My name is Sarah Meertens and right now, I am 16 years old. I decided to go to UWC because I did not feel at home in the traditional education system in Belgium. I wanted something more challenging. I’ve been going to UWC Maastricht for two months now and it is exactly what I was looking for.
Before going, I said: “I really want the UWC experience.” To what many reacted that there is no general UWC experience. Your input decides your outcome and you shape the experience yourself. This is completely true. It is there in the conversations you have, the connections you make and the opportunities you get. UWC makes the world smaller and bigger at the same time. Smaller because other cultures feel more familiar and bigger because you perceive so many new stories and mindsets that you didn’t know existed. Because many backgrounds, nationalities, religions and cultures are coming together in one place, we are more open-minded towards what might be labelled as ‘different' and 'strange’ in your own environment. I feel accepted and I feel like I can truly be myself.
There is not one big difference between the Dutch/Belgian school system and UWC. There are a million. The positive vibes, the way teachers treat and teach us, the spontaneous interaction between the students and many more. When we talk about certain topics in Geography, there often is a student from the discussed region in the room. This applies to all subjects. The subjects are challenging, but it is more interesting since you can choose them yourself. We have CAS at school which are the extra-curricular activities. I like how we are always mixed with DP2’s for all activities and that there is no barrier between the two different year groups.
I can already see myself changing and growing. As I walk through Maastricht, which I have been familiar with all my life, I suddenly notice things I didn’t see before. My entire perspective on the people around me changes and you stop taking everything and everyone for granted.
Issues on the other side of the world no longer leave you ignorant but feel close to you.
At some point you get used to this feeling of having all these opportunities and experiences. But when I talk about it to others I keep realizing how special it really is.