Orientation

On Monday (tomorrow), school will finally begin. Right now, rain is drizzling down as the sky rumbles. It’s beautiful to watch, especially from the window view of my room–like a watercolor painting of subtle grays and urgent flashes.

Frankly, I’m pretty excited to start because I haven’t gone to school for about… um… three months, I think? Yeah. My brain will probably have to load for long periods during Math and Chemistry class, but who cares? I can’t wait to experience the IB curriculum, have discussions and debates with my classmates from all around the world, and learn subjects that I actually love. By the way, the subjects I’m taking are: Geography HL, Chemistry  HL, Economics HL (I’m still considering Philosophy HL instead of this), Math SL, English A Literature SL, and Chinese ab initio SL.

The first time my heart raced here was not when the plane landed in Shanghai. Neither was it when Dinda, Jill, and I joined the group that would ride the same bus as us to the school. It was not the hello’s, what’s-your-name’s and where-are-you-from’s. It was the way I spent half a day with my mom and yakked at her in the way I yak at people I’m very close with. It was the way we hugged tightly before the Taxi drove off from the school, and the thoughts that raced along with my heart. Darkness enveloped me for a half second. I thought of the oceans that would soon separate us. Then, I noticed once again the moon’s resplendence between clouds and the blare of building lights. Breathing in the night, I walked back to my dorm.

UWC Changshu China, in the simplest of words, is an elite-anime-high-school type of campus with a buzz of colors and cultures. The first time I saw the campus with my own eyes happened on the bus, as we crossed the bridge that leads to the artificial island of the school’s location. When Sonia, the DP2 student accompanying us, pointed out the school buildings with its waving flags, we all whooped. Many stood up, cheers and exclamations rocking the bus. Our gazes were transfixed. Upon arrival, the DP2 students rushed to meet us, some holding their national flags. We glanced at each other as if to say, “Who wants to get off first?” Then someone got off, and was instantly greeted with enthusiastic shouting and warm hugs–as we all were.

Looking back upon these first two weeks, the school has only met and exceeded what few expectations I had. Everything is beautiful–the lake flowing right by the school, the sprawling campus with its grandiose buildings and top-notch facilities, the green fields, and even the university on the other side of the lake and the “village” (which in reality is more like a cluster of concrete buildings, not one-story houses amidst rice paddies and forests) where students go to shop and buy street food. I went there once to eat fried rice and window-shop at the supermarket. By the way, to get to the supermarket, you have to cross a huge street. The funny thing is that you cross the road via the waiting-until-there-are-no-cars method, like in Indonesia. When I went to the supermarket with some friends, there were some people from places where zebra crossings work, so they were new to this. The result? We all yelled and ran like crazy as we crossed the street. 😀 It was fun.

Now, the orientation weeks. It included a lot of lectures, games, and introductions. One of the most memorable events was the formal “meeting” that happened very early on, in which all the new students strode up to a mic on stage wearing traditional clothes and introducing our names and the countries we’re from. When Dinda, Jill, and I spoke our second years, Teddy and Abby, shouted, “Indonesia! Merdeka!” and waved the Indonesian flag.

All in all, it’s been a thrilling experience. I’ve met so many people from literally all around the world–Japan, Korea, China, Afghanistan, Latin America, USA, Russia, Europe, Africa–and they all have incredible stories about themselves and the countries they’re from. I’m tired and feeling slightly introverted at the moment, but I’m also very excited to start the year and get to know all these beautiful humans… ^-^

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