*Intro Music*

Shauna: Hello welcome to another episode of Magnolia on Mic. My name is Shauna

Angela And my name is Angela

Shauna: And in today’s episode we will be discussing diversity at NYU Shanghai. So we are going to be talking about the sense of community we feel here at NYU Shanghai and Angela and I will be comparing our experiences here. 

Angela: Yeah because Shauna was here for last fall semester and I just got here like a month ago 

Shauna: Yes. I came last February so I was here for this past spring semester and I was also in Shanghai over the summer. 

Angela: Mmmm

Shauna: So yeah, I guess we’ll just dive right into it. Ummmm as far as a sense of community at NYU Shanghai, I feel like our school doesn’t really have that sense of school spirit that most colleges have. 

Angela: Yeah

Shauna: I think it’s more so because we’re so small we have the community of being a small school but I feel like there isn’t much school pride or like a sense- a strong sense of community here. What do you think?

Angela: Yeah I would agree with that. I feel like most of the community comes from the- both the number constraint that its a small school and the physical constraint of the academic building because i feel like as someone who just got here it is nice that its one building because you just run into- whether you want to or not you will run into the same people in the elevator, on the stairs, in the 2f cafe. And I think that’s good for building community because then you run into people and you’re like “hey wanna eat lunch” or “wanna like do something” and that’s good but I do agree with the lack of school spirit. I came from a high school that had quite a lot of school spirit so yeah I do feel the difference there

Shauna: mmmm I don’t think my high school had that much school spirit like we didn’t have sports at my high school either so I guess I thought there would be more school spirit in coming to college. But I mean its okay I guess

Angela: Yeah definitely differs from I guess american colleges where the sports are a big deal but also personally I don’t really care about sports

Shauna: As far as finding people around the school like you were saying do you think its easy to find people who share your interest or like bump into to people who happen to have the same hobby as you or that its easy to strike up conversations with random people here

Angela: I think as someone who is into kinda like the content creation stuff I feel like a lot of people do that here on YouTube there are so many NYU Shanghai Day in the Lifes

Shauna: Yeah

Angela: Like I feel like a lot of people especially since I’m a prospective IMB major a lot of other IMB majors also like doing that type of stuff like vlogs and things. I think its been relatively easy but the hard thing is I think college is just so busy for everyone that its most likely still going to be- like if you want to do something with your hobby its just going to be you like its a little bit hard to coordinate with other people 

Shauna: Yeah I think I agree. I don’t know if it’s necessarily difficult to find people here who have the same interest as you it’s just hard to work together with those people- 

Angela: On those interests

Shauna: I don’t know if i particularly explored my interests that much here but i do sometime run into people who like k-pop or people who like singing or performing so that’s quite interesting to kind of compare what type of music we listen to if or if we’ve  had any vocal training in the past or things like that but i don’t know if its-  it’s more like little niche communities than like something that would be school wide if that makes sense.  

Angela: Yeah I don’t think- are there any school wide singing or vocal center things?

Shauna: Ummm there’s like the chorus class and then like the a capella class and then last semester we were gonna do a musical. We were gonna do Mamma Mia.

Angela: Oh my god wait no, and then it didn’t happen 

Shauna: Yeah and then it didn’t happen because of COVID so the school you know- the school building closed down and unfortunately the musical was not able to be put on but things like that. I know there’s also a thespian society for people who enjoy acting. I know normally they have acting workshops and classes that you can go to even if you’re not a part of the thespian club. You can still go to their improv nights and things like that. 

Angela: I think we should have a musical. Musicals are always so fun to go to.

Shauna: I don’t know. I think doing stuff like that is also a good way to probably meet new people who have the same interests as you ‘cause sometimes it’s kind of hard to find- I think it’s sometimes kind of hard to find people who like the same things as you

Angela: and also just the structure of the recurring classes like for example I’m in a cappella. If i wasn’t in a cappella I would not be doing a cappella on my own because it’s just so hard to find time. But if there’s a class that you have to go to… like on one hand it’s like “ugh I have to practice my songs” but on the other hand it’s like it’s good that I get to do this and then at the end will like see the fruits of our labor yadda yadda.

Shauna: that’s cool. I don’t know if I’d ever take a singing class here. Just because I like singing for fun and I don’t know if it’ll be fun anymore if I do it as a class 

Angela: yeah, true

Shauna: yeah I don’t think I’ve really done any performing arts based things in my time here. I don’t know if I will in the future either. 

Angela: that’s okay though like I feel that too. I- at home I did way more singing and stuff for myself because I had time and now I don’t have time. 

Shauna: Yeah I think that’s a big thing like time constraints. Trying to find time to feed your interests and your passions ‘cause you’re always doing work. But I found what works for me is taking classes based on my passions because then I’m still doing class but also doing the things that I like so…

I feel like we went on a little tangent there.

Angela: Yeah we totally did

Shauna: I guess to steer our conversion back in the direction of this episode… my next question would be do you think that there’s a gap between national students and international students here? Based off of your first impressions

Angela: I mean I would say yes. I- basically it’s just- I think a lot of it is the language because it’s just the language that you feel comfortable and relaxed in. It’s not necessarily internationals or nationals are like “I only want to make friends with internationals” or “I only want to make friends with nationals” but it’s just like the… I don’t know. The vibe. 

Shauna: Yeah, Yeah I get that. I feel like having been here over the summer… like when I came I came with another small group of international students and we were like the only international, I guess we were freshmen at the time, freshmen in the school. So we all kind of stuck together and then over the summer a lot of the national students went home and visited their families and things like that so it was the international students who were left at the dorms so I feel like our bond is a bit- my bond is a bit closer with the international students than with the national students but I feel like nowadays I’m trying more to- trying to get to know some of the national students more because I think you can have very interesting conversations with them

Angela: Yeah for sure 

Shauna: Because I think sometimes we have different views on different topics so nowadays I feel like that gap isn’t as large but I think it’s mostly because I’m now making more of an effort to try and meet more national students or Chinese students. 

Angela: Yeah I mean in a sense it is like your comfort zone right? That how I feel just first coming here it’s like your going to gravitate towards the people who also share the experience of making the trip here or who are- I’m from the US so other people from the US, you already share similar high school experiences, life experiences and so it’s just easier or quote comforting to be around those people. But I think yeah if making the conscious effort to be friends with nationals- like it does spark a lot of interesting conversations. And what was your roommate situation?   

Shauna: ummmm so I always say this but basically this semester, which is my first semester sophomore year, is my first time ever having an actual roommate 

Angela: oh 

Shauna: because first semester freshman year I was in New York and I commuted so I just stayed with family and took the train to campus every day and then second semester in the spring when I got to Shanghai, my roommate was from Shanghai so every- she was only in the dorms Monday through Wednesday the rest of the time she wasn’t there so I didn’t really talk to her or interact with her. We also had different sleeping patterns so I’d come back to my room maybe at like four in the morning and she normally be asleep and then I’d leave the dorm at like eight-ish so she’d also be asleep then so we never talked. And then COVID hit and she went back home to her family so for the three months that we were in lockdown and just in the dorms over the summer I didn’t have a roommate. I was there by myself. But now my roommate is a Chinese national. She’s also from Shanghai and we get along pretty well. She’s very very nice. Shoutout to my Leqian. Leqian you are a great roommate and she- we’ve had some like late-night like one a.m. random conversations and she’s really- she’s a nice person. So… good experience

Angela: I was online the whole first year and now I’m here and my roommate is a Chinese national and we always have conversions about just like this versus that, you know especially with the education that we had like the different educational systems and also it just really interesting to I know- like hear- cause I’ve learned so much Chinese slang that I would’ve never learned otherwise and I think that’s cool. 

Shauna: Yeah I think things like that is like the whole purpose kind of the whole like 50/50 structure that our school has so for any of our listeners out there who don’t go to NYU Shanghai our school has a 50 percent Chinese student acceptance and then 50 percent international student acceptance and freshman year they pair up an international student with a national student but yeah I think when you have those conversations with your roommate or with other students it builds these connections that like I said I think it’s those conversations that close the gap that’s there.

Angela: Yeah, yeah and I don’t- and I think it’s like in some ways the school- the school markets itself as like “oh we are building bridges” like between- and the whole like 50/50 format is a big point the school… like in some ways I don’t think it’s necessarily like a thing that must be fixed like its not a bad thing that… cause like obviously you will just be friends with some people and nationality that can or doesn’t have to play a role in that but on the other hand it’s like there are still interactions happening that are cultural exchange.

Shauna: Yeah

Angela: That was not a sentence

Shauna: I feel like the school oversells it though

Angela: yeah yeah

Shauna: I feel like the way that the school’s marketed its kinda like-

Angela: That’s what I was trying to say

Shauna: Its kinda like these interactions are happening everyday, all the time but most of the time its the students taking the initiative to make these connections happen. To make- have these conversations, to try and interact with people but then there’s also those students who don’t and who don’t want to. So like how do you feel about that? Like students here who don’t- don’t take Chinese classes or don’t wanna learn Chinese or like don’t make the effort to try and become comfortable in the society that they’re living in or like comfortable living in China? 

Angela: I mean I think it’s like if you didn’t want to learn Chinese why did you come to- like you could’ve just come-went to New York or something. But I don’t know, I feel like most people here are here because they wanted to learn Chinese right? How’s that- do you feel that way?

Shauna: I think for the most part yeah. It’s just crazy how there’s like those few people who don’t really put in the effort or don’t try at all, ‘cause you’re kinda like why 

Angela: Indirect

Shauna: Yeah you’re like what’s the point of you like being here-

Angela: Living in China

Shauna: or living in China yeah. ‘Cause I know there’s always that joke of the people who go here go here because they- like all the business kids who go here go here ‘cause they couldn’t get into Stern. So like there are some people who wanted to go to New York and didn’t get in to the New York campus. So it also makes you wonder people like that, is that one of the reasons why people still feel like there’s a gap? Is it because there’s a good portion of the population who doesn’t wanna be here but they don’t really have a choice?

Angela: No that is a good point. I mean I don’t wanna like slam anyone but I feel like it’s valid if you just come here and you’re like “okay I just wanna go to college and I don’t want to integrate with the society” but also it’s like you’re already here so you can’t- in a way you can’t help it.

Shauna: Yeah you can’t avoid it

Angela: Like I’ve picked up so much just things about- like if I were to come back 5 years from now and live in China, I would be a lot more prepared to do that just because like you have to do somethings 

Shauna: Yeah like you have to pick up some things in order to survive 

Angela: Yeah, yeah. No that is interesting ‘cause I feel like NYU Shanghai is marketed as like you come here and this is the given- it’s the given experience that you will have a diverse, international, chinese immersion experience but actually it’s not really like that. Like it’s only- that experience is only there if you build it for yourself

Shauna: Yeah if you like reach out for it then it’s there and you can have a great experience but if you don’t then it makes things a lot more difficult

Angela: Yeah and I think another aspect that we want to talk about speaking of the different cultural identities at the school is the clubs- like the club life at the school.

Shauna: Yeah so clubs here, I feel like there’s 2 types of clubs. There’s school afficiated, afficiated, affiliated sorry. School affiliated clubs and non school affiliated clubs. As the podcast of OMS we are a part of a non school affiliated club. And I think the requirements, the expectations of school affiliated clubs are a bit different from non school affiliated clubs. But I still think in general clubs are a pretty good way to meet new people or to try and find that sense of community at the school. Would you say that clubs do a good job of increasing the community at the school?

Angela: I mean I have yet to go to any club except for OMS but I think that in general like I think they can be but like as someone- I- basically I applied for queer and ally club to be a new club because it was cancelled because of COVID and so now I’m like bring it back. But in the process of doing that I kinda feel like the process of starting a club at NYU Shanghai is not the most friendly to identity based or just interest based clubs that you wanna make just to have fun or just to find people because the requirements are kind- like I feel like they are kind of restrictive to allowing new club growth but I’m sure- I’m sure they’re there for a reason. But just personally feel like yeah. 

Shauna: Well both of the clubs that I’m in- I’m in OMS and BSA. And BSA is Black Student Un- Black Student Association sorry. And both of those clubs are non school affiliated clubs and I feel like being non school affiliated gives you a little bit more freedom to do sort of the identity based things or interests based things without the-without the restrictions that a school affiliated club would have. But then the downside of that is that you don’t get funding. You don’t get money for your club activities. So I think there’s pros and cons to both but I don’t know. I also haven’t really looked at the other clubs here. I kind of just found- like stumbled my way into the clubs that I’m currently in. Like I went to the club fair but nothing really grabbed my attention while I was at the club fair and I’ve also heard like some freshmen or some first-years saying that after the club fair like after the involvement fair-

Angela: It’s like silent

Shauna: Yeah, yeah yeah yeah like what to do now? If they miss the club or involvement fair, how do they join clubs? 

Angela: Right, yeah

Shauna: ‘Cause I know some of the first-years just got out of quarantine and they’re still trying to figure their way out like around the school and stuff like that but if they miss these things what options are there- are there for them to like still get involved? And I know some clubs hold events throughout the year but- 

Angela: Not all of them Shauna Yeah not all of them. I feel like if you miss out on some of these things its hard to try and get like- to try and find people or to try and get involved in clubs