Dev Kalavadiya

As I stand at the threshold of a significant milestone, graduating from New York University Abu Dhabi in 2024, I reflect on a journey that has been nothing short of extraordinary. Being the only student from Fiji in a class of almost 500 students initially filled me with apprehension. 

“Would I be lost in this vast sea of diversity? Would I feel a sense of belonging so far from my tiny island nation, 15,000 kilometers away?” 

These fears, however, quickly vanished. Among classmates from 82 different countries, I never felt alone. The vibrant, multicultural student body of NYUAD embraced me, ensuring that I never longed for home, even during the most challenging times, like being stranded on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. This experience, challenging as it was, brought us closer together, forging bonds that I am confident will last a lifetime.

From my freshman year, having roommates from Morocco, Ghana, and Pakistan, all hailing from vastly different cultures and backgrounds, wasn't a hindrance but a gateway to building life-long friendships. Our shared living spaces became hubs of cultural exchange, laughter, and mutual support. The diversity we often speak of at NYUAD was not just a concept to me - it became my lived experience.

I vividly recall listening to John Sexton over Zoom at 1 AM in Fiji during our virtual Marhaba. His words resonated deeply with me as I realized that NYUAD was not just an institution but a community where every individual mattered. Here, I have cultivated cherished friendships. As I look to the future, I am confident that I have a friend and a “couch to sleep on” in any part of the world.

As I bid farewell to NYUAD, I take more than just a degree with me. I carry a collection of experiences, memories, and relationships that span the globe. My journey here has taught me the true meaning of unity in diversity. It's a lesson I will carry forward as I step into the next chapter of my life, forever grateful for the sense of belonging and community I found in this unique corner of the world.