First month of UWC China
Whenever you read articles about UWC experiences without ever having lived something similar to that before, you look at it in such a different way than when you see everything actually unfolding in front of you. You think „oh wow, this person is so smart that they got in” or „oh wow, this person is so brave to leave home so young”. Behind every interview, story about academic (too much of a fancy word ew but that’s what you get) experiences abroad there are so many more details that you never think of. The behind-the-scenes is full of teeny tiny things you wouldn’t actually think of before embarking on your own journey.
The question that went through my mind the first days here was „how could anyone ever give up this place?”. But enough with the sweet talk. I’ll cut to the chase and sum up the past weeks since I left home.
I was in a plane for 10 hours. We left Romania early in the morning and arrived at Vienna airport in about two hours. As a decent human being, I wanted to get some McDonald’s and make myself happy after the flight. I searched for it for around 10 minutes and I couldn’t see it anywhere! Okay, no problemo. Let me ask this friendly-looking person who works here. They should know. Plot twist, he started laughing. So no cheeseburger for Andreea. Anyway, after this sad incident my dad and I took a look at the shops, we had an English breakfast and I videocalled some of my friends home. Then it was finally time to get in the plane. I’ve never travelled for that long before so I got beyooond excited when I saw the movies and music options. That went away after 5 hours of sitting in one place combined with the struggle of making myself comfortable. When we were close to reaching our destination I was already done with everything and only wanted to get off the plane. As soon as we exited the terminal at the airport I was greeted by UWC people in the most amazing way.
I ate sushi for the first time. During the Mid-Autumn Festival while everyone else was in Shanghai, I went to visit Suzhou with a group of friends for a day trip. We visited the silk museum which was interesting (and free!!) even though the tour guides only spoke in Chinese. We also went in the city center shopping and ended up eating at a Japanese restaurant. I had never had Sushi before and everytime I told someone about it they were super shocked so I thought it was about time for a first-time experience. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna like it or not because I’m not a big fan of fish but I actually loved it! Proof: I instagrammed it. If you haven’t tried it before, I challenge you to do it. The only drawback to the trip was the bad weather but we got over it. Next time I’m going to Suzhou I can’t wait to visit the gardens.
I started learning Chinese. When I was in middle school I took Chinese for two years but the only things I had learned were how to count until 2 and how to say that I’m not your friend (let’s taco bout it heh). Now it’s the real deal. All of us take Chinese classes, have a Chinese roomate and live in China so by the time we finish high school I expect us to be pros. Xie xie. It’s a bit difficult to learn, of course but it’s intriguing because it’s very different from the other languages I can speak. There are four tones and the pronounciation is speciala but it’s a lot of fun.
I met people from almost every continent. They call orientation week the honeymoon. Everyone is extra friendly, you have the same conversation about the duration of the flight, yours and the other person’s origins over and over again and you get bonding time. Being in a whole new different place with a bunch of new people can be scary and you may have FOMO (fear of missing out) which is basically trying to be all over the place all of the time because there’s something going on everywhere. One of the things that I love the most about UWC is that you can have smart conversations instead of small talk and there’s also the fact that you can travel all over the world by only talking to people around you. You can’t even imagine how many things there are to learn from others here.
I wore my national costume proudly. One of the most beautiful moments here by far was the day we took the group picture. Every student dressed with their national costume and we got together on the football field. The clothes were stunning and I just wanted to hear everyone share its history. 99 nationalities in one place and over 100 if you include the faculty. How amazing is that?
Wo hen gaoxing. There are other things that happened since I arrived here, but these are a part of the highlights. Now, besides the fact that I miss my people home and the lifestyle I had, I am very happy to be here. I still have random moments when it all feels surreal. The experiences that I have been already having here are mind-blowing. The first month was a roller coaster of emotions but things are slowly settling in.