Look, I’ll admit it – I forgot I applied. I took Chinese in high school and, while rushing to finish filling out applications in December, I checked the box for NYU Shanghai and forgot. I forgot to tell my family until I was sitting on my couch when I got the acceptance email. My mom might have been a little surprised to hear that I was suddenly considering moving 7,292 miles away from home.
So was I. But, hey, free trip to NYC, right? So I drove myself to New York for the weekend and met a lot of you wonderful people. It took everyone who was a part of the Admitted Students’ Weekend approximately 36 hours to get me to ditch my former dream of a college life and head to 中国 (Zhōngguó, China). In a few weeks, John Sexton will be giving speeches and about a hundred kids will be trekking around New York City’s Chinatown, just like I did. It’s clear the sophomores are like one big, crazy family. There are ups and downs, sure, but Class of 2017, you guys have each other’s backs. And 2018, we’re on our way there. It is incredible to think that the Class of 2019 was already meeting each other and bonding just a week ago at the Candidate Weekend.
It got me remembering this fall and thinking about next fall. When I arrived in 上海 (Shànghǎi), I immediately caught up with everyone I had met in New York. They were the first people I met and loved from our class and I knew that we had hit it off, so when I was looking for someone to wander around with – they were my first WeChat invites. This, of course, isolates the 50% of our class who didn’t get a chance to go to the Admitted Students’ Weekend, because they’re Chinese. The Class of 2019 that is beginning to meet and bond now is meeting separately and bonding separately.
I wish that there could be more interaction between Candidate Weekend-ers and Admitted Students’ Weekend-ers. It seems odd to me that the two halves of our school (Chinese and International) are criticized for not meshing completely at the beginning of the school year when it’s clear that they aren’t given the chance to. Students from either the Candidate Weekend or the Admitted Students’ Weekend in New York or Shanghai bond together of course. But, it is hard to mesh us all in the beginning of the year – the process isn’t designed for it. We’re separated into two groups for admissions and then our Orientation Groups are mixed evenly with International and Chinese students to make sure that we all meet each other. But all of this sends a subtle message – you need to be pushed to mingle together.
At a school with as many ups and downs as ours, it’s important that we all have each other’s backs. I think the Class of 2018 has meshed together really well, but part of me wishes that this could have happened a little earlier on and I’m wondering why it did not. A really big part of it is that we don’t get the slightest opportunity to meet the other half of our class face-to-face. Everyone at the Admitted Students’ Weekend in New York was an international student and we all had so many questions about China and Shanghai and what it would be like living with a Chinese roommate.
What if the Admitted Students’ Weekend was open to everyone? We explored Chinatown, like we now explore Shanghai, and we took sample classes. What if we ramped up the trial-run social aspect? If the Admitted Students’ Weekend was open to everyone, then (depending on numbers), we could have the opportunity to room with a Chinese student or international student there and be sure that there shouldn’t be any barriers before the school year even begins.
Basically, classes of NYU Shanghai only have two and a half years together rather than four. Why not start bringing everyone together before that time starts?
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: G Lady