NUS Hall Life: What It's Like

by - January 11, 2020

Update: WOW THIS BLOG POST REALLY BLEW UP! Seeing how it's getting circulated around, I decided to rephrase certain words/ remove some content to protect the identity of some people and make it more PG (LOL). I wrote this without thinking it would get any attention, so some stories may give off certain people's identities, and as annoying as some of these people are, this post is meant to share not to shame!

Also, my experience reflects my personal views of life in Hall and NUS Hall culture. Not everyone experienced what I went through, and I hope most of you have had a happier Hall life.

Warning: This post is not for sensi people. It reflects my true (and potentially biased) feelings towards my experience in the particular Hall I went to in NUS, which shall not be named. This post is not meant to harm anyone or tarnish the name of the school/ NUS Hall. It is merely a reflection of what I went through the past 2 years. This post is going to be lengthy.

As this week marks the start of the NUS Hall and Residences applications, I hope that those of you who want to know if you're a fit for Hall, or what NUS Hall culture is like may gain some insight through this post. Do read it with an open mind, and enjoy!

** Screenshots are made based off real text messages with real friends. It is done this way to protect their identity. If you need to verify authenticity, please DM me for the actual messages. TQ.

I entered NUS in August 2018, under the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to enter a top university, so obviously I was really proud to be a student at NUS. I worked really hard during my poly days and it must have been due to my grades that I got into the school and course I wanted.

A few months before the Academic Year started, I went through a terrible, traumatic breakup, so I did what any heartbroken 20-ish year old would do - I went on a bunch of dating apps, met a lot of good-for-nothing guys, and got myself emotionally rekttttt.

Feel free to judge me because even I'm judging myself.

So I was messing around on OkCupid, and I met this guy, let's call him X. He was a resident at this Hall and was part of its Orientation Camp committee. When he found out I was a freshie, he tried to get me to sign up for the camp. I was really naive back then and was probably craving for whatever attention that was given to me. I went over a couple times to his room; we drank, played beer pong, I slept over, watched movies, and he would tell me about Hall and how fun it was...

So I was like, cool. I had a guy I liked, and he was going to be someone I could rely on in this strange, unfamiliar environment. He seemed to care, somewhat, and while I wasn't looking for anything serious, I really liked him and I thought he felt the same. Slowly, I started opening up to him more, telling him about my past relationships, my breakup, and how I felt really vulnerable entering a new stage in life.

Long story short - it didn't work out, he was a player, and the same time he was seeing me he probably already had eyes on this other girl who later became his girlfriend. I was just a sex toy, to put it simply.

I know many people may not understand why I blame him so much. I mean, I blame myself too, but the reason why I'm so resentful towards him is because he KNEW what he was doing. First of all, before we even met in person, I already told him about my emotional state and said explicitly that I wasn't the kind that could handle a FWB relationship because I would get attached. And get this - he said he thought himself to be a douchebag because he was the kind to cut off ties with a potential FWB when he knew she liked him. When I heard this, I was like, alright. It's best not get physical with him.

Of course once we met face to face, one thing led to another, which I agree, is also my fault for not controlling myself. Before it began, I also remember telling him that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do this, but he lowkey pressured me and I ended up doing things I regretted. At the end, I remember asking him this, "Did you expect this to happen when you called me over today?", and he just said, "Yes".

I remember that I immediately regretted starting the whole thing with him, because obviously he had ulterior motives for calling me over. I really thought he just wanted to get to know me, and I thought that, well, if things were gonna happen, I wanted it to happen naturally. NOT like this - when he already knew what he wanted to do to me.

He also asked me many, many times what I thought of him, about whether he was a good person or not. I remember he asked me to give him an answer the second time we met, and I can't remember my answer, but he said he thought of himself as a bad guy. And I was like, oh shit. But what was done was done, and I was already starting to trust him. I thought he was just saying it because he wanted to feel alpha in front of me or whatever shit, but I guess he knew he was doing something wrong all along.

And of course, when he called me over the subsequent times, I may have mistook it for him wanting to get to know me more, aside from just physically. He often said things like, "Oh I'd make you food today" or "I'm kinda excited to see you", or if we happened to be in the same area he'd offer to cab back to his place together, or he would ask me over to his HOME, and when I took it for a booty call, he said, "We can just watch movies and drink wine, we don't always need to have sex."

So you can see how I was really confused in this whole relationship because clearly, I had feelings, and I thought maybe - just MAYBE - he felt the same. I was also confused about his feelings because mine were obvious, but he wasn't cutting me off yet. Now I know that of course, he didn't have feelings and he was just a horny bastard, but honestly, I want to thank him for what he did to me because he was the person that taught me to trust my instincts, have more respect for myself, and never trust a guy with just words and nothing else to offer.

Well he was a dick, although only about 3 inches - but still a dick.

There were definitely other instances after X where I got my heart broken and played with, but because of this experience with him, I learned to be the one to walk away first before getting hurt even more.

So the takeaway of this is - don't play around with douchebags.

*Cues Taylor's Swift revenge songs*

After the dreaded camp (where we just pretended not to know each other the whole time), I managed to make some friends and get a sense of what Hall was like. Within that first week, I already knew that it was a mistake, for me at least.

And it wasn't that people weren't nice, they were. But it was so evident that Hall culture circled around popularity, attractiveness, girl-guy shipping, and socialising. It was very superficial, and I have always been someone who was easily affected by what people thought of me.

I'm not trying to have a pity party or fish for compliments because I know that I'm not Singapore-standard attractive. Because of this, many people overlooked me, and it was difficult for me to make friends. The tall, pretty girls didn't find me interesting, and the guys literally "looked down" on me. I had a lot of guy friends because we were closer in age, but to most of them, I was that chill female friend with a lot of pretty friends, and they wanted to be friends with me because of my pretty friends. Every time they talked to me, they would bring up a girl they thought was pretty, e.g "that girl on your level" or "the damn chai girl from your OG". I pretended it didn't affect me, because really it shouldn't - but physical attractiveness has always been a touchy topic for me, because I knew I wasn't beautiful.

The things people talked about in Hall were so bimbotic that sometimes I didn't understand how they could be in university. Understandably, there was a 3-year age gap between them and me, and I was the rare poly kid among the wide-eyed JC kids who were just experiencing their first time drinking and clubbing. Their conversations made me really uncomfortable, and most of what we talked about surrounded BGR, who was our EC (eye candy), or who we thought was the prettiest/ most handsome in Hall.

A few weeks after getting accepted into Hall, we were designated the blocks that we would stay in. I was praying that I wouldn't get the block that X was in, since he was the one who pulled me in and it was highly likely I would enter his block as well. My friends who knew about us (most of them were my OG mates whom I got really close to) reassured me that if he really was a decent guy who didn't want to bring up the past anymore, he would probably let me go. I was like, alright, let's just give him that last benefit of the doubt.

And... of course I got into his block.

I bumped into him everywhere, and each time I saw him it reminded me of how unworthy I was, how stupid I was to believe him, and how he was the reason that I was here in the first place. We pretended like we didn't know each other, but each time I saw him my heart just sank and I felt horrible for myself.

Looking back, I realise I didn't actually like him that much; I was just feeling empty and needed him to temporarily distract me from the pain. It doesn't change the fact that he was a dick, but it's my fault for being naive. I knew that there had to be some people in Hall who knew about us, so I felt really insecure. True enough, people did know about us - even those I thought who didn't. I felt really stupid. I shut myself out from my block mates, and developed serious social anxiety (which I'm currently seeking help for). It actually affected my life really badly to the point that I would hold in my pee and lock myself in my room for hours until I was sure nobody was in the corridor, and then slip quietly to the toilet. Around this time, I also started having very, very bad flight anxiety, which I never had a problem with prior to Hall.

So remember kids, never join Hall because of a guy ok, worst decision ever.

Most Halls has this "Open Door Concept" where everyone is supposed to leave their door opened so people can come in and socialise with you. I left mine closed because of my anxiety, but there were occasions when my level mates knocked on my door asking me if wanted supper, or to just check in.

I didn't like a lot of people in Hall, but I <3 really, really appreciated my level mates <3, especially the seniors. They made a lot of effort to include me in level gatherings even though I was being a sulky unfriendly bitch, and they took the initiative to come and talk to me. Slowly, I opened up to them about my situation (which I found out later that some of them already knew about, LOL) and they were very understanding about it.

A few months in, I started gaining my sense of identity in Hall. I joined a shit ton of CCAs, from band to volleyball and club committees. I made new friends as well, and got particularly close to some of my block mates, CCA friends, and my OG. However, with more commitments come a new set of problems.

Anyone who's been in Hall would agree that Hall kids are the worst to work with. We don't have a sense of responsibility, only want to have fun, and are always late for everything. In our Hall, we have this thing called "(Insert Hall name here) timing" which means that whatever time we planned to meet, everyone would only turn up 30 minutes later so there was no point being on time anyway.

As I mainly joined cultural and sports CCAs, I didn't experience the full-on mess that was committee CCAs. However, this particular one I joined had a reputation for being straight-out chaos. I didn't know that at first, and just joined because it was the only one that would accept me (more on this later). So I entered the CCA as a sub-committee member. Things were going okay between my team during the first few events, but it wasn't until later that we started having conflicts.

What happened was that one of my ICs had an issue with me missing committee meetings because of work. I got really pissed off because first of all, they have been setting meeting times only to cancel them last minute when I've already blocked out the dates and scheduled work around it. Basically, they'll ask me to block out every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday for meetings for two weeks, only to cancel it later and change it to let's say, Friday and Saturday when I've already sent in my work schedule.

So my IC made a big fuss and called me out on this on our group chat asking me to cancel work and I was pissed. I told her I couldn't do that because I needed to work and I'm basically self-sufficient. I think she realised that she was being unreasonable because she dropped the subject later on and apologised. And if you're thinking that this was my fault, it is not; two of my other sub-committee members actually texted me telling me they felt the same way (refer to screenshot below). I was quite comforted by what they said to me, and I eventually gathered enough courage to tell the main comm that I was out.

It was hard for me to drop the committee CCA as they're the hardest ones to get into. As Hall prioritised popularity and connections over talent, it was common for seniors to pull their own friends into coveted positions. Many people with actual talent were overlooked.

I didn't know a lot of seniors during the committee CCA recruitment period so I didn't have a lot of luck. I even had a friend who told me she got into a Pubs position (which requires design work) when she never did design in her life. But she got in anyway, thanks to a senior she knew, and she was pretty.

That's also why some CCAs have a lot of people but half of their members don't know what the shit they're doing (refer to screenshot below).

On the other hand, cultural and sports CCA actually require their members to have talent, so it's easier to get into if you have something to offer.

The reason why getting into CCAs are such a big thing is because you need points to stay in Hall. If you don't meet the minimum cut-off, you're basically cut off. Committee CCAs usually give higher points, which is one of the reasons why the positions are so coveted.

In fact, getting into Hall in the first place requires connections. If you're good looking, it's almost a 100% guarantee that you'll get in. You have over 1000 followers - great, just what they're looking for. Interestingly, my current boyfriend was also part of the camp committee X was in, and they're friends. According to my boyfriend, the camp committee had power over who to choose to enter the camp, and they chose people based on looks, popularity and connections. My boyfriend (who was single at that time) had this really pretty junior who wanted to get into Hall, and once he showed her picture to the committee, they didn't even breathe before saying yes.

By now you should also be able to see some kind of vicious cycle, where getting into hall requires connections, and getting into desirable CCAs which lead to more points require connections, meaning those people who usually get enough points and are able to stay on the following year usually come from the same groups of people.

On the bright side, things were going great when I entered my second year in Hall and became a senior. I kinda got used to things; I made close friends, tried attending block events, and even became a CCA IC. The second year is the year maybe new couples start forming - usually once platonic friends who were often shipped and ended up getting together. Some girls who were attached when they entered hall ended up cheating on their boyfriends, and when they become single, all the guys start coming forward professing their love and after a drunk night together, they hook up and BAM. Relationship.

I really don't get why people in Hall are constantly in a rush to get attached. One way to describe some people in Hall - desperate. Once someone breaks up, it's almost immediate that they find someone else. And when they get sexual, they want everyone to know, and hear about it - and I mean, literally hear through the walls.

I had the misfortune of knowing someone who is the perfect example of such a person. When she first moved in, she was noisy as hell and was always bringing her friends into her room after midnight. Some time mid-Sem she went through a breakup and then the crying and wailing and flow of friends continued, which I could understand because I mean, I've been there. Then within months she hooked up with another guy, and that was when he would come into her room every night and they would talk loudly, drag chairs around, and laugh all the way until 5am. I have heard some suspicious moans and banging furniture a couple of times, but I'm not sure if it's coming from her room or another level.

Regardless, I do not want to hear people fuck. I'm happy with my own sex life tysm.

Another thing I really hated about Hall was the sexual nature of it all. People just LOVED making everything about BGR, or match-making. (On the bright side, those that I got paired with were really nice people!!) It's like I'm constantly playing 家家酒. We had many "matchmaking" sort of events and I won't talk about the nature of other events because I don't want to get anyone into trouble but YEAH I DON'T GETS WHY PEOPLE ARE SO INTO THIS? Are Hall kids not getting enough sex, that's why the have no choice but to organise these kind of things to satisfy their needs?

(Note: there was initially a screenshot here about a message depicting some sexual initiation activities but it has since been taken down to protect the privacy of the sender)

I'll never know.

I also dislike how the whole "family hall" image of my Hall was superficial and just a facade at times. Many of us claim to be "family", but some people are just cunts. There was this one time I got locked out of my room due to a system error, and since it was 6am on a Saturday, I was stranded. I tried calling the Resident Fellows (lecturers/ profs staying in Hall) but no one picked up. As it was vacation period, I was staying in another block at the time. Having no place to go, I went to the block lounge and waited for someone to come to my help. I left after an hour because there were cockroaches in the room, and posted it on IG story for fun.

Luckily I had a very, very nice friend who saw my story and offered her empty room for the night. The next morning, I woke up to a text from my boyfriend saying that the block head sent him a message asking me to take down my IG story about the cockroaches because it was offensive????? and that he hope I "switched off the air-con" and didn't make a mess. He also said some other nasty things, and his tone was just really bad in general.

I was like, bruh WHAT. THE. FUCK. First, there was no reason to take that story so seriously, and I wasn't even trying to shame his block. Don't we always post stories sharing about some worm we found in the block kitchen sponge or maggots crawling in the oven? So sensi for fuck?

Secondly, he didn't even care that I was locked out and didn't even show any sympathy, AND this guy was a block head. Are you fucking kidding me.

Anyway I was so pissed that I told my boyfriend that it was up to me to do whatever the fuck I wanted, and if Mr Block Head had a problem with that, he could find me himself.

*Rolls eyes*

I don't know why I was so surprised by his attitude, since it's no secret that many people holding high ranking statuses in Hall are those who don't deserve it at all. X was actually someone who had a pretty high status (update: oh and btw he's now become Hall president of AY 20/21 which is very surprising to many people who know he's a fucktard - but oh wellies he got connectionszed), and he probably broke at least 90% of the rules throughout his years in Hall. Not all - but many of these high-raking students are hyprocrites.

(Disclaimer: not all, some are really very nice and I respect them a lot, but SOME ok, SOME)

I think the main takeaway for me in Hall is that there's no point admiring "people at the top" because what constitutes "the top" are basically superficial characteristics AND these are backed up by connections. Also many people at the top are often just voted in by one or two powerful people (again, connections), and then everyone else just joins in on the vote because we don't want to be seen as "not family enough". No one really questions why certain people always hold high positions, or why the same group of friends always get coveted roles, or why the president of Hall has been from the SAME. EFFING. BLOCK. the past few years - I mean, if that doesn't show that power in Hall is just gained through connections instead of talent and hard work, then I don't know what does.

So yes, that concludes my experience in Hall. Since COVID-19 came about, not many things have been happening because most people stay home and many events got cancelled. I prefer it that way because I have a lot more time to focus on studies, work, and myself.

I actually know many, many people who share the same sentiments, but unlike me, they had the balls to pick up their stuff and leave. I think the reason why I decided to stay on was because I wanted to see if things would change as a senior, and also because of my ego? Because I wanted to be seen as one of the people who were qualified to stay on. Obviously, that was the wrong choice for me, and my ego cost me my mental health, but oh wells.

Some of these people are still staying in Hall, and I suppose the main reason why they're doing ok is because they can handle the noise. I really admire them for that, and am really thankful for some of you who knew about all this from the beginning and were really supportive lah, like furrealz I love y'all so much and you guys made the 2 years here much more manageable.

I know that many people will be upset over this post and want to be social justice warriors, but honestly I don't give a fuck. If you didn't do anything to wrong me, or you were a decent person, this blog post is not directed towards you and you shouldn't be feeling upset. If you are, you should probably ask yourself... why???

Hall may be suitable for some people, and I do have friends who really enjoyed their stay in Hall and made long-lasting friendships. I also made a lot of nice people who were there for me during tough times, and were really open and understanding individuals, e.g my level mates, block mates, CCA friends etc. Thank you if you've been there when I was feeling very down, alone, and needed someone to talk to!

Then again having "nice" people isn't enough if you don't like the culture of a place. The world is SO BIG and there is so much more to explore beyond the Hall and NUS bubble. If you're someone like me who's introverted, easily affected by what people say and can't stand psychological noise, you may be happier somewhere else.

Some of you may still want to come at me, so feel free to do so by sharing this post or commenting below! If not, y'all can check out what I do when I'm out of hall here and here! Alternatively, I have a new Hall post so you can read that too...

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