• Katherine Pan

A Realistic Day in the Life of a NUS Student

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

College is probably the most romanticized and idealized moment in life. Numerous films, books, and dramas feature this portion of a young adult’s life as the “perfect” period. It seems that our romantic life, our academics, and social life will amazingly work out in college. Unfortunately, that is a big fat lie that I have just come to realize. It is a painful realization, but it has helped to make the coming days ahead more bearable. It is a lot better living the truth, rather than holding onto blind faith. I get frustrated when I see the media portray college as a bed of roses. I sound disillusioned and perhaps pessimistic. Yet this is the college experience I have had so far, and I am serving you the real hot tea.


YouTube videos that document daily college lives usually starts with attending classes. It then pans to them spending most of their day studying and what they do to unwind. These videos are accurate in portraying my everyday life. My last brain cell is often hanging on for its dear life while I am still doing schoolwork at midnight. To give you a better idea, here is my accurate daily schedule.

(Meme generated from source)

My Daily Schedule:

It is currently Semester 1 of AY20/21. The Engineering faculty is having an online semester and I attend classes from home.

9.55 am – My alarm rings and I question whether I should hit the snooze button. I realize that I cannot tap the snooze button because my lecture is starting in five minutes. I hop out of bed and head to the toilet.

10.00 am – The lecture has started when I joined the zoom call, and I am now sitting in front of my laptop half-awake. I note down the important information my last two brain cells can retain in my lecture notes.

Cannot fall asleep when I pay $4000 per semester for online class (Source)

11.40 am – Depending on the lecturer, the lecture may end earlier or later. As classes are now online, some lecturers think that it is free real estate and continue to lecture beyond the allocated timeframe. It is frustrating and it seems that time has been distorted because students now study from home. After the lecture ends, I will decide what schoolwork I intent to finish on the same day then go for lunch.

12.15 am – Lunch has always been economy rice or known fondly as Cai Fan. If you are not local, you may wonder what is economy rice? The economy rice store serves 10 to 15 troughs of dishes and customers will choose their dishes. The dishes are served with steam rice or porridge. I always eat with porridge and I began this habit after extracting my wisdom teeth. It is a simple meal, but delicious and my wallet and I are satisfied.

1.00 pm – I unwind a little by playing video games or watch Netflix. Recently, I have been playing Darkest Dungeon and watching Versailles and Hyouka.

2.15 pm – Break time is over, and it is time to hit the books. I always dread afternoon study sessions because of its long duration and the concentration I need to put in. The study session lasts until dinner time. I take an occasional 20 minutes for me to relax and concentrate better.

4.00 pm – Bubble teatime! Depending on the day of the week, my brother and I will order in bubble tea to fuel us through the workday. Koi and R&B are our current favorites.

I have an undying love for bubble tea and I am not afraid to admit it. (Source)

6.30 pm – It is time to buy dinner! I often question myself what to get for dinner because I am spoilt for choice. My usual dinner orders are either western food, McDonald's, or Thai food.

8.00 pm – Depending on the amount of schoolwork I have remaining; I may use this time to continue studying. If not, I use this time to play video games, watch shows, edit new articles, journal, or call my friends over discord.

11.00 pm - If I decided to study at 8.00 pm, I will usually stop now. I believe in the importance of a balanced lifestyle. I do not see the point in spending so much time on schoolwork and neglecting my stress levels.

2.00 am – Good night world!

This is the rough daily schedule that I have. The activities may change from day to day depending on my timetable. On some days I have only one lecture while on others I may have 3 classes.


From my daily schedule, I spend most of my time on schoolwork. This is because of how academically demanding and competitive NUS is. As it is an online semester now, it has become more difficult to reach out to my classmates for help. I know that if I intend to excel academically, I must put in the required effort.

Schoolwork just seems to be never ending. (Source)


Some day in the life of a college student videos shows the main character with a large group of friends. This may be true, but not always. In college, I very often hung out with just several close friends instead of a large group. Such large groups of friends are often acquaintances whom I will not stay in contact with later. It is tragic as I did try to keep in contact with these people, but they are often unreceptive.


Films, books, and drama are guilty of portraying the perfect love life in college. I want to start by saying this is extremely unrealistic. I did meet my boyfriend in my first semester in college, yet we broke up 2 weeks ago and I was immensely heartbroken. In college, we would likely go through several people to discover what we want in a relationship. It is possible to find your soulmate in college, but I would not put too much hope on it.

Where my soulmate at?? (Source)


College is the last stop in our academic journey before entering the workforce. It is only natural to wish to make the best of our remaining school days. While I do not agree with the version of college portrayed in media, I do believe that experiences are based on how we make the most out of it. My college experience thus far has been unpleasant and even distressing. Hence do not worry if you feel the same way as I do as this sentiment is likely shared by many others. It is demoralizing but know that your feelings are valid, and you are not alone with your emotions.

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