I left ISO three years ago, which gave me enough time to think about what it gave me. There are the obvious things. I’ve made friends who, although currently being 1000 miles away, stay my friends to this day. I’ve attended classes taught by some of the most inspiring teachers the country has to offer. I’ve gained the knowledge and skills that proved to be substantial enough for me to be able to study, live, and work in Scotland (after I got used to the accent). Before coming to ISO, I never thought about studying abroad. Yet here I am today, looking at the part of Edinburgh Castle I can see from my living room, enjoying every single bit of it. (Alright, the weather could be a bit better, but who needs sun when there’s chips and curry sauce?)
Then there’s the less obvious stuff. There’s something more to ISO than reading Shakespeare in original, although that was still pretty cool. As with everything in life, what you give is what you get. ISO gives you the opportunities to give everything you have, even the stuff you didn’t know you had in you. If you decide to act upon those, it will reward you in a way you never thought possible.
Four years at ISO changed me. I saw different cultures in Lithuania, Poland, Netherlands, and New Zealand, and I’ve met people from many other countries as well. I gave speeches and presentations to full auditoriums, attended panel discussions, and talked to extraordinary people. We had our work displayed in trams and buses, and even opened a small gallery that still thrives today. I won the student election at ISO, and moderated a graduation ball. I grew as a person. The reason why I’m telling you this is because all of this was achieved by a guy who, when he first came to ISO, was too self-conscious to raise a hand and ask a question in class. ISO shaped who I am today. And I’m grateful it did.