Dorm sweet dorm

Immerse yourself in the bustling action of NTU's halls of residence

By Winifred Tan

Three things for an enriching university life: Join an orientation camp, check. Go on overseas exchange, check. Stay in a hall, check.

These were the words of advice from a senior to Bao Ningyu, a second-year accountancy undergraduate. He certainly took the last piece of advice to heart, stamping his personal style on his hall room and even giving it a name - M.A.R.I.N.E, the Most Awesome Room in NTU Ever.

Why is staying in hall so popular? According to history undergraduate Zhang Suyi, a resident of Hall 15, the answer boils down to 3Cs: convenience, company and the chance to be independent.

"Living in hall is a milestone experience," she says. "For many of us, this is our first time staying away from home and our first taste of becoming independent adults."

"One of the best things about hall life is the convenience," explains Ningyu. "If you have an early-morning lesson, you can wake up 10 minutes before it and walk over to class. If you're tired in the middle of the day, you can pop back to your room for a quick nap."

NTU's halls are strategically located around the various colleges and schools, which means that students like Ningyu can cut down on travelling time and devote more attention to their studies and extracurricular interests. Many facilities are also a mere stone's throw away, including Giant supermarket at Hall 2 and popular supper haunt Ah Lian Bee Hoon.

Adds Adarsh Kanodia, a resident of Hall 8: "I like to invite my friends to my hall for foosball and a game of darts, or head over to the nearby squash courts and swimming pool to exercise."

Aside from the convenient amenities, many NTU students welcome the chance to step outside their comfort zone and learn how to be "dormestic" – clean, cook, do the laundry and generally take charge of their own well-being without parental supervision.

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"Staying in hall has instilled in me a stronger sense of independence and responsibility. It has also given me the opportunity to pick up new hobbies, such as cheerleading," says business undergraduate Michelle Tang.

Michelle was the cheerleading captain of Hall 10 last year, while her roommate Geraldine, who majors in animation, plays soft ball. The duo recently started taking two elective courses in singing.

At the NTU halls, students wind down together after classes and bond over activities such as hall suppers, night cycling and talent showcase performances. Many halls also organise special celebrations for festive occasions such as Chinese New Year and Christmas.

The peak activity, however, happens in the second semester of every year, when all 16 halls come together in the spirit of friendly competition during the Hall Olympiad. This consists of three major traditions: the Inter-hall Games, Inter-hall Cheerleading Competition and Inter-hall Dance Competition.

"Hall life is definitely very vibrant, because we have so many activities and so many like-minded friends to share them with," reflects Hall 16 resident Vivien Tan.

"Our social networks are not confined to just one block or hall. For example, we held a combined Halloween event last month with our sister halls, 3 and 12.”

At Hall 10, the community spirit even spills into sharing responsibility for their hall cat, Gogo.

"Our entire block of around 50 residents chips in for the Gogo fund, which is used for our cat's daily necessities and medical bills. Like a big family, we also pooled resources to buy an air fryer for our hall pantry," says Geraldine.

Who's got the best furnishing touch?

1st: Bao Ningyu, Business
2nd: Vivien Tan, Arts
3rd: Adarsh Kanodia, Engineering

After two rounds of voting on Facebook and YouTube, together with the judges' scores, Bao Ningyu emerged as overall champion of HEY!'s Decorate Your Hall Room contest. His hall room video, which showcases multi-coloured LED lights flashing in synchrony with the ambient music, has clocked over 2,400 YouTube views to date.

On his win, Ningyu says: "During my summer exchange at UC Berkeley, I chanced upon a video by a fellow Singaporean student who had spent several hundred dollars creating an automated dorm room. Inspired to do the same at a fraction of the cost for my NTU hall room, I purchased most of the materials from Amazon and spent several days fine-tuning the setup."

For his unique disco-themed room, Ningyu won the grand prize of a three-day, two-night trip to Phuket for two.

Vivien Tan emerged as first runner-up for her whimsical hall room decorated with dreamcatchers and painted artworks, while Adarsh Kanodia came in third for his dorm room featuring an eclectic mix of gadgets and circular photo frames made from paper plates.

Hall of fame: True or false?

Q: "It is difficult to get a place in hall after your first year."

A: That's true to a certain extent. All NTU freshmen are guaranteed a place in hall, but senior students also stand a fair chance, as long as they meet the requirements of the hall admission scheme. Based on the past year's trends, the "safe" cut-off weight is 16 points and above. Housing demand is expected to ease when the two new halls at Nanyang Drive are completed in July next year.

Q: "Some halls tend to be more popular than others."

A: True. While all halls offer similarly styled accommodation, the newer ones often have additional furnishings such as lifts and sheltered walkways. Halls 3 and 8 to 16, for example, are fitted with air-conditioners on a pay-for-use basis. Though older, Halls 1 and 2 come with suite-style attached bathrooms.

Q: "I'm allowed to stay with my friends in their hall room, so long as I have their consent."

False. If you're unsuccessful in getting a place, please apply for Temporary Sharing with the respective hall office. You pay $40 per month for lodging. To protect the safety of registered residents, illegal squatting is deemed a serious violation and both the "squatter" and the bona fide occupants are liable to be evicted if found out. If you intend to stay late in your friends' hall (e.g., to work on a project), please seek prior consent from the hall office. Official visiting hours are from 7.30am to 11.30pm.

Q: "I hear that hall raids are frequently carried out in the middle of the night."

A: False. Like many other residential campuses, NTU conducts random spot checks to ensure that residents comply with the hall rules and regulations. These visits typically occur at the start of the day at around 7am.