New York University’s status as a “global university,” though we hate the phrase, allows its study abroad programs to be as lax as they are. Columbia, our neighbor to the north, requires a minimum of four semesters of language study prior to travel. It’s hard to find the “Applications” page on NYU’s study abroad info-graphic. Instead, the questions students seem to have relate to what you do upon getting there: the FAQ prompts us to wonder, “What courses can I take when I study away?” and “Why study away?” at all.
Partying is a surprisingly important topic when it comes to studying abroad. Though the academics are a determining factor, and tailored to each satellite program, they’re famously not the reason students decide to go. Fake IDs are superfluous in Europe, where there’s also greater access to other illegal substances.
Your high schools (especially if they were private) may have had study abroad options, and these were usually very competitive. A solid Spanish career often preceded the senior trip to Madrid. But many NYU students planning to study abroad haven’t studied the language of their intended destination. Or, not in the same depth.
Forty percent of NYU undergraduates will eventually go abroad, though the number often seems larger when the topic comes up (“You were in Prague last year? Spring? Oh, we missed each other. But did your dorm have the same reputation then?”). When someone reveals he’s decided against the commonly-chosen abroad option, he’s often met with criticism – or, more forgivingly, confusion.
The ultimate factors in recent alum Alex Bedder’s decision were two: his year-earlier graduation and Tisch’s limited study abroad options. “The programs were to London or Cuba, in concentrations I wasn’t interested in,” he said. “In my case I didn’t feel like any of the options I had that related to my program were of interest.”
Because NYU study abroad sites are so specific in their course offerings, this can paradoxically present a problem. It’s simply not worth the money for a trip abroad (though the tuition price is no different, travel costs are another question) when you consider the opportunities you’ll ironically miss back in New York.
Senior Alex Herron faced a similar issue: A film major and Ancient Greek minor, his choice was limited to the film program in Prague. And though “all” of his friends decided to go, he stayed to pursue an internship and work in New York City that he wouldn’t have been able to pick up in Eastern Europe.
It’s a feeling akin to pushing at a locked door you think won’t give— and when it does, you find yourself disappointed to enter so easily. Studying abroad at NYU, while a great opportunity, doesn’t feel like a privilege. It’s an experience; it’s eye-opening; it’s friendship-building. And these are great reasons to go. But the easy access to the program is almost a put-off. It’s less of an intellectual journey than a cultural one; the students who make the transatlantic leap would probably tell you that they’re looking for something along the lines of the latter. And for the ones remaining, it’s simply not the right moment.