by Karl Gan, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business
SUMMER BREAK: These are the two words that, when uttered, send university students all over the world into a frenzy of joy and excitement. The studying, college stress and constant worry are all then replaced with four months of planned personal development, which ranges from summer school camps for the freshmen and sophomores, to the less-free, and still-daunting internships for students who want to try their hand at working life. Yet others decide to do neither of the above, and choose to spend four months “recuperating”.
Whichever one you are, you will be getting some time off from the hustle and bustle of SMU school life. At first, it may seem like a refreshing reprieve. No more rush of people, no more nights of studying… but after a while, a different sort of feeling may emerge.
It will soon become evident—at the end of four months—that there are some unique traits of SMU that you’ll start to miss.
Here are the top 5 things we believe you didn’t think you’d miss about your school… but you did!
1. The 10% Discount When Buying Food
Let’s face it. In this day and age, every meal you eat costs a bomb. Even the chicken rice at the hawker centre down the street costs at least $3, which is incredible considering the rice and chicken portions are meagre and unsatisfying for the most part.
These are the times when you wish the auntie would holler at you, “Are you student?”, so you can flash your SMU card proudly, like a badge of honour. You feel good when the auntie punches in your discount and you look with satisfaction around you to see who else has noticed. Ah, everyone has! It is lunchtime! The queue is made up of office workers in the area, who have all noted your student discount with equal parts jealousy and amazement.
Nothing makes you—and your wallet—sing more than getting a delicious meal at a more affordable price compared to everyone else. (With the exception of that furthest stall on the left at Koufu.)
2. Clean Public Restrooms – Steps Away From One Another
Imagine this: You’re walking, humming, enjoying your day, when you suddenly feel queasy and your stomach hurts more than seeing your crush out with someone else.
The solution: A friendly nearby restroom.
And while Singapore is known for having a great number of restrooms, with their own organisation, not all of these toilets are clean and well-maintained, despite the organisation’s attempts to impose a cleanliness standard. Even the best public toilets in Singapore have a weird smell that reeks of too much Clorox.
Which leads me to why SMU’s restrooms are a great asset. You can always count on a restroom being a stone’s throw away from where you are. Let’s count the ones while walking along the concourse alone: you have a toilet at School of Economics, a toilet in the gym, a toilet near the gym, a toilet next to the restaurant space opposite the benches, a toilet after the benches, a toilet next to the clinic, a toilet opposite Koufu, and a toilet at the School of Business. That’s EIGHT toilets for a ten-minute walk, from end to end.
That is 0.8 TOILETS for every MINUTE you walk.
No one needs to go that often. And if you do, you probably should check your diet.
Still, it’s nice to have the assurance that SMU would never let you down should you be having a, errr, rough(age) day.
3. A Big Space to Do Whatever You Want
Unbeknownst to many, there is a big chunk of wonderful space in the mysterious underground of SMU. Dancers dance, skaters skate, runners run, and a lot of other people sit around, either on the benches or on the floors, discussing studies, life, and what they’re going to do with their futures.
The best part? It’s all air-conditioned.
Nothing gets better than that.
Sure, Esplanade may also have a mysterious underground space, complete with lots of pillars, but it is nothing like the linear design of the Concourse that leaves you feeling free and inspired.
So if you feel like resting your feet, just plop right down on the Concourse, and feel the fatigue of the day fade away. That’s something you can’t do just randomly, anywhere else in the city area.
4. Having Seats at the Library
Books are the blood and soul of humanity. Nothing represents being human more than relating to and understanding the characters in literature, or learning from the research of past great scholars in textbooks.
In a university, we pride ourselves on academic excellence and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. The greatest barrier to the pursuit of knowledge, one can argue, is a lack of seats and space at the local library.
You step into a nearby library, expecting to find a good book on the shelves, plop yourself down comfortably on the couch, and relax for two hours, while waiting for your next appointment.
To your amazement, at 11am, there is not a single seat in sight at your community library—all have been taken up. It is amazing, considering the library had just opened an hour before.
Contrast this with SMU’s libraries: state of the art—more so after the ongoing renovations are complete—with great facilities, great and friendly staff, and lots of space for you to lounge about and read a book at your own pace. Although most people utilise the library for nightly studying, the library is also a great place for project meetings and playing board games (these can be rented out at the Information Counter), and is a great place to while some free time away.
And if you’re hungry, there’s always the snack and drink machines nearby at Level 1.
What’s not to love?
5. Convenience of City Life – The Good Life
Nothing beats studying at a university conveniently located in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city. Feel bored after class? Hey, let’s go play some games at a nearby gaming hangout. Feel like aimlessly wandering after a dreadful exam? Hey, let’s go mall-hopping. Feel like a high net-worth individual after receiving your first internship paycheck? Go lay down some cash at the nearest H&M (seriously, they’re everywhere now).
For everyone in a committed summer responsibility, it is impossible to just go on to have some fun and let your hair down in the middle of the day. Even if you’re at home, the inertia that is “being home” will most likely win over any plans you’ve formulated in your head of going out to shop.
And that’s the beauty of being a college student. Internships, camps, and bumming aside, the best part about being a college student is to be able to have some fun between classes—being able to hang out with friends, do something for yourself, and remind yourself that life isn’t all that bad.
So by now you’ve realised how much different school is from the world outside. Fret not, the school term’s about to restart itself again, and you’ll be back amongst friends, numerous toilets, cheap food, an amazing library, and the bustling city surrounding you, once more.
And when that gets a little too much to handle, you’ll wish for summer break again. When that happens, just don’t forget that there are some things about SMU that you’ll miss… and you won’t realise that until they’re gone. 🙂