Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
So there I was again. Five years after the launch of THINK Global School, I was back in Stockholm. As a TGS location, Stockholm has always had a special place in my heart. No doubt because of its many endearing qualities, but more likely because it was our first location. On a few walks during my recent visits to TGS in Stockholm, little corners of my memories of our first term came flooding back. I walked by the old Best City Hostel and the surrounding neighbourhood. I strolled through YBC and Nacka and re-familiarized myself with the many T-bana stops I frequented the first time around. Given this is the first opportunity TGS has had to return to the same city, it’s only natural to think about how things were then compared to how they are this time around. So I had a fun chat with Ashley recalling some of the differences (and similarities) between TGS then and TGS now.
Here are our top ten:
#10 – Living Space
Back THEN, we stayed in the Best City Hostel in the heart of the city — a cute little hostel that we were able to make our home. NOW, We’re too big for a place like that! This time, we took up a good chunk of the Quality Inn Hotel in Nacka. It was located close to YBC, eliminating the need for a long train / bus combo every day. The Best City Hostel is still there, by the way — it’s called the Birka Hostel now.
#9 – Internet
Let’s face it. The Internet continues to be an issue for us, but less so these days. THEN, walking into the Best City Hostel meant walking into a complete communications black hole, where wifi and cell reception were hard to come by at best. Guess what? NOW, our current location in the Quality Inn actually works. Shocking, but a welcome change! YBC still maintains a blazing fast connection. No issues there during either term.
#8 – Host School
THEN, we were hosted by YBC, a hip young school that shared our values in progressive education. Our relationship with that school has always been one of our best. NOW? We were once again hosted by YBC and we’re pleased to say that they are the same great school and we enjoyed the same great relationship! The surrounding Nacka area has built up a lot since then, and worked out to be a very livable location for our students and staff.
#7 – Activities
We’re still as busy of a school as ever; however, our approach to smaller activities has changed. THEN, students enjoyed things like sausage making, fencing, and swimming. NOW, there is more choice and activities are generally done in smaller groups. Some of these activities are optional for IB students. We did return to Alice’s mom’s news studio, and at one point in the term everyone had a chance to try some reindeer heart. 😉
#6 – Guest Speaker
Hans Rosling THEN and NOW: We once again hosted Hans Rosling as a speaker. He remembered us and was excited to be speaking a second time around. He was as entertaining, provocative, and informative as the first time. Except this time he came across as angrier and edgier, perhaps because he had recently been in the global news for harshly criticizing the media’s lack of proper use of data in their reporting,
#5 – weXplore
weXplore trips still remain the heart of what we do, although the planning that now goes into them is typically much more extensive and collaborative. THEN, student traveled to Åre to enjoy, among other things, dog sledding and bonfires. We even recall a little Rockstar on the Wii being thrown into the mix during the evenings. NOW, students traveled to Kiruna, where they still enjoyed dog sledding and bonfires, but they also got a good dose of the Northern Lights. The game this time around? Cards Against Humanity.
#4 – Travel
With over three times the number of people on board, travel has definitely changed. THEN, we fit in one train car and one campground. NOW, we take up multiple train cars and must enjoy camping in rotations of 15 students.
#3 – Devices
The number of devices each of us carry is still the same, but obviously models are different. NOW, students and staff sport an iPhone 5S, 13” MacBook Air, and an iPad Mini. Back THEN? We rocked the iPhone 4, 13” MacBook Pros and the newly launched iPad ORIGINAL. Times flies.
#2 – Staff
The onsite staff has grown extensively. Back THEN, we had just five teachers (one of which was also the head) and two interns fresh out of high school. NOW we boast four dedicated Student LIFE staff, one logistics coordinator, one administrator, one media specialist, one counselor plus ten teachers and the head of school. ( Ashley, Jeff, Lee, and I are still going strong on the remote team by the way. Just sayin’. )
#1 – Cooking!
Probably the thing we were most nostalgic for was the fact that students and staff THEN shared responsibility to prepare the meals each night, including the cooking! A most unique practice that had to come to an end after the first year. Although we loved that bonding time students experienced, preparing meals for 20 people was hard enough. With 65 people, we NOW require professionals.