Graphic by Andrija Klaric/The Gazelle
As NYU Abu Dhabi students, we are continuously confronted with the forces of change and charge. Change in the sense of quickly passing semesters, migratory friends and the transformation of our opinions on ourselves and the world — whose dimensions and nature are always morphing. Charge in the sense that we are entrusted with such a comfortable life and a diversity of culture and experiences — a result of a considerable amount of money being charged to our bursar accounts.
These unique and intense circumstances throughout such early years of our lives definitely have reverberations. Though we might initially struggle to adapt to constant change, it is quite logical to suppose that eventually the change will not be met with fear and struggle to adjust, but rather with calm acceptance and taking things for what they are.
Whether this change is about the glaring confrontations involved in moving from Sama to Saadiyat or progressing from first to second year on the new campus — especially for the ’18 class, who know no different — overhauling an entire college experience within such a short amount of time, and doing so repeatedly, inevitably provokes some serious psychological readjustment.
At some point, there must come a certain notion of acceptance. Going through these changes frequently and rapidly is indeed a cold shower that might eventually start to feel warm, and thus adaptation to new circumstances starts to feel infinitely easier.
Adept at the nature of change, we can then devote energy to other matters, such as making the most out of every moment and planning future steps more purposefully. Or perhaps just relaxing, taking it easy every once in a while and not taking life too seriously as things will change no matter what. Only when the reality of change has been embraced and understood can one move with greater confidence, without being too taken aback by what suddenly might come along.
Attachment is yet another area that needs practice and constant exposure in order to master. The friendships and connections that we form here are deep, a support system that keeps us happy and helps us get by. Over time, attachments and bonds lead to certain expectations and dependencies. If a person decides to leave the university, the after effects can be quite distressing, as someone close to others’ hearts has withdrawn and there is a vast gap left behind. Well, there is no other option but to keep persevering, as such a severed attachment in the long term leaves one with unwanted scars.
The rules and regulations of study abroad do encourage changes in people that can lead to such severed ties, as both new environments and experiences create a shift in people’s priorities and preferences. Therefore, friendships and relationships break or grow apart, as two people develop in opposite directions given that they are in different places and exposed to different stimuli. Some have observed that coming back from study abroad means being in a post-metamorphosis state, with so many experiences under one’s belt that one’s nature and behavior seem to have been completely changed.
Thus, the circumstances of an airport school, where people are constantly arriving and departing, do not necessarily turn an individual into a cold robot who does not care, but rather into someone who is ready to let go with a gentle smile, knowing that the constant hellos and goodbyes are for the best.
We are charged in the sense that we have the privilege of living in a way that lacks nothing, but rather thrives on surplus, automatically bringing a perspective that people can usually only access once they have achieved a considerable degree of financial wealth. As they struggle to cover their student expenses, the average student dreams of pursuing a path that will bring them to a comfortable life of abundance.
NYUAD students, on the other hand, already have these conditions put into their laps. And while many still do strive for financial success in the future, there is nevertheless a prevailing awareness that there is more to daily living than comfortable living — namely, the people that we’re with, but also what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
This allows for our student experience to have more than one goal in mind, and to tailor our decisions and areas of focus around other things that we would like to see achieved. Perhaps it also encourages satiety, as we will have a stronger feeling of “been there, done that” in our lives.
Thus, the forces of change and charge are constantly circulating around us. They widen the horizons of our lives and lead to a higher degree of calm and maturity when it comes to deciding the future. The key to not being swept away by these forces is simply not to become jaded or apprehensive.