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Abu Dhabi to New York

Imagine moving from the quiet, hot, and invariably sunny Abu Dhabi to the stone jungle of a city that never sleeps. Thrilling? Different? Challenging, perhaps? It’s the kind of transition faced by every student at NYU Abu Dhabi. Spending a semester abroad is not only a graduation requirement but an unparalleled chance to travel the world, which engineering student William Young, Class of 2018, took with pronounced enthusiasm.

Will is a mechanical engineering major from Melbourne, Australia who, in August, flew from the warm nest of NYU Abu Dhabi to the birthplace of the university in New York City, and by May, he already knows the heartbeat of the city. Evidently, it's faster than that of Abu Dhabi’s. Will starts his day at the fitness center to get going. After a quick shower and a bite of overnight oats for breakfast, Will strides to his first class of the day: Machine Design.

“The class sizes are generally larger and slower paced relative to NYUAD,” Will says, reflecting on how classes at NYU Tandon compare to NYUAD. “My Machine Design class in New York has about 50 people, a handful of which are from NYUAD.”

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The class sizes are generally larger and slower paced relative to NYUAD.

William Young, NYUAD engineering student
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Bike Life

In the afternoon, Will springs onto his bike and cycles over the Manhattan Bridge to the Washington Square campus to attend a Chinese language class. “I wanted to take a class on Chinese for years and this study abroad has finally allowed me to fit it into the engineering schedule. Besides, the class is located in the main campus, which means I can enjoy a nice bike ride to get there.”

Will’s lifestyle as a student in NYC is a kaleidoscope of unpredictability. “I don’t really have a typical day here,” he says. “The city is so vibrant and there is always lots happening so I am thankful for the intimate relationship I have with my Google calendar.”

Will grabs something to eat at the NYU Lipton Dining Hall — a popular dining spot for other NYUAD students as well — before heading off to his part-time job as a mechanic at NYU Bikeshare, which provides free daily bicycle rentals for NYU students. For students like Will, having a steel friend is a way to quickly get around, and save some money, and alongside with staying active.

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Keeping NYUAD close

Regular visits to the gym and routine bike rides around the city are but a fraction of Will’s physical exercise regime. At NYUAD, he is a well known member of the intercollegiate basketball team. Basketball is like a “universal language,” Will says, reminiscing about the diverse range of people he has met on the courts. “I play pickup in NYC on outdoor courts at the Brooklyn Bridge park docks or in NYU facilities such as Palladium or Tandon. At 6'7", people enjoy complaining about my height — it’s always a good time.”

Will heard from upperclass students who studied away before him that the abundance of new acquaintances accompanied by a busy and dynamic life in the New York makes it tough to maintain connected with friends from NYUAD, so he decided to be proactive about it. “I formed an intramural basketball team at NYU New York, bringing together fellow NYUAD students studying abroad to compete in friendly matches against students from New York and Shanghai. We have a lot of fun and it’s a great way to keep in touch regularly.”

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I formed an intramural basketball team at NYU New York, bringing together fellow NYUAD students studying abroad to compete in friendly matches against students from New York and Shanghai. We have a lot of fun and it’s a great way to keep in touch regularly.

William Young, Class of 2018
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Quite often, the vibrant life of NYC also throws welcome surprises into Will’s schedule. Today, for example, he’ll be attending a live taping of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, a famous American late-night talk and satire news show. “I am a very opportunistic person and NYC is the hub for just that. My foodie friend from Australia has been visiting over the past week which has prompted some more culinary exploration.”

In the evening, the nightlife NYC is famous for returns outside Will’s dorm room window. Street lamps, taxi horns, heels clanking on the pavement, and loud chatter all stand in stark contrast with the quiet residential vibe at NYUAD.

By midnight, Will breaks his gaze from the window toward three friends crouched over a frame of a dune buggy — an off-road race car project he is competing in with a team of NYU Tandon students. The long nights are motivated by the thought of seeing the car running at competition weekend in California later in the semester. Breaking into the circle, Will returns to finish grinding some steel tubes to fit snugly for welding. A classic night for a student in the city that never sleeps.

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Aigul Saiapova, Class of 2020, comes from Bashkiria, Russia and enjoys a few simple things in life: photography, daily exercise, movies, writing occasionally, and chocolate ice cream. She is a student contributor for #myNYUAD stories, a growing collection of articles by students about students at NYUAD.