As soon as I got accepted for the scholarship, I contacted the previous German scholarship holders at UWCSEA. I asked questions about Singapore, school life at UWCSEA and how life works in the boarding house. Again and again I heard that they liked to leave the boarding house for dinner or overnight because they wanted to get out.
I couldn’t understand it because: Hallooo? You’re part of such a cool community in Boarding House, why do you want to leave? Even in my first few weeks in Singapore, I could not understand these escape wishes – even our catering food is mega good!?
Should I really look for a host family?
When it came to December Break, we should tell for organizational reasons whether we stay in the boarding house, live with friends or need a host family. I was not sure: Living in a host family was always cool, but should I really take the initiative? We can stay at the boarding house over the break and then I can spend time with my friends, just easy.
I once again asked our former boarding intern and scholar Julia for advice and she encouraged my tendency to accept the host family opportunity. And then I did.
When the break started, I noticed how exhausting the last few weeks actually have been and therefore I was mainly chilling and going out with friends. I thought it would be relaxation enough, but I realized: Although I like the people here, I am exhausted from the environment.
My mood? Like a lukewarm baby pool
I see all my friends every day of the week. Every day, since already being for some time lying in the display, there is only warm food, instead of freshly hot. And despite the catering offers quite different dishes, the cooking style is always the same. Every day is similar. A lukewarm half-deep baby pool l – maybe quite pleasant, but still not the highlight of the feelings – described my mood quite well.
Then I moved to the French host family, which was given to me by the Boarding House. We did not do big activities, but I followed their daily holiday life. Lunch at the sports club and at Din Tai Fung, board games and eating la Galette des Rois (French Kings’ Cake).
As a guest gift, I brought Merci chocolate, which we identified as a very German guest gift. In addition, I had a box of cinnamon stars, vanilla crescents and chocolate chip cookies that were gone so quickly that I was asked to teach them how to bake these cookies. Beside the common meals and small activities I tried to work a few things on the laptop, but that was not even half successful.
Maybe I did not work, but I received valuable input
The fact that I didn’t work much is okay, because I could take so much away from this family (the furniture stayed, but I got unexpected Christmas presents!) and that’s what matters: the warmth with which I was taken into the family as the sixth child, watching the series “The 100” together with the eldest daughter Maia, joking with all siblings about a video that one of the children has produced.
I am so impressed by Alice, the mother, with whom I talked about feminist issues for a long time in the evenings, such as the agreement between family and work, or how important it is for company principals to learn how management works, because not all are natural leaders.
I learned that I should do what I want and not where social norms push me. That there is often a way for my will when I just ask. That I should not regret anything in life and, for example, not hesitate to ask people for help and should rather receive rejection than criticize myself later: “What if I had asked?”
When I came back to the boarding house, I realized how recharged and energetic I feel after this short week away.
I now understand why it is important to leave the community from time to time. Because honestly, I’ve often been happy to have holidays from my family at home, which doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Once in a while it needs the distance to be able to contribute to common life freshly and with motivation.