Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Day 35:  The late nights and early mornings are beginning to take their toll on me. Like most of the people here, when asked how I am I say "good but tired"; it's the generic reply when one is feeling generally a bit low but nothing is immediately the matter. The low feeling I am experiencing I would expect is a mix of stressful and difficult choices at school and a lack of chilling and sleeping time. At the moment I am changing options so much I have no idea what I want to do. I have until next Monday to finally decide what subjects I am officially doing in the IB. It's pretty intense and pressurising to know you haven't got long to make such important decisions when you are away from home so don't have the same support you might normally, you don't really know what each subject is like and you don't know what you might want to study in the future. This week my lessons have been changed to: Higher level history, English lit and visual arts; standard level biology, maths studies and Spanish ab initio. These subjects all seem interesting and potentially enjoyable but at the moment I am finding them difficult and a little stressful.
   All the things I have been talking about are, of course, common and to some extent to be expected, I am just a little taken off my feet by the change in my subjects, I think.
   Alongside of school I have been keeping myself busy with such things as running for student council, CAS activities of course and to be honest I'm not sure what else has been taking up my time.
   It was a huge shock to me to realise that the British Government can make such drastic changes in such a short time and me be completely unaware of them. A few days ago I had an unexpected surprise when I was trying to relax but catch up on the news at the same time by listening to the News Quiz, when i heard about the introduction of Ebacs and the fact that GCSEs are going out. It was not just the nature of the topic which caught me off guide but the fact that I could be so ignorant of what was going on in my own country. Well I guess that's a lesson for me, keep up to date, otherwise a lot can change with you being "blissfully" unaware.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Day 28: The weather has gone from lightning and thunderstorms to boiling heat again. The light breeze which we had has gone with it and the air is stuffy and dry. The last week went by so incredibly quickly, I blinked and it was the weekend, on Saturday i had my first lie-in which was well overdue and I was so grateful for the extra sleep seen as this community is so intense. I went on a hike up one of the mountains I see everyday, it has a large cross right on the peak and at night when it is lit up and the mountain is invisible against the sky, it looks like it's floating. The hike was very hot and quite tiring but it was fantastic to stand next to the cross and stare down at Mostar while eating Curley Wirlies ( thanks to my great mum who thought of sending them out), and to share the experience with everyone.
   School has been fairly stressful, partly because I am still not completely settled with the subjects I am doing and may change some again, and also because there are always things going on, meetings for CASs and projects weeks, etc. One of the most interesting things that has been happening unofficially is the discussions between students. Often in my free blocks I have been drawn into conversations where people have been comparing and debating their different political systems and ideals. I have learned so so much through this which I really don't think I would have known otherwise. The tensions between countries also becomes very apparent when having these non official discussions over hot chocolate - only about £1.20 and so, so good by the way - but they are still enjoyable and there are no personal hard feelings afterwards. It is becoming more and more obvious to me how multicultural and multinational education is the way forward, not only for cultural understanding, but for tolerance and ways of acceptance which can really not be taught any other way than to be in the same environment as people who have completely different out looks to you. A full education should not only be comprised of academia, creativity and sport, there is also humility, tolerance and compassion that are vital for the human race to learn so that we can exist together and thrive in a globalised world without conflict and offensive behaviour caused by ignorance. An international society which learns from eachother and brings eachother alive is a beautiful thing and at this college I am beginning to glimpse it's existence and potential.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

This is a little video of Mostar in the evening, sorry it's not great but I think you can get the gist of what's it's like here.
Day 21: The weather is becoming less searingly hot, it no longer almost melts my laptop! The winds have picked up a little which is so nice because otherwise lessons would be unbearable. I am still deliberating between history and psychology, it seems like an impossible choice; other than that my subjects are going OK and I think CASs are going to be great once I sort out what I'm doing. I am loving Mostar - it is a beautiful city and has so much life - the only problem is there is no art shop! Broken hearted. There are many other shops however which shell beautiful jewellery and wonderful little objects as well as paintings and drawings. The praying from the mosque which happens every few hours is really wonderful and beginning to sound like home, along with the peals of bells from the churches which can also be heard. The night atmosphere and life in Mostar is amazing, the shops are open till about 10.00 pm and there are so many people around and music playing. The only down side is that there is a night club right outside my window which plays dance music unbelievably loud until about 2.00 am on weekends and 11.00 pm or later during the week. the adjustments which I am making though, make me happy because I can feel that I am in a different place, environment and culture.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Since then I have endured the over 40 degree heat, swam in waterfalls, witnessed the forest fires on the mountains, met incredible people from all over the world, made close friends already, had to experience the awkwardness of school time table blocks and having to work your choices around them, visited a refugee camp, seen footages of the old bridge being blown up - which almost brought tears to my eyes having got to know the new one so well and appreciate it's beauty - gotten lost a few times in Mostar, learnt a small amount of the local language, been to many great parties, and generally had an amazing time. Thank you so much to everyone who made it possible for me to be here!
Day 19: This blog was intended to be my open diary for anyone who would like to follow me in my journey's into a new chapter of my life. I did mean to start it before I departed for UWC in Mostar but never got round to it, getting me there in one piece with the things I needed became more important and took over. Well, I have been in Mostar for 19 days now and what an amazing adventure it has been already! I am hoping to keep this blog up to date from now on, but first I must reflect on my travels and first few weeks here.
    Me and my co year from Britain were set to leave and at the airport at 4.00 am on Wednesday 22nd August. I had not slept at all the night before, I had had to do crosswords to stop myself from going mad with anxiety and excitement. We waved a good bye to family as we approached customs after paid the extra money for overweight luggage - 15 euros per kilo over 23kg! we made it through customs and unto our flight nice and smoothly with out complication. We arrived in Vienna  around 10.00 am local time and had to wait for our transfer at 1.00 pm. navigating Vienna airport was interesting but we found our terminal and met up with two fellow UWCers. the parental consent form which was necessary to get into BiH if you were under 18 because it is not part of the EU, should have been stamped by a notary but both me and my co year had not had time to do this, and although we had it signed by our parents after long discussions in German which luckily our fellow multi lingual students were both fluent in, it was determined that we would not be allowed into the country with out the stamp. So we had to sit back and watch the plane fly away without us, our two friends on board with a message for our school.
    We were escorted to a desk where many, many calls were made but we eventually were booked on a flight at 8.30 pm. having to wait in an airport which you don't know very well for 11 hours with not much to do and having had no sleep is not the best way to spend your first day leaving home but somehow we did - despite loosing some luggage and then finding it had been put on the plane again and other hiccups like that. We were then driven from Sarajevo to Mostar by taxi with three co years from Israel and one from Russia. We arrived at the residences at 12.30 am and i was greeted and hugged so much, i still can't remember by who and eventually I slept my first warm summer's night in Mostar.