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An Englishman in NYU Abu Dhabi

Blog post by student Henry Bradley from  The Times, Schoolgate. To read the Uni in the USA review of NYUAD, click here.

Abu Dhabi

[This] top student ...was rejected by his favoured UK university choices. He is now studying at a place which is thousands of miles away from his family and which he had never heard of when he filled in his UCAS form!

I applied through UCAS to read Economics at five British unis, Oxford (where I went for Economics & Management), Durham, Bath, Nottingham and Sheffield. I’d been predicted four A*s at A-Level, was Head Boy at my secondary school (Pate’s Grammar in Cheltenham), captain of multiple Economics competition teams, leader in the school’s Cadet Force….

Anyway enough trumpet blowing, you get the picture. I was confident that I should have no problem getting into somewhere I’d be happy with. At that point I had never thought about studying abroad for university.

Eventually the applications started coming back and the first I heard was that I hadn’t got an interview at Oxford. Fine. Then I heard that I had not got an interview at Durham either, a bit more of a blow as so far I had heard back from my top two choices and received zero offers.

Next I heard of acceptances at Nottingham and Sheffield (my third and fifth choices) and finally came the rejection from Bath… I remember not telling my parents for about a week after I had heard about Durham and Bath, that I had been unsuccessful.

After all the rejection, and in the height of the university offers season, we had a general studies session on a Thursday afternoon at school. A guest speaker was supposed to arrive for a talk, but as he was mysteriously absent our head teacher decided to talk to us about alternative options for uni and mentioned  NYUAD, a new international university connected to  NYU  (New York University) in the States. After hearing what he had to say I went away and did my own research, was drawn in by what I found, and decided to apply.

Despite it being weeks past the official deadline I got in touch with NYUAD admissions and was told that if I submitted an application “asap” I would be eligible for consideration. After a late night working on the application (the standard “Common App” for US universities), meeting with teachers (I needed three separate teacher references) and writing one extended essay, one short essay and answering four additional NYUAD-specific questions, I submitted my application less than half an hour before the deadline they had given.

I heard back from the admissions office the very next day.Aeroplane

I was delighted to learn that I had been invited to attend the interview weekend in a couple of weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi – all expenses paid.

The interview weekend was an experience I’ll never forget. In between dinner at the Emirate’s Palace, camel-riding in the desert and meeting incredible young people from all over the world, there was an interview which seemed far too informal for such an occasion, but that I think had a lot more importance than they ever let on.

I waited in nervous anticipation for about a fortnight after the interview weekend until I heard back from the admissions department one evening by e-mail as I was just about to go to bed.

I read the first few lines and didn’t need to read any more, I had been accepted, and the only thing I could shout was “Muuuuum, Daaaad, you’re going to want to see this!” I burst into tears and sobbed like a little baby because at that point I believed everything was going to turn out all right.

CamelI hadn’t secured financial aid at that point but just blindly hoped that it too would work out fine. And it did. I submitted my financial support application and heard that I would be receiving 100% financial aid (at American university fee prices) including travel to and from Abu Dhabi twice a year and a stipend to keep me going whilst out there. This came to over $50,000 a year.

I signed my paper acceptance letter, sealed it with the provided NYU torch sticker, noted the time of day and date in the relevant boxes and sent it off, decision made, all set, Abu Dhabi bound.”

Henry Bradley is now a second-year student at NYU Abu Dhabi, where he is very happy. Read more about his experience and his candid review of the university here.

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