Top 10 things to know as a freshman

So, you are a bright-eyed freshman excited to find out what is in store for you. There is more to university life than heartbreaks, expanding waistlines, and a climb up the GPA ladder. Sergul Toh shares 10 things you need to know for the quintessential NTU experience


If you are staying in hall, there are some things you can do to make your life easier. First and foremost, save your new $1 coins! They will come in handy when you want to do your laundry. Buying appliances off your seniors, such as routers and fridges, can also help you save quite a bit of money. To ensure you are not locked out of your room, make it a routine to validate your key fob – a weekly must-do for security purposes – whenever you come into hall, otherwise you will most probably forget to do so.


You may have heard your seniors addressing some professors or lecturers by name. It’s best to listen out for their preference at your first lesson with them. If you are unsure, calling them “Prof” is a safe bet. Remember to be consistent in your emails too. If you are emailing a prof and a lecturer in the same email, address both of them by their titles (Prof or Ms/Mr).


The fashionistas – probably communication or business students – show up at the start of every semester. But when the workload hits them hard in the third week, they take the cue from their engineering peers and instead opt for something fuss-free, like the NTU T-shirt. Find one that fits you to a tee from the U-Shop at the North Spine Plaza, or roll up your sleeves and try to get your hands on the more exclusive faculty editions.


It’s easy to get lost in the maze of corridors and buildings when you first go for your classes at NTU. Find the location of your classroom in advance on With several shuttle buses plying the campus, taking the right one may seem like a bumpy ride at the start, so cater extra travelling time! The Campus Loop buses circle the campus while the Campus Rider ventures off campus to and from Pioneer MRT station. Then there are the Campus Loop Express buses that only stop at selected stops. Remember to look up from your phone from time to time to make sure you’re on the right bus.


In NTU, supper can be considered a religion, especially for those who live on campus (much to the dismay of the buttons on their jeans). Regular haunts near NTU include Ah Lian Bee Hoon and the S11 Eating House NTU students know fondly as the “extension kopitiam”. Ratchada Thai Food, a hidden gem nestled in Pioneer Junction, sells $1 Thai boat noodles. In a pinch, vending machines on campus dispense sandwiches, salads and ready meals. Some canteens such as Canteen 11 also have stalls that operate till late (for example, check out @hallxiwaffleaunty on Instagram).


It’s hard to keep up with your bubble tea addiction when a cup can cost as much as a meal. Luckily, LiHO periodically offers $2 bubble teas. The discounted flavours may not always be your cup of tea, but it’s still a steal. Look out for the occasional flash sales at the North Spine bakery in the evenings that will really bring out your inner aunty. Your matriculation card is also your ticket to steals and deals on campus – some F&B outlets, such as Mr Bean, offer student discounts as well.


Aside from oversleeping and missing your 10am lectures, running for the campus shuttle bus, and getting hopelessly lost looking for your classroom, your life at NTU is incomplete without staying up the whole night watching movies, playing games or having deep conversations in hall with your (fewer than five) friends. Academics aside, your buddies will be among your greatest takeaways from university.


Time to burn off the calories from all the suppers and bubble tea! NTU has a variety of recreational facilities on campus, with many clustered at the Sports & Recreation Centre (SRC). Run on the 400m track, play a game of tennis, go for a swim, or even try your hand at the rock-climbing wall. Do book in advance with SRC’s office though – there is a limit on crowd size due to Phase 2 restrictions. There are also fitness corners around campus, like at the beautifully rejuvenated Yunnan Garden, complete with boardwalks and a waterfall to catch your breath at. Just avoid the afternoon sun, unless you are a fan of dehydration.


You may be wondering if it’s still worth staying in hall since many of your classes are now held online, or if you only spend a few days in school. Yes, it’s still worth it. Though there are few hall activities during this period, the experience of being neighbours with your peers, having classes a few minutes away from “home”, and most importantly, living independently – these cannot be measured in dollars and cents.


With 13 canteens and a wide variety of stylish cafes, fast food joints and excellent restaurants on campus, lunch (and dinner) breaks are certainly food for thought. Eat your heart out with each canteen’s claim to fame – here are some of my top picks.

Canteen 1
Conveyor belt hotpot

Canteen 2
Xiao long bao

Canteen 11
Economical rice

Canteen 14
Ban mian

Canteen 9 & 16

Tamarind Hall
Ayam penyet

Crescent and Pioneer (CresPion) Halls
Thai food

Quad cafe
Yong tau foo

Co-Op Cafe @ The Hive
Pan-fried dory

Connect 71 Cafe @ Innovation Centre
Japanese rice bowls

Of course, there are many other things to discover as you go along. And even if the journey isn’t always smooth, you can be sure it’d be one to remember.

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