Dylan Palladino always desired to communicate with people in their mother tongue. So much so that when his family moved to Singapore when he was 10 years old, Palladino decided that he wanted to learn Mandarin—one of the country’s four official languages.
By the time Palladino, who is American, started his first year at NYU Abu Dhabi, he was fluent in Mandarin. It was not until his second year that Palladio realized the pleasure he got from reading and speaking in Mandarin and learning about Chinese politics. He decided to continue learning the language that is native to almost a billion people worldwide.
Palladino took a semester abroad in China, attending an intensive immersion program in Shanghai where speaking a word of English during the eight-week program was not allowed. “I would actually have gotten kicked out of the program if I spoke English,” Palladino said about the strict rule of this program.
The intensive eight-week program saw Palladino traveling through different parts of China and staying with various host families to learn more about Chinese culture. China had always been a place Palladino wanted to go. “It had always been something I wanted to do: Go to China, live in China, and really perfect my Mandarin skills,” Palladino said.
Through J-Terms and semesters away, Palladino learned that friendships need to be maintained, especially when classmates are in different parts of the world for long periods of time. While Palladino makes it a priority to make new friends with classmates at local study away sites, he never forgets to keep in touch with those friends who remain in Abu Dhabi or are at a different location across the global network.
While university seniors around the world are living a similar experience this year, it does not make it any easier. Trying to be productive virtually and creating a structure to his studies are a few of the challenges Palladino has faced. On the positive side, Palladino has formed a much closer bond with friends who are living on campus this year, particularly as students gather in much smaller groups.
Palladino will also always have his memories from Candidate Weekend. “Candidate Weekend will always have a really special place in my heart,” Palladino said. His first time in the region, Palladino spent a full day exploring the different parts of Abu Dhabi, and still continued great conversations in the NYUAD common area with fellow candidates until the early hours of the morning. “I slept for 19 hours straight after!” Palladino added.
The conversations have continued throughout Palladino’s four years at NYUAD. “It’s the biggest thing this University has given me: a global perspective and experiences,” Palladino said.