Non-NYU Students Come to NYU Shanghai

“The campus life feels more to me like a high school than a college" - Three non-NYU study away students discuss how NYU Shanghai compares to their home universities.

NYU Shanghai has increased the number of study aways this semester from 88 to 180. Included in the 180 study aways in Shanghai now are three students from outside of NYU, now coming to be part of the global network university.

Alec Ashley is a junior at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts majoring in International Security. Cole Bond is also a junior at Tufts, majoring in International Finance. Jake Williams is their third roommate, a student from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations.

Williams chose to come to Shanghai because it was so different from other options. “All of my close friends were traveling to Europe this semester,” Williams said. “While it’s certainly an incredible place to visit, I wanted something new. They will all see the same sights and share the same experiences, and I will be able to come home and share stories that are completely my own.” Williams’s study away advisor tipped him off to NYU Shanghai. “The opportunity excited me particularly because it was a full-time campus for students, and not simply study aways. This would mean that I would be able to gain new and unique insights about living and studying in Shanghai.”

Ashley also wanted to try something new by studying abroad in Asia, as he has lived in London his whole life. Bond had already been to Beijing and wanted to see another side of China. “My experiences center more around commerce and markets,” Bond said. “I wanted to see that side of China. And also Beijing is cold.” Ashley and Bond chose NYU Shanghai as it follows the same academic calendar as an American university and the Tufts program was located outside of the city.

Ashley, Bond, and Williams are now adjusting to NYU Shanghai, which is different from their long-standing institutions back in the United States. “The school is very impressive,” Bond said. “The fact that NYU was able to establish an American school in China is pretty insane. There must have been lots of regulatory hoops to go through in setting that up. Just getting study away students integrated seems like a huge process.”

Williams noted that the culture at NYU Shanghai is much different from Cornell, which has 14,566 undergraduate students. “The culture at NYU Shanghai is stronger and more close-knit,” Williams said. “It feels a lot smaller, a small campus and student body, but it’s cool to get to see familiar faces every day.”

Bond also noticed differences between Tufts and NYU Shanghai. “The campus life feels more to me like a high school than a college,” Bond said. “You bus or train to school, stay in one building the entire day, and then go home at night. It’s a bit of an adjustment.” Ashley feels that NYU Shanghai also differs from Tufts in terms of the academic feel. “NYU Shanghai seems more relaxed, less intense schoolwork-wise, and it has a more relaxed atmosphere,” Ashley said.

Bond feels like he’s learning a lot from taking classes within NYU Shanghai’s diverse student body. “It’s interesting learning about Chinese film, for instance, with students that are from China,” Bond said. “You don’t feel like as much of an outsider when you’re experiencing someone’s culture alongside them, and it’s a really important perspective to have.”

That doesn’t mean the students are without complaints, however. Their shared apartment in the BASE dorms by Laoximen is one of the converted doubles, which has been an adjustment. They also noted that the food in the cafeteria isn’t as good as they expected and that the gym could use some improvements.

This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Allison Chesky

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