Alexandra Sánchez /Republic of California, USA & El Salvador
I cringe as I see a picture. It’s me, with two pigtails, a light-blue, long-sleeved crew neck. It’s a rolling camera; with the biggest pair of doe-blank and eager eyes I’ve ever had the chance of seeing in myself. “To be honest,” I look a fright. One of my second years reminded me of my deer-caught-in-the-flash- look, and the loud, Californian exchange. And when I took the mick out of myself, she laughed, and told me my capacity to mimic myself as lightly as I acted, was special.
Indeed, we all went through it. The whirlwind sleepless camp, the frenzy on the benches of the barn, something I remember as a distant memory, but a tremendous one. The initial confusion, the frustration of having limitations, the fear of improbably being caught doing something wrong because of the strict rules, the “backwardness” of some British laws. This is boarding school.
But I took it in, like the potatoes. I never formed expectations, or so I thought. I let myself go, I let myself rip, I loved this place from the beginning. “My name is Alex and- I love AC.”
The holidays were difficult: the difficulty being going back, and the boredom of being home. All the term’s insecurities caught up with me. The people I had quickly attached myself with still gave me that squeeze and shove in the right direction. But all the other fears and abashments, pressured me. I wasn’t the person I had been when I first arrived, I was no longer an “over-achiever,” and I hadn’t fulfilled the promise I had made myself. This promise was doing what I was accepted for, not living in a bubble, and the crave for outreach, subtleties, integrity. This mind-set hadn’t been all that present. And yes, I have been more restrained, more “well-behaved” than most. But still, I wasn’t able to battle the war of balance. Balancing international activities, services, codes, socializing, sleep. Unknowingly, I had set the standards, the expectation, and what I experienced was much different. It was reality, imperfection, no pamphlet. Some aspects were crushing, others, less so. This thought-process is maturity, and acknowledgement. Still, I identified the difficulty and the disappointment.
The 5 AM chats, the warming times with second years, the one chink in the armor, the sudden leap from my home’s comfort zone. I have met some of the most breath-taking people of my life. I won’t go through more details of my first year. They are enumerable. Amazing stories, real stories, drama, peace, ache, and pure gut-bursting contentment.
- I came and saw First Term.
I made some aims for myself over December. I pined for Sunley House and my school on the Bristol Channel. The few friends from home I met with were wound in a rapture of AC, my friends, and the plentitude of our AC. It was when I spoke to others, that my affection was kindled. And because of that emotion, because of the school, I resolved to go back geared towards the true goal: to live this experience to the fullest it allowed me.
I’m happy to say that the resolutions have happened. Not some, but most. I mentioned this to a second-year friend, and told him I had observed first term, and was ready to partake in this perfection for the rest of the two years.
It seems like yesterday when I got back to Sunley. It was January. I was wearing blue again. And this past weekend, after depression, exhaustion, failure, and love for this place, I think of these words: I came, we saw together, and you’ve conquered me. I paddled in the sea alone. For once, I truly smelt the salt. I remembered my love for the gifts of yellow light through the dining hall glass. I sang to the buoy, I read a yearbook in the company of girls I’ve come to consider sisters. I stayed up ‘till the light. I walked. I had brunch. I felt awe towards you. I lay in the grass. I learned one can be friends with all sorts. And I learned that life will never be the same. It doesn’t mean it will never re-reach the same ecstasy and trough, but that I will never be surrounded by these individuals from matrix places again. It scares me, and I hold to it.
I know that after the wish for home, or for a break, the dedication, and faith in this college waxes. The hurt I feel at the departure of the second years thickens. Everything else, every other wish for a break and pause, every anger, irritation, ebbs. There is one distinct, desirable prevention and pause: the call of four wheels on the first night.
– United World College Meeting –