Altaf Barelvi

UWC attended: United World College Robert Bosch College (Germany)
Class Year: Class of 2023

“To become independent, one must first learn how to cook” is the advice that my mother taught me since I was very young age. I come from the largest island country, Indonesia, and growing up there I have gained a tremendous amount of interest in the cuisine and cooking. And having had the chance to live abroad in the United Kingdom and attending a UWC, food and cooking has become something that I’ve always carried forward as a medium to learn more about the world around me and a symbol to remind me to strive to be independent.

My two years at UWC has definitely been the most rigorous years of my life yet more than that it has been one that is immensely transformative. Through the two years, I became a lot more comfortable and happy with who I am and I believe that is largely helped with the amazing friends that I have met through my many activities on campus, one example is cooking. I was not the most knowledgeable of cooks when I first came to UWC, and I still have a long way to go; I still often cringe at the first time when I had to make a rice dish for a community event and I accidentally put too much water, inevitably making a gooey rice meal. But for me cooking was an activity that I was willing to put any amount of hours to every week, regardless if I was busy or not. I think it was mainly because I enjoyed the company of my friends and the heart to heart conversations we had across the dinner table. When we are thousands of kilometers away from home we often yearn for reminders of our previous home before coming to UWC, and one way to help handle the feeling of homesickness for me was to cook a meal and eat together with my friends. Although the food might not be the same or up to par to mom’s usual meals, more importantly it reminded me an important lesson from process of cooking and eating the meal: I cannot always carry or recreate aspects of my previous “home” when settling in somewhere new and foreign, but I can always try to create a new home that I am happy and comfortable at.

Indonesia was my home for a very long time. The bustling city vibe of Jakarta was something I really enjoyed because there was always something going on in every street. Until when I was 11 years old, my father landed a PhD position in the United Kingdom. As a family, we thought it would be best to still stay with my father and so we all moved across the world to the United Kingdom. There I stayed for the next 5 years of my life, and was the first time I tried to create a new home. Getting used to a new culture, new weather, and generally a new routine of life was an insightful and life changing experience that molded a large part of who I am and how I think. From then on, I became really interested in learning about different countries and if possible experiencing it first hand. My time at UWC has opened me up to many possibilities to visit many neighboring countries in Germany, including Italy, France, Switzerland, and my enthusiasms to just travel out to somewhere new or unknown reached its high. The summer as of writing this, I am planning my very own solo travelling trip to Japan! I always travelled with my family during my stay in the United Kingdom, but I have never planned and executed a trip by myself. I hope it goes well!

Transitioning smoothly as usual to my next segment, Lewis & Clark College! When I was picking my list of colleges/universities to apply to, Lewis and Clark always stood out to me. I felt attracted to the college at first glance and as soon as I learn more and more about the college I thought that I had to apply here. I have always been interested in pursuing a STEM related career because Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics classes were the classes that I thoroughly enjoyed taking throughout high-school. I enjoyed learning the theory aspect but more than that it was the thrill of seeing the theory be put into action in solving real-world problems that ultimately kept me interested in learning more. I am still unsure what to specifically major at, however Biology, Chemistry, or/and Mathematics would be high contenders of subjects that I would be interested in Majoring. Other academic interests that I have include learning languages, specifically one that I’ve picked up again is Japanese and I hope my trip to there will help me to learn the language and culture better. Another academic interest is media-studies. I thoroughly enjoy watching movie/series but what I love more is analyzing them after I watch them. Whether it be looking at why the director used this specific soundtrack in a scene, why this specific camera technique was implemented, or why was the plot structured this way, I enjoy answering these questions with a friend after watching a movie or a series.

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy staying active through sports, and one that has become my favourite in recent years is Volleyball. I first started during my first year at UWC and I hope to continue it throughout college. I am not the tallest of people, but I’ve grown to accept that and take that as motivation to train and become a better player. Dancing was also something I recently took and really enjoyed. On first encounters with new people, I am sometimes shy and timid. I’ve been trying to work on that aspect of myself and dancing has very much helped in teaching me how to be more comfortable with myself. I hope to also continue to learn more about dancing at college!

One a final note, I am really looking forward to spending my next 4 years in Lewis & Clark College with you all! There are many things that I hope to accomplish during my time, but if I were to choose just one it would be that I hope to become more accepting and caring to myself. My time at UWC has definitely brought me many life lessons, and I hope to take them forward to Lewis & Clark College and help me accomplish this goal. See you all very soon!