NYU Shanghai Isn’t for “Normal” People

Oriana Angelis explains what makes NYU Shanghai so different from other colleges around the world.

For another student’s thoughts on this topic, please click here.
For the remainder of this article keep in mind that the concept of ‘normal’ stands for “average college student”.

Of course, it’s not. We all knew that going in. So why all the fuss?

New York University Shanghai is a very particular school. “Normal” people aren’t admitted in. “Normal” people aren’t capable of handling 4 college years in Shanghai. There is a reason why its acceptance rate is around 5%. It is not a college built for everyone and any student who attends NYU Shanghai is aware of that. This selectivity is usually why most students are proud to say they study at our school, or so I thought.

A couple of months ago, an article was published where all the cons of attending NYU Shanghai were put out to dry. The conflicts that arise from studying abroad, the homesickness, the school’s false advertising, and more. As is everyone’s right, the former student detailed the obstacles that they faced when attending NYU Shanghai.

Except, I felt as if not many students stopped to wonder, then why do we put up with it? Why do we tolerate the fake advertising? Or blowing birthday candles with families through Skype? Isn’t it precisely because of the fact that NYU Shanghai is no place for an ordinary person?

Because no, you can’t be an average college student if you aspire to achieve at NYU Shanghai. You have to be extraordinary. How many people do you know are adapting to a new culture, embracing cultural differences, learning a new language, and ON TOP OF THAT studying for their future careers? Apart from my NYU Shanghai 朋友们,I know none. On the other hand, I have plenty of friends who don’t know the difference between a dishwasher and a laundry machine.

Then again, what compels us to keep juggling all these responsibilities? The fact that our college gifts us with an experience that no other university is capable of giving. We are receiving an American education in the midst of China. We are learning Chinese. We are studying with friends who are as open-minded as we are. The best part is, it isn’t just the education the school provides that is exceptional but the knowledge we receive in our daily conversations as well. Example? Some of you didn’t even know where Argentina was located on a map (you know who you are); now half the school is drinking Mate.

We get constantly beaten down by the difficulties that we face every day, but then a situation happens that makes us remember how magical it all is. We have a movie night with our definitely not normal friends, or we have one of those deep, philosophical conversations that make us question everything about society. Sometimes we go out to the Bund at night, see the breathtaking buildings across the river light up, and relish our independence.

After an entire academic year at NYU Shanghai, I came to notice that ‘normal’ or ‘ordinary’ or ‘average’ are the worst insults you can give any of my classmates. Personally, I’d rather you pluck my eyelashes out. We all know very well that anybody who even considers studying at NYU Shanghai has to be anything but normal, and thank god! This is precisely what makes our school so interesting!

This article was written by Oriana Carisa De Angelis . Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Aecom

One thought on “NYU Shanghai Isn’t for “Normal” People

  1. Nice article Oriana. My daughter is a freshman this year at NYUSH. When she told her school friends three years ago that she wanted to study in Asia you would have thought she said she was going to study on Mars based on their reactions. These girls graduated at the top of their very large high school class, yet the idea of going more than a few hours away from home for university was terribly uncomfortable and frightening. As a mom, I also got an “are you crazy” from many a parent. Alas, I am rearing a world leader. Appreciating other cultures and also understanding through travel and insight is highly encouraged in my house. Studying abroad is an idea that just naturally flows out of this kind of thinking. You are right. The NYUSH experience would be too scary for a lot of very bright students, although I do hope to spread the word as much as possible to encourage more young people to think of this kind of experience as essential in making them strong people, strong humanitarians and strong business and political leaders. After all, I have no doubt the students at NYUSH will play an integral part in shaping the future of the world’s business and humanitarian efforts and global policies. I am very proud of my daughter and feel beyond blessed and grateful to NYUSH for giving her such an incredible opportunity and an amazing experience.

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