As you consider where you want to go to college, some of the most valuable insights you’ll gain will come from those who have been where you are now: current students. Recently, we asked three students from NYU’s three degree-granting campuses about their first-year experiences. Check out what they had to say—and start thinking about how good you’ll look in violet.

Ryan Hoover performing on stage
Ryan Hoover, Humanities, Class of 2022

Excitement and Passion at NYU Shanghai

What’s the first thing a first-year student should do at NYU Shanghai?

Everything! Shanghai is an incredible city and NYU Shanghai is a fantastic environment, so do everything that excites you and dive into the world around you. Try unfamiliar food. Talk to a new person. Visit a new place in the city. One of my favorite things to do is ride a bike somewhere random. It’s truly new every day.

How did you get involved and connected during your first year?

I found a group that does something I’m passionate about and joined the NYU Shanghai Thespians Society. NYU Shanghai doesn’t have a theatre program, so everyone in Thespians takes a huge chunk of time out of packed academic schedules to make art purely because they’re passionate about it.

Where’s your favorite spot to relax on campus?

The 2F Cafe is a fantastic on-campus spot to grab a coffee, study, and hang out with friends. My closest friends and I are infamous for meeting there between classes to play the card game Dou Zi Zhu (Fight the Landlord).

Two images of Wilder Worrall spending time with friends
Wilder Worrall, Biology, Class of 2023

Culture and Opportunity at NYU Abu Dhabi

How did you challenge yourself academically during your first year?

There was such a breadth of courses I could take at NYU Abu Dhabi. During my first semester, I took math, coding, language, and philosophy classes. I learned the basics of Arabic and the basics of Python in the same semester. At one point I reached out to my sister, who’s studying computer science at another school, for help. Surprisingly, she couldn’t help me because she wasn’t learning Python until the next semester.

Can you describe your first-year cultural experience at NYU Abu Dhabi?

My first-year roommate was Emirati, and he played a huge part in helping me integrate culturally. Emirati students at NYU Abu Dhabi are so welcoming. They genuinely want to show foreign students around and teach them about the country and culture. Some of my favorite experiences here happened while exploring the city with locals. Taking an Arabic class in my first semester helped as well. Some of us from the class sang the UAE national anthem at the National Day celebration on campus. It was fun to learn about UAE nationalism from a musical perspective.

What was the most surprising part of your first year at NYU Abu Dhabi?

The people I met during my first year made me rethink the world that I live in. I started to feel well-traveled simply by conversing and having dinner with my classmates.

Maya Kwok sitting in the park
Maya Kwok, Hotel and Tourism Management, Class of 2022

Independence and Access in New York City

What’s it like being able to pick your own classes?

When I was in high school, I dreamed of independence and the freedom to finally do what I want. It sounds dramatic, but I was in high school. It was eye-opening to follow my passions. There are requirements to fulfill, but as long as they relate to something I’m interested in, I know I’ll make it through.

What university resources did you take advantage of during your first year?

The free museum access! There are certain museums in New York City that NYU students can get into for free if they show their student ID. I’d walk to as many of them as I could, which made the experience all the more memorable.

What’s one thing you wish you’d been told before arriving at NYU?

That I don’t need to always say things are great just because of others’ conceptions of where I am. I found it hard to tell people when I was struggling because they idolized NYU and New York City, and I wanted my experience to live up to that. But I realized that it’s human to have some down times, and that it’s OK to let people know I’m human.

Since joining NYU’s University Relations and Public Affairs Office of Marketing Communications, Nathan has been integral in helping the university strengthen its brand and share its value with the world. He enjoys uncovering and sharing the stories that hit audiences on a deeper level and guiding partners across the university toward more engaging and informative brand and storytelling experiences. Nathan has also worked as a teacher and academic counselor. He earned a BA in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.