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Sophia 英國UWC 畢業年度2025

24 April 2024

【AC Term 1 Reflection.】

在英國UWC Atlantic College 就讀的Sophia在第一學期結束後所抒發的反思與自我成長。


“Do what makes you happy.”

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”


文中Sophia深入的談論著自己在UWC Atlantic College就讀中的成長與充實的生活。







I’m trying something a bit different with this reflection — something more train of thought, more intimate. Trying to finish this on the flight home. It’s not the most well written, and will probably be updated in the future, but I’m following the one thing I’ve heard a lot this term — Do what makes you happy. I’m actually motivated to write this one, so let’s see how it goes :))

(P.S: If you want any of the photos taken down, please DM me :))


Dawn from above the clouds, over Hong Kong (roughly)


Before this term at AC, I’d have classified myself as a total introvert. I never craved company. I feel like this changed this term. I’ve met people who I genuinely enjoy being with, who I am willing to put effort into maintaining relationships with. As I’m writing this on the plane back to Taiwan, I miss them already, and we’ve only been apart for less than a week. For privacy and the sake of ease, I’m not going to name anyone, but I trust they know who they are :)

I am so lucky to have met the coolest people. People that I feel comfortable around, who I feel like myself with, who I know I can go to without (uncalled for) judgement. People I can rant to and feel listened to (thank you everyone for putting up with me). People who start the most interesting conversations at 11pm when we’ve both said “we’re going to sleep early tonight”, but never do. People who I feel safe with, and who I can truly be me around. It’s liberating.


(Some of) the breakfast table crew — photo credits: May


For me, being in silence alone is almost unbearable now, which is surprising given that I spent most of my time last year hidden from the world inside a bed curtain. I’ve gotten so familiar with the 7pm trek down the hill to PK (another boarding house, closest to the castle) that I can do it in the dark.


Kinda unrelated to the text, but photo from UWC day (SJYC gang —the first ppl I knew before coming to campus :))


I’ve also seen the coolest sights this term. Im pretty sure that I’ve said the phrase “I’ve only seen this in movies” well over 20 times — walking out of the house and seeing the grass fully frozen over, picturesque sunsets, the seafront that just keeps giving…


I think I took this photo on the 3rd night on campus, from a bench right outside the castle, at 10:30pm. Something about the smudge of steam just feels surreal.




Frosted grass along the M4


It’s only been one term, but I’ve realized I will actually miss this place, these people. I wish time would go slower… The cruel thing about AC is that it’s only 2 years. You spend term 1 settling in, then suddenly half your time with second years is gone. I already know I’m going to miss my second years so much. They have become my older siblings, parents, mentors, friends, giving me love, guidance, talking sense into me when necessary. Shoutout to you all. (Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to reach the bar they’ve set when I get my firsties next year. )


Still love this photo so much — taken at 12:26am, the night before UWC day, a full day of events.


The biggest misconception I had about AC, was that everyone was extremely 「現充」. 「現充」is a slang term we use in Taiwan that doesn’t quite translate, but it roughly is used to describe people that “live their life to extreme fulfillment”, filling every hour with an event, party, commitment, etc. There are certainly people who party every week (at least), are up until 2 am playing foosball in the day room… But, the most common thing I hear now is “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.” My favorite early memories of the term were of Hideout, the “counterpart” to Sosh (the Friday night party on campus). Hideout has been the catalyst for trauma bonding, calligraphy, coloring, and mooncakes. There was this one night, at 10:20pm, right after Hideout, we were sitting on the grass next to the M4, ranting about life, pulling out grass while we talked. We had pulled out so much grass that there was a bald spot at our feet, and a little pile in front of us.


Something in the Orange


I have to admit, sometimes I’d get caught up in trying to “prove my place”. But, as mentioned in the opening note, I’ve realized that I should be living the AC life that makes me happy, and I think I’ve achieved this far better than I was expecting to be honest. I’ve found a group of people who fill me with so much joy to be around, I’ve (surprisingly) managed to find a half-hobby in the form of singing (which has also been a great stress reliever). The first week of term before classes started, a few of us would be in the day room, someone playing the piano, and we would sing.


Again, kinda unrelated but (one of) the really interesting graffiti pieces in our Academic blocks.


No, I’m not just letting life pass me by, I’m still involved with (in my opinion) an adequate amount of things — Choir, Well Co (Well-being Council), I did a Human Library talk, Prentis, etc. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about these in this reflection because I don’t think they’re the most relevant at this point. I’ll probably write more about them in the future. And no, I’m not doing them just for university applications.


Set up for Human Library about holding 3 (conflicting) passports.


There’s a lot of walking at AC. Living in Tice, one of the furthest boarding houses from the castle comes with its perks (Ex: having the best people, imho), but also comes with its slight disadvantages — having to budget 10 extra minutes in every morning to get to the castle (As a double humanities student, I’m walking to the castle most mornings). Recently in the winter, due to daylight savings, and Wales just being Wales, the sun is barely up when I leave the house, and almost gone by the time we leave assembly at 4. You’d think this would be depressing, and sure, I’d appreciate more sunlight sometimes, but it’s not that bad. Oftentimes, the chattering and music blasting from various speakers is enough to make up for the lack of light.


The seemingly endless M4 (the hill from my dorm to the castle)


Surprisingly, I don’t really mind the walk. Sure, sometimes it feels like it’s -7 degrees out, it’s (often) pouring rain — and more often than not I decide to just sit in the castle for 1.5 hours to avoid trekking up the hill. However, a brisk walk down the M4 isn’t so bad when the fields are blanketed with a delicate glitter of frost, or when the skies are painted the most stunning shades of pink and orange and red. Good friends also help. I’ll often take a detour, tacking on an extra 7 minutes to my route, to walk a friend back to their house — the walk is pretty enjoyable when you’ve got company.


Unedited photo of dusk — no, I’m not a photographer.


On the topic of trekking: Llantwit — whose residents deemed us “public nuisances”, but which we still love since it provides the (basic) necessities. Theoretically, there’s a bus service that runs from our campus to Llantwit. However, it runs once an hour, and is less timely than tutors at check-in (aka, not very). So, we (my friend group) often walks. Now, if you were to tell me before AC that I would be willingly walking 45 minutes (both ways) twice a month into a small town just to buy granola bars, chocolate, and (not very good) tea, I’d tell you that we aren’t living in the 20th century anymore. But now, I’d say the walks to Llantwit were definitely some of the early highlights of this term. Between someone inevitably complaining about how cold they are and the (sometimes) pouring rain, there’s music. We’re either singing, or playing someone’s Spotify playlist. If there isn’t a tune present, we’re caught up in conversation.


Tunnel framed with branches en route to Llantwit from campus — the joys of not taking the bus


My experiences, your experiences, their experiences. A 45 minute walk with no one else on the street often leads to some pretty interesting chats — “how is homophobia internalized?” “Why can’t that guy just shut up?” “Are we going the right way?” “You’ve worked for the government??” Apart from our conversations, the walk is pretty bland. Occasionally there’s the random teacher driving or cycling to campus at 10 am on a Saturday (?), a couple cows, and the most random little house about 20 minutes away from town. That house has sparked a couple remarks from us — “would you want to live there?” “No way, what if you go into cardiac arrest? The nearest hospital is 50 minutes away!”


Surprisingly, I was less homesick to go halfway across the world than I was to fly 2 hours away from home (CSC — UWC Changshu, where I attended FP last year, read my other reflections :)). Maybe it’s because I’m older now, maybe it’s because I didn’t have very high expectations. Nonetheless, I can confidently say that I feel truly loved and free at AC. By the first night, I had gotten to know my second year roommates more than I will ever know my roommates from last year. It really felt like people cared about me, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting that at all. Whether it be finally being able to speak the language I’m comfortable with (English), or the “progressive” environment that AC tries to foster, this term was probably the first time I felt that I could really be myself without having to put on a facade. There are very few “taboo” topics amongst my friends — our late night conversations have ranged from family trauma to existential philosophy to how inefficient the NHS (UK’s National Healthcare Service) is. This has also been the first time I’ve been surrounded with people who question EVERYTHING, and I’m fully enjoying it.


Photo from Christmas dinner :))


One question that stuck with me was “Are we living in a bubble?” AC, and UWCs in general like to pride ourselves on “connecting with the community” and “making meaningful change”. Much of what UWC stands for is quite idealistic, and in my opinion, sometimes bordering on promoting a “savior complex”. I’m still not quite sure how to articulate this, that’s a topic for next term :)


I’m now 6 hours away from home, typing this on my notes app as I flick through pictures from this term. It’s been 11 hours into a 17 hour journey, and for once, I miss campus more than I miss home. This term, unlike last year at CSC , I did not have a widget on my phone counting down the days until I could go home. In Anthopology, we looked at the concept of a “chosen family”, a family not tied by blood, but equally (or even more) significant. I didn’t long for the feeling of being with my family at home because, and I know this is cliche, AC became my family and home.


  • From my iPhone, 7 minutes away from TaoYuan International Airport.


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