Grace Godden ’16 Queen’s University, Arts & Humanities

Now I feel as if I can talk to anyone in my class, about mostly anything. I’ve learned that disagreement is beneficial and you can always learn from someone with different opinions than your own.
I've never been good at saying goodbyes. Ever since I was little, my dad remembers me saying, "Just one more last goodbye, daddy, just one more." My parents call it passion, and I haven't yet decided what to call it, but when I get attached to an environment or a thing, I find it extremely difficult to let it go (especially if it brings me immense joy). At least I used to! My first step off of the Air Canada plane in September 2015 was my first step ever in Europe. Having no previous European travel experience, everything was so new and different! I didn’t know how I’d be able to cope with falling in love with a place and having to leave it so soon, chancing never to return there again. I quickly learned to get over my attachment issue and just appreciate a place for the time being. It didn’t take me long to realize that if I spent a couple of days grieving my departure, I could easily miss out on the whole of a trip! Since we go on such short–but frequent–travels, I can now enjoy a city for the entire time that I spend there. I don’t waste a moment thinking about what it would be like if I could spend more time there, I just spent the minimal time that I had in order to get the maximum experience out of a place. This may seem like a small thing, but I have actually struggled a fair bit with this for my entire life. Due to my experience at NJC, I have learned to enjoy everything as it is. I no longer waste time dwelling on the inevitable end. This will be a crucial skill that I will carry with me for the rest of my life because it enables me to get the most out of every situation!

I have also learned that just because people are different, does not mean that you're bound to disagree or not get along with them. Before coming here, I went to a school of 2000 people. This allowed me to only be friends with people that had the same interests and opinions as me. I considered myself to always be friendly, but I was never required to be friends with different people outside of the classroom. Coming here, to a school of under seventy people, I initially thought that I would disagree with people who were different from me, because previously I had never been exposed to friendships with a variety of people. I just assumed that because someone was into different things, we wouldn’t get along. Now I feel as if I can talk to anyone in my class, about mostly anything. I’ve learned that disagreement is beneficial and you can always learn from someone with different opinions than your own. I have sure come a long way from the somewhat closed-minded individual that I was before NJC.

Some of my fondest memories from the year are from NESDA. I learned that a great way to travel is with people who have the same interests as you. I knew that my choice to participate in NESDA–despite not knowing many people personally–was a good decision when I was travelling with a group that all had common interests as myself. When travelling with a group like this, you are bound to enjoy yourself because you know that there is a commonality between all of the members. You’ll bond no matter who you are! I am now more inclined to participate in activities solely because of my interests not just because all of my friends are participating. This is because I know how impactful the benefits are. I will now have confidence participating in activities based on the actual activity because I know that you are bound to meet people who are like you.

I can now pack! I know this sounds little but trust me, this will be a big help when I go to camp this summer, university in September, and wherever I end up in the world. When packing for Kenya, one of my personal requirements was to have a fresh shirt every day. I brought a huge bag with me, and I don’t think I ended up wearing even half of what I packed. When our guides in Kenya were unloading our bags from the bus, they made a comment about how heavy mine was. I didn’t see much of a problem at first, but a couple of days into the trip, it became quite apparent. An individual living in the country was considered lucky if they had upwards of three outfits. Most days, I can’t even decide what to wear from five outfit options. (And I’m not even that into clothes, I can’t imagine what some other people go through.) I realized that my packing was ridiculous and I’m still a little embarrassed about it. Since our trips are so short, I’ve had to learn that packing three hoodies for a weekend travel is absolutely crazy. I’ve learned to fit a lot into my small bags, but I’m way more realistic with what I’ll actually need. I’m sure my mum will be happy to learn that I’ve finally solved my overpacking problem!
A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap