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The freshmen’s guide to NTU

Freshmen, find your feet quickly with this A-Z cheat sheet of things to look out for and what to do on campus
by Derek Rodriguez & Peter Yeo


Shaped like a grand piano, NTU’s newest learning hub is ahead of the curve. Here, lively discussions take place in 56 smart classrooms of various sizes equipped with wall-mounted LCD screens for easy discussions and to bounce ideas off one another. After class, kick back and relax at the spacious student activity centre or meet your study group in one of the 13 project discussion rooms. Look out for the new eatery that’s opening by the end of the year.


Beautiful campus
Frequently named in lists of the world’s most beautiful universities, the sprawling NTU campus – about the size of 240 football fields – is known for its greenery and unique architecture that will make your Instagram feed the envy of friends in other universities.


Lunch is one of our favourite periods. With 13 food courts and a wide variety of stylish cafes, fast food joints and excellent restaurants on campus, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Don’t just stick to the North and South Spines, venture out into the halls for savoury surprises like mookata, xiaolongbao and Japanese curry rice.


Dim sum building
The Hive is one of the most photographed places in NTU. It’s been in countless Instagram posts with CNN describing it as “having redefined the traditional classroom”. If you watch local dramas, you might even catch its appearance in an upcoming Channel 8 sitcom, Say Cheese. Fun fact: The building was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the man behind the London Olympic Cauldron.


Enterprising minds are encouraged here. Take your pick from joining the NTU Entrepreneurship Society to taking a Minor in Entrepreneurship. Or sign up for the Overseas Entrepreneurship Programme that lets you learn the ropes from start-ups across the globe, from San Francisco and Berlin to London and Haifa.


Flipped classroom
Flip your learning by studying online materials and watching videos on your iPad or smartphone before you come to class to test your application of what you have learnt. Since the future workplace is all about working in teams, learn how to present your opinions and come to a consensus with your groupmates on possible solutions. Seniors say team learning keeps you on your toes, so there’s never a dull moment in class.


Think you have the next big idea? Build on it at the innovation garages on campus. Start by submitting a proposal to the professors in charge. If your idea looks promising, you’ll get funding for your project and the use of the garage with all its tools, including 3D printers. One invention that took off is a 3D-printed car that has won races around the world and was featured on CNN, CNBC and CNET. Payment platform FOMO Pay, which recently made a Forbes Asia honour roll, owes much of its early success to the innovation garage at the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

Every university student wants a good Cumulative Grade Point Average or the average score of all courses taken. But don’t let chasing the “Highest Distinction” stand in the way of expanding yourself with leadership roles, overseas experience and volunteer work, which are highly prized by employers. Build self-confidence by taking part in activities like dance competitions, hackathons and case challenges. Besides, networking is good for your future career.


“Hey, I didn’t know that!” After reading this magazine, you will get to know NTU a lot better. You can get bonus content and take part in giveaways and contests through HEY!Shake when you shake your phone at TV screens around campus. Look out for this bimonthly magazine on newsstands at your hall or around campus. If you want to write for HEY!, email HEY! has won 16 international awards since it was launched in 2011, thanks to the support and contributions of readers like you.


Whether internships are part of your course or not, you should pad your resume with work experience through meaningful attachments. NTU has a wide network of partners, including choice employers, multinationals, public agencies and more. Many employers use internships to talent scout so you could get a job offer before your final-year exams. NTU students have completed sought-after internships with companies such as Google, JP Morgan, Singapore Airlines, Wunderman, 3M, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Rolls-Royce, GSK and even the Istana. If you’re up to it, pursue more than one internship to explore different roles and industries for the extra edge.


You’ve come to the right university. From the moment you enter NTU, you’ll get the boost you need to nail that dream job. Not only do nine out of 10 NTU graduates land jobs within six months of graduation, they also report getting higher starting salaries. Each year, at the NTU Career Fair, students have the pick of the crop with almost 300 employers offering more than 4,000 jobs and internship opportunities. Get career coaching and preparation classes from your first year to help map a blueprint for your future success.


Canopy K
Located at the North Spine near McDonald’s, Canopy K is the venue for many student activities, including cultural celebrations and performances, and pop-up stalls.


The official mascot of NTU, it was created by computer science student Chia Yan An in a mascot design competition several years ago. Lyon the lion is still a mainstay at NTU and can be spotted at official NTU events. Don’t forget to say “hi” and take a wefie with him if you get the chance!


One of the newest schools at NTU is the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London. Its inaugural batch is graduating this year, taking their rightful place among doctors at hospitals across Singapore. The newly-minted doctors are confident of the skills and knowledge they have acquired through the school’s unique pedagogy, clinical exposure, training from global experts and overseas experience at Imperial College and in UK hospitals.


NTU’s Novena campus puts doctors-to-be in the heart of Singapore’s modern healthcare hub, right beside Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Featuring not just realistic replicas of clinical settings, the 20-storey Clinical Sciences Building also dedicates an entire floor to the downtime students need from their rigorous training. There’s a gym, dance studio, music room and snug recreational rooms and lounges, offering the best prescription for the holistic training of medical students. The cherry on top is the library on the 20th floor, which boasts breathtaking views of the city.


Overseas opportunities
There’s no better time to broaden your horizons and see the world. Eight in 10 NTU undergrads go overseas for study at least once during their time in NTU. Apply for an internship abroad, learn a new language in its home country or volunteer for a community involvement project. Or try to score in a global competition after acing the Singapore finals. With financial help available, there’s really no excuse for you not to spread your wings.


Fuel your passions by joining a club or society. It’s also one of the best ways to make friends outside your course. There are more than 130 student clubs to choose from, ranging from hip hop, cheerleading, outdoor adventures, anime, coding and volunteering to sports and cyber games.


QS rankings
The latest World University Rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds puts NTU at 12th in the world among more than 1,000 universities globally. NTU has also topped QS’ list of the world’s best young universities for five consecutive years.


Residential Education
Roll out of bed for your next class. With the Residential Education programme offered in halls, your lesson could be held in the block next to your room. Pick up life skills like gardening, financial planning and keeping healthy. These free lessons are fun ways to broaden your skills and knowledge beyond your core discipline. For example, astronomy classes take place at the rooftop garden at the new Nanyang Crescent Halls, but if cooking is more to your taste, immerse yourself in recipes and cuisines at the fully-equipped kitchens at Tanjong Hall.


Smart pass
Your matriculation card is no ordinary identification card. It’s a license to live, work and play on campus and beyond. With a tap of your card, borrow books at the library, take the train, pay for lunch at the canteen, get drinks from the vending machine, and even have your attendance taken with it in future. It will also function as a digital key, giving you access to your hall room and laboratory.

Are you interested in a module but afraid it might be too difficult? NTU allows you to exercise the S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) option for up to three or four of your prescribed electives and unrestricted electives. This means that you won’t have to worry about a bad grade affecting your Cumulative Grade Point Average, as long as you pass the module.


Transition and Orientation Programme
NTU’s aims to start freshmen off on the right foot and help them throughout their first year. Find out where you can get career advice, receive mental wellbeing services, and learn new skills, all while meeting new groups of friends. Freshmen should download the HEY!Shake app for a chance to win NTU goodies like bags, T-shirts and cushions at the Freshmen Welcome Ceremony as well. Get acquainted, too, with the mobile-friendly online portal, a one-stop resource with all the information you need to get you up to speed.


Union and U-Shop
The representative body for undergrads, the NTU Students’ Union, better known as NTUSU, gives students a voice in university directions and policies, and organises activities to enhance campus vibrancy. It takes care of student clubs and societies and also runs the U-Shop at the North Spine Plaza, where you can get NTU merchandise, from hoodies and caps, to plushies and pens. Look out also for NTU Fest, the annual carnival and performance extravaganza organised by the Union.


You’re not seeing things if you spot a bus without a driver here. The NTU Smart Campus is a testbed of futuristic technologies and driverless electric vehicles are some of the innovations you might encounter and actually use, safely of course.


The Wave
This game-changer is engineered to be eco-friendly and equipped with all the bells and whistles of a top-notch sports arena. Step inside to find a cavernous draft-free interior that is kept cool by new techniques such as walls with metal coils that are filled with chilled water and building materials with five times better heat insulation than concrete. The floor area, slightly larger than a full-size football pitch, has almost 1,000 retractable seats on two sides and can be configured to accommodate different sports at the same time. Activity rooms with floor-to-ceiling mirrors make perfect dance studios.

Welfare packs
Can’t wait for the exams… to be over? Join the queue. The queue for goodie bags, that is! Fill your stomach and empty your anxiety tanks with welfare packs handed out by the students’ union, clubs and residential halls before exams. These usually contain late-night study essentials like snacks, cup noodles and stationery.


Going on exchange is one of the three must-dos, according to seniors. The other two that are not-to-be-missed are living on campus and joining a club. Get a life-changing semester at one of NTU’s over 400 partner universities around the world or opt for shorter summer and winter studies.


Yunnan Garden
This green lung in NTU with pavilions and historical monuments is being revitalised to make it a more welcoming and attractive park for the NTU community and the public. Prepared to be bowled over by the enhanced garden when it reopens at the end of next year. Water from Nanyang Lake will flow into Yunnan Garden as the lake, garden and Chinese Heritage Centre become seamlessly connected, with all historical elements in the garden preserved. The rejuvenation includes adding Wi-Fi connection, fitness areas, and wheelchair-access routes, so you’ll find this a great place to relax or exercise in.


Zipping around
Zip around on the free Campus Loop-Red and Campus Loop-Blue shuttles that take you to all the major places on campus. For a ride to and from Pioneer MRT station, hop onto the Campus Rider buses. A fun way to whiz from hall to class and back is by Telepod scooters that can be hired via the Jalan app. There are also direct shuttle buses to NTU from Tampines, Sengkang, Punggol, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Ang Mo Kio and Choa Chu Kang.