Trump Triumphs

The last weeks have been a complex mix of emotions and experiences, and to be perfectly honest, I have been putting off writing a blog post. The different things I have gone through and felt were almost too big and too personal to encapsulate in a post, also there was the usual extreme busyness. However, the last 24 hours have struck me and they really are some that I want to document. So, from 2AM onwards in one of the day rooms of the college, the incoming results of the American Presidential election were streamed. I woke at around 3AM, and went in my pyjamas in the biting night air to another residence, only planning to stay for an hour or so. Anybody reading this will doubtless know the result of the election and the new President of the United States, and there is no point describing the progression of the night in terms of states and electoral points. However, it was simply amazing to be in that room with a bunch of sleepy teenagers (and a teacher) from all over the world who really cared, each with their own country’s perspectives, whilst watching Donald Trump become the President of the USA. Frankly, I am terrified by what has taken place, but being here has made me recognise a hope I didn’t before see. At around 6.30, still not having slept, I went and watched the sun rise over the Adriatic sea, which was beautiful to say the least. And this hope lay in the voice of my American co-year, who, although crying in our lessons, still believed that it is now up to the American people to mend what they can and go forward from this day with the same ideals of liberty and democracy. A hope I saw in my Colombian co-year when Colombia voted no to the Farc peace deal, yet she still believed in a peaceful future. We had an interesting discussion during History class today about the future of America, and I also realised how quick we are, when in a bubble, to blame the Trump voters, the Brexiters, the ignorant, racist masses. I remember my reaction to Brexit – aggressive Facebook posts of desolation and, to be honest, blame. And the discussion today helped me realise that when in bubbles- whether it be the bubble of Cambridge or the bubble of the lefty, liberal UWC – we blame. But the way forward is to understand why these anti-establishment votes have occurred: who do people feel left behind by the government? Who has voted for Trump because they have suffered?

I really feel grateful right now to be in such an interesting place, with such interesting people who are becoming so close and important to me. Although I do not know what will happen with the next two years of Trump presidency, I am glad to experience them here, surrounded by people who want to make change, each in their own way. And hope that the United States can move forward from this united: helping and looking out for each other.

I guess this is the idealistic UWCism I sort of expected would happen when I came here, but I promise you its not ridiculous idealism – it’s the subtle one I see in the faces of the people around me every day.

 

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What is UWC?

I have genuinely been meaning to write this post for about two weeks, but every time I have sat in front of my laptop, the hectic life here has swept me away or I have felt utterly confused about what to write. I promise you, what I would have written on each day would have been a completely different piece of writing. Every day I learn new things about this place and feel so utterly different about it.

It is also partly due to the fact that I feel as if I am in a time warp – how is it that the 29th August was only three weeks ago? The intense way of life here makes every day full of experiences: joyous moments, heartbreaking moments and moments of exhaustion. The movement from one activity to the next hardly gives you a moment to stop and reflect, especially because you are also constantly socialising. There are so many interesting people among the 200 living here in this tiny Italian village and you want to have conversations and spend time with all of them.
The weekend before the last, we went on a camping trip to Lago di Cavazzo, a strikingly blue lake in the midst of the mountains. I was sharing headphones and listening to music with one of the closest friends I have so far made here, Evgenija from Macedonia. As the coach began to drive through the mountains, and we were surrounded by towering masses of rock, I thought about what UWCAD has done to me so far. I feel as if the layers that form me – what I am comfortable with, who my friends are, my hobbies, the amount of home luxury that I thought I needed, social media, a dependence on my parents to keep me sufficiently organised – have been gradually peeled away to leave me: the me that is left when almost everything that I know and thought about myself are suddenly stripped away. And that leaves a person very vulnerable and exposed. But it also has forced me to reconsider and build again those layers of myself. What do I really love to do? What are my boundaries? What sort of of people do I look for as friends? How motivated and organised am I academically? What do I value?
Obviously, it has also made me appreciate some of the constants in my life: which friends from back home still keep in touch and most of all how wonderful and supportive my family is.
So yes, although I am exhausted, sleep-deprived and turning into a carbohydrate (Mensa food…), I feel like I am learning and growing in leaps and bounds. It is extraordinary how fast everything moves here: how quickly we have to adjust to a new country, school, home, residence ( which is a mini home in itself with its own atmosphere) and how quickly people become close; although this is not that surprising when you consider that you are living 24/7 with your friends.
Another thing that has widened my eyes is, wow, the world is so colourful. It is impossible to encapsulate every conversation I have had in words, all the utterly different lives and experiences that form each individual here, all the hardship people have gone through but also the beautiful, alive cultures they come from.
The world really is a bigger place than I could have imagined it before, and that makes up for the sleep deprivation.
I just realised I have an Italian test tomorrow,
Ciao!
E x

Arrival! (minus my life possessions)

image(here is a photo of my residence from the side)

I have now been in Duino for over 24 hours, although it seems both much shorter and much longer. Firstly, the most important news: I have lost my big luggage! I arrived in Trieste airport, went to the Bag Pick Up, and waited for the luggage that never arrived…It contained ALL of my clothes and liquids. Great. (I sound a lot calmer here than I actually am about this). So, I have been surviving off of the generosity of everybody at the school. Fortunately, UWCers are ridiculously generous, so I have been lent underwear to shampoo to contact lens solution to pyjamas. Hopefully my suitcase will come within the next couple of days, as Ryanair promised – not that Italian airport information people or Ryanair are either very reliable.

The first evening and night were pretty rough, sort of as I had expected. It was all so overwhelming, there were so many new people, and any time I thought of home I was suffocated by a wave of homesickness. Today was better, for sure. Duino is extremely beautiful – it is currently 30 degrees Celsius every day, so the heat compliments the sleepy Italian village vibes. The view of the sea from Mensa (canteen) is pretty breathtaking as well. I am picking up a few words of Italian already, so I can identify some of the different residences, places and events of UWCAD: Lucchese, Casa Carsica, Ples, Palazzine, Porto, Cernizza, Osmizza. I really want to make the most of the fact that I am in Italy by becoming as fluent in Italian as possible. My residence is Ples, one of the smallest residences which also only houses girls, so I am a Plesbian. It is one of the oldest residences with many traditions, for example we have a ghost of a man who committed suicide on the first floor, and a banana bread recipe. My room is one of the smallest ones, but my roommate is lovely, Tiphelele (Swaziland).

I haven’t written anywhere near as much as I want to, but I am exhausted and really need more than 6 hours of sleep tonight. The last 3 days have seemed like an eon because of intense conversations, new people all of the time and a packed schedule.

Goodnight x

Bittersweet Cambridge days

cambridge2So, here I am. It has taken me far too long to figure out the technical side of things of WordPress, and now I would just really like to spill out all of my thoughts onto this blog. I do not know why I have chosen to begin this blog at 2 in the morning with a busy day ahead, but here goes.

First, a little introduction – my name is Elisenda Rubiés (Eli) and I currently live in Cambridge, England. I am half Canadian and half Catalan, with a strong cultural connection to Catalonia through regular visits and much friends and family in Barcelona. In 1 month and 6 days I will be starting a new chapter of my life at United World College of the Adriatic. I will attempt to keep up writing on this blog in order to update friends and family on my life’s going-ons, but also as an outlet for my thoughts, because writing them down sort of rationalizes them for me. If you want to learn more about UWC, have a look here: https://www.uwc.org/. Basically, it is an international educational movement that

“makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.”

I won’t go into it; for now, I want to focus on writing about my life in Cambridge and my terrors and hopes for the two years awaiting me.

When I first applied to UWC, I was struck by a contagious enthusiasm for the UWC movement and all that it entailed. Speaking to alumni, current students and scouring online blogs about the UWC experience only further presented it to me as a life-changing, irreplaceable experience which would forever stay with a person. I fell in love with it, and (although there were many complications and issues along the way), when I finally received an acceptance letter to UWC of the Adriatic, I was over the moon. As the reality of attending the college became increasingly possible and then certain, I begun to realise that yes, I was going to leave pretty much my entire life behind. And that thought was terrifying. A leap into the dark with my family, friends, boyfriend, city and life left behind. The way I feel about my decision fluctuates constantly, but I do feel certain about one thing – I will not let myself be daunted by the unknown, and I will begin this new life with an open heart.

Naming all of my terrors and hopes concerning the UWC experience will not be a very constructive thing to do, so I will just get down to what I really wanted to write this post about: the overwhelming gratitude and love I have for the people I have here in Cambridge. These (mainly) grey and rainy and (sometimes) mellow and sunlit July days have been spent with the people I love the most in the world and, as someone wise once told me, it only hurts so much to leave because the time spent was worth something.

I feel so grateful right now for my beautiful, strong family, my wonderful friends who always surprise me with their loyalty and faithfulness, and a particular person I love. The first 16 years of my life have been privileged, sheltered, but mostly, full of happiness.

One of the questions I kept on asking during a wobble I had concerning UWC was, “If I am so utterly happy with my life right now, why am I leaving it all for the unknown?” But I now think that this question is already partly answered because UWC has already given me something back for all of the sacrifices: appreciation. I don’t know if I would ever quite have noticed how beautiful my life is and the people I am surrounded by are if it was not for the prospect of leaving it all. And this encourages me to think that although I will love different people throughout my life, UWC will teach me more important lessons of how to love.

I hope that anybody reading this has at least gotten a faint grasp on my emotional ramblings. The note that I want to leave you with is a hope that when I arrive in Trieste airport on the 29th August, it will be the beginning of a mad, not perfect, but special two years.

Lots of love,

Eli xxx