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Illustration by Fatima Alrebh

Should You Take a Virtual Course from the NYU Global Network?

Unsure about taking classes remotely from a global site? Learn from the experiences of students who took classes from other NYU sites in fall and the opportunities to maximize the offerings to enrich your academic plan.

Nov 28, 2020

Over a month ago, NYU Abu Dhabi’s student body received an email announcing that the Remote Plus model will continue into the spring 2021 semester due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This news, combined with the suspension of study away programs for the upcoming semester, resulted in the disruption of many students’ academic plans. However, it simultaneously posed a new, exciting opportunity — taking a course virtually from any of the 14 global sites in the NYU network.
The Enrollment Process
The process of enrolling in courses from other sites is the same as enrolling in NYUAD courses. You can browse courses offered at NYU New York and NYU Shanghai under the Spring 2021 Course Search page on Albert. Courses from other study away sites can be found under the Global and Other Study Away Sites tab on the Spring 2021 Course Search page.
While some locations are offering a small number of in-person courses during Spring 2021, most of the classes are being offered in an online or blended format. No in person meetings will be scheduled for courses listed as online on Albert, whereas, blended courses will have both in person and online sessions. However, courses listed as blended are still available to be taken remotely by all NYU students as instructors will accommodate students who are unable to attend the in person sessions.
Albert displays class times according to the local time at the class’ location, so students may encounter a false time conflict error while registering. Students will have to directly contact the registrar to override this problem.
Taking classes on different sides of the globe also means that many of these classes have to be attended at inconvenient times depending on your own location. Students also need to be mindful of the switch to Daylight Saving Time that will happen in New York and some other European sites in March in order to avoid conflicting class timings in the middle of the semester.
For Tan Zhong Chen, Class of 2023, Health and Society in a Global Context from NYU Accra was held at 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, which meant he had to sacrifice time he could have spent with friends who ended their classes earlier.
Ayan Marwaha, Class of 2022, had a similar experience with the class he took from NYUNY. His class was initially from 4 to 7 a.m. and shifted to 5 to 8 a.m. after daylight savings later in the semester. He was accommodated for his timezone when it was absolutely necessary but this may not be the case with every professor. If this is a concern for you, it would be a good idea to check with the professor about whether they will be providing any support for students taking classes at odd times.
Improving Your Academic Plan: Non-NYUAD Minors and Exciting Major Electives
During the fall 2020 semester, the wider selection of courses available through the global network allowed NYUAD students to complete minors that would have otherwise not been possible.
“I took two classes from NYU Accra and NYUNY, both of which count towards the Public Health minor from NYUNY,” shared Chen. “I realized we could get a minor from NYUNY without actually studying away in New York so that’s a huge bonus.”
For Davit Jintcharazde, Class of 2022, taking the class Human Sexuality from NYUNY solidified his choice of major. “I would highly recommend taking classes in non Abu Dhabi sites because there are some classes that you can’t even imagine are offered in your major and can change your perspective on your major,” Jintcharazde said. “For me Psychology was at times really boring because of the limited class selection [at NYUAD].”
For Irina Trusina, a member of the Class of 2021 whose NYUNY junior study away was rejected, remote classes were an opportunity for her to take classes that she would have otherwise graduated without taking, including the Abnormal Psychology course.
Marwaha expressed that after the cancellation of his fall 2020 study away in NYUNY, taking classes remotely from there still provided him somewhat of a global experience. He shared that the course he took — Business, Economy and Policy in the Midst of Covid-19 — from NYU Stern was very relevant to the ongoing situation of the world.
“We are exploring a lot of different policy and economic and financial aspects of the pandemic and every week we have a different professor coming in from NYU to talk to us about their research,” said Marwaha, stressing how useful the course was in understanding what was happening in the world right now. Business, Economy and Policy in the Midst of Covid-19 will also be offered in spring 2021.
Sudit Kumar Sahoo, Class of 2023, majoring in Arab Crossroads Studies, thought that A History of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict from NYU Tel Aviv was not only relevant to his major but also gave him the unique opportunity to learn about this conflict from both sides. Although he did not plan to study away in NYU Tel Aviv, the remote semester allowed him to take the well known course cotaught by an Israeli and a Palestinian professor.
Language Options
Despite NYUAD’s diverse student body, its language courses are noticeably limited with only Arabic, Chinese, and occasionally French offered. With the global network at their fingertips, students can now pursue a myriad of new languages at a range of levels.
Language courses offered in spring 2021 include Intensive Intermediate Spanish from Buenos Aires, Intensive Intermediate German from NYU Berlin, Elementary and Intermediate Italian from NYU Florence as well as a number of French, German, Italian, Portugese and Spanish language courses from NYUNY.
Jintcharazde, who took Italian language classes from NYU Florence last spring, continued with advanced Italian classes during fall 2020 and explained that he would not have been able to finish his minor in Italian if it was not for online classes.
Leila Al Dzheref, Class of 2022, took beginner Spanish classes during her study away in Buenos Aires last spring and continued with Intermediate Spanish I from NYUNY in fall 2020, and plans to continue with Intermediate Spanish II in spring 2021.
“It is good that I took the class from New York because I am still practicing to speak and I am not forgetting the language and I am closer to my goal of being fluent in Spanish,” said Al Dzheref. However, she felt that the Spanish course in Buenos Aires was much better in terms of the workload and professor’s engagement with the class.
Lucas Davidenco, Class of 2021, who had previously studied French in high school took Spoken Contemporary French at NYUNY. “People who take Spoken Contemporary French do it because they want to take their French to the next level…during class time we would discuss movies and material in French. The main focus of the course was for us to have confidence in the language and develop our own voice in it. I could feel myself getting more fluent and getting more comfortable.” Spoken Contemporary French is being offered remotely at NYUNY in spring 2021.
Other Considerations: Classroom Connections and Workload
The experience of online classes from other sites is also made unique by the fact that students have not met many of their peers. For Marwaha, connecting with people from his class was made easier by his professor’s use of Zoom breakout rooms during classes. “I found it easy to connect with people in that kind of setting. I had a good time interacting with people and building my network in the New York campus.”
In contrast, Samantha Lau, Class of 2023, who took Global Biocultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Public Health from NYUNY, experienced that a much larger class size with almost everyone in the class being a stranger made it much harder to form connections.
Sahoo, however, had a completely different experience from Lau and Marwaha as he was the only person from NYUAD taking the course from NYU Tel Aviv. “I was initially sort of apprehensive about being the only person in the class but it also made me draw the attention of the professors. Because it was not in a conventional class setting, it gave me a much better perspective of the content and was overall a very positive experience,” shared Sahoo.
Because of the differing structures and content of the course taken by the students, workload was also different in comparison to the courses at NYUAD. “I would say that the workload was more adequate. For example, the psychology classes that I took from other sites, they give you an option to not do an exam and instead write an essay or do a presentation, which I think is a more fair distribution of workload,” expressed Jintcharadze.
“I was actually expecting the NYUNY classes to be much more rigorous than the NYUAD ones, I don't know why, I guess [it was] just a bias I had. Turns out that the class was actually so chill in comparison, it was unbelievable,” said Lau.
Ultimately, the rigor of the classes depends on the type of class and the professors. There is no clear indication of whether the workload of the courses differs by their locations.
The option to take classes from anywhere in the NYU global network is an opportunity to avail during the Covid-19 pandemic. With no definite answer about when things will return back to normal and classes will resume in person, it has nonetheless opened up new doors for students and their academic paths.
Amna Asif is a Deputy Features Editor. Email her at
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