Hengyu Jin '20 – A Letter to My High School

A year ago, I came to NYU Shanghai with curiosity and dreams, finding it to be like a family built by students from dozens of different countries. Time flies and now I am already a sophomore. After a year of study, I feel even happier about deciding to come here.  

Here at NYU Shanghai, you can choose your major freely, and explore different courses with a liberal arts education that opens doors to new worlds. Here, you can enjoy small classes and have meaningful interactions with your professors.

What attending NYU Shanghai offers most to me, is the spirit of independent thinking and the opportunity to explore the world. In an atmosphere of academic freedom, and where different cultures collide, I am supported in understanding issues I have previously not thought to learn about – like getting to know the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community.  NYU Shanghai has helped me step out of my comfort zone to reap the benefits of brand new experiences. 


This summer, I studied away in Tel Aviv, a place of beaches, flowers, sunshine, rainbow banners, and traditional wisdom. I traveled through its historical streets to feel the past, and visited start-up companies filled with the spirit of modernization to learn more about the future. The remains of ancient religion are fused with graffiti seen everywhere on the streets, giving Israel a diversified culture and inclusive spirit. This experience has broadened my view, and l want to continue to "make the world my major."

In my freshmen year of study, the course that left the deepest impression on me was "Global Perspectives on Society" exposing me to Leviathan, Gilgamesh, de Beauvoir, capitalism, consumerism, and patriotism. By studying these once strange names and concepts, I acquired the means and inspiration to explore society, gradually understanding the responsibility we as NYU Shanghai students have to create change.

I came to realize a few differences between my education here and what I learned elsewhere: the traditional focus of China's higher education, colleges and universities has been the training of professionals. The popularity of finance majors in the past few years especially shows to me that Chinese colleges often play a huge role in "career training." Furthermore, many people directly associate the quality of a college or university with the benchmarks of college entrance exam scores, and they often do not care about how education is cultivated in different forms across the college or university setting.

In 21st century China, college education moved towards taking a more diverse approach. The U.S. offers both liberal arts education and professional training at different colleges, hence the establishment of  NYU Shanghai is meant to offer more possibilities to the development of liberal arts education in China. I think Chinese society not only needs students to become the "nail that drills deep and precise," but also needs more people who are courageous enough to be "the first one to take chance."