Study Away at NYU Opens Up Opportunities for Immersion

NYU students participate in experiential learning across the world

One of the highlights of studying abroad is truly immersing yourself in the topics that interest you most. NYU students can study away at three degree-granting campuses and 12 academic locations, across six continents in some of the world’s greatest cities. In each of these cities, students learn not just from world-class faculty but also from the world around them. Whether it’s attending a lecture by a political leader, going on a field visit to a nearby archaeological site, or conducting research at a local museum, NYU students use their real-life experiences abroad to deepen their knowledge and broaden their perspectives on the world.

Boats on the shore of Accra.

Studying the Black Atlantic in Accra, Ghana

At NYU Accra, Professor Kofi Baku teaches Cultures and Context: The Black Atlantic. This wide-ranging history course explores the concept of the Black Atlantic as a sociocultural and economic space. What is the Black Atlantic? It’s a cultural and pragmatic force that encompasses African, American, Caribbean, and British influences because of the transatlantic slave trade. Students learn about important moments in history. For example, the course covers the 15th-century capture of Africans and their arrival in the New World, the rise of slavery and the eventual emancipation in the Americas, and decolonization and the Black struggle for liberation, equality, and Pan-Africanism.

To complement what study away students learn in the classroom, Professor Baku organizes three field trips to key sites in Ghana. These include an overnight tour of the Cape Coast and Elmina Castle, where African captives were held before they were sent to the Americas. Later in the semester, students visit Osu Castle to learn about the legacies of the Danish slave trade on the Gold Coast. Finally, they visit a plantation in Sesemi to explore the Gold Coast’s development after the abolition of the slave trade. Students then write interdisciplinary, personal reflections based on their experiences during each of these field visits.

Enih Agwe, a Tisch Drama major with minors in Africana Studies and the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology, studied away at NYU Accra during the fall semester of her senior year. She recalls, “Visiting these sites was a difficult, vivid experience but one that I believe is necessary in order to understand the history and context of what took place there.”

Study away students looking through old books with gloves on.

Exploring the Urban Experience in Florence, Italy

At NYU Florence, Professor Davide Lombardo thinks of the city on two levels: historical and theoretical. His course, Culture of the City: Italian Urban Life, provides a historical and spatial overview of the evolution of Florence’s urban environment, from ancient times to modernity. In addition, it explores representations of the city, such as maps, tourist guides, and panorama points, to provide a window into the Florentine urban environment.

Through field trips that include a pedestrian-friendly tour of Florence and classes that take place among Villa La Pietra’s art collection, study away students have the chance to place themselves within the city. For Aurora Russell, a junior double majoring in Psychology and Journalism and minoring in Anthropology, these immersion opportunities made the class one of her favorites. “We spend the field-based classes completely in the location, whether it’s out in the city, in a museum, or at a church,” she says. “Immersing yourself in an environment while you’re discussing that place is a really good way to learn about and understand it.”

A group of study away students sitting in front of the Berliner Dom in Berlin.

Building Museum Frameworks in Berlin, Germany

At NYU Berlin, Professor Annette Loeseke organizes a thematic exploration of museums in her course, Shaping an Educational Landscape: Museum Island. The course is a mixture of classroom discussions and field trips to the institutions on Museumsinsel. This island is the home of Berlin’s complex of five world-famous museums. Through this practical experience, students explore the role of the museum in modern times, covering topics like feminist and LGBTQ+ perspectives on art collections, digital museum tools and the politics of code, and postcolonial museums in diverse societies.

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, a Cinema Studies and Journalism double major in the College of Arts and Science, studied at NYU Berlin during the fall semester of his junior year. He found that the blend of classroom learning and on-site museum visits provided “a very engaged experiential learning experience.” Throughout the semester, the class meets at the Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Pergamon Museum and Panorama, Bode-Museum, and Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art (which is not on Museumsinsel) to explore the intersection of museums and history, culture, and politics.

Beyond the Classroom

At NYU’s global academic locations, many professors organize visits to local and out-of-the-way spots to round out their course’s curriculum and give students practical experience with their subject. Past field trips include:

  • Attending a performance of Thoughts of a Colored Man, a Broadway show, for a theatre course in New York City.
  • Visiting the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library to research film, race, and representation at NYU Los Angeles.
  • Two research-oriented tours of Caesarea Maritima for an archaeology course at NYU Tel Aviv.
  • A guided pedestrian-friendly tour of the 18th-century West End for a history course at NYU London.