Thursday, August 5, 2021

Yale-NUS Abuzz with Life as Students Return to Campus

Story by Mishael Hyat Ayub | Staff Writer 

A new semester is upon us. With it comes new faces, loosened COVID-19 regulations and exciting initiatives. However, there is also a sense of fatigue from those adjusting to campus life who were unable to go home over the winter break or were stranded overseas last semester.

Maleeka Hassan ’24, one of the many international students unable to travel home over the break due to COVID-19, said: “Semester 2 so far seems more exhausting because of the lack of separation between the place where you take your break, and the place where you work and study.”

Living on campus is a quintessential part of the Yale-NUS College experience—it means students have access to a close-knit, supportive community and a multitude of opportunities to socialize or access academic resources. However, an environment like this can also become overwhelming; there is seemingly no way for students to escape the constant pressures of academic life. Instead of being a respite from the expectation of being productive, the bedroom too turns into a place of work, particularly in the post-COVID-19 world where the normalization of platforms like Zoom means meetings may often be held late into the night.

COVID-19 and travel restrictions have also meant that a number of international freshmen were unable to be in Singapore in their first semester of college.

However, adjusting to campus life has not been a universally poor experience. Sundarimaa Erdembileg ’24, who has just begun her initiation into campus life, shares: “I think even before coming to campus I had the expectation that most people would have formed friend groups and that I’d be left out. But so far, thanks to my suitemates and the overall friendliness of the student body I’ve been adjusting quite quickly.”

As Phase 3 of Singapore’s re-opening began, larger gatherings and events could resume. It is clear that we are fortunate to be here during this uncertain period as other universities around the world continue distance learning and tighten restrictions.

Indeed, some students such as Nyana Wright, a first-year student at Wellesley College, have opted to spend a semester on exchange at Yale-NUS for this very reason: “[Coming here] was a unique decision because I wouldn’t normally choose to go back home to Singapore for an exchange. However, given COVID-19 and how that is affecting higher education in the US at the moment, I thought this would be my best option.”

While there is still time before the difficulties posed by COVID-19 die down, it is heartening to see that Yale-NUS continues to buzz with life.

Semester 2 brings with it an array of new student organizations, including a farming collective, a new theatre club, an architecture collective and a chess club. 

Students are also eagerly anticipating the vibrant series of events planned for Diversity Week in late January.

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