Meet Riccarda and Veks, who spent their Christmas at Barney!
Due to the ongoing pandemic and with multiple travel restrictions in place, Riccarda and Veks, who are from Germany and Serbia, respectively, were among 12 international students who spent the festive period at Barney.
How would you usually spend Christmas and New Year?
Riccarda: Normally I am together with my whole family and on Christmas Eve, we are cooking together from the morning until the afternoon. Christmas Day is also very different. At noon, we are visiting my grandfather and my uncles, ending the day with movies and Christmas cookies. New Year in my family is very quiet, not like in the UK. In the evening, we usually dress up a bit, go out to eat and visit the cinema. After that, we go back home, watch ‘dinner for one’, as every German does, and at the beginning of the New Year, we watch the fireworks.
Veks: Since Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in a much more spiritual and family-oriented way (as well as it being on 7th January instead of 25th December), the 7th would usually be spent relaxing with the family, enjoying each other’s company and catching up on past events.
What was your favourite part of your time at Barney over Christmas and New Year?
Riccarda: I really enjoyed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but the favourite part was celebrating the New Year with all my friends. We all know that 2020 was not exactly the best year, but it was a great end and a great start to a hopefully better year. The evening was just great, from the pizza to the music, thanks to Alvin who was an awesome DJ. It was also a perfect farewell party for Annika, with whom we had so much fun over the last few months.
Veks: Choosing a favourite moment of my stay would be virtually impossible as I have enjoyed every moment, but one that first comes to mind is New Year’s Eve. We had all gathered in the senior common room, where we set up some nice lights and had an incredible DJ in Alvin Yeung, a Year 9 boy. Overall, the evening was fantastic, with plenty of laughter, dancing, friendship building and smiles going around.
What will you take away from the experience?
Riccarda: Even though it may have seemed bad that we have to stay in school over Christmas and New Year, in the end it was great. So I learned that something maybe can look not like you wanted it to be, but that does not directly mean that it has to be bad right away.
Veks: There will always be someone less fortunate than us, and we must not forget that.
Any lasting memories?
Riccarda: Although Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve were extremely fun and I will always remember it, I think the time I liked the most were the evenings were we all just sat together and talked until late at night. We became like a big family and that will never change. As a result, in retrospect, I am glad not to have gone home. Even though it would have been nice to see my family again, everyone at Barney did everything to make our stay as good as possible and achieved just that.
Veks: All the nights we spent together as a family playing board games, pool and getting to know each other more and more. This whole experience was unforgettable and I am sure I will keep looking back on it through the years to come.