Kimi Rodriguez graduated from New York University Abu Dhabi with a BA in Political Science with concentrations in Economics and Mediterranean History. She’s played an integral part in CAMP’s founding and continues to be an amazing mentor for the organization and its members. Being the incredible human being that she is, we asked her what studying abroad has done for her!
Having now graduated, what do you think is the most important take-away from having attended your school/studying abroad?
My most important take away from having attended NYU Abu Dhabi is that when it comes down to the core of it, people from all over the world are more similar than they are different. NYU Abu Dhabi is a very diverse university; in each class of roughly 150 people (at least for the first four classes), there are over 60 countries represented. Coming from a comparably homogenous environment, the sudden exposure to so many cultures and ways of thinking was at first shocking, then life changing. My experience at NYUAD not only made me more aware and open-minded, but also more empathetic and willing to challenge my own convictions.
What is your best memory in the time you spent studying abroad? What did you love most?
Travel is a core component of the NYUAD experience. In my four years, I was able to visit, live and study in 16 different countries – many of those as part of my academic program. Prior to university, I never saw myself as a traveler, and even now I wouldn’t say that traveling is something I’m passionate about. However, being in such a geographically strategic location gave me ample opportunity me to visit countries I never even thought I wanted to see. Traveling was such an unexpected surprise for me, and I loved every minute of it.
Would you recommend studying abroad? Why or why not?
Yes, I would. Leaving home is mentally and emotionally challenging, but it is an experience that will change how you see the world and how you see yourself. I grew up in college, and I can’t imagine myself today without the experiences (both positive and negative) I’ve had. However, I also know that studying abroad isn’t for everyone. It is a choice that everyone must consider very carefully.
Is there anything that you wish someone had told you to consider in choosing the right school for you? In other words, was there any defining characteristic of your school that you hadn’t known about coming in, but which had a defining impact in your experience there?
Although I knew that I would be entering a very small community, I didn’t know beforehand how defining this would be. During my first year, there were only 300 students in the school – this made my college experience differ very greatly from those of my peers’ who were studying in schools with as many as 10,000 people. It worked well for me, but it didn’t work well for everyone. It’s important to consider the kind of environment you’re entering: don’t just think about the academics and the extra curricular opportunities, but also think about the size and demographic of the university community.
What did you feel you were best prepared for when it came to studying abroad? What did you feel you could’ve been better prepared for?
The International Baccalaureate really prepared me for my freshman year academics. The rigor of the IB program helped me breeze through long writing assignments and a demanding schedule. I would say I could’ve been better prepared for homesickness, but I don’t think anything can really prepare you for that!
Best piece of advice you could give an incoming freshman? Or a student considering college abroad?
Research the universities you’re applying to well, and have fun! Balance your time with academics, activities, and friends, and make the most of every year. It’s a roller coaster of a ride that will go by faster than you think :)
If this interview wasn’t enough to show you how awesome Kimi is, just let her graduating speech blow you away.