Freshman Fears and Questions

OCA responds to questions, fears, and concerns about NYU Shanghai asked by the new Class of 2020.

Question: How soon can you declare a major or minor? Are you allowed to do more than two minors?

AnswerYou have up until sophomore year to declare a major, but declaration of a major is dependent on if you have completed the prerequisites for that major. During each semester before registration for next semester’s classes begins, the Office of Academic Advising will send out a form for declaring your major.  

The only limit on how many minors you can take is how much you can fit into your schedule. To declare a minor, you must fill out a minor declaration form in the Office of the Registrar. Many people choose to do only one minor because of scheduling constraints.


Question: Is there a fencing team?

AnswerCurrently, NYU Shanghai doesn’t have a fencing team, though there was a fencing club in the past. Of course, if there’s enough interest, you can look into creating a fencing club or team! We do have plenty of other sports teams like soccer/football, volleyball, and American football. If you explore Shanghai itself there are alternative sports opportunities like rock climbing, martial arts, and fencing too.


Question: How do you handle the distance between the campus building (AB) and the dorms?

AnswerThe dorms are about a twenty minute taxi ride from the AB. The distance is pretty far and takes about an hour and a half to walk, but between public buses, the metro, NYU Shanghai shuttle buses, and taxis, it’s easy enough to get back and forth. The distance between the dorms and the AB means that most students stay at the campus until late in the afternoon or evening to do homework and hang out with friends before heading home for the night.


Question: How can I make friends at NYU Shanghai?

Answer: It’s easy to be intimidated by all the new faces, but don’t be worried. Even though you might think you’re the only one, everyone else is looking for friends too. Don’t be afraid to talk to people in your classes or start up a conversation. You could start with going out with a bunch of people together, during which you would get to know a lot of new people. The sophomore class and the senior class have never met before either, so we’ll all be looking to meet new people around the school.


Other advice from upperclassmen:

  • Set up a phone number, a bank account, an Alipay account and an account as soon as you get to Shanghai! These are invaluable ways to engage life in Shanghai and take advantage of the many ways to shop, travel, and live conveniently in the city.
  • Take advantage of the Wellness Exchange Hotline: 021 2059 9999. They’re here to help you and give you advice through whatever you may be going through, so don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Never set foot in Maya. Just don’t. This is one club that should be blacklisted forever.


Question: How do I know what classes I should take?

The one advice I have for the class of 2020 at NYU Shanghai is this: do not be afraid to take risks. I am sure that for many of you, you may have heard this statement over and over again. But in my experience, going outside of one’s comfort is easier said than done.

When I started my freshman year, I was initially afraid to take subjects that were interesting but not within the realm of liberal arts or the core curriculum. I guess my fear stemmed from the fact I was worried about the result rather than the process.

However, after speaking to academic advisors and upperclassmen, I was finally convinced to try taking subjects I never thought I could succeed in. For instance, I took interaction lab (despite the fact I still consider myself a tech novice) and learned how to use Arduino and Processing. The class made me realize that utilizing technology in our daily lives really does benefit us and is something we should embrace.

And yes, I also took subjects that made me realize I was not cut out for specific majors or courses. This decision really came down to whether or not I’d be happy for the next three years taking courses of similar nature to the one I had. But do I regret my choice? Not so. Looking back, taking these courses played a huge role in helping me decide which major to eventually declare (and don’t worry you still have until the end of sophomore year to declare your major so take your time!).

And so, I encourage all freshmen to take courses that interest you but know that they may/will challenge you. Just make sure to take core curriculum classes while you’re at it and work with your academic advisors to stay on top of everything (and graduate on time)!

– Serena Uy, ‘18

This article was written by Editorial Staff with contributions from NYU Shanghai upperclassmen. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Dylan Crow

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