A person jumping on a sand dune.

Going to college means many different things to different people. Maybe you’ll leave home and live by yourself for the first time. Or maybe you’ll push the boundaries and study outside of your home city—or even country.

At NYU, in addition to our exciting campus in New York City, we have two amazing campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai that allow you to do just that. Maybe you’ll declare a major and minor combination off the beaten path or choose to study abroad somewhere you don’t speak the native language.

College can truly be a thrill, and NYU is a welcoming home to the boldest students. But how confident are you in making your adventurous choice? Here is what I would do if I were in your shoes.

Assess Your Comfort Zone and, If You’re Willing to, Break Out of It

Start by doing a bit of introspective work. Does the idea of going to a new restaurant you’ve never been to before fill you with dread because they might not carry your favorites? Do you feel uneasy when having to make small talk with unfamiliar people? Do you prefer to see your habits undisturbed by the chaotic mayhem of Change (with a capital “C”) and its new rules and traditions?

Maybe going to school in the United Arab Emirates or in China (or even in New York City for that matter, depending on your background), where the people, customs, weather, and food will be “strange” compared to what you know and enjoy, is not the best idea for you—at least, for now.

Still, possibly deep down, the idea of going on a bit of an adventurous college journey is exciting. Maybe you want to push these boundaries a little and take on the rest of the world. It worked for me; I lived in four different countries and completed two postgrad degrees by the time I was 28. Learning by doing is certainly part of growing up! And there is no better time to do this than your college years.

Is There Such a Thing as “Safe” Risk-Taking?

A risk itself has to have an element of uncertainty to it. Otherwise, it would be called safety. But that does not mean that risk is always synonymous with peril. I’d argue that if you prepare well, you won’t be leaping into the dark. First off, do your research and build your knowledge of the situation you are entering. Second, use your common sense! It might be simple, but if something is a bit of a gamble and raises your hackles, then, it probably is not quite right. If an idea gives you butterflies in the stomach (it happens!), then it’s probably a risk worth taking. Armed with this understanding, you will be more confident when it comes to being adventurous.

New Adventures Can Be Thrilling, but What Happens When Routine Sets In?

Ever heard of the November blues? This happens every year to many first-year college students. At first, everything is fresh and shiny and so exciting! That’s the honeymoon period. As time passes, students may become more comfortable in their new life, losing their adventurous edge. This is when the melancholy of familiarity sets in. It happened to me first when I moved away from my home country, France, to study in the United States and then again when I moved to the United Kingdom to teach.

At NYU, however, you can easily shake it off and mix it up! There are so many things to explore to make sure you don’t get stuck in a rut: an elective to try out a new subject, student club projects, a new city to visit while on break, athletic competitions, internships, local events—simply expand your adventure by finding new ways to challenge yourself!

Finally—Don’t Look Back

Be proud of yourself; you’re conquering a totally new experience! You will learn to appreciate the subtleties of your college experience, beyond the broad strokes of audacious novelty.

As philosopher Aristotle believed: everything happens for a reason. All these new adventures you will have at college will end up shaping the future YOU.

Lisa is a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi and the Global Admissions Team, based in the London office.
Born and raised in France, Lisa also lived in Denmark and spent a couple of years in leafy upstate New York.  She is a dedicated gardener, a keen traveler to India and Japan, and loves watching the tennis at Wimbledon. She now spends her free time playing with her little rescue terrier dog, Cooper.