Studying abroad is one of the most enriching opportunities students can experience during their academic careers. To give you a small glimpse into the life of a student overseas, we’re featuring Emily Liu’s journal about Shanghai.
Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Emily Liu is a junior at NYU double-majoring in Media, Culture and Communication, and East Asian Studies. The funny thing is, she hasn’t been at NYU for a year now! When she was given the opportunity to study abroad for a year as a Global Media Scholar, Emily packed her bags, bid Manhattan adieu, and first headed to Prague for her sophomore spring semester. From riding a donkey along the coast of Santorini, to climbing 392 stairs to see Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum in Nanjing, Emily has done a fair amount of adventuring since she made the decision to study away. She’s now furthering her studies at NYU’s new portal campus in Shanghai for her fall semester.
In her journal, Emily starts off on the quieter side at Shanghai’s contemporary art museums, and slowly escalates to rowdier events, including crowded ancient streets and an electronic music festival.
What lead you to want to study abroad, and why Shanghai?
I’ve always wanted to study abroad, even before NYU. The idea of learning how to live in a foreign country where English wasn’t the dominant language appealed to me, and it also presented me with the chance to grow and become more independent and self-reliant. Shanghai appealed to me as a city filled with opportunity. The city is a healthy balance between international and local, and there are many events that allow foreigners to network with expats and locals. I also really love China, so that in itself was a huge pull factor.
Out of the many benefits of studying abroad, which one have you found the most rewarding?
I traveled to Xi’an during one of my weekends and had the pleasure of enjoying their local cuisine, exploring sites such as the Terracotta Warriors and the city walls, and watching a Tang Dynasty dance performance. However, the most interesting and enlightening part of the trip happened when I visited the Old Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque. Streets were lined with signs in both Chinese and Arabic, and most of the locals wore hijabs or taqiyahs. I always viewed China as a place that lacked religious diversity, but that experience opened my eyes and made me realize that diversity is more than just the differences in language and skin color. The picture that so many foreign media have painted of China as a single, unified culture is actually very false.
What advice would you give to help students get the most out of their experiences abroad?
Prepare yourself because I’ve got a mouthful: make an effort to become friends with locals, travel as much as you can, learn the language, and try to go out at least once a week, even if it’s the park next door. Each little step out of your comfort zone will culminate into a huge adventure, one that you will look back on with little to no regrets.
What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to when you return to NYU’s Manhattan campus?
I’m not sure if I want to go back just yet...