Illustration by Taman Temirgaliyeva.

NYUAD Goes Back In-Person

Students transition to in-person classes for the first time in 18 months. Find out what they have to say about it.

Sep 26, 2021

After a long halt of 18 months, students at NYU Abu Dhabi are gradually transitioning back to in-person classes. The Gazelle reached out to students to understand their expectations, experiences and thoughts.
Stefan Mitikj, Class of 2024, shared his in-person experience: “It felt surreal. I was caught off guard, but the professors acknowledged the situation and helped us navigate the transition [after which], the transition was very smooth.”
Nirvik Bista, Class of 2024, considers his in-person experience as “unique:” “The environment and the atmosphere of lecture halls and seeing other students create an academic environment that was completely absent in online learning.”
Daniel Nivia, Class of 2024, expressed similar sentiments: “It felt a little strange because we were seeing people in person after a long time, [however] seeing the professor in person was exciting as the professor can engage better with the students.”
While Zoom offers unique features such as breakout rooms and instant messaging, in-person classes facilitate more intimate connections and encourage bonding before and after class.
When asked how in-person classes compare to Zoom classes, Mitikj shared, “I feel like I can approach professors better, and I can discuss the content of the class with the classmates afterward and I have a better grasp of the material taught.”
After being online for more than a year, some students find it strange and even a little difficult to return to physical classrooms.
Zoom provides students with the unique ability to take classes from anywhere in the world and watch recordings to catch up with classes if they missed them due to extenuating circumstances. With in-person classes, students now need much more time to get ready, pack their belongings and walk to classrooms.
“The only difficulty is that it takes a while to reach the location of the classes, which wasn’t a concern as I was [used to it] and thus mentally prepared to walk the distance,” said Mitikj.
Nivia also shared that the transition would have been a lot more difficult for the Classes of 2024 and 2025 as they had never experienced in-person university classes before. “The transition from school to university online is different from the transition from school to university for people who had already experienced in-person classes at the university,” he noted.
For some students, in-person classes also act as a way to standardize learning. There can be a multitude of difficulties while learning online such as malfunctioning cameras, unstable internet connections and faulty audio quality. These factors can act as barriers toward learning. In-person classes can eliminate these technological problems, thus making education more equitable. Mitikj shared a similar sense of relief: “Getting back to a standardized format is great [as] there are no barriers to full and comprehensive participation in class.”
Although NYUAD plans for a full return to in-person instruction, classrooms are not what they used to be pre-pandemic. In the classroom, students are expected to wear a mask, maintain one meter of distance from everyone else, wipe their seats when coming and going and use the same seat for the entire semester. Professors also have to be masked and maintain proper physical distance. These regulations have been put in place to ensure collective safety.
Mitikj shared that he looks forward to “finally being off-screen and being present in places that would otherwise not have been possible and also look forward to engaging with my classmates, creating discussions in class and interacting as much as I could without any problems like WiFi or internet access.”
Nivia looks forward to “[having] all of my classes in-person and getting to know people in-person.” Also, with constantly changing guidelines around Covid-19, students fear that classes may revert back to Zoom. Mitikj shares this concern as he “hopes for continuity of in-person classes throughout [his] academic career.”
Overall, students are grateful, excited and optimistic about in-person classes and are hopeful that they will be a great experience for them. Students look forward to making the most out of their in-person classes.
Vimal Karimbhai Minsariya is Deputy News Editor. Email him at
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