Published:  12:29 AM, 10 June 2021

Studying at UWC is a once -in -a lifetime experience

Studying at UWC is a once -in -a lifetime experience

Founded in 1962, this school was set up with the aim to not let anything like World War II from ever happening again. With campuses spread over 4 continents and 18 countries UWC has grown to be a fundamental pillar in the IBDP world.

Providentially, I got the fortuity to study in United World College of the Atlantic. After a year of selection process (amongst hundreds of applicants) incorporating, previous results, application, group work and one on one interview with the national committee, I was offered a place in UWCA which is based in Wales. I was too excited to think of anything else but there arose a dismaying quandary. The fee for one year in the college was £42000 which converts to almost 50 lacs per years excluding ancillary costs. It looked like too much at that time seeing I only spend about 2 lacs per year in my antecedent school Scholastica. At that time my father showed valiancy and steeped up.

Within the blink of an eye I was there on that Biman plane, sitting in business class not even thinking about how Biman Bangladesh had such an amazing business class but only traveling in dilemma stewing over whether to be excited for the mystifying future or be forlorn leaving my family and friends. By the time I figured it out I was 5 months into the college life. Let's leave that for later.  So coming back to the story, reaching the Heathrow airport I was greeted by around 20 other students and a teacher who later on turned out to be my future house parent, Claudia. It was morning when I reached the college, it was a castle surrounded by houses and duplex buildings. It was magnificent to look at. I took a deep breath and felt the brisk air fill my lungs; we don't get that in Bangladesh. The school is located in an idyllic corner of the country undisturbed by others and almost completely quiet except for the students of course. At first I didn't realize this but we were just beside the Atlantic Ocean, I even swam in the Atlantic Ocean (hard to believe). That was the first and last time I swam in any ocean. I cut my legs everywhere while trying to swim. Looking at St.Donats Castle, it was bold on the blue beyond. It stood there as if conjured from the storybook of a child. It was perfect. Every stone was even and square, as if those who built were set on perfection, as if they really loved what they made. They were walls made to protect a community, to echo with laughter and be the shelter they needed for the millennia to come. It was first built by the Celtic Chieftain in the 13th century (almost 700 years ago) as I heard from my seniors.

Uwc is a wonderful experience, I of course couldn't figure that out until very late. Coming from a tradition subcontinental Bengali family, I was always showered with love and affection. I was under the care and protection of my family and thus grew dependent on them. Living abroad for the first time, my UWC experience started with a fly in the ointment. I was always homesick, trying to blend in and adjusting with the new lifestyle and study curriculum. I must say,  International Baccalaureate is a very complicated curriculum. Shifting from O' and A' levels, it was a huge transition for me to go through. Although it took time for me, I passed through it breaking the barriers.

All of us students were divided up and put in different houses. There were 7 houses overall, Kurt Hanh, Besse, Sunley, Whittaker, Morg, Gwen and Madiba. I was allotted into Kurt Hanh. A very new building with all sorts of modern facilities. One might say I was very lucky. Each houses were filled with diversity. It was a different experience for me to live in a house full of students from 100's of different countries, ethnicities, religions and cultures. It was all so colorful. I had 3 other room mates; Aryan Khilari from India who turned out to be a very close friend of mine helping me through all the hardships I faced, Micah Schulman from America who always lightened the mood of the whole dorm and Osian Cheverton from Wales itself asking for the dorm every now and then to spend time with his girlfriend.  Over time I made so many other friends without whom the UWC experience would've been nothing. If I go to any country in the world now I will definitely get a place to stay and eat at. This is a special privilege of being a student of uwc.

Not only the students, the teachers here are amazing. With degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT and all the other top universities they gave us quality teaching. Gradually I started to have strong bonds with the teachers to. Specially my maths and my Physics teachers, Robb Scott and Martin Groves. They helped me in all sorts of ways not only academically but also physically. Speaking of mentors the most special person of my uwc life was Almudena Talavera Blanco, my tutor. She was my savior, my friend in need, my second mother and my favorite teacher. You won't believe how many times she saved me from trouble, helped me get up on my feet when I was down. In a way I wouldn't have been able to survive there without Almu.
Some of my most memorable moments were before the covid pandemic started and we all had to go in lockdown . The 40 minute walks to pubs were thrilling. Although I didn't drink any alcohol, I danced around and socialized with a glass of Coca Cola in my hand sometimes pretending to be drunk. It was very fun. After each busy week of studying and assignments we all looked forward to the weekends. The students organized parties with dj and lightings just like in clubs. We danced around all night in rap and edm songs. After the corona virus outbreak it all changed at once. We were not allowed to go out of the campus, a lot of places were restricted and it was hard to move around. But at the end of the day we were all students there from 100's of different countries and guess what we all had 100's of different ideas to have fun.

About a few weeks ago, on the 23rd of May it all ended. We finished the IB and graduated each person going to different countries and states. It was very hard to bid adieu but we did it happily as all's well that ends well. There were shedding of tears, wailing everywhere with the loss of closest friends. Man is a social animal. He loves not only the people he lives with but also the place he lives in. It may be a house of bricks or an institution of education; one's stay in it makes one love both the people and the place. He becomes sad when he leaves them.

The same sadness haunted me on my last day at my college. The moment I entered the taxi to head to London, I felt churned up inside. I had a feeling that I would not be able to have the familiar look of the building and its surrounding any more. During the last two years, I had developed a striking affinity with the building and every other thing that: belonged to it. A kaleidoscope of events began to move on before my eyes. I could see myself entering the college with a throbbing heart. How I attended different classes on my first day. And then there was a flood of faces and events in which many faces appeared and many disappeared. The whole reel ended in a jiffy.

Sadwaan Rabb Majumder is studying at UWC Atlantic College, Wales, UK.

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