The Program

St. John’s and UWC – similar, but different

Posted on behalf of Kostia Rymer

When I got to my senior year at international high school United World College Dilijan in Armenia, I started to worry more and more about Life after the UWC.  In addition to the usual frustrations connected to the Uni application process, I kept hearing the stories from the recent alumni about how difficult the transition from UWC which caused even more stress.  They were saying that it is tough to find the same level of the diversity and liberal values somewhere outside of the UWC movement.  In this small blog post, I will try to describe my experience of transitioning to the St. John’s College from UWC.

Even though St. Johns has a high percentage of international students, the international community is still really small compared to UWC.  However, here at St. John’s there is a different type of diversity present.  It is more of a diversity in the perception of the world and ideas. I would go as far as saying that the only thing that all Johnnies have in common is curiosity. 

It is important to mention that as an international student I don’t feel excluded here. It feels like here at St. Johns regardless of your culture, religion and ideology you can always become a Johnnie; an integral part of the community.

One thing that was really new for me at St. John’s compered to UWC is that there is way more freedom in my exploration and learning.  I don’t feel restricted by the boundaries created in the textbooks and exam topics. Low emphases on the grades, took away my anxiety for working hard for the sake of good grades.  Moreover, here, as in UWC the polity values the process of leaning to learn, as a way of improving yourself. As a bonus after only 2 months at St. Johns, the Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) started to make way more sense than it did during my time at UWC.

As in UWCD there is a strong social life present with its vast number of clubs, and fine arts classes. Personally, in addition to the “Great Books” program I started to explore the old art of forming sculptures.  In order to start a club here is enough to be willing and have an idea. One of my friends started a European sword fighting in less than two weeks.

Concluding, life after UWC is not that scary. Here at St. John’s I managed to find that vital diversity that every UWC Alumni needs.  The fact that these two schools are similar in surprising way, made my transition easy and smooth.

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