After landing in Singapore, I went to pick up my SIM card from one of Singtel’s pickup points. Upon picking up my SIM, the person working at the kiosk also offered to sell me a NETS card.

Transport/General-use Prepaid Cards

Singapore has a couple prepaid cards they use. These cards are usually used for public transport, but some of the types of cards can be used elsewhere for paying for other things. The two primary ones used are EZ-Link cards and NETS cards. Both can be used for public transport as well as for purchases, but NETS cards are much more accepted as a general payment method compared to EZ-Link cards.

Getting to the Accommodation

There are generally two ways to get to campus:

Method Time Cost
Public Transport 1.5h ~2 SGD
Taxi/Grab 25min ~30 SGD
I ended up choosing the taxi/Grab (Grab is similar to Uber) option as I was already arriving quite late (~7 PM by the time I left the airport). However, there was also a WhatsApp group for the exchangers at NUS, where I asked if anyone had a landing time close to mine. It turned out there was one, and we ended up getting a Grab for 34 SGD and splitting the bill in half.

By the time I got to the accommodation, there weren’t many stores open, so I ended up just washing up and sleeping on a plain mattress for the night (my room wasn’t furnished).

Settling In

For the first couple days, my main focus was on getting all my essentials straight (figuring out where shops are, getting bedding, etc) and touring the area around my accommodation as well as my accommodation itself.

Touring PH

As previously mentioned, my accommodation was Pioneer House (PH). I was actually very lucky as my room was on the 1st floor, and it was also one of the closest rooms to the main lobby area. This meant that getting in and out of my accommodation was extremely convenient. There are also a couple other reasons why it was super convenient:

  • It was ~2 minutes of walking away from the internal NUS bus stops, which could get me basically anywhere across campus.
  • It was 1 internal bus stop away from Kent Ridge MRT, which is simultaneously an MRT (similar to a subway) stop and a small shopping mall. I could also get there with a 10 minute walk.

Additionally, my accommodation has amenities. It was a bit of a shock to me as I have never seen such an accommodation before. This included:

  • Multiple seminar rooms (basically study rooms)
  • Multiple student lounges
  • A reading room (like a seminar room but with some mini cubicles and mandatory silence)
  • A quiet room (basically a room with comfy chairs and a massage chair) of which all of these rooms have air conditioning.

There are also some outdoor amenities:

  • A gym (within a 2 minute walk)
  • Several basketball courts
  • A tennis court

The full list of amenities can be found here.

It was also definitely convenient that the food court (yes, a whole food court) was situated about a 30-second-walk away from my room. This food court also had an air-conditioned seating area upstairs, which some students used to eat and study.

Touring PGP

PH is actually one of MANY blocks located in the Prince George’s Park (PGP) area. These blocks included other accommodations, namely:

  • Prince George’s Park Residences (PGPR)
  • LightHouse
  • Helix House with PGPR being the biggest by far.

pgpr (All the buildings marked in green are part of PGPR. Just PGPR. This extends to behind me in the photo too. PH, LH, and HH are all located behind PGPR.)

Just the sheer scale of the accommodations here is astounding to me. However, I guess that is to be expected considering that NUS has a student population 3 times the size of Aalto’s.

My Go-to Shops

For settling in, I ended up visiting a couple stores:

  • IKEA Alexandra (For bedding and laundry basket)
  • Kent Ridge MRT (Specifically for FairPrice, which is a supermarket that is pretty cheap.)
  • Clementi Mall (Good selection of different shops. I mainly went there for Uniqlo since I was lacking a few pieces of clothing.)


Money Matters

So far, I’ve been using the following payment methods in the following priority:

  1. Credit Card
  2. NETS
  3. Cash

So far, using a credit card has netted me the best conversion rate from Euros to SGD (about 1.47 SGD per Euro), with my secondary being NETS due to the ability to load money onto my card using my credit card via the NETS app. Cash is the most used in Singapore, but as the conversion rate is a bit worse when withdrawing via ATMs (I got 1.40 from a UOB ATM at Clementi Mall), I tend not to use it as much. Also because I don’t really like carrying cash due to its bulkiness.