries nearby, coining the term 'NUS Supper Stretch' — it really is quite amusing.

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Justin (1st from left in front row) at the RVRC Stair Climb (Photo: Justin Chia)

Justin Chia, NUS Science, resident at Ridge View Residential College

  • Is there something you hope to do differently in University?

Back in my polytechnic days I didn’t take up any leadership roles in my school. I was simply content with existing in the background, even when there were things that I wanted to change. Now in university, perhaps with the confidence I gained in myself during my army days, I want to take a stand on the issues I believe in. I want to have a positive impact on the community and influence others to want to do the same.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have experienced so far in adapting to life on campus?

The biggest challenge is getting back into studies after two years of National Service. Being in a lecture and classroom setting again after so long was an odd feeling. Most of the academic and technical knowledge I had gained during my polytechnic days had gathered a layer of dust and rust over the past two years.

It’s been a challenge not only to catch up on all those concepts again, but also getting used to the routine of studying once more. While the notes and textbooks may be hard to understand at times, I am glad to be able to learn again. I am also thankful for the support network of friends and classmates who help each other with the challenges we face in learning, many of whom I had met through events and activities in NUS!

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Ianna (last row in shophouse float, in white) with the USP Rag team (Photo: Ianna Chia)

Ianna Chia, NUS Arts and Social Sciences + University Scholars Programme (USP), resident at Cinnamon College

  • What do you hope to achieve during your time here at NUS?

I want to make a positive difference. Be it through charity work or contributing back to the community, I want to give back to the people who have given me so many opportunities to grow and flourish. 

Gaining self-esteem is definitely on my to-do list. Even though I may come across as extroverted and confident, I still have a long way to go. By trying things outside of my comfort zone, I will hopefully develop my potential to do greater things.

I would like to form lifelong friendships. University life is about studying, writing papers, and late nights, as well as friends who are there to support you through the ups and downs. I hope that even after I graduate, I will be in touch with those who stuck with me as I have with them.

  • Did anything about NUS surprise you?

I was very surprised by the strong senior-junior support system in USP. There is no divide in terms of physical age. Everyone is on similar wavelengths, and will offer an abundance of advice when you ask for help. The seniors have helped me with lesson plans, given me tips on how to study efficiently, and other tricks to make my university life more enjoyable.