The Bubble-less Bubble

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 8. Bubble, Tel Aviv by MomachiLeave a Comment

Across the various global campuses at NYU, there are programs which encourage students to take advantage of all that the university offers, programs which encourage students to venture into the immersive international experience, and there are programs which encourage students to do both. From the first year at NYU New York, it became a blessing in disguise to experience a university without a confined campus. The location and physical setup of NYU New York, in addition to the convenience of public transportation in the city, naturally fosters a community of students who have supplemented their academic career with real-world experiences. Many students are interning in their field of study, attending events and conferences related to their passions and speaking with their respective industry thought-leaders on a weekly basis. It is quite remarkable how the logistical setup of NYU New York has encouraged more external exploration of the self-identity, academically, personally and professionally.

On the other hand, NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi tend to be more isolated from their city life and physically set up in more separated regions. While such a physical abstraction from the center of city life may have an influence on the number of internships and external involvement, it encourages the student community to build up within the school itself. Of course, we have to keep in mind that NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi are far younger than NYU New York, and quite remarkable in their establishments. During my time at NYU Shanghai, I found a need to change the status quo and bridge the distance between the entrepreneurial spirit in Shanghai and the business community within NYU Shanghai. It took far more effort to venture out of the NYU Shanghai “bubble,” meet founders interested in showcasing their work for our students, and of course, invite them to join in and speak in our “bubble” community. While it did take more effort to connect with the enterprise community in China, there was much growth that came from separating from the bubble to make the experience just a bit better for NYU Shanghai business undergraduates.

It is curious to note whether or not, then, the lack of the bubble that NYU New York provides is a bubble in and of itself. By not providing any kind of barrier to the external world, the setup of NYU New York actually makes it easier for students to get ahead in their industry professional careers. NYU Tel Aviv is a middle ground between these two polar extremes in that the academic institution is partnered with Tel Aviv University. Those kilometers of distance already break the bubble that is NYU Tel Aviv. Not only that, but the Israeli experience is complete with an immersed experience Jerusalem and Jaffa. Many classes will take trips frequently around Israel, and the institution itself takes trips to Eilat, Dead Sea, Masada, Lower Galilee, Western Galilee, Jaffa, Jerusalem and Jordan! With this comes the question of the moving bubble. Though we may geographically be widely exposed, the experience of going in a group of an institution may change the perception of bias and balance in understanding each of the sites we visit.

All in all, it is essential to always question the ways in which we are introduced to a place, and its context in notion to a “bubble,” geographically, culturally, politically and socially. Regardless of where we are based, in one way or another, we are in a bubble and we are outside of a bubble. The real question is how the bubble we are in or not in affects the insight of the region as a whole.

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