Who Am I? The Fascinating Science of Self-Identity

Looking Back on 2012-13

With the summer holidays just days away, Salaam caught up with a few students and asked them to reflect on the past academic year. Despite putting finishing touches on papers, last-minute studying for exams, packing their bags, and seeing fellow classmates one last time, they spared a few moments to talk about the year's highlights, their discoveries and summer plans, and what they most look forward to come fall semester.

Most Enjoyable Aspect

For some, including Russian sophomore Olga Karpova, their fellow classmates were what they enjoyed most. "For me, the most enjoyable part of being here is being surrounded by creative and talented people who have goals," she said. Others spoke of volunteer work, academics, and the city of Abu Dhabi.

"I really enjoyed making friends and exploring different areas of the NYUAD academic curriculum, as well as exploring Abu Dhabi, traveling regionally, and learning about the cultures of the people who go this school." — Davit Avoyan, Armenia, Class of 2016

"Spending half of the year at NYU New York and the other half at NYU Abu Dhabi helped me understand much more the connection between the two sites. Having been exposed to the large and varied NYU community has helped me value much more the organic link between the two campuses and I really think NYU as a whole can benefit a lot from this constant flow of students back and forth between New York and Abu Dhabi. I personally had two experiences that were completely different from each other, and yet they both allowed me to continue growing and keep doing the things I love." — Irene Paneda, Spain, Class of 2014.

"I enjoyed being in a coed university after being in single-sex schools for most of my time in high school." — Nadda Al Khaled, UAE, Class of 2016

I enjoyed the atmosphere as a sophomore. I feel much more settled now with my friendships. I feel more comfortable being in this institution

Gagyung Kim, South Korea, Class of 2015

"I enjoyed studying abroad in New York. It enabled me to use different lenses for evaluating my personal effectiveness and growth." — Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE, Class of 2014

"I really enjoyed taking courses outside my area of expertise. I'm an engineering major, but I got to take courses like Analysis and Expression and Animals, Culture, and Society that exposed me to different ways of thinking. I also enjoyed my engineering January Term experience very much." — ShienYang Lee, Malaysia, Class of 2016

"The long period of rainy and cloudy weather." — Mick Jermsak Jermsurawong, Thailand, Class of 2015

"What I enjoyed most this academic year was teaching Korean to Korean kids in the Korean School of Abu Dhabi. Although waking up at 8am every Friday was painful, it was a really rewarding experience." — Hongjun Byun, South Korea, Class of 2015

"As a freshman at NYUAD, I have enjoyed most of the first-year programs. It was the year that I learned a lot about myself. It is also a time when I met so many incredible people. I enjoyed the curriculum that allows me to take courses that are not under my major requirements too." — Tsega Hailu, Ethiopia, Class of 2016

Favorite Experiences

In addition to positive experiences provided by their academic curriculums, students made lifelong memories during activities both on and off campus. Whether an NYUAD-hosted cultural event or an athletics opportunity, students spoke of their memorable moments from the past year.

"I had a chance to have lunch with the principal of a female-only high school and her daughter. I was really amazed by the similarities between the Emirati and Korean educational systems. I was also inspired by how women are really working hard in their own fields. They are the engine of the Abu Dhabi society." — Hongjun Byun, South Korea, Class of 2015

"Personally, the most memorable event that I participated in this year was when Professor Hilgendorf, my classmates, and I were NYUAD ambassadors to NYU students visiting from New York. We talked about the Emirati culture and answered questions they had regarding NYUAD and the UAE." — Nadda Al Khaled, UAE, Class of 2016

"The interaction with the professors. I took a course taught by the dean of psychology from Harvard. I could just casually go up to her and ask her things, and I really think that was the best part." — Gagyung Kim, South Korea, Class of 2015

"I had the privilege to intern at a private equity company in New York, where I learned to become a team player amongst a professional environment. It improved my ability to learn and analyze quickly." — Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE, Class of 2014

"Marhaba [student orientation], because it was very helpful at first as a person who was completely new to NYUAD to learn about the community I was going to live in for the academic year." — Davit Avoyan, Armenia, Class of 2016

"I liked Asia Night. It was fun, I got to try new foods, and I liked how everyone gathered and danced together." — Hye Seung Son, South Korea, Class of 2016

"I went to a Russian ballet, did dragon boating, and had the chance to try horseback riding. And I like the NYUAD Institute lectures; the guest professors are very interesting." — Olga Karpova, Russia, Class of 2015

My favorite academic activity since day one and throughout my education at NYUAD has been learning the Arabic language. With every new word and every lesson I feel closer to local culture and understanding the Arab world.

Daria Karaulova, Russia, Class of 2014

Discoveries

Throughout the year, students made both academic and personal discoveries. For New Zealander freshman Megan Vincent, the personal discovery was of a cultural nature. "I made many personal discoveries living in a new culture and discovering new realms of what's appropriate in a different country," she said. "It's interesting because what you assume is okay in your own country may offend others from different cultures. I liked finding these new boundaries."

"Before I came to Abu Dhabi, I had a vague perception of the city since I hadn't been here since my Candidate Weekend. Everything for me was a discovery. The most significant discovery was the people — I got to learn more about Emirati culture and Emirati people, who they are, what their values are, and how they perceive their development." — Olga Karpova, Russia, Class of 2015

"I'm learning how to organize my time better." — Gagyung Kim, South Korea, Class of 2015

"Everything about Abu Dhabi is new because I've never been here before. In terms of personal discovery, I have discovered an interest in humanities through core classes and Analysis and Expression. I realized I kind of like philosophy and sociology. That was something I didn't know in the past because I was always a science-focused person. I also learned many things from living with people. I've been living in a boarding school for many, many years, but I enjoy it especially when people come from interesting backgrounds and have different personalities." — ShienYang Lee, Malaysia, Class of 2016

Summer Plans

From visiting friends and families in their home countries to interning and traveling, the students have an assortment of exciting summer plans.

"I am taking Perception of Music and Sound, a summer course in Abu Dhabi. After I finish the class, I will go home for one week and come back to Abu Dhabi to do an internship. I am also working on a project that concentrates on education in Ethiopia and, at the same time, I plan to learn new languages, most probably Spanish and Java, a programming language."— Tsega Hailu, Ethiopia, Class of 2016

"I will be in London conducting archival research for NYUAD Professor Nathalie Peutz. I am so excited to be one of the few people that have expertise about the island of Socotra." — Hongjun Byun, South Korea, Class of 2015

"Since I am considering applying to law schools after graduation, my pre-senior-year summer will start off with an intensive LSAT preparation week in Abu Dhabi, kindly organized by the NYUAD Career Development Center. I will also intern at Accenture, a consulting company in the UAE, and prepare for my senior Capstone project field research trip to Nepal at the end of July. In addition, I look forward to Resident Assistant training upon my return to Abu Dhabi in mid-August." — Daria Karaulova, Russia, Class of 2014

"I will be in New York working on web development." — Mick Jermsak Jermsurawong, Thailand, Class of 2015

I will be in London conducting archival research for NYUAD Professor Nathalie Peutz. I am so excited to be one of the few people that have expertise about the island of Socotra.

Hongjun Byun, South Korea, Class of 2015

"I will be interning in Washington, DC." — Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE, Class of 2014

"I'm taking a statistics course in Abu Dhabi and then going back to my home country and traveling a little bit." — Olga Karpova, Russia, Class of 2015

"An internship back home and in Spain. It's an IT internship. I will be probably be working on Android application and design." — Davit Avoyan, Armenia, Class of 2016

"I'll be traveling around Europe." — Nadda Al Khaled, UAE, Class of 2016

"This summer I am taking a summer core course and an LSAT prep course in Abu Dhabi. Later, I will be researching and working on my Capstone project in New York. I will also be attending a two-week workshop on intercultural understanding in Turkey that brings together university students from all over the Middle East, Europe, and the US." — Irene Paneda, Spain, Class of 2014

"I'm going to spend time with my family and friends back at home and I'm going to teach myself programming and design. It's my freshman summer and it's probably the only summer I don't have to take classes and internships." — ShienYang Lee, Malaysia, Class of 2016

"I don't have plans yet, but I really want to stay home this year because I was in Belgium the entire summer last year working the whole time. My plan is to stay in Korea, study Arabic, and catch up on family stuff." — Gagyung Kim, South Korea, Class of 2015

Looking Forward

For many of the students Salaam spoke with, fall 2013 will find them studying abroad, an experience they eagerly anticipate. For those returning to Abu Dhabi, it's all about meeting the incoming class. Here's a sampling of what the students look forward to next semester.

"Definitely being in New York and experiencing a whole new level of college. As much as I love this university, I'm looking forward to having a completely new experience." — Gagyung Kim, South Korea, Class of 2015

"I'll be abroad for two semesters (London then New York). I'll be doing an internship next spring and then spending January Term back in Abu Dhabi. I'm trying to sort out my academic plans still, whether I want to double major or not." — Olga Karpova, Russia, Class of 2015

"I look forward to starting classes in visual arts and to January Term." — Nadda Al Khaled, UAE, Class of 2016

"It is going to be my senior year and I'm trying not to set any expectations for it. I know only one thing for sure — it is going to be unique and nostalgic because it is the last year of the first class graduating from NYUAD and because all of the seniors will finally reunite after more than a year apart. I am looking forward to hearing everybody's study-abroad experiences as well as sharing my own. I am particularly excited to work on my Capstone project in political science and my directed-study course in francophone literature." — Daria Karaulova, Russia, Class of 2014

I look forward to coming back to Abu Dhabi to spend my senior year. I look forward to reuniting with my NYUAD family and wonderful community.

Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE, Class of 2014

"Meeting the freshmen, taking visual arts courses, getting ready to go abroad, and cooking more." — Davit Avoyan, Armenia, Class of 2016

"I will be studying abroad in New York this fall. I look forward to going back to New York and to keep working on my Capstone project through the NYUNY International Relations program." — Irene Paneda, Spain, Class of 2014

"I look forward to being a Resident Advisor next year and working with the Residential Education team. Also to meeting new people, especially seniors who are coming back and the freshmen because there will be quite a few of them. I think I'll be helping out with Marhaba too." — ShienYang Lee, Malaysia, Class of 2016

"The plan next year is to keep on working hard. I want to do an internship while taking classes in order to engage with the community and apply what I learn in class." — Tsega Hailu, Ethiopia, Class of 2016

"I am so excited to spend my junior year in New York. I will visit a lot of museums and, of course, restaurants!" — Hongjun Byun, South Korea, Class of 2015