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Reflecting on my time at CIS

Written by Eugenie Ahn | Illustration by Gabrielle Hioe

I remember when I rst got told I’d be taking a test to go to a different school than my friends from primary. I was distraught – thinking that this was possibly the worst mistake I’d make in my life. I even purposely tried to fail the test, but I had a bit of a self esteem back then so I got in anyways. When I got accepted, I was crying, because I didn’t want to go; but at the end of year 10, I was crying, because I didn’t want to leave.

The 4 short years I spent at CIS went by like a breeze. But if I go into the memories deeply, so much had hap- pened and I came out a completely different person than I did when I rst came in. From my year 7 stop motion lm animation nomination to gorging in camp in year 8 to icky relationships in year 9 to every single moment in Hangzhou, so much has happened and CIS gave me so many opportunities and experiences I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

Looking back, my time at CIS were full of mostly good times, but just like everyone else, I had times I couldn’t get a happy ending out of. I had times where I’d fake sick than rather come to school. I had times I wish I hadn’t shaken hands with people. But for all the gloom in these unpleasant experiences, it was important for me to keep in mind that turned out well in the end. Even with all the support, CIS had given me in during the 4 years I was there, there were many times where I had to do things by myself. There were many decisions I had to make – either choosing to hurt other people or myself was one of them. Exchanging my sanity for someone else’s happiness was down the road too. But every obstacle I faced, every challenge I occurred, every decision I made, led me and made me become the person I am today.

School is school, but what made up my ‘school’ was mainly the people. I met so many different people during my time at CIS, and today, I am grateful for the people who have stayed. Meeting people was an obvious part of school but what people didn’t tell me was how much it was going to hurt when I couldn’t make the decision of if people were going to leave me or not. The figures that stumbled across my life at CIS have taught me so much and given me so much to be grateful for, and people’s words of comfort and advice still stick with me to this day.

It’s all the little things that turned out to make the biggest impact on me. It’s all the small moments and memories I made with people that I miss when I’m all alone in my new environment. Sitting outside the practice music rooms on the 5th floor with my girls, laughing with my friends over something dumb a boy did in the cafeteria, and watching and genuinely loving the courtyard concert because I knew I was going to be missing it one day. All these little bits and pieces shaped me into the per- son I am and the made knowledge I have and carry with me. Sometimes I wish I could relive certain moments because I miss them so much. But I know I can’t, and I think that’s what hurts the most.

This was all in the past, and now things probably have changed. Someone’s probably using my locker (which I have plenty of stories to tell about), people might actual- ly like the food in the cafeteria, and someone else must be placing their head on his shoulder. All the inside jokes and code names I had with my friends just don’t work anymore because no one else gets me like they do. I wish I could go back to the people I let go of and tell them how much they meant to me, because they did so much good for me in my life and deserve to know that they once made someone genuinely, so, so happy.

Things haven’t been the same for me since I left; it’s like I’ve lost a big chunk of me because being at CIS was such a big part of me.I miss the people, I miss the cheap and plastic – like food, I miss the cold weather that was even colder at school because we were so high up, I miss the essays I wrote, the photos I took, and the stories I shared. I won’t ever be able to re-live these exact moments again, but hopefully one day I’ll go through something similar. Now I’m just waiting until the time I get to go back….

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