Rebecca Konijnenberg (UWCiM 2010-2012)
“Look outside, it’s a Snowpocalypse!
Snow-days, an invention that most Nordic people know very well, sounds like something that every Secondyear during trial exams would wish for. Being able to have epic snowball-fights right outside your residence instead of studying does not seem like such a bad idea at all. However, an encounter with a rather impressive amount of snow in the own hallway makes even the happiest Secondyear wonder about what will happen next…
Here in the United World College of Mostar it has always been common knowledge that Mostar’s winters can be almost anything – ranging from rain to sunshine and back to, well, mostly rain. Snow on the other hand is far more unusual, for all UWCiM students it has been common knowledge that there simply is no more than one or two days of snow, if at all. But the past two and a half weeks have proven that, even in Mostar, more than 1 meter of snow is possible.
None of us can deny that in the beginning it was a lot of fun; after all who gets to be snowed inn in a residence with about 75 other people from all over the world, right during the first days of trial exams? Walks around the city suddenly became very popular, the true adventurers managed to reach the famous old town through streets covered so high in snow that it was impossible to tell whether one was walking above cars or pavement. Reaching the main school building was similarly difficult; a ten minute walk turned into a thirty minute hike through the snow storm.
Unfortunately the same conditions applied for our canteen crew that takes the food from one residence to the other. Now that the residences were separated by a kilometre of solid snow mountains, it was simply impossible to deliver any food. In other words the biggest of our two residences turned into a self-supply institution over night. With the help of our headmistress and some other teachers we divided the students into different teams in order to organize food supplies, help cook or shovel the snow from the doors so they could be closed again. Whenever we had to go outside, most of us truly felt like a part of some kind of apocalyptic action movie.
As the snow storms ebbed away, the streets were cleaned and food started to be delivered again on a regular basis, everybody was convinced that the worst had been over. However, it was not long until we were proven wrong once more. In the meanwhile we helped out wherever we could, joined the army of snow-shovelling volunteers and made sure that the people we support with CASes have enough food. Just as everything returned to normal, a new blizzard stormed through Mostar and took most of the electricity cords with it.
It took about three days for the workers and some of our volunteers to free their way to the damaged sites, hence more than half of the city, including the bigger ones of our residences, was without electricity and heating for three days. With temperatures of minus 15°C outside it is obvious that those students could not stay inside of the residence, most of them were evacuated to the other residence, some others to the teachers’ families. Their support has been incredible and our school cannot thank them enough!
The time of evacuation was followed by a mass-movement of students back to the residence, in the hope to find electricity working. Surprisingly we were able to stay, nevertheless school, including the trial exams, was postponed for a few more days. Although, against all odds, the snow has stayed until now, the normal UWCiM life has returned. This winter will be remembered by many UWCiM generations still to come, but especially by the current Secondyears that just finished their trial exams in winter jackets.