Stories from our international boarding schools

A summary of my first year with EF Academy

This is an article by Alessandra DiNicola, a current IB student at EF Academy Oxford.

The first time I wrote a blog for EF Academy was last December for the school’s Italian language blog, in order to present myself and my initial thoughts about my first year with EF Academy. Since then, some time has passed and a lot has happened. I’m not an IB year one student anymore and I’m nearing the start of my second year of IB in Oxford.

As many people state, living abroad is a useful experience because it gives you the opportunity to expand your horizons by discovering new cultures and improving your English language skills. These could be considered principal reasons students choose this adventure.

It was true for me and I believe my decision was also based on the fact that I started to feel like my world was too small. I thought it was time to grow and discover the world around me. I wanted to become more responsible and have the ability to manage myself.

I would like to present you two of my biggest difficulties, because as they say “life is not a bowl of cherries”. Both of these influenced my first year’s experience. And then the good parts of these new experiences.

Roommates

Obviously, a year abroad represents an important change in life and later on, it becomes a complete revolution. I’m an only child and when I arrived in Oxford, I discovered I had to share the room with two more people (which became three later on – somehow, I was so lucky that I got the only room in all EF Academy Oxford residence for four people!) I think this was my biggest “issue” in the beginning.

During the year I changed several roommates. Some of them didn’t like the size of the room, others left the school, other ones were changing from their previous rooms. In total, I have lived with six different people, all of them from different nationalities. Coming from having my own room in my home, I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the change of sharing the room with just one roommate. So, when I arrived to find more, it was quite a big shock.

However (if you can believe it), I had to sleep alone on the last day at the campus because my roommates had already left and the truth is that it was the weirdest and the saddest moment of the year. At that time I realized how much I would miss them. So, at the end of the year, I was able to realize the amazing relationship I had developed with my roommates and how much I will miss living with them next year.

The Education System

Another new thing that posed an important challenge at the beginning of the year was the educational system. In fact, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a particular type of program that pushes you in developing your own skills, such as team working or the application of a topic.

The program is based on just six subjects. There is a particular focus on them to get you ready for the future. My previous school’s system was a study of 13 subjects. Changing to six specialized subjects, as the IB provides, represented an important step for me because it helped me realize the importance of focusing on a specific subject that is going to your interest in university.

New Experiences

EF Academy is also giving me the possibility to experience new and pleasant situations. For example, the relationship between the teachers and the staff. Teachers are always available to answer questions and resolve doubts. And the staff in the residence are constantly checking in on us. If we have any kind of problem, they are all there to help you.

A year seems quite long but by the last day of school, I realized how fast my first year passed and how many different things happened. I moved to Oxford with the hope that my life would change for the better, and that’s what actually happened.

I’ve made so many supportive friends from all over the world, I’ve very much enjoyed sharing the room with my roommates and I am completely sure of the decision I made when I choose the IB Diploma.

I would say that this is the summary of my first year with EF Academy Oxford. It’s been great to be a beginner. I hope you will be able to enjoy your first year as much as I did, and for any advice, don’t hesitate to ask!

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