Angela's Story

NYU Shanghai's picture

When I reflect on my journey so far at NYU Shanghai, I remember my experiences as a student ambassador during the candidate events, working with the Chi Heng Foundation to raise HIV/AIDs awareness, helping to found the SILA Connection in Shanghai, and participating in the NYU Global Student Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi in January 2014. However, none of these achievements would have been possible without the driving forces of this new academic environment my fellow students and I call home.

Though it may be surprising to hear, one of the first difficulties I encountered here was how to respond to the simple question, “how are you?”. During my first three weeks of orientation at this school, I always gave the textbook answer taught by rote to nearly every Chinese student: “I’m fine, thank you, and you?” It wasn’t until I asked an international friend for their response to this question that I realized a simple “good” was more appropriate. This is just one example of the daily awkwardness and stresses which made me feel so unsure. I came into this school afraid to ask questions for fear I might be judged for asking a “stupid question”. After I asked that first question, however, I realized that people here would not judge me as I feared, that they would be open and honest in their responses. This translated into a very healthy classroom environment where everyone is welcome to raise questions and challenge professors. This was a completely unfamiliar environment for me, as I was brought up in an education system where the professor’s word was final, and it was taboo to question or interrupt.

Learning how to ask questions in class opened doors for me in my life which were previously shut. For a while, I was fixated on choosing a major with utility, but after hearing inspiring lectures from a variety of fields, I felt energized by more possibilities than I thought possible. The system in place at this school supports my state of uncertainty, providing me with many elective courses to explore such as photography and cosmology.

This school respects and supports my right to shape myself into the person I want to be outside the confines of family or society. Such freedom began to play a crucial role in my life, prompting me to think twice about my values, taking into account eastern and western cultures, as well as my place in the greater scheme of things.

This new frame of mind gave me the drive to explore more of my own extracurricular interests, bringing me new experiences, and giving me the strength to emerge as a leader. It has been a wonderful journey so far. I have made lifelong friends, grown as a leader and as a person, and witnessed firsthand NYU’s vision of leadership across boundaries. Without NYU Shanghai I would never have imagined myself to be able to travel around the world so early in my life and forge an intimate understanding of different cultures. I am thoroughly grateful to school for the diverse opportunities, and look forward to giving back to the school that has given me so much.

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