Figuring It Out

At NYU Abu Dhabi, it's possible to create a niche student interest group for your passion.

Ice skating here in the United Arab Emirates in the middle of the desert summer is a perfect getaway from the heat and academic work for a university student.

It’s no wonder the figure skating student interest group (SIG) at NYU Abu Dhabi is popular among our students. “The respite from summer is an attraction point,” said Anna Oura, the SIG’s president. 

“I thought it’d be impossible to create a figure skating club."

Anna Oura, Class of 2023.

Growing up in Japan, Oura took figure skating lessons for years. It wasn’t until college that Oura fell back in love with skating again and was hoping to pick it up. While there were plenty of SIGs available, figure skating was not one of them.

While keen to create a figure skating SIG, the first year student did not think many students would be interested as it is quite a unique and uncommon sport.

Still, she posted a poll online among her peers to suss out interest. The overwhelming response was all it took to motivate Oura to start the group for those who liked figure skating or wanted to try skating for the first time. After some planning to get support and funding from the university, the figure skating SIG was born.                        

The Importance of Play

Oura’s passion to start the figure skating group also fulfilled another student’s childhood dream. First year student Jenny Li was always envious of skillful skaters in big shopping mall rinks back home in China. Missing the opportunity to learn as a kid, Li jumped to sign up as soon as this new SIG was formed. “College is a time for exploration… I don’t mind spending time learning something I’ve always wanted,” Li said. 

Jenny Li, Class of 2023.

For Oura and Li, figure skating is a time off to recharge and be better prepared for academic work. “Students are often very grounded in reality with school work, but entering the rink is like entering a different world, away from our studies,” Oura said. “It’s a surreal experience,” she added.

NYU Abu Dhabi Student Interest Groups

Student interest groups (SIGs) at NYUAD are an outlet for our students to participate in activities and interests beyond the academic realms. From cooking to sports groups, there is a wide variety available to cater to different passions in life. If what you’re passionate about isn’t available, there is always a chance to create a SIG for it, just like Oura.