Meet Dayah!

New York City. The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. Ever wondered what’s it like to study there? If you do, you’re in luck! With just less than a week to go to our Klang Valley Half Day workshop (register here now!), you’ll get the change to hear what’s life like as a student in New York from Dayah, one of our awesome core committee members! Find out more about her experiences below:

Introduce yourself!

My solo pic!

Hello there! In the land of Uncle Sam and among my family members, I am known as Nurul. In Malaysia, friends usually call me Hidayah. Mostly, Dayah. Sweet and Simple. And easy to yell out when you see me across the street. I currently study in one of the undeniably greatest cities in the world; New York. I study Economics (major), Psychology and Business Studies at New York University. I spent my freshman year in London to do my Associate’s Degree under NYU’s Study Abroad Program. This Fall, I will begin the final year of my four-year undergraduate studies.

Ever since I discovered the beauty of traveling, it also brought me my love of photography and cinematography; with Youtube as my teacher. I am also into crime thriller books, currently in David Baldacci frenzy, and an avid Time reader. Just like any other normal person, I also enjoy singing in the shower. It has always fascinated me that bathrooms tend to have great acoustics.  Also, I just discovered my passion for dancing (though I must say that talent-wise, I’m still so far faaar away) after I got addicted to the Just Dance video game. But hey! Life’s about dancing like no one else is watching you, right? One more thing! If you want to talk about European or contemporary architecture, I’m all ears.

What did you do in high school?

I went to Sekolah Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah in Pekan, Pahang. I was known as this loud, boisterous girl who loves English. So, seeing my talent in being talkative and argumentative (sometimes), my English teacher, Mr. Amin, began to train me to become a debater ever since I was in Form Two. Initially, I didn’t like it because debating can quite intimidating. But under Mr. Amin’s guidance, I did eventually flourish in critical thinking because debate makes you question everything to come up with a great argument.

Me with my Indonesian friends at the Islamic Center NYU

Another part of my high school left was spent on playing basketball. This was one activity that allowed me to lash out all my teenage angst and frustrations in a very healthy way. The relationship that I had with the basketball court then was brought to another level when my coach chose me to join my school’s basketball team. During the final two years of high school, I became the Vice Captain of Slytherine. Erm. I mean, Hamdan; the green sports house at my school. Being the Vice Captain certainly has its own challenges, but what I remembered most out of that role is that I got to work with amazing talents and made memorable experiences with my friends towards making our team a better one. The best part? In retrospect, all these experiences emboldened me to try even more new things  as I got into college.

Why the US?

One of my aunts on my mother’s side once asked me the same question. She looked at me with a hint of mischief twinkle in her eyes and asked me to convince her on the reasons I wanted to go there. “Kenapa nak pergi belajar jauh-jauh kat US tu? Kat Malaysia ni takde good universities ke? (Why do you want to study so far away, in the US? Don’t you have any good universities in Malaysia?” Even my parents had the same inquisitive looks when I announced to them that I wanted to study in the States. It is understandable that they didn’t want to spend so much money just on application fees. In their eyes, I would be better off studying somewhere safe.

Malaysian Winter Market in Manhattan.

Honestly, I don’t know why. In retrospect, I can share with you some of my insights on what made me choose the US. At the time, I was completely undecided with what I wanted to study in college. You know how important our degree decision is to our parents, yes? That was one pressure. Another would be on me wanting to be different. As cliché as it may sound, I just want to be different. I am aware of the education systems in UK, Australia, Egypt, Russia, Germany and many other countries that Malaysian students go to; none of which really suited my undecided nature at the time.

This was when USAPPS helped me out. One of the facilitators during one of the workshops introduced himself and said that he was still undecided on his major. At the time, I couldn’t even fathom the idea that it’s okay to not knowing what you want to study. But his answer intrigued me. The US has a very flexible education system. Score one. Next, he went on to talk about all these amazing college activities that I thought only exist on TV through American teenage dramas. Score two. He further explained on how the American universities and colleges encourage and provide supportive environment for students to become holistic individuals. By the end of the workshop, I knew that US is where I belong.

If there is one thing that I will never regret, it is my decision to study in the US.

What is your favorite application essay?

My favorite application essay is the Haiku that I submitted as a supplementary essay for my NYU application. Unfortunately, the haiku is no longer with me, but I remembered writing something about the Sun and how I have a sunny smile or something like that. I can assure you that it’s much more poetic than that, but the haiku is my favorite because it’s the shortest, probably the most accurate, written self-introduction that I’ve ever, spontaneously, made so far.

Best thing about my college?

It’s in Manhattan, where it’s a living breathing pulsating melting pot of all kinds of diversity that you can think of! And we don’t really have the traditional gated campus that many other schools have. NYU basically wants us to feel like we ARE the city and that adds to some real-life experiences to our college experience! Wall Street is practically

View from one of NYU’s buildings, overlooking the Washington Square Park.

next door, so that means if you’re a business major, you can easily find programs that can make you experience what it’s like in the Wall Street world. And the fact that we can easily bump into celebrities in the city really doesn’t hurt. (I know it’s not important, and students who go to schools in LA can brag sooo much more about meeting celebrities at their schools, but still, who can easily say that you bumped into Dakota Fanning as both of you are rushing to your morning classes, right?)

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