A cheat sheet for freshies

If you’re a freshman and feeling a little lost in your first semester at NTU, don’t you worry – we’ve all been there. University life is a big change but with these tips from recent communication grad Qi Jian Er, you’ll be well-adjusted in no time

How to save money

Get taken for a (free) ride
Two legs good, four wheels better. Trust me; you’ll be raring to take the free shuttle buses from your first day here, especially when you find out that at 200 hectares, NTU is as large as 240 football fields. The Blue and Red Campus Loop buses ply regular routes around NTU, and the Green Campus Rider takes you to and from Pioneer MRT.

Discounts? Count me in
Use your matriculation card to save money shopping at ASOS or Lazada, or for discounts from restaurants and to buy cheaper cinema and flight tickets. Check out the latest offers at su.ntu.edu.sg/ntuperks.

Get financial aid
I once (okay, twice) made the mistake of missing the deadline for applying for bursaries and had to wait until the next year to apply again. So remember to apply for bursaries or financial assistance before the deadline of 15 August 2015.

How to make friends

Form your study group
When the exams are looming, I recommend you study with a group where everybody can help each other revise. You’ll get to know your groupmates better and form friendships with them. Assemble your Avengers – studying together is more fun.

Put the life in your varsity life
If your university life consists of just studying and attending lessons, you need to get a life, seriously. Why not join a society, club or special interest group to meet other people with similar passions? Or take part in hall activities such as hall pageants, inter-hall games and hall suppers? The memories and friendships you gain from living on campus will outlive your time in NTU.

How to ace school

Get familiar with NTULearn
Your NTU “edventure” starts and ends with the NTULearn online portal. Check it often, as your professors or tutors will be uploading class materials onto it throughout the semester. Look out for the recorded lectures, especially if you happen to miss a class (cough) or need a replay of the lecture.

Become a “STARS Wars” Jedi
Get ready for the pre-semester blockbuster that is “STARS Wars”. Before every semester, students log on to the Student Automated Registration System (STARS) to select courses. And for popular modules, slots get filled as quickly as you can say “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. You snooze, you lose.

Attend class regularly
Try not to miss any tutorials even if you are tempted to, because you may end up falling behind on the course material taught in class. Also, attendance and class participation often counts for part of your final grade. So, unless you are sick, or the dog ate your only pair of shoes, make it a point to get out of bed.

Visit your nearby library
With eight libraries scattered throughout the campus, plus a medical library in Novena and a new library outpost at the learning hub, you can easily find a quiet spot for yourself. These are air-conditioned, with plenty of charging points and study areas (including learning pods). Also, your NTU library account allows you to use the library’s online resources such as newspaper subscriptions, journals and databases. For free. Best deal ever.

Get connected
This is the golden age of connectivity – take advantage of it! Browse through NTU’s social media accounts and read HEY! for the latest on NTU, including helpful survival tips (like this guide!), and to win great prizes like self-help books, shopping and F&B vouchers, and NTU souvenirs. Don’t say I didn’t tell you!

Where to find good food

Popular haunts
Craving for a McSpicy or a froyo? Find your fix on campus. Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Subway, Jollibean, Llaollao and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are among the many nosh spots here. And if you’re studying late, you’ll never go hungry with Pizza Hut open till 11pm and McDonald’s till midnight (except on Sundays).

If you’re looking for a higher-end meal to celebrate the A for your latest assignment, try one of the bistros. Spruce Bistro Bar is a bit hidden from view at the Nanyang Auditorium and Pitchstop is at the Innovation Centre – but their food’s worth it. Try Spruce’s teatime set, or the wood-fired pizzas at Pitchstop.

Hall canteens
For simpler but still tasty fare, visit one of the canteens around the campus. There’s ayam penyet at Canteen 2, Szechuan cuisine at Canteen 1, Korean cuisine at Canteen 11, Thai cuisine at the Pioneer Hall canteen (right), and bak chor mee (minced meat noodles) at the NIE canteen. Knock yourself out. You’re welcome.

Beyond the campus
Eating outside campus is the Holy Grail for hall residents, so check out these nearby places: Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak, Coffee Nowhere, the “Extension” (S11 Eating House), Malaysia Boleh! at Jurong Point, Sakae Sushi at Jurong West Community Library, and Jing Wei coffee shop next to Pioneer MRT for its famed Ah Lian Bee Hoon. You’ll have to take a bus or car out, but never let that stop you from having a great meal.

Tips from seniors

“Have fun outside of studying. To me, university life is a great time to experiment and let loose.” – Mak Yu Ting, Year 4, English

“Try to arrange your classes on the same days instead of spreading them throughout the week, so you can have a three- or four-day week.” – Kenny Sim, Year 3, Mechanical Engineering

“Go for your exchange semester if you can. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance and an unforgettable experience.” – Seah Yu Hong, Year 4, Sport Science & Management

“Join a CCA to make more friends. Also, remember to get notes from seniors to help in your reports and assignments.” – Foong Wei Xiong, Year 2, Chemical Engineering

“If you want to stay in hall after your first year, take part in hall activities regularly to score points.” – Benjamin Lim, Year 4, Communication Studies

“Make use of the holidays to do internships or part-time jobs to get first-hand working experience. It's also best to be exposed to industries that are different from your course of study.” – Goh Dong Tai, Year 4, Chinese