June 5, 2024

Passion for languages and International Olympiads - My admissions journey from Uzbekistan to NYU Abu Dhabi

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Aydariya from Uzbekistan 🇺🇿

Campus Image of NYU Abu Dhabi
Passion for languages and International Olympiads - My admissions journey from Uzbekistan to NYU Abu Dhabi

My background

For nine years, I studied at an ordinary public school in my hometown of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. After 9th grade, I got into the top lyceum in my country, where selection is very competitive. People who want to specialize in one field or want to join an ambitious community go to lyceums.

Why study abroad

In seventh grade, I wanted to study abroad in Russia. Then, in eighth grade, I saw a video about Switzerland and decided to study there but found out that Switzerland does not give scholarships. Ultimately, the US was an appropriate choice for me because they provide financial aid for international students and their education system is very flexible. My major is computational linguistics and anthropology, and I am interested in entrepreneurship. For the first two years, I can take any courses I want and explore many different fields. The second aspect is the fact that the university is like home. I was at the Candidate Weekend at NYUAD. On March 8, I went there and really loved the diversity of their community and that everything is located in one place. 

Why New York University in Abu Dhabi

At New York University in Abu Dhabi, they really love diversity. They choose great students from all over the world, not having preferences for particular ethnicities and nationalities. When I was at the Candidate Weekend, I got to meet amazing people from many different countries, such as Africa, Peru, China, etc. There, I met a girl from Kenya, and she gifted me a card, which is painted with some traditional African elements. Studying in such a diverse environment will give me an opportunity to explore different cultural and language specifics and get to know different perspectives. 

The second one is a small community. There are only 2000 students, and they are all undergraduates. Each of us gets individual attention.

The third one is the location, which is great in terms of safety and nature. In Abu Dhabi, there are actually many islands and the nature is beautiful. 

The next one is NYUAD, which is known for being a university without borders. They have plenty of study abroad opportunities. Students can study abroad for a semester or even more. That is an exciting thing for me because I love traveling and exploring new cultures and countries. Additionally, at NYU Abu Dhabi, they do not count GPA in the first year. It means that I can take any courses I want, and it is not going to hurt my performance at university at all. Moreover, after each semester, students have several weeks for internships during the J-Term to gain work experience in another city, country, or in Abu Dhabi itself. Talking about the last reason, the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country, and there are all opportunities created for Muslims to practice their religion, to be heard, and to be respected. 

NYUAD bookstore
NYUAD bookstore
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I applied to universities with a perfect GPA, 5.0 out of 5.0. Then I had IELTS 8.5 (9.0, 9.0, 7.0, and 8.5.) My SAT is 1500 (720 English, 780 math.) 

Extracurricular activities

In ninth grade, I joined the national project accelerator Oxiana Fellowship, whose founder was Mr. Alisher, who has vast experience working for many internationally prestigious companies like Microsoft or WhatsApp. I was selected there in 2021-2022, and was one of the 13 successful applicants out of 80. With the assistance of Mr. Alisher, my co-founder and I did the project, which was an online speaking course. Together, we reached 120 students and taught them three times a week. The course was paid, so we made a good profit out of it. That is the reason why my project was nominated for the best project award in this Oxiana Fellowship. During the next year, I was a social media intern, helped promote the Oxiana Fellowship program, and increased the number of applications by 90% compared to the last year. During the third year, I have become a mentor and a captain of the Oxiana Fellowship. I teach new students, and I am a peer mentor. I hold a leadership educational role there right now.

The next activity I did was Storily. I started this project a year ago with my co-founder. In a year, we did three cohorts with 300 people. There, we taught Central Asian girls to express themselves through creative writing. During the project, we had interviews with top university students who study at UPenn, Columbia, or with professors from Stanford University. The acceptance rate to our courses was 15%. We also fundraised money for rural area workshops. Our team consists of more than 10 people.

The next activities I did were research and international Olympiads, such as the traditional linguistics Olympiad in Moscow and the spelling bee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The first research I did was connected to linguistics within the particular program at Moscow State University, where we were mentored on how to do research. The second research I did was focused on computational linguistics, and I collaborated with my teammates. We were finalists in the international competition, winning a funded trip to Hong Kong, China, to present our research project.

in Malaysia
in Malaysia


The process of writing my personal statement was very hard. I wrote more than 20 pages to find out what I truly wanted to write about. During the process, I got a lot of help from my mentor, Pasha Harvard. He offered a very competitive scholarship program for those who wanted to become his mentee and get assistance without actually paying. I took this opportunity and got a lot of help from him. My personal statement was about my values expressed through my experiences in different countries and projects, and I explored some problems surrounding my values and then connected them to my aspirations. Since I wrote more than 20 completely different comprehensive drafts of my personal statement, I recycled them into shortened supplemental essays.


Application timeline

I started writing my personal statement in August, and I worked very intensively on it until the end of December. As for my supplements, I worked on them in the last two weeks before the deadlines. Writing my personal statement, I covered many aspects of myself and my interests, which I then shortened into supplemental essays. I started filling out my Common App in September. 

Helpful resources

I read College Essay Guy and NACAC for making a school profile. NACAC is the National Association for College Counseling in the US and has some guides for college applicants. I watched different interviews on YouTube and read stories on the Borderless website. The Reddit and Quora platforms were also helpful. 

Financial aid 

If you want a full scholarship from NYUAD specifically, you had better apply early decision. I applied regular decision, so the financial aid I got is not a full ride. However, they still cover nearly everything, which is almost a full ride, covering my studies, books and supplies, equipment, and health insurance and some other necessities. I need to cover my personal expenses by working on campus.

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from Uzbekistan 🇺🇿

Duration of Study

Aug 2024 — May 2028



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NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, UAE🇦🇪


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Aruzhan from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

High School student and social activist

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