First days.

This is an awesome place.

Well that's what people who belongs to that institution (almost) always say about it. I'm not officially an NTU undergrad until tomorrow after online matriculation exercise & medical check-up result, and I've just checked in on Saturday. Regardless, it's still an awesome place.

1) The pioneers of Pioneer Hall (from now on referred to as "18" because I want it that way - probably because it sounds like the way Hunger Games districts are referred to).

Being a foreigner, staying in a hall is an obvious and simple choice. Even when I've already been in Singapore for more than 4 years, I obviously don't have the confidence and the money to go out there and rent a HDB flat. But when the actual results came in and the new 18 popped up, I was disappointed, for they assigned me the most expensive double aircon room out there when I explicitly stated my intentions for a non-aircon room together with my roommate (teaser: he's a very nice guy).

However when I checked in, I was impressed.

New hall = bloody new facilities.

New hall = almost no people utilizing the same facilities.

At the same time though, new hall = everything's not working properly because 18's a work-in-progress. As of the time of writing, it's still a work-in-progress. Laundry rooms are not all working. Close to nothing are inside the functional rooms (they have just installed the name cards so at least I know which rooms to look for). Best part, no canteen so one exercise every lunch/dinner to the nearest canteens (1,2 and 4. 2's the best so far given I've only tried economic rice to get the most amount of veg.)

And again at the same time, new hall = no student-run orientation. This is a big no-no for me. I've been to a few and I've helped organised one and I must say it's the best time of anybody's life. But then because of no OG, I have the time to write this so it's almost even. I say "almost" because heck, OG is more fun than anything.

And again at the same time, bloody new facilities = 10 layers of fine dust & the smell of newness on every surface. Not a big problem though compared to the previous two.

Now to my room. The view: not exactly spectacular since I'm not on an outlying wing of an outlying block (for your info, blocks in the new 17 & 18 are in a three-wing Y formation. And the Ys face each other, so if you're not on an outlying wing, chances are the only things you'll see out the windows are the other Ys.) But it's on the 7th floor, so wind-in-my-hair is probably more important than a great view. It's also awesomely spacious for someone who's used to cramming stuff into small areas - what my previous 6-bedded hostel room required.

So is it worth $280 a month? Oh yes. All the good stuff it's almost like That CD Shop selling 3 Taylor Swift albums for $50. Which is awesome. And did I mention I found a good spot to hang a Taylor poster in the room?

2) Not every meal is an exercise, EVERYDAY is an exercise.

One of my Twitter friends tweeted this after going to the Open House in March: "NTU = No Too Ulu."

So on point.

Because of the very ulu-ness of this place, getting out (and getting in afterwards) is extremely strenuous. For example the past days I've been back to CJ three times and seriously, 10 minutes shuttle bus to Pioneer, 17 minutes on EWL to Buona Vista, change to CCL, 6 minutes to Botanics Garden, 7 more minutes on bus to CJ, all not counting waiting times (the most excruciating part of any and all travels). It not only burns a hole in my pocket (you know, adult fare) but also burns my calories.

Travelling inside the campus is of course less tedious thanks to the awesomeness of the shuttle bus services (extremely nice bus uncles even though sometimes they speed. And 18 is close to so many bus stops with the full range of red blue green and brown). But still requires a good amount of walking.

So I thought everyday is already an exercise to begin with, so why not just make it a little bit more interesting? Turns out the slopes surrounding NTU make pretty good running courses. I've been adjusting my meal times to allow for a short 3.8km run around 7.30pm everyday. 2 days in and I've already cut down my timing by a good 30 seconds down to under 20 minutes (of course it doesn't mean much only 2 days but hey it's an achievement. And not disregarding the slopes). Still thinking on whether I should get a bike to save some money just going to and from NTUC at Boon Lay... but I'll leave it first for the moment. Not an expert on bikes and stuff.

I think by the time I leave this place I can do 2.4 in 9?

3) What's next

School. Exciting course. New friends. All coming in the next week or two.

Hopefully it'll be one to remember just like my days in CJ. I think it will, because it's four years instead of two.

It would be a real bummer if tomorrow's check-up results shows I'm positive for either TB or HIV. I would be forced to leave this place and head back home... IN YOUR DREAMS FOLKS I WOULD NOT BE GOING ANYWHERE. Enjoy the night.

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