Simon Duindam

UWC attended: United World College of Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Class Year: Class of 2015

I was born in the outer parts of Utrecht, one of the biggest cities of the Netherlands, although calling it “big” may be something of an overstatement. But it was big enough for my family to move around in the city itself. Going from the outer parts to the inner city let me enjoy the best of both. I still had the sense of ease from the suburbs while in the more hectic inner city, which, in a way, always brought something new.

When I heard I was selected for the UWC in Mostar, I was very excited.  This was a new school where we could start traditions, lay the foundation for something which was part of us all, and create some communal feelings early on.

In retrospect, I can also say that the entire experience changed me in ways I could have never imagined. Through everyday confrontations with the harsh reality of war, I saw how 15 year old high school students are still so much affected by its consequences, even though they never lived through it themselves. Hearing the sometimes frighteningly strong opinions these young members of the different ethnicities had about each other made me think twice more often than not. Going from the quiet, down to earth and overly time conscious Dutch people, to the chaotic but wonderfully easy going Bosnians was quite eye opening, to say the least.

The projects we committed to with local students also opened my eyes to new activities, some of which I continue to pursue today. Like rock climbing, which I started after a trip with a local primary school. It’s considerably harder to pursue this in the Netherlands, as it is mostly under sea level, but it’s still possible.

At Lewis and Clark, I have high hopes for rock climbing, but also for other outdoor activities. Not only because of its location being great for these activities but, maybe most of all, because of its community. Reading about the activities and trips that are being organized by both the school and students, I think it won’t be a problem for me to take part.

This also shows that, apparently, students can find a balance between studying and other things.  Since the vast selection of subjects to study is pretty staggering, I believe finding something to fill any possible desire won’t be a problem. For me this will probably be something through which to find a common ground between psychology and economy. Although they are more conventional subjects, they stay just as interesting to me.

For all the possibilities I had in Mostar, which I wouldn´t have even dared dreaming of just a few years ago, I think that in Lewis and Clark I can continue to be amazed by everything its environment has to offer. While studying abroad in English was something unreal, now that it is actually happening, in my still somewhat astonished eyes, it’s an unexpected yet positive turn of events.