• Katherine Pan

NUS Dorm Experience - Prince George's Park House

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

Hearing numerous stories about how exciting and enriching hall life was made me super pumped when I entered my freshman year. Coming from an Asian Chinese household, my parents often had the final say in the decisions made. I was psyched about living away from my parents and fully immersing myself in college life. I wanted to live alone without my parents micromanaging my life. I believed that staying in a dorm will provide me a sense of relief and the liberty that I have always wanted.


The facade of Prince George's Park. (Source)


Types of accommodation in NUS:

Accommodation for undergraduates is split into three categories. There are residential colleges (RCs), halls of residence, and student residences. RCs are located in University Town. Students stay in 4- or 6-bedroom apartments with their individual rooms. Once accepted, students are guaranteed two years of stay. Each RCs has a variety of CCAs one may join.


The common living room in RC apartments. (Source)

Meanwhile, halls of residences are known for their vibrant and rich culture and CCAs. Each hall has its forte, such as Eusoff and Temasek Hall which are known for their great sporting capability.

On the other hand, student residences are simply residences. There are no activities held, hence it is quieter than RCs and halls.

Students staying in RCs or halls will take a mandatory module that is unique to the dorm they stay in. Furthermore, students must subscribe to a meal plan. To continue hall stay, students partake in CCAs to accumulate enough points. However, Prince George’s Park House (PGPH) is an exception. There is no meal plan and a CCA point system. Instead, students will submit an application that documents their past and current achievements. The achievements stated will determine whether students can stay for another year.

Prices for the different accommodations and meal plans can be found here.


What is Prince George Park’s House?

PGPH was established in 2017 and it is NUS newest hall. It features a peer mentorship program, the promotion of frugality and sustainable living, and dining with master.

The peer mentorship program provides freshmen with academic and student-life guidance. This is done by grouping freshmen with peer mentors. Peer mentors are undergraduate seniors who excel academically. In line with frugality and sustainable living, residents are encouraged to participate in activities that aid in the betterment of the community. Meanwhile, dining with master allows students to interact with Housemaster and resident fellows. This allows PGPH to have a better understanding of the issues students face from the ground up.


My Decision:

Ultimately, I chose to stay in Prince George’s Park House (PGPH) in my freshman year! My stay was from August 2019 to April 2020 instead of until May 2020. It was cut short due to the implementation of the circuit breaker. I chose to stay at PGPH due to financial and personal reasons. Residents staying in PGPH did not have to subscribe to a meal plan, hence I had to just pay rent for my room. This meant the overall costs for staying on campus were cheaper. Additionally, I am an introvert who dislikes interacting with big crowds. As there was no pressure to engage in CCAs and activities in PGPH, my introverted self was elated. Yet, part of my reason for staying in a hall was to widen my social circle. I was worried if staying in PGPH would hurt my chances.


PGPH Freshmen Orientation Camp:

Do not worry, PGPH orientation camp was very wholesome and there is no mention of kkj. (Source)


I decided to sign up for PGPH Freshmen Orientation Camp, which took place from August 2nd to August 4th. It turned out that most of my orientation group mates were my neighbors that stayed in the same block as me! The camp was great as I got to know my neighbors. I did not know anyone in PGPH before this and through the camp, I got an opportunity to interact with my neighbors. They were friendly, personable, and easy-going individuals who were fun-loving. We got along well during the camp and had became friends.

Comparing the PGPH orientation camp to the other orientation camps I have attended, I felt that the activities organized were not as enjoyable and fun. Orientation camps often have a selling point, such as the amazing race or a beach day. However, the PGPH orientation camp did not have any of these. The activities took place in PGP residences except for a walking trail. The trail was around the NUS Kent Ridge campus on the last day and we walked continuously for hours. In summary, I would recommend the camp if you would like to get to know your neighbors.


Amenities and Overall Living Standards:

Due to the camp, I could do early check-in on August 2nd (the original check-in date was on August 4th). Here is a photo of my room!


Taken right after moving in.


My room was on the 4th floor, with 16 rooms on the floor. This was my room after I had tidied it. I cleaned every surface I could reach and gave the wardrobe a good wipe. Before cleaning, the room was dirty and dusty. I was disappointed as I thought the rooms would be thoroughly cleaned before we moved in. The size of the room is about 9.0 m^2, which was fine to me as it for single occupancy. There is no air-conditioning in PGPH rooms, and it will get really warm on certain days. My friends have purchased portable air-conditioners to beat Singapore’s unforgiving weather.


On certain days, I would get visits from my “friends”. Said “friends” are insects and they can be seen everywhere on rainy days. PGPH has some of the weirdest insects I have ever seen, and they are humongous. My neighbor had a cockroach in her room, and it ran into her pillow while we tried to catch it. Eventually, we threw the pillow away and my neighbor was so traumatized by the incident. I remember seeing a baby cockroach in my room and I was fortunate because my boyfriend was around. He helped me to kill it and throw it out while I was freaking out internally.


HELLO POLIS there is either an insect or a murderer in my room. (Source)


My floor also housed a common kitchen and toilet. Kitchen appliances included a fridge, stove, kitchen hood, microwave, oven, kettle, and toaster. The appliances were in good working condition except for the kitchen hood. After cooking in the kitchen, the smell tends to linger although the kitchen hood is switched on. Due to bad air circulation, the smell will stay for hours to a day. The cleanliness of the kitchen largely depended on my neighbors. As the cleaning lady comes once every two days, a mess in the kitchen will remain unless the one who caused it cleans it. I have walked in and seen food spills or messes multiple times throughout the year. It is frustrating to witness such irresponsible behavior and see insects in the kitchen because of it.


The common kitchen in PGPH. (Source)


The common toilets have 4 shower cubicles and 4 toilet cubicles. As the wall covering and floor tiles are of a dark shade, it causes the lighting in the toilet to feel dim. The shower cubicles are tiny, and I can barely lift my arms without touching the wet walls. The cleanliness of the toilet also depended on my neighbors. Unfortunately, their irresponsible behavior also expanded to the toilet. I would not talk about the nasty things I have unknowingly walked in on.


Within the block, there are common study rooms, entertainment rooms and laundry rooms. The study rooms provide relief from Singapore’s scorching weather as there is air-conditioning. Meanwhile, the entertainment rooms serve as a great place to meet up with friends and have fun. Entertainment facilities such as a Foosball table and PS4 (one has to ask from the office) are provided. Many nights were spent lounging in the entertainment rooms with my friends as we chatted and played board games.


Common study rooms. (Source)


Common entertainment room. (Source)


Common laundry rooms. (Source)


Within the residences, there are two food courts, a minimart, and courts for various sports. The full list of facilities can be found here. I could get most daily necessities from the mini mart except for items sold in pharmacies. To get these items, I would make a trip to Kent Ridge MRT which is located 10 minutes away on foot. Overall, I could live my day to day life comfortably in PGPH. My main complaint would be on the upkeep of the residences. The building interior looks old and in need of rejuvenation. From what I have heard, PGPH is currently undergoing renovations and works will be done in 2021.


Events organized by PGPH:

Numerous events are held every semester. The following list summarizes the main events that take place every academic year. Note that the frequency may be inaccurate because the information is based on my memory.

  1. Social nights were held most. Expect free food, games, performances, and giveaways. Social nights include cluster bonding sessions, festival celebrations, and back to school celebrations.

  2. Friend making events; once per semester. Past events include secret partners, angels and mortals, and speed friending sessions.

  3. Inter-block games; once per semester. Playoff against teams from other blocks in sports such as floor ball, captain’s ball, and street ball.

  4. Volunteering and OCIP opportunities; several times a semester. Join visits to various beneficiaries such as the elderly and children. During my stay, an OCIP to Myanmar was organized but it was canceled due to COVID-19.

  5. Free food giveaways! I am not sure how frequent this is. During my stay, fruits were given out weekly in semester 2 and I had a full McDonalds' breakfast meal twice.

  6. PH Rag and Flag, once every academic year. Flag day is held to raise funds through public donations. These donations will support the programs of various charities. Meanwhile, Rag day is a day of large-scale performances put up by NUS students. It is held to thank the public for their generosity during Flag day.

  7. Dining with the master, once/twice a semester. Free dinner is provided, and the cluster gathers to interact with the PGPH master. During the session, we could voice our concerns regarding the quality of the facilities and amenities in the residences.


In summary, I found most events to be well organized and enjoyable. Even if it is not, free food is always a plus and we do not have to stay for the entire duration. During my stay, I took part in multiple social night events, a friend making event, and dining with the master. The social night events were lively and I got to interact with students staying in other blocks. Games available were board games, carnival games, and party games. Looking back, joining the friend-making event was the best decision I made staying in PGPH. In the semester I took part, it was a secret partner event that paired me with a mysterious individual. I got along so well with my secret partner that he became my boyfriend! It was an unexpected turn of events because I did not have many expectations. My partner shared the same interests and humor as me. Moreover, he possessed many qualities I was looking for in a boyfriend. It honestly felt like a fairy tale as I could not believe the odds.


Sniffles. (Source)

Besides attending events, we could join interest groups to enrich our hall life. Interest groups are like CCAs, except there is no strict commitment as PGPH does not have a point system. PGPH offers a wide variety of interest groups under different categories. I decided to join the board games interest group. It was a ground-up initiative started by my neighbor and my neighbors joined to show our support. Sessions were held once a week and I truly enjoyed my time. My knowledge regarding board games and the community grew together with my interest. We would gather for board game sessions outside of the interest group and stay up on Fridays to play. These sessions were some of the highlights of my freshman year. After all, nothing can beat amazing socialization and laughter.


Conclusion:

Living alone meant that I had to be independent. Before moving in, I knew how to take care of myself physically. However, I was lacking knowledge regarding caring for my emotional needs. It was easy for negative thoughts to manifest and grow in my mind as I was constantly alone. My room was a haven because I could cry freely. Yet, it was also a living hell because I was living alone. My stay had reinforced the importance of self-care within me.


Staying so close to my friends changed the way I thought about friendships. As I stayed away from my family, my closest kin cannot help me if I require urgent help. Instead, my closest allies were my neighbors and friends. Just like how I place immense faith and trust in my family, I had to put the same faith in my friends now. I felt a deeper connection with my friends, and I cherished my friendships even more.


I had paid for convenience as it was easy getting around campus. Furthermore, I had paid for the freedom to be away from my parents. Sometimes, an obstinate mindset is more expensive than my hall rent. Living in hall has multiple benefits and everyone has different takeaways. It was not mandatory to participate in events or interest groups in PGPH. Yet, I chose to do so because I wanted to live a fulfilling student life. I managed to find a group of friends and I genuinely enjoyed my hall stay.

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