Exchange Students' Experience with Off-campus Accommodation

With high demand for on-campus accommodation from both NUS full-time students and incoming exchange students, it is no wonder not all incoming exchange students are able to secure a room on campus. However, the experience of staying in an off-campus accommodation may be more pleasant than you think!

WONG Pak Long Anson (City University of Hong Kong) 
Stayed at Nanyang Girls’ Boarding School (yes, they take in male boarders!)

Anson Wong_2
Initially, I was anxious about having to stay off-campus as I was unable to find comprehensive information from researching online. In addition, I was also unable to view the rooms before I arrive in Singapore. The apprehension soon gave way to excitement as I realised this was an opportunity to be more independent and also to experience the local life.

The Nanyang Girls' Boarding School is located at Sixth Avenue which is served by many bus routes, making travelling to various parts of Singapore convenient, and there is even a direct bus to NUS. There is also an MRT station which is a bit of a walk from the Boarding School.

I stayed in a 2-bedder room with air-conditioning and everything was very clean and tidy. The room has an attached bathroom and even a balcony!  There are facilities such as cosy rooms, study rooms and a running track for boarders to use. The building and rooms were newer than I expected and overall, I was very satisfied with room. I enjoyed my stay so much and would definitely recommend staying there.

Though staying off-campus may have its issues and not be as convenient as staying on-campus, nonetheless, it was a rare opportunity for me to live alone and be out of my comfort zone. I also got to experience the local life and understand the local cultures more deeply. This experience is a precious memory of my exchange and stay in Singapore for four months.

TEO Chung-Chi (National Taiwan University)
Stayed at ACS (Independent) Boarding School

Teo Chung ChiAfter learning that I had to stay off-campus, I was concerned with the extra time needed to commute to campus, the quality of the room and safety of the neighbourhood. It was daunting to be renting a room without visiting it first. It took me some time to search for a suitable hostel to stay but once I decided on the ACS(I) Boarding School, it was easy. I just sent in an application form and paid a deposit of S$200 to secure a twin-sharing room. 

After arriving, I realised I was thinking way too much. The room needed some cleaning when I first moved in but I was expecting it. I was thankful for the air-con in the room as it was really great, especially for an exchange student like me who was not used to the hot and humid weather in Singapore.

The Boarding School is one of the closest to NUS and it took me 15 minutes to walk to school. There are also buses in front of the hostel that go to the campus as well. 

I would recommend the Boarding School to other exchange students, especially for those who are desperate for an air-con room but unable to secure one in NUS. It is also good for those who don't wish to stay on-campus 100% of the time. 

Jonathan ZEREZ (Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering)
Stayed at ACS (Independent) Boarding School

At ACS(I) Boarding School, I stayed in a four-bedder room with an attached bathroom that has 2 toilets and showers. I had only one other roommate so it was quite spacious. The rooms in general were kind of clean, but displayed signs of wear like scratches on desks and stains on the walls. Some things required repairs when I first got there like a leaky toilet and flickering lights.

There was supposed to be a number of social events, but they all got cancelled due to COVID-19.

To me, the best part of staying there were the RAs (Resident Assistants)*, who were super kind and helpful. I know this may not be super helpful to other people, but it was what I appreciated most about the hostel.

I felt kind of annoyed that I had to live off campus when I knew that the vast majority of other exchangers would be living on campus. I was concerned that it would be harder to meet people and be involved in extra-curricular activities. Later on, I accepted the realities of living off campus. 

Overall, I thought my stay was decent, although I would have preferred to live on campus. 

*NUS has arranged with ACS(I) Boarding School to have its Resident Assistants stay in it to offer support to NUS students living there. 

GUAN Ned Ning (The University of Sydney)
Stayed at MatchBox Student Hostel

Ned GuanWhen I was notified that I had to stay off campus, my primary concerns were the proximity and ease to get to NUS as well as whether there were eating outlets close to the hostel.

After staying at the Matchbox Student Hostel, I found many eating places only 10-20 minutes away. However, it took a bit longer than I expected to travel to NUS from the hostel. Due to a need to change buses, it took around 30-40 minutes which was an issue especially since I had classes in the early morning*.

I stayed in a single room (air-conditioned). The room was clean but there tend to be many insects during the night. There are ample bathroom and shower facilities shared between the floors.

Overall, my stay at this hostel was decent. There was nothing particularly exceptional about my stay but I did enjoy my time in Singapore. I would recommend this hostel to exchange students who seek an air-conditioned room. 

*MatchBox has now organised a special shuttle bus to NUS and it runs twice every morning from Mondays to Fridays, except public holidays.