The Official Beginning to a New School Year
Monday marked the official start of Orientation campus wide. That means both freshman and returning students are now back on campus, as well as graduate, exchange, international and whatever other types of students exist. There are just over 36,000 at NUS, and things are really starting to fill up. Buses are jam packed, cafeterias have long lines and students are walking around in groups all over. Orientation here is a bit different than in the States. At Clarkson, our orientation focuses more around meeting the people who live it your dorm, meeting other students in the same grade and generally finding your way around campus. Here orientations are very 'Faculty' specific (a 'Faculty' is what we would call a 'School', for example I belong to the Faculty of Engineering). There have been tours of each faculty, speakers, and upperclassman who are able to answer questions for any underclassman students.
We also had an official welcome party for the exchange students last night. They had free food, some speakers and prizes to be given out. I would estimate 300 students were in attendance, from all over the world. I have made many friends, mostly from Europe. Of the students I hang out with, most are from Sweden, Germany, the UK, Canada and the US. When we get into talks about politics or economics it is very interesting to see how people react. In most cases we know too little about each others systems to truly argue, it is more of explaining our own systems to others, but once in a while a real debate will break out and people get genuinely upset. It is very entertaining, and I try to avoid those situations as much as possible.
Besides the orientations, there have also been several celebrations on campus this week because a new section called University Town opened up. It consists of 6 high rise buildings that now serve as dorms (mostly for graduate and international students) a new cafeteria and the worlds largest Starbucks! Music has been playing everywhere and many celebrations have taken place. Right now, NUS is a very exciting place to be.