Finals week is looming near, and for some of us freshmen, it feels as though our first year at NYU Abu Dhabi has passed by at supernatural speeds. It’s almost time for students to scatter to their corners of the globe as they return home. Before we leave for summer, however, here are a couple of tips, tidbits and life lessons that freshmen have shared about their experience so far.


  1. Camping in the desert at night with a bonfire is a must-do.
  2. Saadiyat stairs are killer, no matter how fit you are.
  3. 50 degrees outside and 15 degrees inside doesn’t help.
  4. If you want some money, capstone psychology experiments are a good way to go.
  5. You never want to lose your student ID.
  6. The Highline is a good place to make friends — even the feline ones.
  7. Even if you don’t take Arabic classes, chances are yallah, khalas, inshallah, alhamdulillah, marhaba and habibi have all been incorporated into your daily vocabulary.
  8. No matter how much food they have in the dining halls, you’ll still always wander listlessly up and down the different sections while complaining about how much you miss home-cooking.
  9. Dancing and jumping across your room at 5 a.m. with your friends is an acceptable way to overcome writer’s block when you have an assignment due in a couple hours.
  10. People back home will often think you live in Dubai — or worse, Abu Dubai — and you’ll just have to deal with this.
  11. No one likes a 9:15 a.m. class.
  12. A bike, scooter or skateboard will always come in handy to roll around campus.
  13. Room of Requirement is NYUAD’s encyclopedia.
  14. At some point, you are going to walk into a class and feel too tired to function.
  15. Room selection is war, especially if you want the singles.
  16. Coffee is gold, but sleep is better.
  17. If your birthday is coming up, expect a surprise.
  18. Related: if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.
  19. NYUAD occasionally books an entire movie theater and gives out free tickets. Take advantage.
  20. Where there’s a will, there’s a way to pick the easy classes.
  21. Naps are good; three times a day is not excessive.
  22. If Foundations of Science gets to be too much — especially when the end of the semester rolls in — the floor will suddenly become a very comfortable place for napping during labs.
  23. Sometimes we tend to forget that we live in the desert. That is, until the sandstorms and the heat settles in.
  24. No pork bacon around here.
  25. When we’re sleepy, our filters turn off.
  26. Independence is important.
  27. So is learning how to craft concise, professional emails to professors.
  28. Freshman fifteen goes hard.
  29. It can be rewarding to step outside your comfort zone and take classes you wouldn’t have considered before.
  30. It’s normally not OK to walk to breakfast in your pajamas, but when you’ve just woken up and classes have already started, ain’t nobody got time for that. Classes in pajamas all the way.
  31. A lot is happening in the UAE, and it’s easy to miss out on all the festivals, galleries, screenings and lectures if you don’t leave campus.
  32. Upperclassmen really are friendly.
  33. If you live in a building that faces the Campus Center, you want to keep your blinds down at certain times, because anyone walking around will be able to see very, very clearly into your room.
  34. There’s an effective way to ask for assignment extensions.
  35. If you don’t pick up your laundry on time, someone else is going to mess with it. More often than not, in won’t be the kind soul who folds your clothes and places them neatly on top of the machine.
  36. Hanging out in someone’s room, playing and listening to music, is a really nice way to spend your time.
  37. It’s OK to change from who you were prior to NYUAD. Change is inevitable and, in fact, necessary.
  38. You don’t have to go along with the weekend crowd to be happy.
  39. It’s fine to be clueless when everyone else seems to have figured their lives out. Chances are, they’re actually not too sure either.
  40. Have a support system for life. Find friends whom you can trust with your safety and your happiness. Find people to run to when you feel like breaking down, people who will get you through the night.
  41. It is totally fine to be alone. You don’t have to always go in a pack to the dining halls. You may cross paths with new people on the way.
  42. Preserve your quirks. Some people will love you for them.
  43. Be you. Don’t pretend, that’s exhausting.
  44. You don’t have to engage in hook-up culture if you don’t want to; don’t give in to peer pressure.
  45. If you want to take care of the world, first take care of yourself.
  46. The only wildlife you’ll see on campus are cats, flies and sleep-deprived students.
  47. When running out of t-shirts, join the events hosted by the Athletics department.
  48. Try out new things you’ve never done before like boxing, capoeira, salsa, hip-hop, horseback riding, surfing or dragon-boating.
  49. The bidet in the bathroom is not there to wash the floor or your feet.
  50. Time can’t travel any slower than first semester or any faster than second semester — or so we think.

Originally published by ‘The Gazelle’, an NYUAD student publication on 09th May, 2015.