A Sea of Violet: NYU Shanghai Class of 2027 Kicks Off Their First Year

Orientation Week CO2027
Aug 31 2023

After dropping their bags off at their new residence hall rooms last Sunday, NYU Shanghai’s violet-clad Class of 2027 jumped headfirst into Orientation Week–their schedules jam-packed with events and activities designed to familiarize them with the spaces, resources, protocol, and people of their new home campus while making meaningful connections with each other. From sage advice from University leaders to team-building icebreakers, performances, and a community-wide party in the quad, here’s a glimpse into their busy first week on campus.

Monday: Motivating Messages and Campus Tours

Students in the auditorium watch dance performances by Orientation Ambassadors

During the University Welcome, students received valuable advice from NYU Shanghai leadership, and they learned the theme of orientation–启 (qǐ)–which means a continuation of the past and anticipation of what will come. They also were entertained by Orientation Ambassadors (OAs)–a group of 36 upper-level students who’ve been training since the spring to guide newcomers as they transition into college life.

An OA leads students and families on a campus tour

Megaphone in hand, Orientation Ambassador Victoria Liao ’26 led a campus tour for groups of students and their families, shown here exploring the greenery of the west 4F bridge (left) and the Academic Resource Center on the 5F (right), where students can receive tutoring support. Liao says she wanted to become an OA to make new friends and to be a source of support. “We had a lot of laughs, and it was nice to be able to answer some of their questions and share about my experiences,” she said. “I remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed when I first arrived, and my OA really helped me feel more at home at the school.” 

A close up photo of the stamp booklet students carried around to different NYU Shanghai departments and facilities

The tours were interactive, with students gathering stamps at each office or facility they visited to fill “campus passports” as they got to know the campus. They explored the Fitness Center, the Student Health Center and Calm Corner, the Center for Student Belonging, the World Language Lounge, the IT Service Center, the Magnolia Cafe, and more.


Tuesday: Initiating Important Dialogues and Fostering Team Spirit

Students sit around on the ground in a circle as they take part in First Year Dialogue

The first week at NYU Shanghai is a crucial time for new students to get to know their environment, their peers, and themselves. The seven-week long First Year Dialogue (FYD) program creates a safe space for students to get oriented in their new surroundings while setting clear academic and social priorities through discussion and interactive activities. It’s also an important moment for the OAs–the upper-level students who’ve been trained to lead the hour-long sessions–to reflect on their own experiences as they advise new students on topics of self-identity and culture shock.

close up of materials handed out at the Let's Talk About Sex talk

All first-year students were required to attend the “Let’s Talk about Sex” presentation, held in the campus auditorium, which covered an array of topics including healthy relationships, sexual misconduct, and consent and respect. Students watched the video Let’s Talk About Consent, and learned ways to get help and consultation on and off campus.


students get hands on in the fun olympics

To break the ice with peers and work on their team-building skills, students took part in the Fun Olympics, an Orientation Week tradition of interactive games that help students build friendships while learning the value of communication. In one game, students had to form a many-armed human crane and attempt to move a tower of blocks without knocking it over.


Wednesday and Thursday: Connecting with Community Through Knowledge Sharing

First-year students had a range of learning sessions to choose from during the inaugural two-day Qilin Forum, where community members shared specific knowledge to make college life a little more manageable. “We want to use this platform to provide a chance for those who are already in the community to present something they either experienced or learned from NYU Shanghai to share with new students,” said Shelly Lu, the director of the Center for New Student Programs.

Students wrote letters to themselves in the future, learned about survival apps, what it means to be a research assistant, time management and scheduling tips (or simply put, how to avoid pulling an all-nighter), advanced applications of ChatGPT, and setting boundaries with roommates.


students participating in Qilin Forum talks and events

Left: Students in groups of 10 work together to solve puzzles related to library resources in “The Great Library Escape,” (think escape room, library edition). One puzzle required learning how to rearrange books according to their call numbers in order to discover a password. Center: Vice Chancellor Lehman leading the “Get the Most out of the First Year” workshop. Right: Academic Advisor Wang Minqing introduces the MBTI personality test and presents on how students can be intentional about self-development by analyzing their results. 


“The Orientation Week activities have been both interesting and challenging,” said Qin Yunchu ’27 who participated in My Role in the Community, an interactive activity that helped students explore real life cross-cultural challenges and work together towards creating an inclusive campus environment. “The most challenging part has been group discussion," Qin said. "I’ve never had such intensive discussion in English before."

Libroary Thursday events

While the library may be the quietest spot on campus during exam period, LibRoary Thursdays (occurring one time a month), has become popular for its energetic approach to familiarizing students with NYU Shanghai Library resources and policies. Students collected stamps after participating in quizzes and games that tested their knowledge on everything from how to use group study rooms to other library rules.

NYU Shanghai Reads

Students also participated in activities related to NYU Shanghai Reads, a community-wide reading program that promotes intercultural dialogue around a chosen text. This year’s book selection was The Way Spring Arrives, a collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories by female or non-binary authors, translated from Chinese to English. “The Way Spring Arrives truly is a book that represents our cross-cultural community at NYU Shanghai,” said Sarah Warfield, Senior Lecturer of English for Academic Purpose. "We look forward to building on last year's momentum and continuing to offer programming to the community this year.” Students divided into small groups to create mythical creatures representing themselves or their hopes and aspirations for the coming year.


Friday: Engaging with Faculty and Celebrating New Beginnings


Faculty Open House

Students explore tabling for: World Languages, Performing Arts, Chinese, English for Academic Purposes, Science, Technology, and Society,  Algorithmic Thinking, Experimental Discovery, Mathematics, Writing, and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on China.


At the Faculty Open House, students had the chance to meet face-to-face with NYU Shanghai faculty from all disciplines, bringing their questions right to the table. Faculty addressed questions about specific courses they taught, recommended courses for first-year students, advised on how to best prepare and make the most of each class, and also shared knowledge about campus academic resources.

qilin fest games and performances

The grand finale to Orientation Week was Friday’s Qilin Fest, bringing the entire NYU Shanghai community together for a summer carnival, with game booths, face painting, traditional Chinese cultural activities such as sugar painting and paper cutting, food stalls, and live music in the quad, followed by a range of student performances in the NYU Shanghai Got Talent Show.  “A lot of upper-level students have never been to the campus, and it’s the first time for a lot of people to be here,” said Lu. “We wanted to make everyone feel ready for a new start as we kick off the new school year. It’s great to see everyone on our new campus interacting, meeting, and having fun together.”


qilin fest impressions and mascot

“My first impression here has been really remarkable,” said Deniz Acar Kostem ’27 (left), an aspiring Computer Science major from Turkey. Kostem lives with one Chinese roommate and one American roommate who he says are helping him acclimate to his new life in Shanghai. “They really helped me a lot through Orientation Week…and were kind enough to show me some survival apps. I can now call a taxi independently and talk to taxi drivers. Everyone here is really friendly; it’s a great community, and I can see the bond is strong here.”