Photo by Alistair Blacklock/The Gazelle

Juniors reflect on post-abroad experience

Photo by Alistair Blacklock/The Gazelle Some students from the inaugural class at NYUAD have already accomplished their study abroad semesters and have ...

Apr 20, 2013

Photo by Alistair Blacklock/The Gazelle
Some students from the inaugural class at NYUAD have already accomplished their study abroad semesters and have returned to NYUAD to complete their undergraduate education. What once seemed to be an unbelievable dream is today a precious memory.
The first batch of juniors returning to NYUAD have gone through a lot of emotional recovery and serious decision-making this semester. Building a circle of friends practically from scratch, submitting Capstone project proposals, thinking about graduate schools and summer opportunities.
Some students provided various reasons why they chose to study abroad during these particular semesters and at these study abroad sites.
Junior Nahuel Rosa spent fall 2012 in Prague primarily because he wanted to experience Eastern Europe, but his social circle was a big part of his decision as well.
“My two friends were going there, I think it is very important to go with your friends,” Rosa said. “It helps you to get out of your comfort zone.”
Junior Chani Gatto spent two semesters in New York primarily because of her film and media major.
“I would’ve loved to go to Florence or Prague, but New York made the most sense in terms of academics,” Gatto said. “I went two semesters back to back because I wanted to experience two different semesters: fall and spring, and it seemed more practical to save a flight and not to go back to NYUAD in between the semesters.”
“I decided to go the second semester sophomore year because I was searching for a grand new experience, I thought it will deepen my knowledge,” said junior Stephen Underwood. “As far as Prague, it was about some childhood notion of the old Europe as well as the draw to certain political science courses.”
The juniors shared their reflections on their first impression after coming back to NYUAD. For most of them, coming back to NYUAD meant coming back to stability and family.
“I was tired, I wanted to be back in the encapsulating nature of NYUAD that provides me with being able to concentrate on my studies and my relationships with people,” Underwood said.
For Gatto, it initially appeared to be more unusual and exciting than she expected.
“At first I felt like I was in the zoo where people are staring at me,” Gatto said. “It was like we were endangered species who all of a sudden started to come back.”
As the semester went by, the juniors were able to make new friends with the sophomores.
“If it was the same group of friends this semester, I would’ve never met the other people, I was almost forced to make friends and this is something I appreciate about the nature of study abroad programs,” Gatto said.
But the previous experiences made juniors more careful at building friendships; there is a fear of losing these new friends next year.
“I love and I hate it. I am fortunate that I made new friends, but it’s devastating,” she said.
Underwood thinks that NYUAD should limit the study abroad program to only one semester.
“There is a sense, an expectation of students to take a year abroad,” Underwood said.
Despite the fact that NYUAD community is in a constant transition, the welcome back was genuinely warm on behalf of the administration and faculty.
“Even the kids that I [babysit] — they were thrilled to have me back,” Gatto said. “We kept in touch throughout my study abroad.”
As NYUAD grows and the system of study abroad semesters remains, the student body will need to learn how to go through this coming-back process as smoothly as possible.
These returned juniors were the first ones and their recovery has been challenging, yet surrounded by support and care. There is a mixed feeling of excitement and fear about senior year.
“I am really excited to see those who created this place with me,” Rosa said. “What really motivates and excites me is that it can be absolutely the same as when we came back here or it can be completely different.”
Daria Karaulova is news editor. Email her at
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