On transitions: from RBC to Princeton
Alumnus Donovan Cassidy-Nolan (UWCRBC 2015-17) from Canada was a student of the second generation at UWC Robert Bosch College. Since fall 2017, he has been studying at Princeton University in the U.S., where he was recently featured as part of an integrated science intro course. Reason enough to ask him about his transition from Freiburg to the U.S.: how is it like to start a whole new chapter in a new place and what remains of the UWC experience after leaving the College?
“I feel fortunate to have had a smooth transition from one extraordinary place to another. After I graduated from RBC, I travelled around Europe with my Dad. Long train rides gave me space to reflect, but discovering new places each day kept me busy and engaged. It sure would have been easy to dwell on the simmering mixture of raw emotions I felt upon leaving RBC! Like the unbridled elation of finishing all my IB exams and the sadness of knowing I wouldn’t see my kind and kooky peers for a long while. I also felt a new sense of freedom but was mourning the loss of the unique and caring learning environment I’d found at RBC.
After traveling, I came home to small-town Nova Scotia, Canada. Over the summer, I kept busy by playing the role of Michel, an Acadian fiddler from 1685 at a local historic site. This was performance art: I wore a costume including wooden sabots (clogs), a linen shirt, breeches, and practiced my French with visitors every day. Doing something completely different was wonderful. In August, I began thinking about my transition to Princeton University. Funnily enough, my first week at Princeton was similar to how I began my second year at RBC – an intensive backpacking retreat into the woods, without phones or even watches. It rained and thundered, but the deluxe outhouse facilities on the Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail more than made up for the wet weather! Socially and academically, I felt ready to get the most out of Princeton. RBC had prepared me well to face the many challenges here. An unexpected benefit of UWC was that it almost cured my FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out! Nevertheless, there are no two ways about it: Princeton is hard. To balance this, the resources and support systems are incredible, including free weekly math tutoring. I am taking a unique first-year program called “Integrated Science”, that seeks to break down traditional boundaries between chemistry, physics, and biology by demonstrating the fundamental links between these distinct yet deeply interconnected disciplines. It’s tough, but thanks to the amazing teaching and support I received from my mentors at RBC, I had the confidence to go for it! A huge bonus when I got here was the discovery of a welcoming UWC community at Princeton. It’s so nice to sit down and have dinner with people who I know instantly share my core values and aren’t afraid of differences.”
Learn more about the integrated science course Donovan is part of.