Angelina Ye, a native Shanghainese, remembers Candidate Weekend at NYU Shanghai as her first exposure to the diversity of the university – even though only Chinese students were present.
“All of the students were from different cities, I could see the diversity and inclusion, which is a value I’m always pushing for,” Ye said. “I got out of my comfort zone to see how other people think about other things.”
Ye fell in love with NYU Shanghai from Candidate Weekend. It was her first time observing a university class and she realized that classes at NYU Shanghai did not fit the stereotype of a professor lecturing the whole time. “I could see students are also a very big part of the lecture class. It wasn’t just the professor, but they asked how we all thought about it and then we came to a conclusion together.”
Hearing from the Class of 2017 about the ways in which they were building up institutions in the school, such as clubs, the student newspaper, and student government was a big draw as well. “The school seemed to be becoming more and more campus like, which was more exciting,” Ye enthused.
During orientation, Ye smiled remembering the scavenger hunt through the city and the performances by each orientation group. It was her orientation ambassador’s birthday on the day of the performances and when her group won first place at the performance, and her orientation ambassador went up to receive the award. “Everyone sang happy birthday to him when he received the award,” Ye remembered. “I felt like I’ve never made a decision much more correct than this one.”
Freshman year, Ye took advantage of the opportunities to try new things on campus and founded a startup with two fellow classmates. “We didn’t succeed, but we learned a lot,” Ye said of their company meant to match people with ideas for companies with others with the skills to put those ideas into action. She learned the importance of employees sharing their same goals and values and focusing on what their customers want. “I never lose,” Ye believes, “I either win or I learn. I learned so much from it even today.”
Ye got another chance at running a company again during the Sandtable Competition her sophomore year. Students from 15-20 Chinese universities were matched up in groups of four and simulated running a company for six years, with a final presentation on how they ran their company. Ye’s team earned the highest profit, and she was able to explain their team’s strategy effectively to the judges, so they won first place.
“NYU Shanghai gave us these opportunities,” she explained. “If I went to another university, with lots of students, I might be really little. But in a school where I am 1 out of 300 students, I shoulder the responsibility to represent the school.” Studying abroad in New York, the fall of Ye’s junior year, she realized how different it was to go to a large university.
Another opportunity NYU Shanghai offered Ye was to study abroad in Florence, Italy and live with an Italian host family. “I had an 8-year-old brother, a 10-year-old sister, and roommates from California and Sydney, Australia,” Ye remembered. “Dinner was for two to three hours everyday, and we had people from four different cultures talking about everything.”
Ye was particularly impressed that her host sister was already learning Chinese. “They really had a sense of Chinese culture and China as a new power in the world,” Ye said, impressed as she had come to Italy to see how Italians viewed her culture and country. “It reshaped my understanding of China, because it was only from my perspective with my Chinese family and friends. But then, I had an Italian-American-Australian family.”
Ye was also able to travel all around Italy and explore. “All of my friends were also studying away, each city and country I went to I had friends that could accommodate me,” Ye said, smiling. “It was a really great experience.”
As Ye finishes up her senior year, she’s bringing back a little bit of Italian culture with her. “I’m trying to find a balance between being busy and enjoying life,” she said. “In Italy, life felt slow and waiting for you to enjoy, not just jam it with everything. I feel like a sponge absorbing everything I can before I leave.”
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Angelina Ye