End-of-Term Reflections

My first term at Waterford has come to an end, and in a day and a half, I’ll be on my way to Johannesburg and from thereon home. This seems like a good time to reflect on some first impressions of Swaziland and of UWC.

When I was told I’d been offered a spot at UWC in Swaziland, I had only a vague idea of what life might be like here. Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence on the planet. However, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a more peaceful and welcoming culture.

I was told not to get disappointed if my experience didn’t turn out to be exactly as I expected it to. It didn’t. Yet, I’m far from disappointed. I love Waterford, and I’ll be forever thankful to my sponsors and my parents for giving me this opportunity. What’s so good about this place? I’ll give you a few examples.

  1. Everybody does something. Every individual in this school does something that is particularly interesting. In fact, there are so many clubs, activities and events to take part in that it’s physically impossible to participate in all of them.
  2. There is support for initiative. A couple of weeks ago, there was a school concert by the choir and some bands, and the assembly hall was packed. Not only was it a good concert – the excitement surrounding the concert was amazing, in and of itself. These sort of things happen regularly. Another noteworthy event was the theatre performances produced by the IB2s at the school. They made me want to take up acting again.
  3. Waterford challenges you, in all aspects of life. Firstly, the IB is rigorous, and the effort needed to achieve a good score is substantial. Secondly, having all these opportunities for extra curricular activities will force you to excel in your areas of interest. Thirdly, the community service opportunities at this school are plentiful. You can work with everything from puppies or recycling to government hospitals or local entrepreneurship. Fourthly, the social and cultural setting of the school is different from anything anyone who comes here is used to, simply because you won’t find the same combination of people anywhere else in the world. You will need to adapt, and respect others.

With all these things to to, naturally, UWC is tiering, and I look forward to a month of relaxation with friends and family.

Markus

Mid-Term Break

It’s been a week since our mid-term break, and it is with great pleasure that I can finally say; the internet is strong enough to blog! It may seem bizarre, but getting a strong enough connection is actually is issue, as photos take a long time to upload.

Anyhow, for mid-term, Hilde, Nelly, Tshepi (my link brother) and I went to Mozambique with Tshepi’s parents! After living in a landlocked country for about two months, I cannot aptly express how good if felt to get to the ocean (keep in mind that I used to live on an island).

On Friday morning, we drove, more or less, directly to Bilene, where we stayed at Tshepi’s father’s friend’s house. The house is located above a lagoon, which makes room for some pretty awesome views;

IMG_1139

We went kaiaking in the lagoon, and even though it was fun and we were told it was completely safe, I must admit, I still cringe at the thought of crocodiles sneaking up on us in the surface. If you keep going beyond the sand dunes after the lagoon, you’ll reach the beach soon enough.
IMG_1529

On Saturday we went to a bigger lagoon, where we had lunch and the ability to swim!

IMG_1164

As overjoyed as I was by getting in the water, I managed to cut my foot on some sharp item in the water, but the day was a success, nonetheless! My vague medical skills were put to test, as I was forced to wrap my tank top around the wound, in order to stop the bleeding. I won’t lie, even though the little I know of first aid has come to me from Hollywood, I felt greatly capable.

IMG_1263On Sunday, we went to the prober beach, and after limping across the dunes for twenty minutes, nothing could have pleased me more than the sound of pounding waves, and this view;
IMG_1448

IMG_1469

On the way back, I managed to capture everyone in a single photo, as well.
IMG_1594

We went back through Maputo on Monday, where we slept as Tshepi’s dad’s apartment. After staying in teeny, tiny Swaziland for some time, it was surreal to see a big, buzzing city, once again, and we enjoyed our stay there.

As usual, more photos can be obtained in the photo gallery!

Until next time,

Markus

Sun, Rocks and Chalk

IMG_0739

On our way up to the wall on mount Kelly

Last weekend we went rock climbing, and it was great to get back to the mountainside after what seems like forever. It’s possible that the rock climbing group will go to SA for a weekend during easter break.

IMG_0755 1

Sameen and I

IMG_0772 1

Connor (connorbaer.org)

Connor (connorbaer.org)

IMG_0776 1

I’m pretty sure I’ll keep doing this!

A Typical “Cubie”

The rooms on the boys side of Emhlabeni hostel are pretty much identical. There’s a desk, a shelf, a bed, a closet (with a curtain, instead of doors?) and windows. It’s not much, but it gets the job done. In fact, Waterford is the only, or one of few UWCs who offer single rooms, which we’re thankful for! Anyway, here are a couple pictures of my view and my room (yes, Mom, I did clean it).

IMG_3044IMG_3045 IMG_3046

Peace

Our First Days in the Kingdom

After about thirty hours of traveling we finally arrived in Mbabane, Swaziland on Friday. We’re currently staying with our Norwegian second year Lise’s link family, and we feel right at home!

IMG_0057

IMG_0054

Yesterday we went to a waterfall with a second and a third years of ours, Samantha and Joanna from Swaziland, and our co-year Batya from Costa Rica. It was great to see some more of this beautiful kingdom. We even went swimming!

IMG_0075

IMG_0071

Later that night we stayed at Lise’s link family for braai (barbecue) with friends of the family. After that went to the Albert Millin, a local bar, where we met other students from Waterford, and we had a blast! If you ever go, try their food, you will not regret it one bit, just saying.

For now, we’re hanging out in the sun and eating watermelon. Life is good.

IMG_0091

IMG_0090IMG_0097Tomorrow we’re heading over to the school to get started with orientation week!