fredag 21 augusti 2015

Summer service and other things.

After more than 30 hours of travelling, a missed train, cancelled flight and some sweat and tears I am back in Canada. To be more specific, I'm on a small island outside of Pearson that is called Race Rocks. Pearson requires all its students to do 80 hours of service/ volunteering over the summer holiday, and I chose to spend it here together with my co-year Catherine. For about ten days we're doing measurements, animal census, maintenance work and other things which have to be done on an island like this.
The first few days we woke up around 5:30 due to jet lag and the never ending screaming of the gulls,
which had it perks, like super long breakfasts and the chance to admire beautiful sun rises. 
One of the days we repainted a boat trailer. A common theme for every day at Race Rocks is extremely unflattering clothes matched with a pair of old gumboots... 
View from the kitchen. 
Cleaning algae and bird poop of the buildings.

Race Rocks is...hard to describe. It is absolutely gorgeous, especially during the summer when the sun is shining and the sky is blue as far as the eye can reach. Through each of the windows of the house we live in we can see the ocean, and on one side of the island the sky meets the Olympic mountains, on the other side we can see the coastline of Vancouver Island. Race Rocks is a marine ecological reserve which Pearson has had stewardship of since 1978. The wildlife is quite amazing, both on land and above water, it is a paradise for anyone who is passionate about marine science (and doesn't mind the poopy smell). 

Two adorable sea gull chicks. 

Sea lions. My new favorite animal. (After whales of course.)

Although we have a few days left here I can for sure say that this is unlike anything I've done before. We're currently four people living on this island and other than that our only company is barking sea lions and aggressive sea gulls. At times it does drive you a little bit crazy, and so we've been trying to cope by working, baking and cooking lots of good stuff and laughing hysterically about pretty much everything. I am incredibly grateful for being here with such wonderful people, humor really is the way to deal with all the crazy stuff that can happen on an island like this.

One of many gull families, might seem cute, but having chicks turns adult gulls into real bastards. 

Just one of many magical sunsets/sun rises. 
I think what is so unique about Race Rocks is the strong contrasts. The beauty of the surrounding and the constant screaming and barking of the evil gulls. The smell of our Indian curry and the poop from the composting toilet. The isolation from everything around and the stares from the infinite number tourists on whale watching boats, who want to get a glimpse of this magical island. The gorgeous sunsets and the ruff, cold wind and darkness at night.

In short, Race Rocks is challenging, stinky, windy, full of poop but also absolutely wonderful. 

lördag 21 februari 2015

Tea and things like that.

One world is only two weeks away and like most other students, I spend most of my time going to rehearsals/making costumes and trying to keep up with the schoolwork. There is a bad cold going around on campus and the stress-levels among students seem to be quite high. Pearson is amazing, but in times like this it is easy to get stuck in routines and become unable to appreciate all the beautiful things that are going on here. So other than studying, sleeping and rehearsing, here are some of the things I have experienced at Pearson lately.

For Valentine's day, some students and a teacher organized the annual Valentine's day dance. We don't really have any other "formal" dances, most of the times we just have parties with loud music and some improvised lighting in the common room. For this dance however, a lot of people dressed up really nicely, the cafeteria was decorated and a band from a local high school came to play. It was sweaty, fun and over way too soon. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures right now, but if I find any I'll insert them at a later point.

One Tuesday evening a bunch of students and staff went to the dress-rehearsals of the Opera "Lucia Di Lammermoor" in the Royal Theater of Victoria. About three times a year we get the chance to see different operas and no matter how good the opera actually is, just getting the chance to dress up, leave the college on a weekday and then turn up in front of the Royal Theater in a yellow school bus (like the ones you see in movies) makes it quite an exciting experience.

This week we had our last special topics day for the year. Special topic days are days with no classes, where the whole school listens to presentations/goes to workshops/does activities and discusses a specific topic or issue that we feel is relevant. We have had one about peace and conflict, the second one was about gender issues and the last one was about inequality. Our second-years had arranged workshops on different topics that had to with inequality, everything from sibling inequality, to inequalities in education, theater of the oppressed and a workshop about the economic theories behind inequality. It was a very interesting day, especially as I learned a lot more about the varying backgrounds of people at Pearson.

February in general has for me been a month full of birthday celebrations, walks in the forest, late night rehearsals and lots of schoolwork. Something that has made it a lot easier to find the energy to make it through is the fact that spring seems to have arrived. After a few days of sunshine and 11 degrees, flowers coming out and the days becoming brighter, I have a lot of faith in winter not returning. We'll see how that goes.

måndag 26 januari 2015

Beach clean-up, kayaking, concert, movies. Weekend.

Considering that I spent most of last week being sick and miserable, this weekend was surprisingly exciting and fun. I'll try to give you an idea of what a good weekend at Pearson can look like.

Friday afternoon my marine science class went to a nearby beach to do a beach-cleanup. The previous class we learned about the great garbage patch in the ocean, and about the effect which plastic and other garbage has on the marine life. So to actually see this in action, our teacher went with us on a beach clean-up. After an hour of picking of lots of small plastic parts, beer cans, plastic bags and other more random stuff such as a baseball, flip-flops, take-away food cartons from the water and the beach, I was both super wet and quite sick of humanity.If anyone is interested in reading more about what marine science at Pearson is about, my teacher has a blog where she occasionally posts pictures of what we do on field trips or of what happens at the Pearson dock.

Saturday and Sunday morning I participated in a kayaking course for beginners, held by second-year students in the kayaking activity. The first day we spent in the swimming pool learning how to do rescues, which was pretty cool. Sunday we learned further skills, this time we practiced them in the bay. It was definitely worth waking up 7:00 on a weekend, neglecting homework and wear a wet wet-suit for several hours both days, which I think says a lot. Kayaking is awesome.

Saturday I also went to a session about ttt (trauma tapping technique) led by a person from Rwanda, who is currently visiting some staff at the school. It is a technique that is used in many countries to help people that have experienced trauma, but it can be used by anyone to relax and just feel better. The person works with an organization called "Peaceful heart network" and has been travelling to a lot of places to teach this method.

More about that here:

Later that day I went to an Afro-Carib dinner at a teacher's house, my visit there was quite spontaneous and unplanned, but nonetheless very nice. Ice cream and good conversations are never really wrong. Later in the evening, the second-year theater students performed their show "Black milk", which was quite a special and intense piece they had all written together. The rest of the night I spent watching a German movie (Fack ju Goethe) and eating German candy, talking to people while hanging out in one of the day room and going to bed way too late.

Sunday afternoon Saana from Sudan, Catriona from Scotland and me went to a baroque concert together with my host family. I have been trying to take advantage of and go to a few of the cultural events that are being organized in places near Pearson, both because I love going to concerts and because it is a nice chance to connect with people outside of Pearson. After eating chocolate cake and getting a loaf of bread from my host family, they drove us back to Pearson where we ate dinner and went to our house meetings. Unsurprisingly, I went to bed quite early that evening. Tired but happy. That by the way describes quite a lot of my days at this place.

torsdag 22 januari 2015

At Pearson, term 2

I'm ridiculously bad at keeping this blog updated and although I have lots of excuses, I think the main cause for this is me simply forgetting about it. Anyhow, it would be extremely hard for me to summarize basically all of my first term and so instead, I will try to post things here more continuously.
 Like a lot of students here, I couldn't fly back home over winter break as Canada and Sweden are quite far apart and so the flight tickets are extremely expensive. Instead, I spent the break at a host family together with three other students. They were very kind people who not only let us stay at their house and fed us for the entire three weeks, but also took time to show us some of the surroundings and make us feel at home. I'm actually seeing them again in a few days, as we are going to a concert in Metchosin together.

During the winter break, I visited Victoria (the nearest real city) to go to the museum, buy stuff, go to the cinema, see some friends and just walk around in the quite beautiful city center. Also, I spent a lot of time baking, reading, walking along several beaches and going on adventures with both host parents and other students. All in all, although I studied way too little and missed my family sometimes, it was quite a lovely time.

Coming back to Pearson was somewhat overwhelming, but that is just what Pearson is and I've grown to love it most of the time. We are starting to prepare for the big annual show called "One World" which Pearson does every year. I will definitely write more about it soon. Also, the expectations and demands regarding academics seem to have increased quite a bit for first-years compared to last term. I'm currently preparing for my final exams in Swedish A Self-taught, which takes a lot of time and energy. Finding a balance between sleep, academics, activities, socializing and having self-time is still somewhat of a struggle for a lot of people, but I feel that I've gotten more used to it.

Seeing posts in application groups for UWC and hearing about interviews etc. brings back a lot of memories from this time last year. I remember dreaming so badly about being selected to go to a UWC. How I was so nervous and so excited at the same time. And how I had no idea of what my chances were. It still feels pretty surreal to be here now. Remembering how happy I was when I actually got selected really motivates me to do what I can to not get caught-up in the everyday routines where it becomes hard to appreciate how amazing it is to be here, but instead really work for making this the experience I imagined it to be. For example, I've promised myself to go on more adventures with people, explore the surroundings, try new things, have more deep discussions and just reminding myself of what a wonderful, unique place Pearson actually is.

Exploring Vancouver Island.

Baking German Christmas cookies at my host family.

Dancing in the dance recital we had before winter beak.

The Scandies (+ Greenland & Finland) organizing a Lucia celebration for the rest of the school.

måndag 20 oktober 2014

Latin American Regional Day and a whole lot of homework.

This Saturday was Latin American Regional Day. Three times a year, we have special days which are designated to celebrate and learn more about different regions in the world. The days usually consist of a brunch which food typical to the specific region, followed by lots of workshops, a show and a party.

Latin American Regional Day was the second day of this kind this year, and it was just as amazing as the first one. All the late nights of dance practices and choir rehearsals were absolutely worth it when we finally got to perform. Also, it always amazes me how talented and passionate people are here.

Except for amazing musical performances, there were some spoken-words about the issues that people in Latin America are currently facing. The week before this day students from the affected countries talked about issues such as racism against indigenous people, drug-dealing and the immigration from Latin America to the U.S.

It has been a truly interesting and instructive week, although I'm glad to have some more time to do my homework this week. Since next week is Project week, meaning that all students will be off-campus for a week, we have a lot of tests, deadlines and presentations to do this week. Sometimes, we have so many other things going on that it's easy to forget that we're actually doing the IB. (Although, not really...)

Some Japan-house people, ready for the Latin American dinner.

Side note: As I don't have a camera, I'm using pictures taken by some of my lovely co- and second-years. This one is from Zoë (Newfoundland).

torsdag 16 oktober 2014

Life at Pearson almost two months later.

I remember reading an incredible amount of UWC-blogs during the time I was applying and later waiting for an answer. The main thing, which all of them seemed to have in common, was that they were updated quite rarely. As I still remember my own frustration about this, I feel somewhat guilty about the lack of posts on this blog. In order to be able to catch up, I'll do my best to tell you a little bit more about what has happened since I arrived at Pearson.

The first week was mainly an opportunity to settle in and get to know people. Classes started, as well as activities, student jobs and everything else that is on our schedule. Trust me, it is a lot. On the other hand, most things we do are either very enjoyable or feel meaningful, which helps with keeping the motivation up.

My favorite classes so far are marine science, economics and philosophy. We do have quite a bit of homework to do, but it's all quite manageable. Nevertheless, you will probably find people studying in the library no matter what time of the day/night it is.

We have classes between 8:00 and 14:00, which most days of the week is followed by various activities/meetings/special events. For example, on Mondays I have medical responder-training, followed by choir-rehearsal and then practice with the A cappella-group. On Tuesdays we usually have village meetings/international affairs, which I will explain to you some other time. Wednesdays I have my student job, time to study, wash my clothes and another rehearsal with the singing group. Thursday is fitness-day, meaning that everyone has a fitness-activity after school, in my case, gym workout. Fridays means yoga and then finally some time to breath. If there is not something else going on, which often is the case. Weekends vary from being quite relaxed to being super busy, but usually weekend means sleeping morning, the possibility of going to town and just hang out with people.

It is quite a hectic, exhausting but at the same time very wonderful way of living. This place gives us so many possibilities and there is always something cool going on. I hope to write updates more regularly from now on, in order to give more details and share this experience with you.

The A cappella-group performing a Swedish song at the European Regional Day. 

Field trip to Race Rocks with my marine science-class.

The floating building, where I have marine science- and philosophy class.

Japan House-girls dressed for a Toga party. 

måndag 1 september 2014

30th of august.

Writing this feels quite surreal, but I've safely arrived in Canada and made my way to Pearson College. After 27 hours of traveling I was picked up by my Canadian hosts in Metchosin, where I got to stay for a night. Let's just say that getting to shower, eat and sleep for a while felt quite amazing after such a long travel. The next day we went to Pearson and suddenly there were so many things going on at once. New faces, names, places, people, languages, everything! So far it has been both very overwhelming and wonderful at the same time.

My roommates are lovely, the campus is just utterly beautiful, the food is amazing, the ocean is overwhelmingly large and spectacular and there are awesome people everywhere. Classes don't start until next week which means that we've got a few days to adjust to Pearson-life, have fun and get to know each other. Also, it gives us the chance to catch up on some sleep and cope with jet-lags. (The struggle is real.)

Today I've spent most of the time talking to people, walking around on the campus, eating an amazing brunch and walking to a nearby beach. I would love to write more, but our first-years Japan-house meeting will start in a few minutes. You'll hear more from me soon.

At the airport in Toronto.

The beatiful, beautiful boat house with a view on the Pacific.