Information for First-Year Students

I. Arrival FAQs

What should I know about Singapore?

Singapore is a thriving city state in Southeast Asia. It is a thriving global financial hub and described as one of Asia’s economic “tigers”. The currency of Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). Singapore has a population of over 5 million, primarily comprising Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnic groups. With such a large diversity of ethnic communities, common languages include: English, Malay, Mandarin, Singlish, and Tamil. Singapore ranks high on its national social policies, leading Asia and 11th globally, on the Human Development Index (UN), notably on key measures of education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety, housing. Changi Airport is the international airport of Singapore and is one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia.

Depending on your home country, Singapore may have a multitude of cultural norms and practices that may differ from your own. We recommend reading local websites and blogs to learn more before you arrive.

What is Orientation?

Orientation is the official start to your Yale-NUS College education and is a mandatory two-week long program that includes a three-day excursion to another country. You will have the chance to get to meet your classmates and immerse yourself into the community and the larger campus life, and learn about the resources at Yale-NUS College. Orientation programmes will involve Rectors, Vice Rectors, Dean’s Fellows, and faculty members. Certain days will be devoted to introducing you to the resources on/off campus, while other days are devoted to social and community activities. Details, including a schedule, can be found on the Orientation website.

What events and programmes are available for parents/families?

Orientation includes several events for families and parents scheduled between 29-30 July, including a welcome reception, a Q&A with faculty and staff, and opportunities to tour the Yale-NUS campus. Additional information, including the schedule, will be posted in early July. Please visit our Orientation website for more information.Please note that our students will be very busy throughout Orientation and it is important that they have space to forge meaningful relationships with their peers and advisors. We encourage families to participate in all family and parent programming and to contact the Dean of Students office with any additional questions.

When can my family come visit me?

We encourage families to come for Family Weekend scheduled from 13-15 October 2017. It is a chance for families to experience the vibrant Yale-NUS campus and an opportunity to see students in their new community. Family Weekend includes panels with faculty, opportunities to meet residential staff, and a student student showcase.

Families are welcome to visit students at any point during the year. Please refer to the Yale-NUS academic calendar for more information.

What if my family needs a visa?

We do not sponsor families members of students for a Singapore visa. However, we will provide an invitation letter to Family Orientation for families, in case this might help them in their visa application process. Please contact deanofstudents@yale-nus.edu.sg to request for an invitation letter.

When do I need to arrive?

International students can move in anytime between 29-30 July (during office hours preferred). Singapore residents can move in on 29-30 July between 9AM and 4PM. Please note that first-year students are required to move in on the appropriate days. Please see the Orientation schedule for specific move-in information.

What if I cannot move-in on my assigned day?

It is very important that you plan to arrive on your assigned move-in day, as it is not possible to arrive any earlier. Likewise, the Orientation programme is compulsory for all first-year students and we expect to see you on your assigned move-in date. If extenuating circumstances require you to arrive on a different date, please contact the Dean of Students Office.

How do I get to Yale-NUS College?

The address is 16 College Avenue West, Singapore 138527.

If you are flying to Singapore, there are multiple options for transportation to the campus but it is easiest to use the taxi stand located in each terminal although the College will arrange a few shuttle buses from the airport. Sign-ups for the free Yale-NUS airport shuttle service will be done through the First Year Forum.

The campus is located within University Town at NUS. Enter University Town via Dover Road at Clementi junction, turn right and drive down College Avenue West through the barrier. Continue along College Avenue West until you see a circular fountain entrance (the Oculus) to Yale-NUS College on the left. Depending on time, your taxi ride can cost between S$30-50.

If you are taking public transportation, the airport is connected to the city by the train. The mass transit train (MRT) station is easily accessible from all the airport terminals. The closest MRT stations are Clementi and Dover on the East-West line. There are buses (196, 96, 183, 151) from both stations to University Town along Clementi Road. A potential public transit route would be to take the East-West line to ‘Buona Vista’ and then the 196 bus to ‘aft Dover Rd.’ Campus is right along this bus route.

You will find a Yale-NUS representative at the Oculus.

What should I bring?

VERY IMPORTANT: PLEASE bring all important documents including your passport (bring both if you have dual citizenship) and ensure it is valid for the next 6 months. Bring identification cards, citizenship certificates, and any other relevant documents (e.g. letters of admission, originals of education and qualification certificates, vaccine info) to facilitate the immigration process.

Some useful items: Singapore weather can be described as hot and rainy. Average day temperatures throughout the year are in the low 30 °C to high 20 °C. We recommend bringing summer clothes, but do pack a shawl or light jacket as this comes in handy at the movies, dinner or any air-conditioned areas such as the lecture halls and classrooms on campus. Do try to pack an adequate amount of clothes. Pillows and bed linen are not provided in the residence so bring a set of your favourite sheets, or you can buy a set of new ones here.

Umbrella: A must have in Singapore, keep it with you all the time because the weather here is rather fickle. It can be scorching hot one moment, and then thunderstorm the next. Not many people wear raincoats here.

Shoes: Open-toed shoes such as sandals and flip-flops are comfortable and suitable. A good pair of walking shoes will be very useful when walking around the city. Even though it rains a lot, there is no need to bring rain boots.  Note: Flip flops/Shoes only go up to US size 10 (Men), 9 (Women) in most stores.

Formal Clothes: There will be several Yale-NUS functions and events throughout the year (Opening Dinner, semester celebrations, etc.), so do pack a few nice, semi-formal outfits.

You can basically find anything in Singapore so do not worry too much! However, there are items that are harder to come by or more expensive.

Expensive Items in Singapore
• Vitamins, supplements

• Hydrocortisone (anti-itch creams you are probably used to; there are ‘alternatives’ here you can try…)

• Sneakers/athletic shoes (large sizes are hard to find, size 10+)

• Sunscreen

• Special health food items

• Certain cosmetic items can be more expensive here compared to your home country

• Electronics! Amazon has started delivering some items to Singapore if you purchase anything above $125. Electronics that require a battery do not fall in that category so you may want to purchase your gadgets. However, remember to bring an adaptor.

Difficult to Find Items in Singapore

• Workout supplements (pre-workout powder, creatine, BCAAs, etc)

• Prescription drugs for the first few months

Personal Items

• Printed photos of family and friends for your room

• Any prescriptions: medications and glasses

Note: Prescription and over-the-counter drugs: Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, Benadryl, etc. are only available through a doctor’s prescription and some brands may be available under alternate names. Please check HSA for the current guidelines on bringing personal medications into Singapore.

What Not To Bring

• Illegal items include: large amounts of chewing gum, chewing tobacco, anything of pistol or revolver shape, firecrackers, controlled drugs, among others. Find more information here.

• Large electronic items (e.g. TVs, microwaves)

• Appliances: The voltage in Singapore is 220 V (US is 110V) and the plugs are different. Unless your electrical equipment is ‘multi-region’ or you can switch the voltage between 110 and 220 it is best to plan on buying new when you get here.

Note: High wattage items require big and expensive converters that you can buy here if you must bring them with you. All Apple items have dual voltages and are fine.

• Large/heavy books. You’ll probably be able to find them here and shipping/carrying them back will be a pain.

• Winter clothes! However, as mentioned before, please bring a few sweaters for over air-conditioned rooms.

Please note that there are stores that students can visit to purchase essentials. There is an IKEA near campus as well as several other large stores and a mall down the road, all easily accessible by public transit or taxi.

What about a mobile/cell/handphone?

You can purchase one in Singapore. However, if you already have an unlocked cell phone, please bring it with you. As for SIM cards, you have two options: a pre-paid top-up sim card plan or a monthly phone plan. The four telecomm providers are: Singtel, StarHub, Circles.Life, and M1.

The first option is a pre-paid SIM card, easily procured at the Cheers Convenience store in University Town (UTown) or other convenience stores and markets. The cost of one ranges from S$8 to S$10 or S$15 to S$18 for a 3G-enabled card. Some SIMs may cost more – it is S$38 for a nano SIM. This option works on a top-up basis, meaning you put more money on the card once your credit runs out. You will need your Passport to purchase a sim card if you are an international student.

If you foresee heavy phone usage, we advise you to look into a phone plan with one of the telecomm providers. Many of the plans involve a monthly payment, a 1-2 year commitment, and can include cellphone updates. Their plans are all very similar. You will need your Passport and Student Pass to get a cell phone plan. You can sign up with any of these companies on your own at the mall closest to campus, the Clementi Mall.

It is very common to use a top-up plan as many students only use data and a smartphone app called WhatsApp to text each other. However, please use the option most suited to your mobile needs.

More information will be communicated in mid-July about options to purchase sim cards on campus.

How much money do I need to bring? How can I access money before I open a bank account?

Daily meals are provided on-campus, but if you plan to occasionally eat off-campus, grab a cup of coffee, or shop – you may want between S$50-S$100 per week.  Most banks allow you to use an international network of ATMs, so you may be able to withdraw funds from your current account at any of the ATMs on campus.  You can also bring currency to exchange in the airport (no transaction fees) or use an international credit card at stores and restaurants.  Please check with your bank regarding international transaction and ATM fees.
IMPORTANT: Please bring sufficient funds to purchase textbooks and school supplies.

How can I purchase the course textbooks?

Textbooks are available at the bookstore in University Town, Bookhaven. Many students find it more affordable to purchase their books either online or via local bookstores. Additional textbook information will be provided during Orientation.

What if I have been awarded book allowance by Yale-NUS? How do I make use of this?

The Yale-NUS Registry office will send all first-year students details about the necessary books, so you can determine which purchasing option makes the most sense to you.  If you have questions about your book allowance, please contact the Financial Aid office.

Where can I purchase school and personal supplies?

There are grocery and convenience stores within walking distance of campus. There is also an IKEA within a ten-minute bus ride from Yale-NUS. Additionally, there are two malls within five-minute bus rides from campus.

Should I open a bank account in Singapore?

Most of the international banks have branches in Singapore and some of them have ATMs on campus. We advise you check with your home bank to see if you can use their services here. Some banks will also allow you to open up an international account prior to arriving in Singapore.

If you don’t already have an account with a bank that allows international ATM usage, it makes sense to get a local account. DBS, OCBC, and UOB are the biggest local banks and all have ATMs on campus. DBS has the most ATMs on campus. One perk of a local bank is NETS, essentially a debit card which allows your ATM card to serve many other functions, including paying for all bus fares and MRT (subway) fares. Please note that you only need your IPA letter and your passport to open a bank account – so you can open your bank account before you get your student pass.

It is advisable to arrive in Singapore with enough cash for the first 1-2 weeks for any personal expenses, while you await your Student Pass. For many of these banks, they will require your Student Pass, Passport, and a Yale-NUS proof of residence letter in order to open an account.

To get your Yale-NUS proof of residence letter, email deanofstudents@yale-nus.edu.sg.

 

II. Residential Living

What facilities are available on campus?

Our campus is designed to be a 24/7 residential community, with all amenities and conveniences you will need. There is a dining hall, laundry facilities, a student-run cafe (butteries), and common rooms in each of the three Residential Colleges. There is also a on-campus cafe, performing arts spaces, a gym, a comprehensive Learning Commons, and a Multi-Purpose Hall. In addition, there are plenty of communal study and activity spaces.

All Yale-NUS courses will be taught within the campus. You are also able to use the public facilities at NUS with a NUS matriculation card, such as: the UTown pool, recreation centre, food courts (FoodClique and Koufu among others), library, and museum.

How can I mail packages to myself?

Students can mail packages addressed to themselves at their Residential College Office:

Saga: 10 College Ave West, #01-101, Singapore 138609
Elm: 12 College Ave West, #01-201, Singapore 138610
Cendana: 28 College Ave West (RC3), #01-501, Singapore 138533

You will receive an email if you have a package waiting for you.

What will my room be like?

You will have a single room that comes with a bed, bedside table, desk, chair, tall shelf, wardrobe, AC and ceiling fan. Each room has a big open window and the walls are white so you will have plenty of opportunity to decorate and make it your own space. The rooms are situated within 4- or 6- person suites that overlook a sky garden. There is one shared bathroom with two sinks, a shower, and a toilet. First-year students are assigned to their Residential Colleges and their suites before their arrival.

What kind of internet access is available in the residence?

There is wireless access throughout the campus and NUS campus. In addition, all individual rooms are equipped with a LAN port if you prefer.

I’ve heard about the hot weather. Do we have air conditioning?

Yes. Students will need to purchase air conditioning credits. More information will be shared during Orientation. Common spaces, including study areas, dining halls, and the learning commons are always air-conditioned. Estimated approximate cost for nominal usage of aircon is about S$20-30 a month.

Where can I find single stall bathrooms on campus?

There are multiple single stall (not gender specific) restrooms throughout campus. These include:

  • Cendana Tower A, Floor 1
    • Walk past the elevators, and make a right into the hallway. The door will be on your left.
  • Saga College
    • Walk to the bottom of the Saga courtyard. Make a right at the laundry room/vending machines. Make a left into the next hallway, and the stalls will be there.
    • Next to Classroom 5 
  • HR/Admissions building all floors
    • The building is located at 16 College Avenue West. To get there from Saga/Elm, exit the Elm gate towards the library, and make a left. Continue on the path until you reach the building. To get there from Cendana, walk towards the library, and either follow the stone pathway or the main path to get to the fountain. The building is on your left. 
  • Residential College offices

 

III. Dining

What are the dining plans like?

Eating is a major bonding activity at Yale-NUS and you will have a full meal plan (19 meals/week) in the dining hall. There are a variety of different cuisines offered in the dining hall, including Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Western and on some occasions, Japanese, Thai, and Korean.

What if I have dietary restrictions?

We have designed the meal plan to accommodate a variety of palates and dietary restrictions. Please let the Dean of Students office know if you have any serious dietary restrictions and we will do our best to assist

The dining halls are halal-certified and the Saga buttery is halal-friendly.

How do I access the dining hall?

You will be asked to tap your access card each time you take a meal at the dining hall, so don’t forget to keep your card with you at all times.

Where can I buy food after hours?

There are plenty of food options in University Town and a number of hawker centres nearby. Each Residential College has a student-run buttery which will be open on certain nights during the week. The Yale-NUS campus also has an additional on-campus cafe.

 

IV. IT FAQs

What is a user ID?  What is my email address?

You will receive a unique user ID during online pre-registration. This is the user ID that you will use to log in to all portals and platforms at Yale-NUS.

What kind of computer should I buy?

Although there are multiple computer labs for student-use on campus, we highly encourage you to bring your own laptop for personal use at school. Either Mac or PC is fine. You may also opt to purchase a new computer from the NUS Co-Op, which entitles you to a 10% discount and pre-loaded basic software. Some of the brands that Co-Op has are Apple, Dell, Toshiba, HP and Fujitsu. Singaporean students usually get their laptops here when they matriculate and the computers are very affordable with all the software perks. Singapore has many technology-related shops, so if you are feeling adventurous, you can check out the various options available here. For more information, check here.

Should I bring my own printer?

There is no need for you to bring your own printer (although feel free to do so).  There is on-campus printing throughout the campus. These network printers also allow you to scan and make copies. You can also use the printers at the nearby Education Resource Centre (ERC) in UTown, open 24/7. It costs 4c to print one A4 page in grayscale.

How/where do I stay connected?

All of your rooms are enabled with wired internet and there is wireless throughout the campus. You will have to purchase your own LAN cable. Wireless connection is available in the residential lounge, in your classrooms and across campus.

Along with the Yale-NUS campus, the wireless connection includes the NUS campus as well.

 

V. OTHER FAQs

As a first-year, when do I get to select an elective course and how often do I meet with my academic advisor?

During Orientation, you will meet with your academic advisor (your Vice Rector) and your faculty advisor. Both advisors offer guidance with regards to your curricular choices. However, all first-year students are enrolled in the Yale-NUS Common Curriculum for their first semester. Students will have the option to add one elective course in the second semester of their first year. There will be many opportunities to consult with your advisors as you make that decision.

What are the students organisations like? Can I create my own?

One of the most exciting aspects of college is the opportunity to join and lead student organisations.  Yale-NUS is home to over 50 different student organisations and it’s possible to pitch ideas for new groups throughout the year.  Yale-NUS students are also able to join NUS student organisations and athletic teams

How do I get around Singapore?

The best way to get around is using the public transportation system.  Yale-NUS is located on several bus lines that can take you directly to many areas downtown.  The 196 bus will take you to the Buona Vista MRT (subway) station while the 96 bus will take you to the Clementi MRT station.  Both stations are located on the East-West line.  To use the bus or subway, you can pay with cash or with an EZ-Link card.  (All students will receive an EZ-Link card during Orientation). Once you set-up a bank account here, you can also enable your bank card to pay for the MRT or bus. Public transport is very inexpensive and there are several different smart phone applications you can use to monitor the bus schedules and routes.

Taxis are another popular way to get around Singapore.  You can often flag a taxi down from Dover Road or summon one via text message or smart phone app to pick you up at the Yale-NUS entrance.  Taxis in Singapore are less expensive than many major cities, but the fees can add up – especially if you use one at night.

You can also use transportation apps such as Uber or Grab which allow you to book taxi’s on demand but also provide the option of private cars and online payment.

What if I need a job during the semester?

Your student pass entitles you to seek part-time jobs and internships in Singapore. You can work outside the college, however the best place to work is at Yale-NUS College.  The Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE)’s Student Associate Programme helps to connect you with potential work opportunities around campus; students are hired to assist with faculty research, work in administrative offices, and plan events.  You will receive details from the CIPE staff later in the summer. 

What about health insurance?

As a Yale-NUS student, you are enrolled in the NUS Student Undergraduate Health Scheme.  The insurance plan includes general outpatient care at the NUS University Health Centre (UHC) and specialist and inpatient care at public hospitals throughout Singapore. 

For emergency situations, students are typically taken to National University Hospital (NUH)When travelling outside of Singapore, students are covered on a reimbursement basis for accidental medical issues.  When travelling on a Yale-NUS programme, students are provided with additional travel and liability insurance.  

Singapore has a world-renowned healthcare system and offers high quality medical care.  To learn more about the health insurance scheme, please review the details online.    

On-campus, students have access to several dedicated mental health professionals, free of charge. Please visit our Wellness site for more information.