story | Yip Jia Qi, Opinion Editor
photo | Sean Cham, Rachel Juay, ZeroHedge, edited by Yip Jia Qi
Just five weeks into my first year, I have come to realize a problem that plagues our school— the Yale-NUS College Bubble. The Bubble is an invisible wall around us. It imprisons us both physically and culturally, yet most of the time we aren’t even aware of it.
This Bubble is so powerful because its source is simply Yale-NUS’s awesomeness.
Everything you could possibly need is at our doorstep. Art. Science. Music. Dance. Drama. Sports. We have the venues and facilities for almost any pursuit we can think of. On a typical school day, barring Scientific Inquiry classes at Pulau Cendana, I probably walk no more than 500m to get to all my classes. And let’s not get started on the student life calendar that’s so packed, we talk about Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) like fellow members of a support group.
Yale-NUS is so awesome that it makes everything else seem “unawesome”, and so we forget that everything else exists. We are “In Asia, for the World”, but our environment makes it easy for us to forget that we are, first and foremost, physically in this densely populated speck of land called Singapore. In fact, after a while, most Yale-NUS students behave as if our surrounding geography looks like this:
Well, as awesome as our school is, it is still a very small part of this very small country called Singapore. Here’s the math you didn’t need: Yale-NUS has a land area of 6.324×10^4 square meters and Singapore’s land area is 7.191 x10^8. Yale-NUS is roughly one ten-thousandth the size of Singapore, yet we spend 90% of our time in this speck of a speck. As cool as Yale-NUS is, we should be feeling at least some FOMO for all the good stuff we are missing out on in the rest of Singapore. Really meh? YES. And here are some very good reasons to get out of school:
Do it for your belly
The Yale-NUS dining hall is the envy of UTown. But…I don’t always like dining hall food. Yes, I am such an ungrateful bastard. But the dining hall food is great! NO! We are Yale-NUS College, we do not settle for great.
Our dining hall has to cater to the myriad tastes of our international community, and I would say SATS, our caterer, does an awesome job. Yet in doing so, they understandably have to make some compromises. To get the real deal, the bee’s knees, the unapologetically local food, you have to….you guessed it—LEAVE THE CAMPUS.
Trust me, once you’ve had a taste of the food outside, it will blow your mind so hard, when humans finally colonize Mars, archaeologists will find bits of your brain there. Your life will never be the same. A classic example of local food FOMO is former admissions and alumni affairs staff member Austin Shiner, who visited all 107 hawker centers in Singapore before he left Singapore. Where got time for dining hall food?
So the next time you’re up for some excitement in your life, get on a bus and head out into the wild, untamed culinary hinterland that is Singapore. And no, FOODCLIQUE DOES NOT COUNT. At least go to Clementi or Buona Vista, or the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Science’s canteen. Laksa Yong Tau Foo is life.
Do it for the ‘gram
Singapore’s eternal summer weather is great for taking beautiful photos (when it’s not raining). Thanks to our unique mix of cultures, Singapore has a very diverse architectural landscape that makes for great backdrops. If nature is your thing, our parks offer some beautiful landscapes. We even convinced UNESCO to recognize our botanical gardens as a World Heritage Site. This island is full of unique Instagrammable locations if you look for them.
Do it to catch ‘em all
Being stuck in school six days a week, I almost forget Pokémon Go is a thing. Outside of our Pokéstop-less campus, Singapore is still in the grips of Pokémon Go Fever. Being such a densely populated city, we have Pokéstops almost on top of one another, and Pokémon spawn at some very interesting places too! There is a Gyarados spawn somewhere in Hougang, the seat of Singapore’s most prominent opposition party (it exists?! *gasps*). You can see the Singapore heartlands AND hunt Pokémon at the same time!
Disclaimer: The Octant is not responsible for any fall in cumulative average point as a result of Pokémon Go addiction.
Or just to get to know Singapore better
One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time is whether Singapore is a dogmatic, authoritarian, xenophobic, chewing-gum-less police state. There are many ways to arrive at the answer: you can read up from myriad sources reports on our economic indicators, our history, our political system and our freedom of press, or you can visit the heartlands and see for yourself, physically and empirically, what Singapore actually is.
Now that you know all the good things you can do outside of school, we must come up with some ways to overcome the inertia of getting our lazy bums out of the slow and dramatic automatic gates of our respective colleges and into the wide unknown.
One way is to not keep booze in your suite. Go out and drink. Holland Village (a street filled with pubs) is just a short bus ride away. Another is to join some of extracurriculars like the Good Ol’ Yale-NUS Adventure Club (GOYAC), the G-Spot, ComPact, KidsAccomplish, the Yale-NUS Architectural Association and others where you actually do stuff off campus. It’s also less intimidating to go out and explore new places when you go with friends. Finally, don’t shop for everything online. Singapore has so many shopping centers for all price ranges, and a lot of them look really cool.
Go on, burst that Bubble!
Like a really nasty pimple, the Yale-NUS bubble can be burst if you poke it hard enough and let its thick, luscious juices flow out. All you need is a small opening. Recess week is coming up — if you are not leaving Singapore, use this opportunity to break out! Also, if you need more ideas on what to do around the island, The Octant is working on introducing a new Lifestyle section. Watch this space for future articles on college survival tips, event guides, food guides and other fun and cool stuff!
The views expressed here are the author’s own. The Octant welcomes all voices in the community. Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org