Is it stifling to live in such a small community?
To be honest, I would say that the small community aspect is something you either like or you don’t. There are a lot of benefits to living in a small school!
You can walk around campus and feel comfortable because you will know – or at least recognize – most of the people around you. It’s nice to greet people as you pass them by on your way to something or other. In general, the atmosphere is quite friendly, trusting, and supportive, because nobody is completely anonymous: even if you don’t know someone, it’s not too difficult to figure out who they are.
Professors are more available to students, because there are less of them to keep track of. Class sizes are also much smaller than most big universities, so you get more attention from the prof and get quite familiar with your classmates over the semester.
Unless you’re taking classes in NUS, your classroom will not be more than a few minutes away! This means less danger of being late and affords you the freedom of waking up later for classes.
Of course, the small community life is not for everyone. Some people, for example, opt not to date within Yale-NUS because of how quickly information about things like these can spread through the student body.
Others might revel in the anonymity of a big school – maybe you enjoy being left alone sometimes! Although I wouldn’t say that that doesn’t happen at Yale-NUS. If you don’t want everyone greeting you left and right, just don’t create that expectation. A lot of people feel similarly and prefer to just get on with their lives.