By Diana Kuznetsova '18
As I traveled around the cantons of Switzerland, I was able to live in two boarding school before coming to TASIS, and each one was the complete opposite of the other. As an 11-year-old child from Russia who didn’t know a word of English or French, my parents sent me to a school in the French region of Switzerland. This turned out to be a nightmare at first. I was a very shy kid, and this was my main problem—my inability to express myself or to simply communicate with other kids. In time, I now can recognize that this experience helped me become independent, as I was able to learn English by myself by stepping out of my confidence zone and speaking out. But at the time I was miserable.
2016–2017 TASIS proctors
Just as I was beginning to adapt to my new life, I reached the end of my time at this school (it was only for grades Kindergarten–7). My parents decided that it would be a good time for me to learn German, so off I went to Zurich. My English had improved enough over the previous two years to make this new life at an English-language school tolerable, despite my lack of any German at all. Life proceeded without any major problems, and I was relatively comfortable—perhaps too comfortable for my father’s liking. After completing the ninth grade, he decided that it was time for a change. I needed to be at school with an IB program.
So it was that I arrived at TASIS in the fall of 2015.
|I felt very lonely, and I may have been lost completely were it not for the kindness shown to me by my dorm parents.|
Starting over again at TASIS presented a new set of problems. Although I was now confident in my English, I didn’t know a soul at the school, and my shyness made it difficult to meet people. Even though it was my fifth year away from home, I still missed my family and the house I grew up in. I felt very lonely, and I may have been lost completely were it not for the kindness shown to me by my dorm parents.
All of my dorm parents were very kind and helpful, and their support and caring encouraged me to open up to people. I am grateful for that, as I have made wonderful friends here. I was able to form a special connection with one dorm parent in particular: Ms. Abisi. I could see so much kindness and empathy coming from her. She would always come to my room and ask me about my feelings and how I felt in the school. I could see how much Ms. Abisi cared about everyone and how she understood my situation. Even as the year progressed and I stopped feeling lonely, Ms. Abisi continued to show me the same level of care. I struggled with my biology class last year, and I was very stressed about it for a long time. Ms. Abisi was very helpful and was able to cheer me up. She talked to my biology teacher, and I managed to improve. I will be eternally grateful for this kind-hearted person, Ms. Abisi, who was and still is always there for me.
The newest TASIS dormitory, Lanterna, was completed in 2010.
In time I have also grown to appreciate how special it is to live with students from so many different countries. In the beginning, I didn’t value the opportunity to learn about the different languages and cultures that surrounded me. But my time at TASIS has shown me that it is great to learn something new about different countries and learn how to respect the differences we all have. My current roommate who is from China, and she has opened my eyes to so many interesting things about her country, such as its rich and magnificent history. As we’ve become closer, we trade information about our countries and extend our knowledge of each other’s culture. I continue to learn more things about her culture (and other cultures) every day, and this is a priceless experience. Her friendship has helped me realize how ignorant toward other cultures I was before coming to TASIS, and how I have since become a new and better person.
|I now understand how fortunate I am to live in an international community where teachers, dorm parents, and students care about me.|
I now understand how fortunate I am to live in an international community where teachers, dorm parents, and students care about me. It hasn’t been easy to live away from my family and childhood friends for the past six years, but I feel as though I’ve found a new family here, and I can appreciate how much I’ve changed. I am much more responsible and independent now, and I doubt I would be even close to the same person had I lived at home all this time. Even though it has been challenging to start over three times, I cannot imagine my life without all these experiences. We may not enjoy our struggles in the moment, but I believe that as we age, we’re able to look back at them and understand how they’ve shaped our character.