Meet NYU Abu Dhabi student, Sahan! Sahan is a Mechanical Engineering major from NYU Abu Dhabi currently studying away in New York. Since he couldn’t be at our orientation he was kind enough to share his experiences with me via email.
What’s the NYU Abu Dhabi campus like?
The campus has been built in such a way that classrooms, dorms, dining hall facilities, library, gym, convenience store and parking are all within a few minutes’ walk from each other. There are 2 main dining halls, to the East and West ends of the campus, both with multiple dining options as well as a separate restaurant known as the Marketplace, which has plenty more dining options! There is also a small café adjacent to the library with Starbucks coffee and other snacks. There is a large gym in addition to a smaller Ladies-Only gym along with indoor basketball courts and also an outdoor stadium with a running track and football field which is about a 2 minute walk from the campus. NYU Abu Dhabi also has its own version of the ‘high line’ of NYC where students as well as faculty like to take an evening stroll, lie on the grass banks reading a book or chat among colleagues.
Can you tell us about the extracurricular activities at NYU Abu Dhabi?
NYU Abu Dhabi offers something for everyone when it comes to extracurricular activities. There are various different sports such as football (soccer), basketball, cricket, tennis, table tennis, badminton, swimming and track and field. One may choose to participate in these sports at a competitive level by joining a team or simply as a leisure activity. There are professional coaching staff for all of the sports to ensure that one is able to enhance his/her skills in that sport and learn as much about it as possible. The fitness center offers many different fitness classes based on interest or otherwise, such as CrossFit and Pilates. There are also weekly training sessions for those interested in trying out sports such as boxing, kickboxing, squash and even fencing. Although there are facilities that cater to almost all the sports that students are interested in, the NYU Abu Dhabi Athletics staff are also open to suggestions regarding other sports that students would like to try out. There have been instances where groups of students have expressed interest in parkour and training sessions outside of the university were arranged for these students. There are also an abundance of Student Interest Groups (SIGs) at NYU Abu Dhabi. These SIGs cover a variety of interests such as music, world peace, international cuisine, comic books, religion, sustainability, different ethnicities and even cool sports such as surfing and karting. Each year, as the student population grows, as does the number of SIGs adding to the variety of the extracurricular activities available on campus.
How are the dorms?
The residential buildings typically consist of 5 or 6 floors of dorms and each building can be either ‘visitation’ or non-visitation’. The former category means that the building consists of both male and female floors and there is no restriction in entering a floor of the opposite gender. The latter means that the building is exclusively occupied by either male or female residents and visitation by the opposite gender is not allowed under any circumstances. Each residential building has a common lounge on the second floor with a TV, large kitchen with a microwave as well as regular oven and a fridge in addition to smaller lounges on each floor. Students live in 4 person suites, either in the form of 2 double rooms with one shared bathroom per room along with a common living room/kitchen space or 4 single rooms with one shared bathroom per two rooms and one common living room/kitchen space. The dorms are all air-conditioned and fully furnished with beds (and bedding), tables and wardrobes, The living area consists of several sofas, a mini dining table with chairs and a pantry with a microwave and a mini fridge.
What are the food options like?
The East dining hall has several counters such as the ‘Meal Club’ which typically serves rice, meat, vegetables, soup and salad. The menu at the ‘Meal Club’ counter changes every day so one does not get bored of dining hall food that easily! There is also a Grill which serves steaks, burgers, chicken nuggets, salmon and several other grilled food items. There are also different varieties of pizza served at a separate counter. One of the new and most popular additions to this dining hall is the ‘Create Your Own Pasta’ section where one can get pasta with their choice of toppings and sauce. There is also a vegetarian counter in addition to an East Asian ‘Hot Wok’ counter with delicious food from the orient. For those in a hurry, there is a ‘Grab and Go’ Deli counter that offers excellent sandwiches, wraps and salads made to your liking. There is also a wide variety of fruits, fresh juices, canned soft drinks, tea and coffee. The Marketplace is a very interesting component of student dining as it has a sushi as well as a shawarma counter. There is also a Deli counter with a different selection of sandwiches and wraps as well as a smoothie bar called ‘Goodness Me’ which has a wide range of fresh smoothies that are to die for! The ‘Double Trouble’ Oreo chocolate shake is my personal favorite. The Marketplace also has a grill with similar options as the East dining hall. The Library Café is a cozy little café where students like to stop by to grab a coffee, a cookie, a pack of chips or a chocolate while working in the library. It also has a wide assortment of flavored tea that many students tend to fall in love with.
What do you do on the weekends?
Although Abu Dhabi is certainly not New York, there are plenty of things to do on the weekends. Students typically spend time relaxing at the Saadiyat beach, especially when the weather is relatively pleasant – the heat from August to late October can be brutal so going to the beach during this time might be worse than a trip to the sauna! There are shuttles operating from the campus to several central locations in the city at regular hours every day so it is not unusual for students to hop on one of these shuttles and head to the corniche to have an ice cream and relax or spend some time shopping at one of at least a dozen large malls in the city or even watch a movie or have a meal. There are always activities organized by the various offices on campus such as Student Life and Residential Education during weekends which students love to get involved in. Some of these activities include movie nights, BBQs on campus, bowling at one of the arcades, kayaking, ice skating or even skiing at Ski Dubai! Open mic nights are also a very popular activity during weekends. There are typically two or three open mics per semester where students gather in an informal setting to showcase their talents and watch their friends perform. Famous musicians such as Ed Sheeran, Bryan Adams, Adam Lambert and Aerosmith have performed in either Abu Dhabi or neighboring Dubai in the past so it is safe to say there will be plenty of high profile musicians in the UAE in spring 2017.
What do you find to be the biggest difference between NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi?
I think the biggest difference between NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi is the extent to which the latter is a scaled-down version of the former. NYU New York is spread all over the city of New York, particularly in Washington Square whereas NYU Abu Dhabi is one big building on an island. The chances of meeting the same person twice in NYU New York is in itself a rarity whereas in NYU Abu Dhabi, the chances are that one may meet that person again and again almost on a daily basis. Its compact, yet cozy nature facilities the formation of friendships resulting in a closely-knit community while that of NYU New York closely represents that of its host city – vibrant and fast-paced.