I recently began my second semester as a freshman at New York University Shanghai (上海纽约大学). Under current New York University (NYU) president John Sexton, the school is creating the Global Network University (GNU), a network of “global academic centers” located around the world. There are currently fourteen, each with different academic and cultural focuses, in cities ranging from London and Prague to Tel Aviv and Accra. NYU students are required to study abroad at one of these sites for at least a semester during their four years of college.
As of writing, the most prominent universities in the system are the trifecta of degree-granting campuses in New York (of course), Abu Dhabi, and most recently, Shanghai. NYU Abu Dhabi opened its doors in 2010 and is about to graduate its first class this May. NYU Shanghai (NYUSH) accepted its first class—of which I found myself to be one of the lucky few—for the fall of 2013.
Part of what drew me to this school was the idea expressed in the school’s motto: “make the world your major.” My original goal in applying to college was to seek some kind of East Asian Studies or International Relations degree. As it turned out, NYUSH does not yet offer either of those majors. However, I decided to attend for a number of reasons:
- I had a chance to be part of the first Sino-American institution of higher learning in history. When I graduate I will have one degree from the States and one from China.
- The diverse and international group of students attending NYUSH makes globalization come alive. The current student body of three hundred people is 51% Chinese, the other 49% hails from thirty-five other countries. I remember leaving a late night discussion with some classmates, arguing about politics and religion, and realizing that I had been sitting with a Pakistani, an Anglo-Spaniard, a Nepali, and an Egyptian, as though it were nothing.
- Shanghai is one of China’s most international cities; there is probably no better place in the country for this kind of schooling.
Most important to me, however, was the chance to come to China for such a length of time; I will be a resident of China, with unlimited exits and entrances until a month or so after my graduation in 2017.
This affords me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had at any other university, linguistically, educationally and in terms of travel. I studied Chinese in high school, but my accent and language ability has improved exponentially by living in China. As a Global China Studies major, I have the chance to take an incredibly China-centric set of courses, exactly in line with my interests. And of course, China is my home now: so long as my schedule allows it, I can hop on a train or a plane and go anywhere I want!
The school is currently going through the admission process for the Class of 2018. It’s a strange feeling in some ways, knowing that 300 will become 600 next year, and will grow even more after that. But I welcome it with open arms; I am excited to watch the school grow culturally, and I look forward to seeing how my own sense of internationality and international relations grows with it.
By Kiril Bolotnikov, The College Preparatory School ’13, New York University Shanghai ‘17