There are international boarding schools which offer International Baccalaureate Diploma programs, primarily taught in English, located all around the world, under the banner of United World Colleges (UWC). Well known individuals such as Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela have served as the organization’s president. The system has over a dozen schools and over 50,000 alumni from more than 181 countries. And still, I had never heard of United World Colleges before I came to OU.
Once I arrived here I began making friends, and it turns out a lot of those friends were UWC students. Some were in my government class, some were in my calculus class, some were friends with the girl I met during the midnight Target event at the beginning of the year. On Thursdays, I would eat lunch with students from different countries including Egypt, Ukraine, India, and Paraguay, who were united by their common experience in UWC schools. Their perspectives in conversation have taught me a great deal about how different international viewpoints are from those of many US citizens. I could discuss our conversations at length but in this post, I would rather focus on one small curiosity I learned from international students.
Walking back to the dorms, I was discussing an upcoming test with one of my classmates, a UWC student from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He mentioned that he was “going to revise” for the exam. I was confused. He elaborated and I realized that he used “revise” in the way I would use “review”. I “review” the material for the exam, while he “revises” his knowledge of it. It was a strange turn of phrase for me, I had never heard such a statement before. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on, forgetting about it until a few weeks later when my German teacher used the same phrase when encouraging us to study for an upcoming quiz. My German teacher this semester is a Fulbright from Austria, a native German speaker fluent in English. I asked her about it after class, but she also claimed a similar meaning. I am still amazed that two different people, with different native language, ten years apart in age, would use both use an English word in a way I had never heard it used. Granted, I cannot claim to have heard every turn of phrase in the English language, but as a native speaker and an avid reader, I am quite surprised. Perhaps it is due to the region where I was raised, or perhaps it is a strange quirk that comes from learning English. I am very interested in finding out.