Selecting a university can sometimes be effectively choosing a career. Kilian Hauser, 22, was caught choosing between 2 accelerated programs when he decided take the road less taken.
“You can’t switch into NYU Shanghai,” Hauser said,” but you can switch out. I looked at it as at the very least spending one year traveling to a different country and learning the language and culture there.”
At the Admitted Students’ Weekend in New York City, Hauser recalls a lot of hypotheticals. “We were going to be the pioneers or the guinea pigs,” he said. “Why not? They threw a lot at us and I think we all kind of asked ourselves ‘why not?’”
Hauser had never been to China let alone Asia before arriving in Shanghai his freshman fall. “I didn’t know what to expect. I was driving in from the airport and seeing the outskirts of the city, all of the apartment buildings, and then they just kept going as far as the eye could see,” Hauser explained. “I got this big adrenaline rush with realizing that I would be going to college in China- this country that you always hear about but never see. It all felt surreal.”
Hauser believes NYU Shanghai has changed a lot in the past four years. “We had to learn how to be independent from day one. Administration helps with a lot more now but I remember back when we were just told to figure it out on our own” he said.
It was a tough adjustment, as Hauser remembers. “We were properly independent, but it helped because everyone else was going through the same thing,” he said. “I was halfway around the world, away from my parents and everything I knew. I had never been away from home for longer than two weeks at a time. It made me learn what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, which was tough,” Hauser explained. “It was the most I’ve grown.”
Hauser was struck by culture shock when he arrived in Shanghai. “The fundamentals of everything I once knew was no more. Grocery stores, spitting, cutting in line – are amongst the many minute cultural differences that one would encounter day to day and so you had to start from zero with your understand of society to integrate yourself into Shanghai. By living it you begin to understand, and then you can accept it, or not but at least you know why and where others are coming from.”
“For example, you can see those old Chinese guys walking down Century Avenue, with their shirt pulled up over their stomach, they’re barefoot and they’re spitting and smoking a cigarette but no one pays attention, however, the moment you wear shorts in 60 degree weather, everyone is staring at you. It’s never a dull moment and although I never tried to replicate the old Chinese guys, I now understand why they do what they do and I get why everyone stares at me”
Hauser has thoroughly enjoyed being in Shanghai, despite the cultural differences. “Shanghai is incredibly forgiving. You can do all sorts of things and feel safe safe and secure- as long as you get get use to all the staring. We got to focus on becoming our own person. Growing up in high school, I always dreamed of travelling and traveling by myself. When I’m here, I can say why not to going to the Tiger Leaping Gorge- a remote mountain range on the tibetan plateau, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia.”
This experience made Hauser learn a lot about himself. “Do or do not, there is no try, to quote Yoda but I finally understand what he meant. Here, you can be and do anything, even if you don’t understand anything like speak Chinese or understand their customs but you can still get by, only if you actually want it” he said. “It made me realize that adults aren’t people who know everything, they’ve just been through a lot and can figure it out as they go- something I am pretty use to now”
“Before, I used to plan out my life and think about what I had to do to get where I wanted. That wasn’t too satisfying for me, but what is satisfying is taking the opportunities that I’m given. One day, I said, hey I want to go to Suzhou and so I went. Then, I found a company that was looking to hire someone like me – talk about coincidence in life,however” Hauser said. “Luck doesn’t just happen, the harder you work, the more you get. In life it’s not so much about the hand that’s dealt to you but how you play it.”
All of this has caused Hauser to reflect on where he is headed next. “The world is endless with problems and we need to accept, be able to comment on them, and do something about it. I’ve realized this is the final layer of us being sheltered, so you need to do what you love,” Hauser advised. “I love Interactive media Arts, because I get to problem solve and work on different projects across various industries. Now, looking at what jobs are out there I realized that my future is the same thing”
Hauser chose not to pursue graduate school, because he wants to gain more real world work experience. “Graduate school is just postponing life in my eyes right now because the only world I’ve only known thus far has been school.”
The Class of 2018’s four years spent at NYU Shanghai have had a huge impact on the soon-to-be graduates, but they also had a big effect on NYU Shanghai, in Hauser’s eyes. “We academically shaped the school to a great degree being the second class. As the school and its program develops and evolves, every class after us will be building onto and refining what we had established” Hauser explained. “I appreciate NYU Shanghai for the experience, but I do wish I came at a later date for all of the different courses that are offered now.”
“Our class socially also set a different standard of what it means to be an NYU Shanghai student and really mentored the classes below us. More people know about Blue Frog and Beef and Liberty on Monday,” Hauser said. “We established their foundation of the city – and Burger Mondays. Really, the future classes depend on the previous classes’ insight.”
“I really couldn’t imagine any better four years than NYU Shanghai,” Hauser reflected. “I want to say ‘Just Do It’, not to rip off Nike, but because if you want to do something, you are your biggest excuse.”
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kilian Hauser