A Life Lesson
With my return after Easter break as disorienting as any other, it started off with me plugging my feet into my shoes, sealing my mouth with a shawl and setting out on my odyssey to catch the morning bus – 10 minutes late. It was the first Thursday back after all. But as I sat breathless on the bus, listening to the ever-repeating playlist of music, it felt vitalising to be back. Eventually, as the rough roads rocked the bus up and down, darkness encompassed me in my cradle (I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a sleep-schedule). Nevertheless, my eyes instinctively opened as we approached our final destination, or maybe it was the fact everyone was shouting. Either way, I was awake (kind-of).
Well, as the sun progressed in its path, skies bellowed and shadows shrieked, and we got reminded of our impending doom: exams. Exams that would decide our AS-Level grade, our A-Level predictions, our university choices and basically our future. Oh, but you know, that’s later’s problem (I’m not a procrastinator, I swear). Anyhow, the day continued, and we shifted from math to chemistry to physics to biology – definitely a packed day, but all we did was ‘revision’; of course, I spent my time wisely. But out of all these lessons, one really was significant: biology. With rays of dissonant light accelerating through icy vapour, I was left pondering with fellow skeletons and hares whilst beakers clanked with revision of mass transport and hypothesis testing.
But really, why am I telling you about all of this? I mean, to be honest, I was bored (just kidding; maybe). But yes, what’s so special about my day and biology? It’s definitely not the content. What I wanted to bring to your attention was that one should reflect on their biology: we are irreducible, complex and sophisticated. And reflection on self is something one should regularly do in order to reach a state of equilibrium, but really, for many, we’re too dishevelled to understand ourselves. Balancing reality with aspirations and goals with expectations, life for most is tough. And as we all aim for the top, aim for the best, it is important to give your neck some rest: try looking around rather than up and see how far you have come.
We have all been given many opportunities and chances, and as the year comes to a close with this final term, acknowledge the development in the last year; there’s been something for everyone. And even if you think you’ve achieved nothing, there’s still more time; all you need is a slight push – just as the ventricles contract to supply your body with oxygenated blood, take a step forward and let the wind put you in motion (it quite literally can at this point in time). And even more-so, it’s important to surround yourself with the right people, keeping yourself with those living off of negativity disposes you towards those habits; whereas saturating your life with people who can acknowledge growth, displaces you towards that virtue.
And really, one might say, why bother surrounding yourself with anyone? Though trudging through the snow alone is admirable, I was told by my respected friend – one who once walked down the path alone; experiencing an episode of belief possibly denounced delusion – sometimes it’s better to open up to someone else. Because just as lone pairs of electrons remain in constant fight, you will remain in constant deprivation of a basic necessity. We as human being are social creatures after all, and to deny that is to handicap yourself. For it’s the companion cells that keep the phloem alive, and it’s the bonds that water molecules form with each other that keep them going through the xylem; we need people to move forward.
And as I have told my friends before, focus on the facts, leave assumptions behind and look in a mirror – for you are living for yourself; living for others is not living at all. And though you may have time, you may use time to change: make sure you don’t run out of time.
Shaz – 6.1
Concord offered a ‘staycation’ over Christmas for those boarders who weren’t able to return home. My mother did not want to expose me to the virus by taking flights and going to airports, so I remained in campus for the entire month.
It was quite a lonely time for me. All of my closest friends had returned to their home country, but I remained in Concord instead. Time differences did not allow us to call often, leaving me alone without family or friends with me. I had found some people I could be with, but it simply just wasn’t the same. Every time I went out, it would be bleak and gloomy, with barely any sunshine or light. I would jog in the windy night in hopes of escaping the biting frost, and feeling chills inside me, I thought:
“What a cold, silent, and horrible night this is. I wish it was over already.”
Concord tried to provide a fun time for the students with the Christmas dinner, formals, and many small activities every day. They were small fleeting moments of happiness which were quickly washed away by the weather. Everything became mundane and boring, and eventually I stopped going for those too. But one night, I had a sudden urge to go outside for once, and just walk around and maybe sit somewhere with some food. Perhaps I just wanted a breather from the cramped stuffy atmosphere of my room. I went out and as usual, it was a dark foggy night with only a single lamp to light the area around it. Holding the hot chocolate in one hand, and a cookie in the other, I stood alone as snowflakes descended around me, forming a blanket of white fluff on the ground. One landed on my nose and promptly melted as my breath formed mists, and I looked up into the night sky. The Christmas lights were twinkling, and the sound of leaves rustled in the wind. I stood there, tasting sweet chocolate in my mouth, and feeling really warm inside, I thought:
“What a cold, silent, but beautiful night this is. I wish this would last forever.’
The snowflakes that fell all around me have turned into cherry blossoms petals. The grounds that were once covered in white sheets and littered with pinecones, were now covered with beautiful, sprouting flowers and colours. The campus was now bustling, chattering found everywhere and buildings filled with people. I sat on the same table as my friends, laughing as they recalled their stories of their adventures while they were home. Everything was back to normal, and I was happy.
But sometimes I do think back into the peaceful nights I had as I trudge down the path through the snowfield, with the soft Christmas lights and glowing snow. The monochromatic lights had a certain charm to them, which, within me, brought an enchantment of deep relaxation. And to be honest, I was glad to have these small moments of respite. I could just wander around, without the looming fear of Saturday tests or prep work for classes. All of this made me realise – the warmth I was looking so hard for shouldn’t be something external. I had to be happy and let the warmth come from within myself. Fleece jackets and wool blankets will never work if one did not produce the body heat themselves. So, I decided to accept and enjoy the present, and be happy with what the world has to offer.
To appreciate what I have no matter what – It was a difficult thing for me but yet something I needed. For now, I will be enjoying the springtime and the cool weather (for all those with allergies – sucks for you!), and will look forward with a smile on my face and hope for what comes.
Andrea – 6.1
10 things I will miss about Concord when I leave for summer
Yes Concordians, it is that time of the year again.
We are in the midst of Term 3,
and while exam season is in full swing, one is tempted to drift off and dream of the
day in which we are free of the stress of exams, and the only thing on our
timetables are outings, holidays and results. And that day IS fast approaching, with
mere weeks until we take the plane (or car, if you’re a day student) back home, to
days of warm weather and reconciling with family members.
But we must pay homage to the school that connected us in the past year (whether
digitally or face-to face). And I find myself in the uniquely rare situation in that I am
one of the rare students who haven’t left Concord since September, giving me a full
perspective of the year as a whole. With that in mind, I’ll be counting down my 10
things I will miss about Concord, from certain desserts in the Dining Hall (’cause let’s
be honest, some of those desserts just hit different) to memorable events like
lighting the log on Christmas, to a whole fireworks display in honour of Chinese
10. The “turning on” of the Christmas lights in the marquee
Starting off strong on our list, we have this fun little event marking the start of the
Christmas holidays. For many of the boarders staying over for Christmas this year,
it was a particularly sombre and demure affair. Boarders were either unable or
unwilling to return home for Christmas due to the pandemic’s severity around the
world, and Christmas dinners and presents were mostly replaced with revision for
January exams. So when Mr Hawkins unveiled the lights display decorating the
Marquee, complete with scenes of snowmen and reindeer, the gesture no doubt
helped to brighten an unusual Christmas for many “stay-cationers”.
The cookies and hot chocolate was a sweet little bonus too.
9. House events
Next on our list is not one event in particular, but rather an appreciation for the
various House events that have happened this term. Of course, many of these
events ended up cancelled, for obvious reasons (such as House Performing Arts,
which saddened me greatly), but the ones that did end up happening, which
include events like House Cross Country at the start of the year, to the upcoming
House Triathlon, were all fun distractions from the pressures of academic life, as
well as an opportunity to get to know the House better and work up a bit of a
sweat. With an opportunity to glimpse the energy in these rare events, I wait in
anticipation for the next year, with hopefully many more of the same events!
8. The bread and butter pudding in the Dining Hall
I could literally write an AS English length essay on the sublime genius of this
dessert, but most people at Concord probably know just HOW amazing this is. All I
can say is, if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. Big time.
7. The “Chinese New Year” fireworks display
If there was one word in which I could describe this event, it would be this- chaotic.
From the abrupt departure from the Dining Hall while many people were still on
their second round of the Chinese New Year buffet, to the crazed singing of Katy
Perry’s “Firework” to keep our minds off the -5 celsius weather, the entire event had
a comedic chaos to it. But all that changed when scenes of gold, green and red
littered the night sky, the highly anticipated fireworks display finally beginning. The
display lasted all of 20 minutes, and was a dramatic and wild celebration of the new
year, personifying the very spirit of 2021 itself.
6. Ghost stories with Mr Hawkins / lighting the Christmas Log
With such a historical, unprecedented year happening, it was time to go back to the
rich history of Concord itself for a source of comfort and entertainment. And this
was exactly what happened on Christmas night, where “stay-cationers” were
treated to a rare sight: the brief revival of 2 of Concord’s old traditions. The lighting
of the Christmas Log in Main Hall, not done for at least a decade, and the re-telling
of some of Concord’s famed ghost stories. Mr Hawkins even brought in the famed
Concord Bell, notorious for allegedly being involved in the deaths of 2 students. In the end,
many people were more than a little spooked by the tales, but it was also a day in
celebration of the rich history of Concord and the surrounding area.
5. A large pizza and a milkshake when my residence was under lockdown
Was this a major event in Concord? No. But did it slightly lessen the pain of
spending half term stuck in my room? Well, kind of. To date this is still one of my
happiest memories of my year here. Call me a glutton, but food truly is the way to my heart.
4. Every free period ever
We are close to the top 3, and I’m sure everyone will agree with me that the
presence of free periods in Concord is an absolute lifesaver. They literally solve
everything. Feeling worn out from that Triple Math lesson you just had? Free period.
Have some last minute essay to finish off before the deadline today? Free period.
Need to catch up on the 2 hours of sleep you had last night? Free period. (but don’t
forget to make it in time for the next lesson.) It is a universal fact that free periods
probably sustain half of Sixth Form here in college, and the library has literally
become my habitat for the past year.
3. The veeeeeerrryyyyy rare town trips to Shrewsbury
Yes, the pandemic has made these trips rarer than diamonds in this school. I myself
have probably gone for less than 5 in the course of the school year. But as every
economics teacher will tell you, less supply makes the value of the good increase,
and indeed every trip to the wonderful town of Shrewsbury has been a much
needed getaway from the school, and an opportunity to catch up with friends
outside the school setting. With the new academic year coming up, more town trips is definitely
a priority on my wishlist, especially as the pandemic meant that I apparently missed
out on many attractions within Shrewsbury itself, but also potentially even trips to
other parts of the UK.
2. The Christmas Formal
Ok I PROMISE this is the last of my Christmas events, but the Christmas Formal was
probably the best event planned by Concord the entire year. Everything, from the
unlimited supply of wood fired pizzas (a welcome break from Dining Hall food) to
the pulsing dance music and casino games, were a strong reminder of the fun spirit
of Concord and a purely fun event that was both simultaneously enjoyable and
nostalgic. And if any of the formals in the future are anything like the one in the
Christmas holidays, all I can say is: sign me up!
1. My friends
And we finally come to the end of this list. Although much of this list has been a bit
of a joke, all things aside, it is truly the people I have met in Concord that have really
defined my experience here. It has been a long and arduous year in the UK, I cannot
lie, but having people to talk to and connect with has definitely alleviated some of
that burden. The shared experience of such a wild year definitely bonds people fast,
with people coming and going in a blink of an eye and many of the friends I have
made here I have met from time as short as 2 weeks to a whole year. But all of
them have shaped my experience in Concord in one way or another, and with this
being my first time boarding, and overseas at that, I would just like to give a shout
out to all of you guys, who have somehow collectively acted as therapists, coaches
and teachers in the 3 terms I spent here.
And yes, although I will see many of my friends back in Malaysia, to the many going
off to other countries, have a great summer, good luck for exams, and here’s to a
better, pandemic-free year!
- Ethan, 6.1