Dash Your T's Slowly

NYU Abu Dhabi offers what it describes as a T-shaped education. While gaining expertise in one specific field, students can also expand the breadth of ...

Aug 30, 2014

NYU Abu Dhabi offers what it describes as a T-shaped education. While gaining expertise in one specific field, students can also expand the breadth of their knowledge. Freshman year is designated for the latter.
I always knew what I was made to do. I was made to write. Four years ago when I read Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky”, a novel on the oppression of women worldwide, it confirmed my calling: to become a journalist and give a voice to the voiceless women around the globe. Once accepted to NYUAD, I immediately began planning my four years as a Social Research and Public Policy major. The path before me was clear and straight. I enrolled myself in a course titled Gender and Globalization, happily envisioning my future as a world-changing journalist.
Disappointment, however, quickly shrouded my vision. With no background in political science or economics, Gender and Globalization was a barrage of mind-boggling concepts and vocabulary. No matter how many times I re-read the assigned articles and took notes, I could not remember a thing. Six weeks into the course, I was convinced that I could not survive the class, let alone the SRPP major.
Ultimately, I refused to take the midterm exam, and forced myself to withdraw from the course. Yet the emancipation lasted only a day — my concerned mentor swiftly pulled me to the registrar’s office to enroll me in the only 7-week course that fit my schedule: Fundamentals of Acting. As someone with a severe case of stage fright, I felt karma’s bite on my back. Yet the pain was only temporary.
Fundamentals of Acting was an awakening — I ran, danced, yelled, cried and encountered new emotions and characters that lived within me. Reading plays and working among theater majors and experienced actors, I found myself drawn to performance art. We were constantly experimenting, taking risks and creating new worlds. Nothing was predictable; everything was a surprise. More than any specific acting skill, the class taught me an important lesson: to have hope in the unknown.
The following semester, I took full advantage of the liberal arts curriculum. Dedicating my schedule to exploration, I took courses in literature, computer science, graphic design and psychology. It was in Graphic Design Studio that I discovered an unexpected interest in visual arts. Art, like writing, challenged all my senses — not just sight, but also touch, smell, taste and hearing. Instead of words, it uses color, lines, form and shape to express the way one feels the pulse of the universe. As my to-do list filled with poster, logo and mobile application designs requested from classmates, I felt a desire to strive and excel in the field. Convinced that this was the path I wanted to pursue, I declared my major as Art and Art History.
My dream is still the same. I still want to write. I still want my words to be a voice for the oppressed. There is more than one way to become a journalist. Perhaps I chose the wrong path. However, I trust that my alternative path means that my writing will stand out from the rest.
Freshman year is a time to let go of the familiar and be vulnerable to the unknown. It is a time to sample multiple subjects and be open to new passions. Regardless of where you are in the major selection process, don’t settle. Keep searching. Don’t assume interests, but look broadly and give everything a chance. In your T-shaped education, first take time to dash your t — the rest will follow suit.
Correction: Aug. 21, 2014 This article was originally printed under the headline Don't Dash Your T's.
Mariko Kuroda is a contributing writer. Email her at
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