Sunday, 30 August 2015


(warning: massive post ahead)

I have been missing Tembusu like crazy these days. The longing to return to the old Tembusu days heightens with each suite outing and each time I step into UTown even just for a few minutes.

Some have wondered why I didn't apply for third-year stay, but it's the people who made Tembusu my home and so the experience will not be the same anymore.

This yearning did not hit me initially, because summer holidays and internships have diverted my attention. But these days, the growing realisation that I will no longer have Tembusu when I return to school has pushed my sentiments into overdrive.

I was clearing old photos in my phone and couldn't help but pick out the ones of Tembusu. I shall dump the photos here, complete with Friends-style captions.

The beginning

The one with the dilemma
Back when I flipped through the Tembusu brochure countless times while trying to decide if 2 years of Tembusu experience would be worth the money.

The one with the saga seeds
When I was such a bright-eyed freshman at Tembusu Orientation Week, eagerly watching my Tembusu life unfold. The first few months at Tembusu were the most surreal.

The one with the games room
I was so excited to have a games room in the college. Tembusu gets 10 cool points (and I lose 10 cool points for being this excited).

The one with Wah Chee
I was first introduced to the wonder that is Wah Chee during Tembusu Orientation.

The one with Shan

The one with Ernest's head
I am speechless.

The one with the initiation
Suddenly being told to run up 21 flights of stairs and having someone smear stuff on my face, which I later realised was face paint to look like a snow leopard.

The one with the hobo supper
So one time we ordered supper and had nowhere to eat, so we sat down by the corridor and had a mini hobo picnic.

The one with crazy Starbucks orders
We used to help Sheila fully utilise her employee's discount at Starbucks. I apologise to anyone who has had to queue behind us during one of our mass Starbucks runs.

The one with crazy Vincent
The lengths we go to take a photo. He almost hit the ceiling fan.

The one with the evacuation
Winter's friends decided to relocate his room as a birthday prank.

The one with Winter's new room
Happy birthday Winter.

The room

The one with the check-in
The very first time I checked into my Tembusu room.

The first room
The very first time I settled into Tembusu. This looks so cosy.

The one with the view
My view for the past two semesters. I was so impressed with Town Green when I attended NUS Open Day, and decided it would be amazing to be able to live in UTown and see that lush patch of grass every day. My wish came true.

The one with the suite

The one with the mysterious 'welcome' sign
When we first moved in, there was a 'welcome' sign on the door. None of us put it there. We still have no idea who put it there. Oh well.

The one with all the shoes
When our suite became the hangout place and Vicky couldn't stand the mess anymore so she took matters into her own hands.

The one with Esther's door
I can't really remember what was going on here. We've had too many birthday surprise shenanigans.

The one with the stolen sem room tables
During our very last semester, we decided to steal some tables from the seminar rooms. Now I cannot imagine how we ever survived without those tables.

The one with the goats
Our suite has the most random things, like Chinese New Year decorations that Dawn eagerly brought to Tembusu to hang in our suite.

The one with all the balloons
Also, balloons roam around freely in our suite after each birthday celebration. They tend to float into the bathroom. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for this.

The one with the mess
I got really sentimental during my last few weeks and wanted to take some photos of the suite in its natural state. I love how well-stocked our living room is - mini fridge, toaster, printer, coffee machine, kettle and tons of utensils. Heck, we even have party hats and a water gun.

The one with the bangs
I have no idea what was going on.

The one where we stack bananas
One day we had lots of bananas from dinner and so this happened. Don't ask me why.

The one with Dawn's motivations.
My CAP eventually improved last semester. I suspect Dawn and the rest of the suite might have something to do with it. Waking me up in the morning, studying together at mac commons, ordering McDonald's breakfast to force ourselves to wake up, and so many motivational notes and snacks.

The one with all the studying

The one at Starbucks
One of my favourite study spots. When you have to burn midnight oil and hate suffering alone, Starbucks is your best bet.

The one with the 通宵
Legitly stayed at Starbucks to rush last-minute work until 天亮. I will miss the convenience of living in UTown.

The one where everybody is up
Misery loves company, and I have been blessed with the best company I could ever ask for.

The one with Machiavelli

The one with the King's Cup
One of our drinking and HTHT sessions. Zen seems to have an endless supply of alcohol.

The one with the supper escapade
Will never forget the time we drove to Swee Choon on a Tuesday night only to realise it was closed, went to Tim Ho Wan instead, decided to get some beancurd after that and ended up turning into a street full of prostitutes and men.

The end

The last night
My Tembusu life, reduced to 10 bags of crap. I remember wondering if I would cry on my last night, but I was jio-ed to go for supper so that took my mind off things. Ending my Tembusu life with an impromptu supper run summed it up perfectly.


Two years ago, I went for NUS Open Day and ventured to Tembusu College out of boredom. They offered a tour and from that moment on, I was sold. I spent weeks and months mulling over the decision, wondering if two years at Tembusu would be worth $11k.

There were times when I felt lonely or disillusioned with Tembusu, but that does not make my Tembusu experience any less memorable and I never once regretted the decision to go for it. My Tembusu life came with several low points, but that is to be expected of any experience that offers a chance to reflect and grow.



I decided to read my UTRP application essay, just to compare my expectations with the eventual outcome. Here is one of the two answers, in raw form:
What do you think a residential college is ? (Please describe in no more than 300 words.)

Why I am drawn to the UTown Residential Programme is because it provides students with so much more than mere accommodation.

From my understanding, a residential college is a place that provides opportunities (such as the college’s unique curriculum) to expand our knowledge beyond what is commonly taught in our individual majors. Also, the nature of a residential college encourages interaction among students and professors from various faculties, allowing for an exchange of different perspectives that is further facilitated through events held by the college, such as the Master’s Teas. All of these place an emphasis on learning not solely for the sake of academic prestige, making it a place where the gain of new knowledge transforms from a ‘need’ to a ‘want’, becoming second nature to students.

Apart from that, it is where students can attain personal growth through the facilities and interest groups in the residential college that not only give students the chance to continue pursuing their interests (and at a greater convenience) but also to develop new ones, which is definitely a crucial aspect of our university education.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that a residential college is where the constant close proximity with one another would help forge stronger bonds among the residents, forming close friendships that would thus complete the university experience. Students will not only go through various modules and events together but also learn to live with one another, making this bond between them one of a kind.

All in all, a residential college offers an experience unique to its own. Friendships can be forged through hall life, facilities are also available elsewhere in the campus and the modules are mandatory, but the amalgamation of the three is what provides the well-rounded experience I yearn to get a taste of.

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