For me, moving to EMIS was probably the biggest change I’ve ever had to make. Besides the fact that I was moving to a country nine time zones away from my home, I was going to an entirely new school with people I’d never met before. Everything was different: three other people lived in my room with me, the classes, teachers, and school schedule were all brand new, and there were 140 people that I had to get to know. It was all a little bit overwhelming.
I won’t lie and say it was easy. It was hard. For weeks, “I want to go home” was on loop in the back of my head. I felt awkward and unsure of myself countless times. Gradually it all faded out and I became more comfortable with my new environment. I found myself in an idealistic school surrounded by some of the kindest and most inspiring people I’d ever met. In every casual conversation, I learned something new about a different country in the world. Every week brought a brand new experience.
Coming to EMIS made me into an almost entirely different person. I remember reading a Common App essay I wrote in English class at the end of the last school year and feeling like the event I was describing, which was a huge deal to me only a few months before, was barely important to me anymore. When I think about who I was during the last school year and who I am now, I don’t think they’re same person.
There were two things that happened that I didn’t expect to when I moved to an international school. The first thing is that my whole mind frame shifted to a much more global view of the world around me. When you live in the U.S., it’s too easy to live a U.S.-centric life, without knowing anything about the other countries around you. I never thought about little things that people from other countries think about, like the international student rate of acceptance to U.S. universities, and whether or not I need a visa to enter a specific country. The students around me knew all of these things, and I often found myself having to resort to Google to learn about my own country. Because I was living with students from so many places, I began to think about issues on a more global scale, realizing how many of the things I spoke about were only through a U.S. lens.
The second thing that happened is that I became more firm in my national identity. It sounds counterintuitive, considering that my mindset became more global, but when you’re surrounded by people from so many different places, you begin to define what parts of your culture are specific to your country, and what comes from the global culture. It’s something that would never have happened at home, when I was surrounded by people who lived in the same way that I did. My national identity was never important, because we all identified the same way, but here, the countries we come from are the first things we tell people, and I know where each of my classmates are from the same way I know their names. I wouldn’t say that this experience has made me proud of my country, because there are still so many times I couldn’t be any less proud, but it has made me aware of my national identity and made it feel more important to me.
Adjusting to a boarding school on the other side of the world from my home was not an easy task. I gave up a lot and had to learn new things very quickly. Despite this, I’ve gained so much from this experience, and I would easily make the decision to come here a hundred times over. I’ve grown so much and met so many unbelievably amazing people. This experience is barely halfway through, but I know that I will remember these nine months here for the rest of my life.
Written by: Keren Sneh
Edited by: Shy Zvouloun