My hall room tour + FAQs

5:00 PM

I've been wanting to get this post done up for quite some time but I thought it would be a lot better to consolidate everything into a single blog post when I have the time and resources. And it's finally happening! (:

I've been getting quite a lot of questions on my (even though most are still sitting in my inbox...but at least now you know I really do read them) about staying in hall --how it is like, who is it suited for, etc and some also requested for a room tour (not sure if troll or what) but I've got everything gathered and done up, from a hall room tour video of my room to answering many of the FAQs!!! Maybe the same person asked the same question 100 times but aiya, I will still think this post will be good to have because when I was an incoming freshman, I was soooo full of questions about staying in hall but there's just so little information available.

I'll try to provide answers as much as I can, but these are all my PERSONAL perspectives and views and do not represent the collected voice of any single hall okay! (must put disclaimer big big first haha)

Before I begin, let me just do a brief introduction about the hall I'm staying in! I'm staying in Sheares Hall, one of the 6 residential halls in NUS. All rooms in our hall are single room so I'm sorry I can't provide a clear account for double rooms/rooming with people! But staying in a single room ISN'T scary at all!!! I feel that it is so so much better in fact because you get to have the space to yourself and don't have to worry about not being able to adjust to your roomie's habits or whatsoever. I've stayed in Sheares for 3 years (not too sure about the 4th) and I've actually stayed in the same room for the past 3 years!

Actually part of the reason why I decided to do up a room tour video (not knowing if people will even watch lollol) is because I'm no longer staying in the same room even if I'm getting to stay next year! Not that I actually mind a change in environment but it's just this room kinda holds sentimental value to me. Tonnes in fact!!! Packing up to leave for the last time was so so difficult, I really think I am overly attached to my room HAHA.

Anyway, so here you go!!! It's my very, very first Youtube video so please give chance a bit okay!!! I know the editing skills is far from great, I felt extremely awkward speaking to myself in (front of) the camera for so long, and the video quality also not very good!!! Sorry lah, because I set the wrong setting for video taking hahaha oops. I actually spent 5 hours editing and compiling this so even if you don't like, don't say mean things okay HAHAHA at least give me A for effort???!!! Lol. Btw the video is 9 minutes long and I'm sorry if it is a bit too long!

I really hope this post and video can help to clear the doubts of confused incoming freshmen! Even if you're not applying to Sheares Hall, a peek into what it is like is better than knowing nothing at all.

Let's get started on the FAQs now then! (Anyway I disclaim again all these are my PERSONAL views and opinions!! lollollol) These are questions I've got asked over the years and I rephrased them accordingly:

1. What is staying in a hall like? Is it expensive?

Staying in a hall (another term for a student hostel) means you're given the freedom and independence to live by yourself and you have to learn to live without your parents. Plus, you also get to live with friends, schoolmates and people from all walks of life. All these, with no curfew :) But afterall, it is communal living so if you're lucky, you'll be surrounded by the best people who makes you feel at home and makes you not want to go home (hahaha) but if you're unlucky, you have to put up with the shit irresponsible people do (like leaving dishes unwashed, peeing all over the toilet bowl (always wonder how do girls achieve that?!), making lots of noise, etc)

You get to have your own room but you have a shared toilet/shower area, shared lounge, kitchen and laundry room. For my hall, I felt like I was living in a mini neighbourhood because there are 5 main residential blocks (accommodates about 100 students each with a resident fellow in charge), every level has its own toilet (3 toilet cubicles, 3 shower cubicles) and a pantry (common fridge and microwave oven). We're also very lucky to have a lift in every block, a multi-purpose hall, a dance studio, band room, library, games room and dining hall. We have our own block aunty who cleans our block during the weekdays so our block is kept very, very clean!!! Dirty toilets are my biggest pet peeves so I am REALLY happy I have clean toilets to use for the past 3 years :)

Cost wise, yes it can be quite expensive :( NUS halls are in general more expensive to stay than NTU's, with single room costing more than a double/shared room. Worse, the costs have been increasing :( For easier explanation, I have attached a screenshot of my hall payment for 1 semester in the Academic Year of 2014/2015 (Valid through 4th August 2014-7th December 2014)

And here's my hall payment for the 2nd semester of AY14/15 (valid through 11th Jan 2015- 10th May 2015) Note that cost is cheaper here because the semester runs shorter and there are no hall book charges/reg fees!

A semester of hall stay used to be $1,800 when I was a freshie :( And I think it was even cheaper before that. But if you can see, laundry fees are included in my hall fees at only $5.35 per semester. That is very, very cheap! $5.35 for washing your clothes in the washing machine + the dryer for four months. Some halls charge $1 per dryer usage!!! I wash my clothes at least twice a week and use the dryer every time. When dance performance is near, sometimes I have to wash it everyday. Imagine having to pay $1 per use or wait till the end of the week to bring my clothes home to wash, I will faint from the smell of my clothes!!!

But of course, the most bo hua thing to pay for is hall meal imo. I think everyone knows I seldom/rarely ever eat hall food because I have super terrible experience from it. I have been served freaking raw chicken (wtf) at dinner before, have more ants in my ikan bilis dish than there are ikan bilis and more... So I always cook my own simple dinner or eat when I feel really super broke and lazy to cook.(PS: But of course these are extreme cases la! Everyone still eats them (I eat it about once/twice a week) and everyone is still alive!!! Just that it is my personal preference hehe)The meal plan includes breakfast (Mon-Sat) and dinner (Sun to Fri) so if you really utilize ALL your meals in the meal plan, each meal costs about ~~$2.80?? That's quite cheap but I don't eat breakfast so.... ha ha ha

Now, on to the $1,900 per semester hall fees, if you break it down it costs about $475 per month? ($110/week + GST charges) Even if travelling to and fro school is way cheaper, we are talking about costs of time (close to 2 hours one way vs 10min). Plus, CCAs in hall are free and even if you end late, your room is within 2 minute walking distance. Time is an invisible cost and it's how much you weigh the importance of time efficiency. It is something that money can't buy. For me, for the convenience and the experience, I'd say it is worth at least a year of stay.

If money is an issue to you, there are many financial aids available in school and for Sheares, we are extremely lucky to have a strong and supportive alumni who gives out bursary and scholarships to needy students every year!!! Personally, I am lucky to be able to receive help from these :) Really, I think nobody should be deprived of the chance to experience just because you are less well off.  (:

2. Is hall life very hectic/difficult? How do you cope with studies when you have to join so many activities?

Everyone's experience in hall is different so I can only speak for myself here. Of course, there are several activities out there for you to join, some being compulsory or highly encouraged like orientation camps, hall formal events and block events, on top of the CCAs that you are going to join in and outside of hall. You'd definitely need a little bit of adjusting to at the start because when you're a lost freshie who just entered hall, you'd definitely succumb to peer influence and want to go for everything. My advice to you is that choose your CCAs wisely, do something you like and would enjoy so even when you're busy, you're happy doing the things you enjoy. This is something I held closely to me for the past 3 years in hall. Instead of joining CCAs just to get enough points to stay (which I will address in the next question) and then later possibly regretting the shit out of joining it cos it is a complete waste of your time (I joined one CCA like that bfr and it's horrible, not gonna mention which), join something that you like and it makes the tough times easier. (I've enjoyed my CCAs of Dance, Rag, Chingay and ERC thoroughly even though the first 3 are extremely intensive CCAs)

Social wise, of course it can get quite difficult at times. These are the people you have to stay with and you see on a daily basis! But honestly, there is no pressure in like say, having to know everybody and be friends. Because it just gets SO TIRING after a while. Even till today, I consider a bulk of the people I meet my acquaintances because they remain at the hi-bye level LOLLOL. Make friends that you know you can sustain a meaningful and real friendship even beyond the neighbours/hallmates level. Some friendships and relationships are formed purely out of convenience and it's quite sad because without that convenience, you guys lose that "chemistry". I am truly, really thankful I've found a handful of friends who are real and I can't even imagine my life without them when I graduate la. (': But of course, never let your guards down because there will always be stuck-ups who only come to you when you're "useful" to them. That's life, and that's growing up.

When it comes to managing hall and studies, I may not be the best person to give advice or opinions if good management means having good grades. My grades are extremely (below?) average but I think it's all in what we aim and set out to achieve since day 1. It is all about priorities. Grades aside, I would say, as long as you handle your time responsibly and efficiently, everything will work out fine. Uni exams are not easy to score, but they are not easy to fail either. Put in the right amount of effort and you'll pull through just fine. (If you overslept for a lecture because you ended your CCA too late last night, be sure to catch up on what you missed!) There's hardly ever a fine balance of life/friends/studies in life so don't seek for equilibrium. Even if the days are shit sometimes, tell yourself -- this 3-4 years will never come again after you step out into the working world. So play hard and study smart! (: (Just don't be a burden)

3. I heard that to stay on in hall, we need points. What is this points things and how does it work?

To stay in hall for the subsequent years following your first, you'd need points to stay and points are awarded by CCAs and every hall's point system is different. I don't really know much (about all the points allo blabla) but I just know I'll join enough CCA to stay on. And the cut-off points to stay differs every year, depending on supply and demand (using 100% of the econs knowledge I can rmb lol). If you're lucky and the next year happens to have most of your hallmates leaving/graduating and/or most people joining very few (major) CCAs, COP will be lower. If you're suay and the next year a lot of people want to stay on and/or most people like the spoil market by joining 100000 CCA and inflate the points, COP will definitely be higher. Not sure if I am right, but that's about all I know! LOL

Anyway, also no need to join like 10 CCAs because nobody will give you award for having the most points in hall also. LOL And you'll probably burn out although I've met people who've been there, done that and are still surviving in one piece. When I was in Year 1, I had 6/7 CCAs, 3 when I was Year 2 (you'd usually need 4 but I did Rag which was a holiday CCA and held leadership positions) and only 2 this year because I thought I was gonna graduate at first....

4. Hall life is very havoc, is that true?

You live the life you want, you decide for yourself. And it also depends on how you define havoc. I don't club neither do I smoke (not allowed in hall either LOL......) and after 3 years I still haven't succumbed a bit to peer influence/pressure. So if you're asking if staying in hall makes me "havoc", I'd say no.

But I still do have my fair share of fun and crazy times. Not all stereotypes are true but stereotypes also wouldn't exist if there wasn't some form of truth ;) So, ultimately it is your own personal choice. We're all young adults and should be capable of making responsible decisions for ourselves. If you think what you're doing is right, then do it and ignore what others have to say. It is your life, not theirs :)

5. If I'm neither an extrovert nor outgoing/sociable, should I still apply for hall? What if I can't make friends?

Yes, why not??? I think I've answered this on a few times but for those who haven't read it yet, then here's my answer :) There's no criteria to enter hall, so introvert/extrovert, social/shy/phanthom alike, everyone stands an equal chance. Apply and stay for a semester, if you like it, stay on but if you don't, you can always choose not to continue your stay! BUT if you don't even take the first step out, you won't even know what good things might be waiting to happen, right?:)

The part about making friends, I'd say, don't worry. Start it out simple by saying hi to your neighbours and getting to know them a little bit more. Attend the "self-intro" session to meet your blockmates, you don't even have to be extremely outspoken or whatever! Just be yourself, there'll be people who will accept you for the person you are:) Staying in block A for three years with the most diverse array of personalities taught me this :)

Block A, 2015. (Photo by Baolong)

6. Is staying in a single room scary?

No, it isn't!!! And I am someone who can't even sit through a horror movie without freaking out in the first 5 minutes. Maybe it is because I grew up having a room to myself all these years so there isn't much of a difference to me at all :) I am quite afraid of the dark though so I always sleep with my desk lamp on. (yes I sleep with lights on lol). There're hall security guards around who does nightly patrol and your fellow hallmates are always there to look out for each other. Each door is card-coded and there's a latch behind your door so if intruders are the scary thing you're talking about, then the answer is also no.

My best advice is that girls should always, always latch your doors when you sleep. It is for our own safety. Guys too, but my guy friends always say "we have nothing to lose what" LOLLLL.

7. I can neither play sports nor dance/sing. Can I still apply for hall?

Of course!!! Hall isn't a talent importing ground, and it should never be in my opinion. Some halls are stronger in certain CCAs than others, but I'm sure there're always people in the team/club/comm/CCA whom you meet that has zero experience prior! There're also committees aside from sports/cultural groups which require entirely zero prior experience, and all we need is the initiative and right attitude to learn and commit.

So, don't be too afraid too and just apply for hall if you want to!:)

8. Do you like staying in hall?

Final question and this shall also sum up my entire post! I've stayed in hall for 3 years and if I were to say I don't like staying in hall, all of you confirm want to kaopei me and say I waste money and talk cock right??? LOLLOL

But objectively speaking, there're bound to be things I like and dislike about hall. These 3 years opened my eyes up to soooo many things. Because everyone is living together and some people just can't have their mouths shut. In such cases, learn to trust the correct people. But I'd say, remember the beautiful and forget the bad times. Let the good times outweigh the bad!

Having to move out of the room I've stayed in for 3 years (yes, same room for 3 years I am sentimental like that) was such a painful thing to do. Even though I move out every year (becos holiday stay is EXPENSIVE), packing my room up for the last time ever brings back so much memories. The past one year has been the toughest and most difficult year emotionally for me, so my heart was extremely heavy when I allow everything to return to its original empty state. If there is someone/something that knows me the best this 3 years in hall, no doubt my answer would be my room. hahaha. But if I do get my stay next year, moving into a new room will be good too because it's about time for a restart (:

I hope this post has been helpful to those who're lost/confused about whether to stay in hall and what to expect. This is only just my two cents worth lah and I'm also just sharing whatever much that I can!:)

With that,
Goodbye A314, you have served me well :')

Xin Lin

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