I finally have time to write. It feels really odd given that this week has been so hectic. I barely had time to eat or sleep because some event is coming up or I couldn’t force myself to abandon a conversation with some American or Slovakian or Kiwi .
So here I am, in my room empty because everyone is downstairs having dinner and because I wanted to have time to myself.
The week I referred to above was “Marhaba” Week, the “Welcome” Week for the incoming freshman at New York University Abu Dhabi, undoubtedly the world’s friendliest university. I imagine what it would have been like if I had gone to any other university. I would’ve sulked in a corner, drowning in a sea of conversations that I would not want to have. Here, almost every conversation is deep, engaging and interesting.
I say almost because not every conversation is a discourse for the ages. Conversations sometimes devolve into meaningless chatter because energy is high and you just have to contribute to the energy to the point where you are contributing for the sake of contributing. Small talk is beginning to get on the nerves of some, myself included, because there’s only so many times you can say, “Hey, I’m Usman from Pakistan!” “Who are you?” “What do you plan to major in?” But then again, everyone is so interesting that you just have to know everyone, which is fairly possible in a class that consists of about 180 students. About 180 students from 88 countries.
There’s no culture shock, no jarring adjustment. Everything falls in place by itself. It feels wonderful to begin at a new place and to immediately feel secure and energised and happy. There is nothing I can complain about. Abu Dhabi is a wonderful city and while it may not be the cultural hub you would like it to be, it certainly has it’s traits that make it a pleasure to live in. It’s safe and sound and the freedom of going out at 2 AM in the night to grab Subway is new and much appreciated.
As always, NYUAD has been a pleasure not because of it’s facilities or presence. It has been a pleasure because people here are vibrant and are dying to make an impact. Admittedly, it can feel force fed sometimes. I have listened to five speeches now. I know the professors and administration are excited, but you don’t have to tell me every single time that these are the four greatest years of my life, that I’ll develop long and meaningful relationships and I’ll have fun. Still, none of that ever comes of as insincere. The administration and professors are some of the most energetic and entertaining people I have ever met.
Being an NYUAD student is not easy. But it’s very rewarding and I feel truly blessed. The atmosphere, the accommodation, the energy, the breadth of courses and the sheer friendliness make it a wonderful place to call home for the next four years.