Goodbye to WinColl 2023
As time passed, the day of our departure from Winchester College back to JKGS was getting closer and closer. Eventually the moment came and we are now studying back in Czechia. Below is our look back at our stay in England.
A lot of events have taken place since our last letter. Chronologically the first one was the Kenneth Clark Prize, a school competition based around describing a piece of art of our choice. Every sixth-former had to take part in it and we saw many different choices – from the Girl with a Pearl Earring to the Apennine Colossus. I decided to enlighten others about our history by presenting to them the Master Jan Hus Preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel painting by Alphonse Mucha. The winning presentation showed us the Impression III (Concert) painting by Vasilij Kandinskij. The final round was attended by a lot of pupils and guests from outside the school and was a remarkable experience – all of the six finalists had great performances.
One of the more prominent sports events were XVs, a large match between Commoners and OTH in Winkies (Winchester football). The boarding houses are divided between OTH and Commoners houses, and from those the best 20 boys are selected to play in the game for each of the teams. The whole school was involved in the event from making banners and anthems, to supporting their team. Our house is an OTH one. I must say that the Commoners stood no chance against OTH as the latter got almost double the points when the game ended. It was an interesting experience with all of the preparations, and the support for each of the teams was very loud (think of a Slavie against Sparta match).
Another important thing for me personally was the fact that I was moved from the Maths subject to Further Maths over the half-term break. Not only did I face a challenge of concepts that I didn’t see yet, but it also meant I had 6 more maths lessons every week, making it a total of 14 lessons a week. I fortunately was able to catch up pretty quickly and had no issues with the topics we covered.
During my stay I was awarded two Headmaster’s Commendations. The first one was for my performance in the first intermediates (grades given to students in the middle of a term to let them know how they are doing) and the other one for my Physics poster which my teacher really liked. This shows that those awards and recognitions are also given for smaller accomplishments and not only getting a gold medal in the International Maths Olympiad, which is really positive in my opinion as it motivates people. Not everyone can get past the regional rounds of competitions, and showing them that the school (not just one of your teachers) cares about you trying and getting a decent result is very important, else they may not even try. This was also shown at the end-of-term “ceremony” where the Headmaster announced the more important achievements – ranging from being one of the 60 students getting to the next round of the Biology Olympiad to taking part in a school competition, in which 30 people were awarded.
Talking about competitions, I took part in the British Physics Olympiad Challenge and placed at the top of the school. We will see how I compare against other English students. It was a nice experience and I really liked that the school treated me as a regular student in every way possible, even allowing me to take part in these national competitions.
For anyone wondering how I adapted to the English environment – it was not that difficult. It did take me around 2 days to get used to answering in English, but then it became an automatic thing. It is important to be ready to write at least a page of text as a Div (a subject close to our HSt) essay or reading up to 50 pages of a book every week though. Also if you choose to do History, you will most likely be reading a lot too, including some old texts (I think I’ve read about 50 pages of 17th century texts in total). One may also find it confusing when they are asked about “ekker”, “bookies”, or “SOCS” (pronounced the same as “socks”) for the first time – it’s the WinColl slang and everyone uses it, so I also got used to it.
The overall experience was very pleasant as everyone was extremely nice towards me. The days were organised in a way which allowed us to have a lot of extra-curricular activities, which was considered to be very important for your personal development. We were obliged to choose and attend at least 5 activities and there were a lot of opportunities to attend talks by famous persons, for example Alan Mak, Geoffrey Nice, Brian Cox, and many more. It also helped that a vast majority of places were within 5-10 minutes of walking from my house, which saved me around 90 minutes a day I take to get to school and home. I was able to use this time to go to societies or do sports. The amount of toytime (homework) we were given was also reasonable for the 2 hours a day we had allotted for doing it. That let me spend quite a lot of time with other people in the house. I am really happy I was invited to stay at WinColl as it widened my perspectives and allowed me to develop in (not only) my areas of interest.