Once a freshman, always a freshman, at heart at least! Ask any college student or graduate, and they’ll undoubtedly remember their freshman year. And if you ask an NYU Shanghai student you’ll definitely get some good stories, since many did not just settle into a new university, but a whole new city in a whole new country. From nervously trying to figure out the mysterious Century Avenue subway exits, to understanding that your Chinese teacher actually expects you to learn thirty new characters over night, NYU Shanghai freshmen can have their fair share of experiences.

Regardless of your background or confidence-level, starting university is a major life change; putting you in a new environment, with new people, and new expectations. So in honor of the newly arrived freshies, the OCA team decided to head out and ask the upperclassmen for their most useful tips, tricks, and secrets of surviving, thriving, and striving at NYU Shanghai.

“My tips would be to know that it’s okay to be homesick and to know you probably will be. Everyone will be, it’s part of living away from home and you should reach out to friends when you feel homesick – they can help you feel better!!“ – Allison Chesky, Class of ‘18

“I’d never been to China or spoke Chinese before coming to NYU Shanghai, so the transition was definitely challenging. The one thing I wish I had known and done earlier is go out and explore, and I think that the best thing you can do is spend time and effort doing exactly just that: Shanghai has a lot to offer, and it’s up to you to make the most out of it. Go to the French Concession and similar parts of town, turn off your maps, and just walk. You’ll be surprised by the number of shops and places that you never thought you’d see around!” – Yaman Maarrawi, Class of ‘20

“School is important, but don’t spend all your time on just academics. Get involved in student organizations, talk with people from different countries even if it’s harder to do so, and take advantage of the city. You are in the most populated city in the world, with people from different countries and fields – go and talk to them!
I am now applying to graduate programs and looking into jobs. I can guarantee that besides submitting your transcript and GPA, the majority of the application and interviews will not be about your grades. So think about what will happen when you graduate, even though you’re just starting. What interesting stories, internships and actual useful experience would you have?” – Nofar Hamrany, Class of ‘18

“Firstly, make new friends from your [own] country and all over the world! Making new friends should be the first thing when the new semester starts. You might find someone who has the same hobbies as you and chat with them happily. But you can also communicate with people from various countries whose cultural backgrounds are very different from yours. Secondly, be curious and explore things around you. Being curious about the new school and this city, motivates you to explore. Some interesting things might happen! It could be a greeting from people you didn’t know before, a Chinese sentence with implicit but funny meaning, or even an important life lesson. Lastly, be happy! Being happy is the most important thing. It brings you the courage of challenging yourself, as well as optimism.” – Candy Qiyun Zhang, Class of ‘20

“Mingle like you’ve never mingled before. NYU Shanghai is a really warm community and everyone is excited to meet new people, especially at the beginning of the year. So even if you’ve think you’ve found your “ride or dies” on day one keep meeting people and be open to expanding your circle.” – Maya Williams, Class of ‘18

“NYU Shanghai is a great school with supercool people, but outside of our school, Shanghai is also an amazing city where you can meet the most interesting people. Get out of Jinqiao, explore Puxi, walk around the French Concession or the Jing’an area. Don’t let Line 6 in Pudong be the only part of Shanghai you get to know.” – Catt Kim, Class of ‘19

“If you feel like you want to switch roommates go with your gut and apply to switch when that application comes out. YOU ARE NOT A BAD PERSON FOR WANTING TO SWITCH ROOMMATES! I knew my freshman year roommate and I were not a good match very early on, but I didn’t want to be mean so I decided to stay in that room and to this day I want to kick myself for doing that. It’s true not everyone is going to be best friends with their roommate, but a bad match is a bad match and who you live with can have a big impact on your experience and mental health. If it’s too late do your best to keep the situation positive– communicate with your roommate, try to compromise, utilize your RAs, or make friends with a senior who lives off campus and will let you sleep on their floor.” – Anonymous

“One tip that I’d like to share is to not try to be too tough, but be yourself. You are who you are and there’s nothing that you need to fake. It’s alright if you’re active, but if you’re shy, that’s fine too. Always put a smile on your face, that way it’ll be easier for you to make more friends!” – Zeyao Li, Class of ‘19

This article was written by Sabina Olsson. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: NYU Shanghai Student Life

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