June 18 was the day of my biology exam. It was also the day I would make a decision that would change my high school experience forever.
I come from a small town, Portage la Prairie. I grew up there with my younger brother and sister, and I have roots there. I was an active member in my community and my mother questioned why I would want to move to Brandon to finish high school with my father.
However, I wanted a change. I wanted to challenge myself and make opportunities I just couldn’t achieve in Portage.
I chose IB at Neelin High School for a number of reasons, but mostly because I wanted to give back to my parents all the hard work they had done for me. I wanted more scholarship opportunities and university credits to make applying to universities easier and to be easier on my family’s wallet.
It appealed to me that it didn’t matter where in the world I was, IB curriculum was the same.
For those of you who don’t know what IB is, it stands for the International Baccalaureate program, which provides high quality education to schools all over the world. This also often means that IB equals almost no social life.
Aug. 26 was the day I moved to Brandon.
After a heart-breaking goodbye to the woman who raised me, for a few days I felt I had made the wrong decision.
I went stir crazy, I had no friends, was a part of no sports teams, I didn’t have a job, I hadn’t spoken French other than with my family in more than a year and I had no idea what I was getting into.
I can assure you I spent the night before school staring at the ceiling wondering why I chose this.
My mom told me that I would have to make the move away from my family worth it, and I intended to do the best I could, but what if it wasn’t enough?
On Sept. 6, the first day of school, I was a mess. I hadn’t read the summer reading or done my history assignment because I had registered at the last minute.
I spent the first few days hunched over my desk sprinting and highlighting through "Gulliver’s Travels" and various historical texts.
The first month of IB was nail-biting, hair-pulling and chocolate-binging stress, but a lot of positive changes happened, too.
I began running with my dad in the evenings and that gave us at least one thing to talk about.
I joined the Neelin Concert Choir, where I made some great friends. I started dating again. And I even got a job at a clothing store.
I slowly realized that this was my life and I became accustomed to strenuous amounts of homework and little down time.
Last week, I got my report card and it was the most rewarding feeling of my life.
These past months have been a blur of Jonathan Swift satire, American-Japan relations, reading the French dictionary, and memorizing DNA replication, but it was worth it to finally call my mom and tell her that no, I wasn’t failing anything. Actually, my marks were higher than I thought they would be.
The International Baccalaureate program is not for the faint-hearted. There are a lot of stress periods where I want to pack up my polka dot suitcase and hitchhike back to my hometown, but there are relief periods, too … of about three days.
It’s a program that will make you step out of your comfort zone, it will require a ton of dedication from me and a few sacrifices, but it will undoubtedly prepare me for my first year of university.
» Alanah Levandosky is a Grade 11 student at Neelin High School.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 19, 2012