For Nofar Hamrany, a 25-year-old senior from Israel, the biggest draw to NYU Shanghai was the city itself. The NYU name and American education paled in comparison to the appeal of Shanghai.
Hamrany had previously lived in the United States during her time at UWC in New Mexico for two years and knew she could go back at a later date if she wished. She wanted to study Economics and was excited at the idea of learning Chinese as well. However, her Chinese wouldn’t be tested as much as she had previously thought. “Shanghai is so modern and international that I didn’t need to use it,” she said, “but the city still exceeded all my expectations”.
Hamrany’s recommendation to other students is to take advantage of the city by getting involved in communities in Shanghai. “You should come to NYU Shanghai because it’s in Shanghai- a big cosmopolitan, but cheap, city with opportunities in every field you could imagine, so it’s easy to explore your interests and develop your skills,” she said. “That’s the reason I liked my experience here, meeting people in the city and getting involved with outside organizations. The school should help students get more involved.”
There were also other surprises during her freshman year. “I was shocked not by China, but by American culture here. During orientation, everyone would be in the lobby of Motel 268 going out together and Danielle and I would sit in the lobby drinking tea watching everyone come back,” Hamrany remembered. “So many students got drunk and had alcohol poisoning.”
Yet, the community her freshman year was also full of positives. “It was a small community and we all knew each other right from the start,” she said. “The dorms were close to campus, and it was easy to go to events on campus and outside of it.”
A lot has changed since then, Hamrany thinks. “There’s been good changes. When we started, it was a struggle and things have improved as it’s become more organized. But now, it seems like students are less involved, not only because the dorms are farther away.” Getting involved in the school was one of the best things she did. “It made me know a lot more people, recognizing them and knowing their names and contributed to a closer community. Professionally, I couldn’t have gotten awards, grants, scholarships and the graduate program that I will go to in the fall without that,” she said.
She thinks part of the reason that students don’t get involved as much is the fact that many things are already set. “In the first classes, we had a lot of impact to shape the university. The inaugural class started things, but we really pushed and executed them.” For example, Hamrany didn’t found the Green Shanghai club that she has run for the past three years, but she joined the team the first class started and developed it further. Furthermore, the first classes instituted a lot of important changes, like adjusting the textbook policy and Oscar Fossum, a student who was of the Class of 2018, creating the Social Science major.
Another factor is that there’s been a demographic change in the student body as well, from Hamrany’s point of view. “We got more financial aid than the lower classes and that’s changed a lot of the culture. We used to bond over eating oatmeal everyday and finding jobs and internships in the city,” she said. “Now, people are less close to each other, more cliquey and less involved in the school and developing it.”
Hamrany believes the upper classes should remove themselves from student organizations earlier than they already do. “Elections shouldn’t be in April and May, but for the spring semester so that the previous people are still here,” she said. “It’s also important to take some space for ourselves and give new students space to continue what we’ve created.”
Hamrany believes the new campus will fix some of the problems that have arisen. “I really hope the new campus will create a better sense of community, with the dorms being close by and having more different spaces for activities, and specifically it’ll be easier to make it our own when we won’t need to work with the Lu Jia Zui Management anymore,” she said. “It will be a lot better for students.”
Throughout her four years at NYU Shanghai, Hamrany focused on other aspects of the school besides classes. “People are scared about grades, but I had a lower GPA than recommended for scholarships and still passed the interview stage. I think they care a lot about your actions and experiences at the end,” she said. “So it’s beneficial on both a professional level and it’s fun to have a life.”
She’s excited to see where NYU Shanghai alumni end up in their careers and lives. “Where the inaugural class is now doesn’t matter,” Hamrany said. “But in 3, 5, or 10 ten years, it’ll be a weird position. We’ll remember seeing people drunk during orientation and now they’re in important roles and have kids.”
Hamrany’s recommendation to other students is to take advantage of the city by getting involved in communities in Shanghai, even though most live far from the city center. “You should come to NYU Shanghai because it’s in Shanghai- a big cosmopolitan, but cheap, city with opportunities in every field you could imagine, so it’s easy to explore your interests and develop your skills,” she said. “That’s the reason I liked my experience here, meeting people in the city and getting involved with outside organizations. The school should help students get more involved.”
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nofar Hamrany