DON’T PANIC!: A Freshman’s Guide to the Tembusu Galaxy Part 1

Hello Freshmen!

Welcome to the start of the rest of your life! Also, you are going to stay in Tembusu for the next two years.

If what I’ve experienced in my freshmen year is anything to go by, the next few years of your life is going to be a blast. Here at Tembusu, we are the Home of Possibilities. It is technically a marketing slogan, but hey, it’s not “Head On Headache Relief: Apply Directly to the Forehead”. As alluded to by our Master in his interview with Treehouse last semester, Tembusu is a place everyone tries not to say ‘no’ as far as possible. In political science parlance, Tembusu has tons of “negative freedoms”, so take this opportunity and maximise the experience that your next two years (and possibly more) in Tembusu will bring.

What this series aims to do is to give a quick glimpse into how Tembusu life is, and to provide tips and tricks to get through the semester. We start with articles on college life and a TL;DR of Tembusu’s various flagship events, then round off with articles during recess week and reading week. This complements the Treehouse Guide for Tembusu Freshmen, which you can find by clicking on this link.

This week, we examine how the houses work and turn the spotlight on how daily life in Tembusu College really works.

The Houses

Throughout this week and next, you will probably be having some parties and events with your house members. These housewarming parties will allow you to meet with your immediate neighbours and the people you will be hanging out with for the next two years. Take the chance to get to know as many people as possible as they will be your pillars of support throughout your time here at Tembusu.

House Displays (Level 1)The House’s display cabinets at Level 1

If you’re wondering, the houses are distributed as such:

  • Levels 4-7 Shan
  • Levels 8-11 Ora
  • Levels 12-14 Gaja
  • Levels 15-18 Tancho
  • Levels 19-21 Ponya

You will also get to meet the residential and graduate fellows whose job description can be best described as being the grown-ups in the building. They may also be your lecturers in your Junior Seminar as well, so be sure to ask them about what they teach!

Also be sure to know who are the members of your house committee, who will be the organisers of the various house events that you attend. Most houses elect a new committee within the first few weeks of every new academic year. So if you are interested in helping out and making a positive impact in your community, now is a time as good as any to find out more.


Life in Tembusu: The little ‘hacks’ that you might want to know

Strictly speaking, there isn’t a fixed routine in Tembusu. Life is extraordinarily freestyle (do young people still use that word?). There are, however, a culture of shared rituals and routines associated with being in Tembusu that an outsider may not immediately find out about.


The Dining Hall

We eat here. Getting food is rather straightforward – tap for a meal credit, and pass the coupon to the meal stations you fancy. Note that once you carry forward 11 breakfast or dinner credits, any further rollover credits for that particular meal type are forfeited.

The “hidden” hack to the dining hall is the RC Meal Bot (@rcmealbot) on Telegram, which messages you meal menus and allow you to check the number of meal credits you have. To check your meal credit status, type in /login to the system before entering /meals. You can also configure the bot to send you the meal menu in advance, via /dailyon. That command will tell the bot to send you a menu of the upcoming breakfast and dinner at midnight and 4pm respectively. You can also check any specific meal being served during the week by appending the day of the week to /breakfast and /dinner, i.e. /breakfast Thursday or /Dinner Monday. This bot works across all colleges in UTown and RVRC, so let your friends in other colleges know about it too! Just a disclaimer: Menus are indeed subject to change, but they don’t normally deviate far from what the bot says.

RC Meal Bot

RC Meal Bot (@rcmealbot)

Every month, there is a Theme Night. Typically on a Tuesday, I’ll leave it to you guys to guess what it entails. This picture is a pretty good representation

Dining Hall Korean Night (April 2017)Korean Night (April 2017)


The Level Lounges

At the lift lobby on each residential level, there is an air-conditioned level lounge. Each lounge has a unique identity shaped and lovingly curated by all the people who have used it before. Within each house, the level lounges can run the range from fun-only to muggers-central, so just be aware to your lounge’s unique culture. There is also very strong Wifi signals in level lounges. You’ll find that the lounges are the best place to socialise and to know your neighbours.

Gaja LoungeThat Gaja logo on the wall was lovingly painted by the Gaja House Committee.

Most importantly, do note that your matriculation card only grants you access to the lounges on your house levels.



There are two printers/ photocopy machines located on Level 1, just beside the dining hall. These allow you to print black and white documents via the computer beside it, which you connect to using USB. It is cheaper to print here than in the Central Library and other places around NUS (3 cents per page vs 4 cents per page). There is, however, an upfront cost of $2 for the card that pays for printing.  There are no refunds while topping up, so don’t go overboard with the prepaid card.

Printer MachineThe Printing Area at Level 1

To print, place your card on the card reader, plug in your USB stick, open your document, and click print. In the window that pops up when you print, be sure to note which printer you are using. You don’t want to be in the awkward position of having someone else queue up behind you after you accidentally send 200-page jobs to both printers.


The pantry

There is a pantry at levels 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21. These are equipped with cooking facilities, a refrigerator, and a water dispenser with both hot and cold water.

DSC_0027Keep your pantry clean!

As a matter of etiquette, please label the items that you leave in the fridge and help remove anything that has expired. Most house committees regularly clear the of the fridge to maintain its cleanliness.


Other places not found in this guide

There’s a whole section in the Treehouse Guide for Tembusu Freshmen on the various places in Tembusu College, so be sure to check it out! Also in it are tips and tricks volunteered by your seniors. You can find it here.


Coming up next week: What happens during Formal, and Bidding for Tutorials


Pictures by Ryan Quek.

About the Author

One of many Ryans in Treehouse, Ryan Quek is a Year 2 Business and Economics Double Degree (Still Surviving!) Student. He loves photography and food, and likes to delve into socio-political issues, tech and sport. Also has a passion for trivia quizzes.