In her first year at NYU Abu Dhabi, Ivory Lee became friends with a senior from Hungary through their participation on the University’s basketball team. Despite their different academic schedules, the pair quickly became close friends. When Lee was studying away in Europe the following year, she made a point to visit Hungary. Even though the pair were not in touch for some time, they were able to pick up from where they left off as though nothing had changed. “I spent a whole weekend in her hometown with her family, and had one of the best experiences I’ve had to date,” Lee said.
Lee continues to experience similar strong connections with many of her friends that she made during her first year. “Through these friends, I really learned what a respectful and reciprocal friendship looks and feels like,” Lee added.
When she began her journey at NYUAD, Lee was initially shy, tending away from questioning others or voicing her opinions. “The idea of someone disagreeing with me scares me, so I thought the best way was to just agree with someone else,” Lee explained. But the daily interactions with peers and professors both inside and out of the classroom opened Lee up to understanding and discussing differences. “Sharing different opinions and having healthy discussions are powerful and a lot more meaningful when seen through a wider lens,” Lee said.
Besides the rich relationships Lee came to form at NYUAD, the interdisciplinary nature of the liberal arts curriculum has also been eye-opening. The interactive media class Bioart Practices, which takes students on a tour of the materials and techniques utilized by artists in the emerging field of biological art - that is art which uses life itself as a medium, was one of Lee’s favorite courses because it allowed her a glimpse into the latest technology in Biology and to learn some lab techniques despite not being a biology major.
“I don’t think that I would have gotten the opportunity to use such equipment without being a biology major anywhere else,” Lee commented. “It’s classes like this one that really opened my eyes to how the arts, society, and the sciences can interact and intersect,” Lee said. “The exposures to these new perspectives and the skills culminated from these experiences have definitely made me a better critical thinker, learner, and leader.”
The remote senior year experience has given Lee plenty to consider. It changed the way Lee prioritized how she uses her time, and she cherishes the moments she gets to spend with her friends in person.
While academics are essential, making efforts to establish and maintain strong friendships and relationships with others are as important for Lee. “Your GPA may land you your next job, but these friendships that we build now will last forever, inshallah.”