After Four Years: What I Know Now, That I Didn't Know Then

Confession: I never fully read the acceptance letter I received from NYU Abu Dhabi four years ago. I was just too excited to join my new home in the UAE.

As a high school student in Ethiopia, I recall the daunting process of choosing a university, ideally one that is approved by your parents and popular among your peers. It's an important decision that will prove to mean so much not just to you but your family too. I still remember staying up until 3am waiting for that letter from NYUAD and the excitement I felt when I opened it and read, "Congratulations!"

I know what it feels like to be new; to start a significant chapter in life at an unfamiliar place with strangers from all over the world. It's not always easy; there will be bumps in the road. But trust me, there are things you can do from day one to stay on track and make the most out of this remarkable experience.


1. Go your own pace
Take your time. Get to know your new home on your own schedule. The number of things to do on and off campus can be overwhelming. Take it easy. You’re here to stay.

2. Get to know people
Meeting people from all over the world will surely be one of the most profound experiences of your four years. Make as many friends as you possibly can, but also remember that there's no need to rush or put pressure on yourself. Joining clubs and sports on campus is a proven way to make this process easier. I suggest you go for it!

3. Experiment with your studies
Exploit your first year at NYU Abu Dhabi. Go for courses that feel right from your high school experience but also those that simply catch your eye. Don't underestimate the power of a major. It can sometimes manipulate your intelligent mind, which is hungry for all kinds of knowledge.

4. Make summer count
Summer is yours to enjoy. There are thousands of things you can do but I suggest taking advantage of NYUAD summer programs that can build upon your resume.

5. Go out and explore
Take advantage of the free campus shuttles that run downtown and back at reasonable timings. Trust me, when the time comes, it pays to know what the Action Zone is and where to find the closest Burger King.

6. Find happiness within yourself
These four years are yours to grow and prosper. Learn to be independent and find happiness within who you truly are. You are not just joining a university, but a strong community of students, faculty and staff who care about you.

7. Make your existence felt
Be bold. Speak your heart and stand up for what you believe in, while being culturally and socially sensitive and respectful toward your environment. Go for the scholarship you want or score that bicycle-kick goal while playing for the Falcons. Don't hold back!

8. Keep fit
You don’t have to be a football fanatic like me, just find a physical activity that suits you well and that you can spend time doing every day. Sweating is probably the most underrated medication for stress relief. Try joining a sports team or drop by the Fitness Center. Activities can make a stay that is already exciting, more interesting.

9. Work hard: Duh!

10. Leave nothing to the imagination
Like many good things in life, you only get one shot at this. Live your life to the fullest and make memories that will stick!