Just Explore

Maria Vogel, Class of 2018, in a turquoise headscarf during a chemistry lecture at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Passion for science leads NYU Abu Dhabi senior to exciting opportunities in Shanghai and New York

The whole idea of liberal arts education has always appealed to Maria Vogel, NYU Abu Dhabi Class of 2018. “I was interested in a lot of different things like drawing and biology. I didn’t know if I wanted to necessarily just focus on one thing at once.”

While Vogel wanted some flexibility in her courses, she followed through with her passion in biology and declared it her major. In her sophomore year, she had to take  Foundations of Science, which was available at the Shanghai campus.

I didn’t even think I’d ever go to Shanghai.

Maria Vogel, Class of 2018

Thankfully, the support system there was helpful and it is compulsory for semester abroad students to take conversational Mandarin while in Shanghai, which helped her navigate her way through the city.

Vogel even found confidence to bargain in Mandarin — something she was not comfortable doing it back in her home country of Morocco.

Her new friends from the Shanghai campus also helped her become more independent, and even navigating her way to finding halal food was a breeze.

In love with Shanghai now, Vogel thought about doing a second semester there, however, more opportunities aligned to her academic goals awaited in the Big Apple.

New York, New York

They say you should always be ready when opportunity knocks. Vogel answered the call when she was introduced by her biology mentor, Mazin Magzoub to NYU President Andrew Hamilton, a scientist himself. The introduction led to an exciting research opportunity she couldn’t pass up. Almost as soon as she arrived in New York, Vogel started doing work on peptides in the Hamilton lab.

Most afternoons are dedicated to lab research while mornings in New York were spent juggling classes: one biology, two computer science, and a drawing class.

The breadth of classes for biology (in New York) is really astounding.

Maria Vogel, NYUAD Class of 2018

At the Hamilton lab, Vogel helped investigate a particular small molecule scaffold against a protein that’s involved in Type 2 diabetes. “(Hamilton lab) is an organic chemistry lab, and with my biology background, I supplemented the research by culturing and testing the cells,” Vogel said.

One of the projects in New York even became her final year Capstone project.

Tip: Embrace the Unknown

While it is completely normal to be afraid of something new and have cold feet, Vogel advises prospective students to speak with others who have already gone through a semester abroad. It is also important to realize that there are a lot of support networks that are available to students during their time away.

Vogel says “the biggest selling point of NYU Abu Dhabi and the global network is to just explore.”


Maria Vogel, Class of 2018