A First J-Term for NYUAD Freshmen

When most students packed their bags, and those going to New York packed a few extra sweaters and mittens, to spend Januaries in different locations ...

Jan 25, 2014

When most students packed their bags, and those going to New York packed a few extra sweaters and mittens, to spend Januaries in different locations around the world as part of the NYU January Term program, a few decided to stay back in Abu Dhabi. While staying in Abu Dhabi instead of spending a summer in Buenos Aires or a winter in London might not have been the first choice for many, the group at Sama Tower made the best of their time and the wonderful Abu Dhabi weather. For some, it was a deliberate choice based on academics.
Quan Voung, a freshman who took Heuristics said, "My first choice was a class that happens to be in Abu Dhabi. I am exploring the option of majoring in computer science and that class is really programming intensive."
Nafisatou Mounkaila, a freshman who took Race and Ethnicity, also decided to stay in Abu Dhabi.
"I chose to stay in Abu Dhabi because I am not in a rush to check out the other global sites,” she said. “This still is my first year in Abu Dhabi, and I just want to spend all my schooling time for this first year here."
The Race and Ethnicity class did plenty of fieldwork around the Emirates, visiting the Al Ain Heritage Site, the Sheikh Muhammad Cultural Center in Dubai and the Somali Center in Abu Dhabi. Other classes also had trips around the Emirates, and some even went out of the country as part of their course.
Understanding Insurgency and Counterinsurgency traveled to Kathmandu to meet with participants of Nepal's civil war, while students taking Tales that Travel: Storytelling and Storytellers in Eurasia 10th - 16th Century went to India.
Laura Waltje, a freshman who took Tales That Travel commented on her trip and her general J-Term experience:
"At first, I was a little hesitant [about spending the winter in Abu Dhabi], but it grew on me,” said Waltje. “We went on a trip to India with my class, which was great, but generally, I have just been using this time to catch up with friends, get to know some of the people that weren't here last semester. My favorite part was definitely getting to know some of the people that were abroad last semester and being able to spend time with other friends studying here, but the India trip is a close second."
For many freshmen, J-Term was the first time after the rollercoaster that was the first semester to actually have a chance to explore the city and the Emirates. With the Dubai Shopping Festival in town and the weather being pleasant and sunny, many students took it to the beaches to complete readings or spend afternoons playing volleyball and eating Cold Stone. Frequent Dubai trips were involved, and students went on school organized activities such as bowling and exploring restaurants with the Flavors of Abu Dhabi Student Interest Group.
Whether in Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in NYU, J-Term offered NYUAD freshmen a chance to explore, reflect and reorient themselves for the spring semester.
Khadeeja Farooqui is a deputy features editor. Email her at
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