UWC Changshu China (A New Beginning)

This is a post that I’ve postponed for a long time now.

Originally I’d planned to write about UWC starting from the selection process but a part of my heart whispered,

“You shouldn’t write about it unless you actually got in. What if it turns out like AFS?” So I never wrote, except to parchments of paper.

For those of you who don’t know, UWC stands for United World College. In short, it is an international two-year school using the IB curriculum. There are 17 schools across the world. Each country undergoes a unique selection process. Each selected student would then be sent to his or her nominated UWC school. Besides through the national selection, you could also directly apply to the school, however, that method wouldn’t grant you any scholarships. In my case, with all thanks to God, I got accepted to UWC Changshu China with a partial scholarship. Besides me, there are eight other Indonesians sent to the UWC schools. Two of them, Jillian and Adinda, are going to UWCCSC with me. 🙂

If you’re curious about the selection process itself, I’d suggest you to read my friends’ blogs, since they’d written about it when it was still fresh in their minds. Here are the links:

However, since those blogs are in Indonesian, I’ll also describe how the selection in Indonesia was.

I first found out about UWC from a friend I’d met at a debate competition in Bandung, Raisya. She told me how incredible the program was, so I thought, “eh, why not?” Thus, I submitted an application, consisting of three essays, report cards, and certificates of achievements and experiences.

A few people have asked me whether I think they’re qualified to apply, whether or not grades matter, what the committee’s looking for, and so on. In my opinion, if you are interested in applying, you should just go for it! To be honest, I never expected I would be accepted at first. My spirit had been slightly trodden due to not passing AFS, not getting into the high school I’d aimed for, and various other little things. So then I thought to myself, “Whether or not I get accepted, I will be okay. If I don’t get accepted, it just means I’ll have to work extra hard to apply to foreign universities.”

Anyways, with the essays, my advice would be to take time working on them. Take the time to cultivate your ideas. Find inspiration. Ask people questions. Be honest with what you write and make sure that it really captures who you are. In the end, the best advice really would be to be yourself.

If you pass to the final round, you’ll be called to go to Jakarta to stay at a hotel for two days to do interviews and a social activity. By the way, the National Committee (NC) pays for the hotel. 🙂 There are three interviews— one with a psychologist, one with three panelists, and a one-on-one session with an NC member. Meanwhile, the social activity was something we had to organize ourselves, besides being given the venue, which was a cancer rehabilitation home. What I loved about the experience was mostly meeting everyone who made it to the final round–how amazing and talented everyone was at what they do. Even the interviewers evaluated me as if I was actually a person, and not the visualization of some random combination of grades, activities, and essays. Also, I found the social activity to be an inspiring and unforgettable experience–to meet people who are struggling to fight their illnesses and to learn so much from them. In my opinion, it was far more rewarding than the AFS selection.

Many weeks passed without any announcement. We all continued life as usual. In fact, I clearly remember sitting down on the couch with my friend Eva and telling her how I hadn’t gotten an email from the NC and her telling me that perhaps it was my destiny to finish school at Kharisma Bangsa. Sighing, I agreed with her. Suddenly, at the end of April, an email finally came. However, since I was at the dorms, it wasn’t me who saw it first since I rarely checked my email there. The story goes that I was sitting at the block with Zia, my best friend who applied and went to the final round of UWC with me. It was just the two of us. Then, Abla came in and told me that I had a call from my mom.

Iya ma, wa’alaikumsalam. Ada apa?

”Kaka… you got accepted to UWC Changshu China.”

My heart dropped.

I grinned, laughing breathlessly as I fired her question after question, most prominently, “Really? You’re not joking?” Of course, I was curious why I’d gotten China, but the fact that I was accepted was already far better than what I’d expected. Zia, if you’re reading this, know that to this day I wonder why you were in the same room as me when I got the announcement. Perhaps I wouldn’t have had the courage to tell you if you weren’t. I’m sad we couldn’t both be accepted. But I believe incredible things are in store for you and I hope you always stay excited and happy…

It was, still is, and I think will forever be unreal.

Now here I am. It is almost 1 am, yet I am still awake. So many thoughts race through my head that I simply cannot sleep. I am in my dorm room, number B512, in Heimat House. In here, there are three other people—Kiki from China, Prinshu from Nepal, and Zhao Yurin from China. They are wonderful and lovely people. Three days have passed, with so many new faces and languages and countries to recall. It’s a bit overwhelming, yet exciting and fun.

Soon I’ll dedicate a blog post for the orientation week. For now, ciao!


 

*note: I started writing this on the 17th of August, Indonesian Independence Day. 🙂 However, I’m posting it on the 18th just because. The following will be my beautimous letter for my beloved country.

 

Dear Indonesia,

On your 73rd year, I hope I can make you proud. I hope that I can help you develop in all aspects–the education, the character of the people, the equality and social justice, and the environmental situation.

I promise to you that after I’ve completed my education abroad, I will return and initiate changes, small may they be compared to those undertaken by your heroes–Soekarno, Pangeran Diponegoro, Cut Nyak Dien, etc.

Finally, I apologize for not being present to watch your birthday party. This time, I can only watch and pray from afar, however, that does not in any way diminish my thoughts of you.

For now, I will keep my goals for you to myself, but know that I’m planning bright things for our future together.

All my love,

Sophia