An alumni event held at NYU Abu Dhabi’s plaza.


The best-kept secret is just how transformative and global our campus really is. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone and forced to confront yourself in ways you would have never expected. You will have access to perspectives from across the globe and the chance to partake in experiences you never would have imagined. From dragon boating to camping in the mountains to 1 AED chai tea downtown to karaoke nights with friends, there is no shortage of things to do. Just make sure you keep an open mind and remember to savor every moment.”

Self-care is an important ritual. You should try to make it a consistent priority. That will sustain you throughout your time at NYU Abu Dhabi and in life in general! Once a month, I made it a ritual to get off campus for some much needed ‘me time.’ I (lovingly) ditched my friends and hopped on the free university shuttle to the World Trade Center Abu Dhabi to stroll around the city. I would usually get a haircut for 15 AED at one of the local barbers and then head to a cafeteria for a nice meal— depending on my cuisine craving. This would only cost around 30 AED. Finally, after wandering around and exploring shops, I would hop back on the shuttle and head back to campus.”

Let’s discover what else alumni Al Reem, Gurgen, Theros, Ella, Aigul, Yumi, Lenah, and Firas have to share! What’s more, there’s a camel cameo at the end.

Academics and Careers

Studying, Researching, and Connecting
The “#myNYUAD” sign in front of campus.
  • “Speak to your professors outside of class and learn about their work. They’re amazing and welcoming.”
  • “Professors are not just vessels of knowledge. They are people too. Connecting with them on a personal level may be a great opportunity to find a mentor.”
  • “Taking classes outside of your comfort zone can be super valuable! I always took a class completely unrelated to my major to give myself a mental break.”
  • “Make use of the close-knit community in your studies. Studying is so much more fun if you don’t have to do all the work alone!”
  • “Tying your research projects to the local environment helps you explore the UAE while doing what you love.”
Planting Your Career Seeds
NYU Abu Dhabi’s Career Development Center, a resource for current students and alumni alike.
  • “People in the Career Development Center won’t get sick of seeing you four times a week. Visit them, even before senior year, to understand how they can help you. Find the right adviser for your aspirations.”
  • “Everybody at the Career Development Center gives one way or another; you can seek support from peers as well as professionals.”
  • “Remember that NYU Abu Dhabi will give you a skill set. It’s an asset you’ll carry for the rest of your life.”
  • “Reach out to the organizations you want to intern with. Many will create a position for a passionate intern even if they do not normally take students.”

Student and Campus Life

Be Proactive, Not Reactive!
NYU Abu Dhabi’s indoor track.
  • “I can’t stress how important [taking a part in campus life] is. It is equally as important as investing in your academics and internships. Many times, casual conversations I had with people inspired my research topics for class assignments.”
  • “Check the student portal every day. There are always fun activities and opportunities that pop up.”
  • “Learn a new sport! The athletic facilities are truly unparalleled. I guarantee [that after graduation] you will miss the ability to sign up for a fitness class or yoga class, join a club or team, or just play some pick-up with your friends.”
  • “Slamming in a workout after a not-so-successful exam or a six-hour essay writing sprint can save your sanity. It’s there. It’s free. It will be at least £100 a month when you graduate!”
Experiencing NYU’s Global Network
Study away at NYU Shanghai.
  • “Don’t pick NYU Abu Dhabi roommates while studying abroad, especially at the smaller sites. Everyone comes excited to meet new people. Take this as an opportunity to make friends with students from New York City and Shanghai.”
  • “Make friends outside of NYU Abu Dhabi! Either from other campuses or through other activities. It’s great to have a few people who have different Abu Dhabi experiences you can learn from.”
  • “I highly recommend staying with a host family if possible. My language acquisition was much faster and they’re like a second family to me!”
  • “Don’t pack too much because your experiences will weigh a lot.”

Food and Fun

Eating Your Way Around the City
Coffee in the UAE.
  • “Hands down, HOT POT. It’s not just good food but a fun experience seeing your friends struggle to use chopsticks to boil their food.”
  • “AYCE hot pot at Seven Hot Pot (across the street from the shuttle at Al Wahda station).”
  • “The Afghani bakery across from Qasr al Hosn has the best cheese/za’atar manakeesh.”
  • “Ibsais Sweets for the best knafeh (rough, smooth, size: you name it, you have it).”
  • “For groceries, the Chinese Baqala in Tourist Club, the Thai Baqala, and 1004 Mart (Dubai, order online for delivery). WeMart should be open now as well for Chinese groceries. For restaurants: Shish Shawerma, Madang, Dragon Bao Bao, Russian Kitchen, and Mancha for bubble tea!”
  • “Get a shot of espresso and a cup of ice at the library cafe and tonic water from the convenience store. And voilà, espresso tonic! Especially good when you anticipate a late night.”
  • “Study off campus! It will remind you that there’s a whole world outside of NYU Abu Dhabi. School is only one small aspect of your life. I recommend Art House Cafe, Joud Coffee, or Cafe Arabia.”

Author’s Note: Go buy fresh fish at Mina Market and get it cooked right there to eat on the spot—delicious! Also, I am not surprised this was the most popular section here. Food culture is real.


Exploring Abu Dhabi and the UAE
The Corniche in Abu Dhabi.
  • “The Corniche.”
  • “Watching cruise ships appear from behind the horizon at Mina Port.”
  • “Sufara’a organizes trips that give a unique glimpse into the local culture. The desert trips were always my favorite.”
  • “Rent a car if you can. Take road trips to the desert and expand your ability to explore Abu Dhabi and the other emirates. I like the flamingo reserve, the drive to the Liwa dunes, and Sir Baniyas Island in the Abu Dhabi region. Take the bus downtown or share a cab with friends, then wander with no specific objective to get a better feel for the city.”
  • “Learn about the culture from more than one perspective. Remember that traditions vary from one area to another, so be curious and ask questions.”

Final Top Three Fun Tips!

A camel in Abu Dhabi.
  • “Winter sunsets are best seen from the tennis courts.”
  • “The library has the best ambiance for midday naps.”

And my favorite alumni tip: “YOU HAVE TO GO TO A CAMEL BEAUTY CONTEST.”

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.