Transitioning from high school to college might seem daunting, especially when you’re moving across the country or even to another continent. No need to worry, here are 4 NYU Shanghai Qilins coming to your aid to share some of their experience and advice. By the way, if you haven’t check out the new design of the majestic NYU Shanghai mascot, meet the Qilin here.

Sailing through cultural shocks and homesickness like a pro

Elena Huang ‘23, Business & Finance/Interactive Media Arts

Be ready for cultural shocks. NYU Shanghai is a culturally diverse community filled with cosmopolitan love, but you may discover cultural differences in unexpected ways. You might get surprised or frustrated at times, but as long as you keep an open mind and communicate proactively, you will connect with people who have different customs, habits, or interests than you.

Bring something special to you. Whether it’s your favorite book, a hand-made gift from your family, or anything that reminds you of home. Also, you can bring something that represents your culture or something that can be shared with your new friends. For example, my Korean roommate brought her guitar to Shanghai and we often sing together, which is a meaningful experience for both of us.

This one is more for international students – download these essential apps for living in China!

WeChat(微信): the monster that combines WhatsApp, Paypal, Instagram, and Venmo. A staple for every smartphone owner in China. 

Eleme(饿了么): With this app, your WaiMai (food delivery) is just clicks away. You will be astonished by the amazing food choices you’ll enjoy without having to break the bank.

DiDi(滴滴打车): AKA the Chinese Uber, only 20% the price.

Tips for fun and exciting academic life

Frederick Qian ‘21, Biology

Step 1: Always be open to changes

I came to NYU Shanghai because I wanted to major in Interactive Media Arts. However, I eventually chose Biology instead. Pretty crazy, right? As a Biology major, there’s not a single day I don’t enjoy learning at NYU Shanghai. So, I’d suggest the class of 2024 be open to changes. Give it a try before jumping to any conclusion! The results might turn out to be just wonderful.

Step 2: Do what you like

Check out my courses for spring 2020: Cell Phone Cinema, Greek Mythology, Art on the Edge and Gene Structure and Function. Three of the four courses I enrolled were not for my major. As long as I am on track for my major requirements, why not take advantage of the huge range of courses in all NYU sites and try something fun? At least for me, I would definitely regret not exploring many interests.

Step 3: Ask! Ask! Ask!

At NYU Shanghai, a person can never ask too many questions. This rule applies especially when you’re still navigating the transition to college life. I’ve personally shot many questions to peers, staff members, and faculty, and they seldom disappoint. From little things like where to eat to bigger things like how to get an internship, there are always experts willing to help.

Prepare for Personal Growth

Gordon Fan ‘22, Social Science and Humanities

First, I want to encourage the Class of 2024 to try as many things as you can. There are so many spectacular opportunities at NYU Shanghai. You wouldn’t want to miss them in your college life. Let me tell you a secret, I’ve never found myself grow so quickly before trying so many things here.

Second, read NYU Shanghai News to stay informed. On Century Avenue is the official “student voice publication” at NYU Shanghai, and I’m so proud to be currently working on it. As a platform that showcases the opinions and works of the NYU Shanghai community, we also welcome the first-years to join and make your own voice heard.

My last piece of advice is on choosing Study Away sites. Different campuses and study-away sites have their own distinctions. You should choose them based on your interest in the places, your major, your academic plan, and your career goal. Remember the academic advisor is always your greatest cheerleader and mentor in this process!


Be Balanced and Stay Grounded

Kaycee Chen ‘22, Business & Finance

The first piece of advice I’d love to give is probably quite different from what some may say. That is, balance schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Going to college, you are probably ready to kick your extracurricular game up a notch, especially after seeing what NYU Shanghai has to offer. I would suggest you at least participate in one extracurricular activity during your first semester while you learn how to balance your other responsibilities. Signing up for too many activities early on can tire you out later in the semester. Therefore, it’s important to know your limits and manage your time wisely. 

Also, I feel having a group of close friends can really ground me. Classes are structured differently than high school, so you will see new faces pretty much in every class. This can sometimes make it difficult to make deeper connections. So, whether it’s the people living on the same floor with you or the group you met in your student club, having that close friend circle whom you can count on and who can count on you is very reassuring. 

Yan Liang is an assistant director at NYU Shanghai Undergraduate Admissions based in Shanghai, mainly working with Chinese applicants. She is passionate about sharing tales about the cities of Shanghai and New York, and supporting adventurous souls in their quest to take on global experiences here at NYU. After a few years in Seattle, she is back on the east coast of China but remains a Seahawk fan.