My dad dropped me off in front of the FKG's main entrance on the first day of school. A new beginning. A new educational system. IB. I didn't know a lot about the program, but as I had just recently come back from the US, speaking English was enough to have me sign up. Plus the teachers were working extra shifts to get the program going, so they had to be very motivated.
I made my way through the hallways filled with chattering students, bustling every which way. Only slowing down occasionally to greet people I knew from the past with an, "Hey, what's up?", or a high five, I arrived at our designated meeting point a few minutes early.
There were others waiting already. I didn't talk to anyone, because I didn't know anyone. But then again the same was true for almost all of the others, thus we waited wrapped in silence.
The air was filled with conversation and laugther. "BANG!", a book hit the front desk. It was Monday afternoon, "Verfügungsstunde", a few weeks after the first time we met as a group, and Mr. Freimann tried to gain control of all the chattering that was going on. 45 minutes of lunch break were simply not enough time to do all the talking necessary. Promising Maike to attend her basketball match I turned around to face the blackboard.
Mr. Freimann announced that some of the programs observers had voiced the concern that our IB group was being isolated in the FKG's Abitur community.
What did give this concern some validity was the fact that we often spent breaks and free-blocks together. However, this did not arise from a seperation between the Abiturienten and us, as a matter of fact we all had many friends among them. The reason for this was rather that the IB creates a very strong sense of fellowship. I would not have believed that a school system could do anything even close to this before applying to the FKG's international branch.
It's more than just the courses spent together, the movie evenings at somebody's house or the all-nighters at the university library. It's a special mindset, a connection between students or alumni that one feels being it at an IB Summer Camp in Stockholm, before a university interview in Cambridge or during a basketball tournament in Zürich.
The IB experience is like getting ready for service at the senior residence, while simultaneously messaging one friend where to hang out that evening and sending another an outline for an upcoming project.
It's learning to manage a considerable workload and to still have enough spare time to do things other than studying.
It cannot be denied that the IB is hard work. To excell academically in an environment of global competition is not enough, one also has to get involved on a social level, be active and open up to new perspectives.
It is hard work, but who said that hard work in an enthustiastic class environment with highly motivated teachers cannot be fun?
(Tim Seyde, IBDP 2009 - 2011)