Written by Himanshu (Class of 2017, Nepal)
We recently had a chat with Apoorba (Class of 2018, India). After spending the summer post-graduation travelling around Singapore, Colombia and India, she landed at Carleton College in Minnesota, United States, where she is studying Drama, English Literature and Cinema Studies. Even though she sometimes wonders how life brought her here, Apoorba believes it’s worth the place and the people.
Do you have specific examples of how something you learned at UWC ISAK Japan is helping you now or with something you plan to do in the future?
UWC ISAK prepared me for a lot of things Carleton College has to offer. The sense of community I first felt at our Karuizawa campus was what attracted me to Carleton. Something that I learned at UWC ISAK that I am still using is being able to adjust to an environment that has diverse people. This skill to adapt to new and unknown environments made the transition from high school to college so much easier. Simple human values, which were such ordinary things for a UWC ISAK student, became so real and absolutely necessary in a college environment in the best way possible.
How has residential life at UWC ISAK helped you in college life? How is college different from what you imagined when you were at UWC ISAK?
I was quite sure about what was required and what to expect from residential life when I arrived at Carleton. Having lived with international students for two years, I know how to have roommate rules and systems in place in order to live together peacefully. I intuitively understand how to respect my roommates and adapt to their needs and lifestyle. It will apply to my life in the future too, where it is important to respect people and their opinions even if I don’t completely agree with them.
Residential life in college, at least in my case, has been quite similar to what it was like at UWC ISAK. It’s a close community where your classmates and dorm-mates are all nearby. However, UWC ISAK had something different – a feeling of being a family unit in each dorm as opposed to just friends.
Have there been any changes in parental perception of you before and after UWC ISAK?
This is something I actually talked to my parents about already. They told I matured quite a bit at UWC ISAK. When you are on your own later in life, there won’t be a family to take care of you. The change in their perception of me was reflective of their participation in my college decisions. They had faith in me that I would take the right decision and they were more than pleased when I finally did because they understand only I know what is right for me.
There are still some differences between us though. When they found out there are other students from India at Carleton who came from the education system back home, they questioned their decision to send me to UWC ISAK. But the point of studying at UWC ISAK wasn’t to go to a reputable college, the point was to learn the skills to make the choice to live in an environment that suits me.
As a member of the first UWC graduating batch at UWC ISAK, what are your thoughts on your experience in building the place?
When we were at UWC ISAK, it was a relatively new school, and I felt a bit of pressure to make the school proud. The Class of 2018 watched the Class of 2017 handle the pressure really well! When we came back as seniors, we had a big discussion on the legacy we would leave behind. We wanted a community where people would feel comfortable asking for help and sharing their worries, sorrows and joys. I still talk to students in my house – just a few weeks ago, I called someone to help them with their IOC! Yes we publicise it a lot, but it’s true; UWC ISAK is truly a community. Even though only two classes have graduated, we have accomplished a lot. This implies that alumni being there for current students in their time of need is extremely crucial.
What does UWC ISAK mean to you? How would you describe the people, the place, and the experiences in UWC ISAK?
Personally, I think of UWC ISAK as somewhere I belong. Even when I make introductions I say I am from India but feel the need to include that I lived in Japan for two years. Even though we are all thousands of miles away, the people of UWC ISAK are always family. In fact, I am closer to people at UWC ISAK than the people back in India! Those two years were the most important of my life. They shaped me and turned out to be a guiding path to discovering myself. Even though the ride wasn’t a simple one, the tough times made it an important one. UWC ISAK will always be home because that is where I became me.
What is something you want the larger UWC ISAK community to know?
Bonds you create in UWC ISAK extend well beyond your high school life… Pay attention to people around you because they’ll be such a wonderful source of support for you even when they are far away.