Photo of Mahendra Highway in Nepal. Photo Courtesy of Samyam Lamichhane.

Reflecting on the first semester at NYUAD

From the first time leaving home to having long awaited in-person classes to chatting about Freddie Mercury’s obsession with cats on the highline, I feel like I’ve become part of the NYUAD community.

Nov 28, 2021

Sept. 6:
My eyes bounced from my photo diary to the guitar lying flat on my bed. Exhilaration, chaos and frisson filled my mind. I picked her up with utmost care and hurriedly packed her in a gray bag tugged under my table. As I caressed her neck, I realized it was a goodbye to a number of things I cared about the most.
As we hit the road, I turned numb. Why was I growing so sensitive? Was it fear? Thrill? I started noticing even the tiniest details as if they were of astronomical significance: the road meandering through dense woodland, the sound of air rushing from the air conditioning vents and a mild tune playing from the speakers. I was constantly questioning myself: “When will I get to see these things again — after months, years?” I was lost. I was indifferent to reality. The final blow was watching my parents wave goodbye at the airport.
As it was my first time leaving home indefinitely, I got a chance to reflect on things that mattered the most to me — from a favorite book I received as a gift to the words of my father as I hugged him before leaving home. Lost in my own world, I relished the bliss of solitude and was finally ready to undertake the journey on my own. I was delighted.
Sept. 8:
Photo Courtesy of Samyam Lamichhane.
After staring at the endless succession of clouds for hours and the never ending trails of red lights on the road, I could see the gigantic violet dome of NYU Abu Dhabi. As soon as I arrived on campus, a series of plans bombarded my mind: visit the library, explore the highline, watch the sunset… Immediately, I encountered the warmth of the community that I looked forward to being a part of. I was surrounded by soon-to-be familiar faces and conversation flooded, from how the flight was to college stories, and I was vibing to the moment. I was happy.
Sept. 8 to Sept. 17:
Photo of NYUAD emblem captured from the West side of campus. Photo Courtesy of Samyam Lamichhane.
The moment of new atmosphere soon turned into a ten-day-long quarantine. What if I had arrived earlier? What if I did not have to wait for ten days? My mind was brimming over with a barrage of questions. During this time, I saw students visiting every nook and cranny of the city. I wished I was free like they were; I was jealous of their freedom. However, my perception took a turn when unexpectedly people were more than ready to help me. On the fifth day of quarantine, I was in dire need of some accessories. Just after sending a text, I could see an unprecedented amount of help even from people I had never met before.
After quarantine, I was the happiest person, not because I was free, but rather I was a part of a community that could help me thrive as I learned to challenge my own principles. I was euphoric.
A night in the highline:
Photo Courtesy of Sandhya Sharma, class of 2025.
Whenever trapped in the ups and downs of academic responsibilities, a moment of carefree chat served as an antidote to despair for me. While watching the clear sky or the distant silhouette of the skyline, our conversation ranged from Freddie Mercury’s obsession with cats to orientalism. No matter the topic, I always felt rejuvenated afterward. Even though I and a couple of friends talked for hours, it never seemed long enough to share everything we had. I wished the night was eternal.
Sept. 29:
Photo of the first in-person floor event — A2C fifth floor. Photo by Sungho Yoon, class of 2025.
“Cleared for in-person classes.” When I received this email, I was over the moon. The first class was Introduction to Computer Science with Professor Thomas Potsch. Not having attended an in-person class for a year, I never imagined a class could be this interesting. The aura, and overall atmosphere of the class was much more engaging. Whether it be the professor’s lecture style or the class’s participation, a feeling of gratitude loomed over my head. I was thankful. I was ecstatic.
Oct. 1 and onwards:
Photo of Expo 2020 fall break. Photo Courtesy of Samyam Lamichhane.
A bunch of outings and a trip to Expo 2020 Dubai marked the end of the exhilirating first half of Fall 2021. What else could be more interesting than exploring the destinations across the UAE? As a person who has a keen interest in storytelling, visiting country specific pavilions was a blessing. Different group activities like kayaking and art museum visits also presented me with a chance to express my interest. Once again, I livened up.
Photo of kayaking fall break. Photo Courtesy of Samyam Lamichhane.
Now, having spent almost a semester at NYUAD, I can confidently call it the place where my heart belongs. It was not a straightforward journey, yet it was also not a complicated one. It was not simple because it consisted of a plethora of experiences. For instance, living among people with diverse interests, exploring different aspects of life on my own as well as eventually accepting myself and embracing the sense of community. However, it was not complicated because I had people to accompany and guide me whenever the need be; it was an acceptance made possible by collective support.
Photo of #myNYUAD from NYUAD10. Photo Courtesy of Samyam Lamichhane.
NYUAD is where I can write the next pages of my life filled with meaningful nuances.
Samyam Lamichhane is Deputy Features Editor. Email him at
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