Candidate Weekend Comes to Saadiyat

Many NYU Abu Dhabi students remember the familiar anticipation that leads up to Candidate Weekend — how, as soon as they received the email invitation, ...

Feb 28, 2015

Many NYU Abu Dhabi students remember the familiar anticipation that leads up to Candidate Weekend — how, as soon as they received the email invitation, their thoughts were consumed by ideas about where they would be going and what they would be doing. The weekend itself may be exciting, nerve-wracking, tiring or likely a combination of all of these emotions.
As Candidate Weekend is in many ways the beginning of an NYUAD student’s journey, it is an experience candidates will always remember. It’s an important rite of passage and an experience that all students share.
Often, broader perspectives on Candidate Weekend come only after some time and space from one’s own experience. Freshman Dylan Kava found that being a peer ambassador for the Early Decision 1 Weekend taught him about his own time as a candidate.
“It made me think about Candidate Weekend in this way: it was a really, really important step actually, because once you were invited to Candidate Weekend it was as if you qualified academically,” Kava shared. “[Then] they try to see if what you wrote on paper actually matched your personality, and in that sense it’s actually really important that you be yourself.”
Another peer ambassador, freshman Sebastian Grube, also found that he gained perspective about his own Weekend in his role as peer ambassador this year.
“It made me appreciative of the innocence that I had during Candidate Weekend,” Grube said, referring to his belief in the catchphrase often-touted during Candidate Weekends that NYUAD was a place where everyone is a global leader.
However, now that NYUAD has moved to Saadiyat Island, bringing Candidate Weekend along with it, this year’s candidates may be experiencing something completely different from the memories that current students hold so dearly.
Though basing Candidate Weekend in Saadiyat may have ruptured the candidates’ connection to the city of Abu Dhabi, perhaps painting a less complete picture of living in the UAE, it could conversely have the effect of enriching candidates' grasp on what it’s like to actually be an NYUAD student. Accommodations in Cristal Hotel were inherently different from the reality of NYUAD student lifestyle. Staying on campus gives candidates insight into the accommodations they’ll be living in, the food they’ll be eating and the student body they will be a part of.
“[Having CW on Saadiyat] reflects more the way that they will live and a little more the life of the university,” Kava added.
Even beyond the move to Saadiyat, some of the Candidate Weekend scheduling has changed. Candidates now go to the Grand Mosque at night, in contrast to the bright morning sun that greeted candidates in previous years. Additionally, there is now a short city tour led by peer ambassadors.
“Quite interesting,” were the words Kava chose to describe the tour, noting that he and the other peer ambassadors weren’t really sure of what to show on the tour. “It was more of a walk. We were just like, oh, look at that — and by the way, there’s this!”
For the candidates, however, the city tour was a bit more memorable. Candidate Sara Booth cited the city tour and the visit to the Grand Mosque as two major highlights.
“It was incredible to see firsthand the beauty of the mosque and the liveliness of the city. It only made me more excited about the prospect of attending NYUAD and being able to come back to such a culturally rich city,” Booth wrote to The Gazelle.
It appears, then, that despite being on Saadiyat for accommodation, candidates were still able to feel the strong connection to Abu Dhabi that is characteristic of Candidate Weekend. When asked for their most memorable moments, Booth and Rick Yung Ju Kim, another candidate, cited making lasting friendships and John Sexton’s iconic speech.
“I still remember his story with Charlie,” added Kim. “Even though the Candidate Weekend only lasted for three days, I was able to fully grasp the atmosphere of the NYUAD community: caring, academic and unconstrained."
Hannah Taylor is deputy features editor. Email her at
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