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Feature

What if it snowed in NTU?

Happy to escape the northern winter, Andrew Duffy wonders what would happen if it snowed in NTU

Digital Art: Sean Lee

It’s coming up to the time of year when exchange students from Sweden and Canada are as warm on the inside as they are on the outside. They’re happy because their classmates back home are feeling the freeze as the first snow falls in Jönköping and Quebec. These exchange students have come to NTU for the leafy green campus, the word-class education, facilities and networking, of course. But mostly to get away from the snow.

Yet snow makes everything beautiful. It cocoons the landscape in soft silence, and re-imagines the world in the simple purity of black-and-white.

So what would happen if it snowed in NTU?

The campus would transform into a magical winter wonderland, with sparkling icicles festooning every tree and glittering ice ferns on every window. Laughing students throw snowballs and break into song as they playfully ask: “Do you want to build a snowman?”

The first change is almost as beautiful as the snowfall itself: Students stop wearing singlets, sports shorts and sandals. Fashions transform and keeping warm is a priority. The NTU hoodie suddenly becomes a hot item. But the old red-and-blue NTU windbreaker is still shunned by humanities students who say they would rather be cold than uncool.

Suitably togged up against the cold, students evolve to survive: They turn the aircon in their hall rooms from 21 degrees all the way up to 23. Extreme times call for extreme measures.

Other changes follow. The Inter-Hall Games adapt as hockey becomes ice hockey, swimming becomes skating and softball becomes really, really hard ball.

Hall 3 maintains its illustrious sporting heritage by prising its water polo team out of the ice with a crowbar (such commitment to their sport!), defrosting them on a barbecue pit and repurposing them as a human Carom team on Nanyang Lake. Adding to the challenge, players must avoid the bumps in the ice – turtles who were too slow to get out before the big freeze.

Art students find it hard to resist the temptation to ski down the roof of ADM; but not as hard as the stop at the bottom.

Hunting parties from Hall 15 cross the frozen drainage ditch to chase wild boars in the jungle, before being driven back by the SAF, who were planning BBQ baby-back pork ribs for dinner.

Campus security stands a 24-hour guard around The Wave as students quickly realise that it’s made of sustainable, environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and above all, burnable wood.

The Earth Observatory says: “We did not see this coming.” In their defence, they were observing the earth, not the sky…

Buses stop running because their fuel is frozen solid. Students waiting for the Campus Rider don’t notice much difference.

New rules allow students to arrive 15 minutes late for class because of the snow. Professors don’t notice much difference.

The wheels on those strangely small GrabFood delivery bikes can’t handle the deep snowdrifts. Carl’s Jr can’t get through. Students and professors both really notice the difference.

Some things don’t change, however. The secret nuclear power reactor in the “PUB reservoir”, which the University has always said doesn’t exist, still doesn’t exist. But there is a suspicious area on the hill behind Hall 8 where the snow doesn’t settle, palm trees flourish, and the cries of velociraptors can be heard.

And what about our Canadian and Swedish exchange students? They roll up their sleeves, get a canned drink from the fridge and fan themselves with copies of HEY!. The cold never bothered them anyway.


Andrew Duffy is an Assistant Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information. He has previously worked for The New Paper and The Straits Times.