Part One of our interview with former BISP student and High-Performance Swimmer, Est Ravipon.
Please tell us about your time at BISP.
I first joined BISP in August 2016. I received a full scholarship and started in year 10. Going to BISP was a big move in my life, as well as one of the most important decisions I ever made. But it did not take me long to decide to move to BISP because BISP is a fantastic international school where I could learn and improve my English skills. BISP also has a professional swim team which was beneficial and interesting for my swimming career.
Initially, I had to adapt myself to many things because almost everything in BISP differed from what I had been doing and living with previously, such as: living in boarding without my parents for the first time, studying every subject in English, being among a foreign community and swimming with the new team. It was really hard at the beginning because I got homesick and I barely understood the language. Plus the training was super intense because I normally trained 5 sessions per week but in BISP I had to swim nine sessions and wake up at 4.50am five times a week. I would say I was struggling a lot to settle in.
Meanwhile, I was very excited about my life at BISP. Even though everything seemed to be so tough for me, I strived so hard to do well both in school and in the pool. So, I began to get along when the time passed by as I had a really good friend in boarding who could help me out with my communication skills. I really enjoyed my time in BISP and I never regret that I decided to move to BISP.
My two years in BISP were the best part of my life – full of joy, happiness, lessons and progress. The hard work I dedicated was worth it because I made a lot of progress in my swimming career and my English was greatly improved so that I could be able to fluently communicate with teachers, coaches and friends. (Especially a big thank to Mr. Morse, Mrs. Chambers (Bee) and Mrs. Richardson for always helping me in class).
In my second year there, I spent the first semester unable to swim because I had a chronic shoulder injury. So, I had to rest out of the pool for almost 6 months. That might sound like a terrible thing but I actually think this was the time I enhanced my grades in school because I had more time to revise and stay with friends enjoying the life of a normal student. At the beginning of 2018, I came back to training with a full recovery from the injury. So, I was so happy that everything was going very well in both swimming and school. I also broke several academy records. I dropped my time a lot in swimming and I won many medals. Coach Colin and I were very happy with the results.
Receiving a full scholarship to study and swim at BISP was the best opportunity I could ever ask for. I am highly thankful and appreciative for what the school supported and provided to me. I had a lot of fun and I learned a multitude of things that made me a better and smarter person. I still miss those good old times I had when I was there. It was an incredibly fabulous time!
What has life been like since you graduated?
My life since I graduated has been great. I continued swimming at an international level and I made it to the Thai national team in SEA Games 2019 for the first time. (Throughout the time I was at BISP I was in the Thai Youth National Team). It was what Coach Colin and I had aimed for. After that, I got into Chulalongkorn University in the faculty of Communication Arts. In the meantime, I was coordinating both academics and swimming, I somehow ran into someone who gave me an opportunity to go to some series casting and unexpectedly I got selected. Therefore, I have had to balance swimming, school and working all together. It is often tiring and busy but I somehow find it so fun that I get to try to do new things and experience working in the entertainment industry. My swimming is going well, my grades in school are satisfying. So, I would say I am happy and satisfied with my life overall.
How did your time at BISP help you post-graduation?
Firstly, on the swimming side, I would say I got discipline and good swimmer habits from the BISP team. Besides, I got a lot of advanced techniques, swim tips and exercises that I remembered from when I trained in BISP which are still useful nowadays. Secondly and most importantly, the English skills that I learned in BISP will stay with me forever. In Chulalongkorn, many of the lecture slides in class are in English and there is an English subject that counts as a required subject for four semesters. Many of my friends have been struggling with that. But I think I have a good foundation from studying a lot of English in BISP (I had approximately six English classes per week in year 10 – the school provided me with extra English classes ). So that is very helpful with my academics at the university. Another advantage is I am no longer scared or shy when meeting a foreigner or non-Thai speaker because it was unavoidable that I had to communicate with others in English when I was at BISP. So now when I talk to my international fans and friends, I can understand and communicate with them pretty fluently. And I think this will be necessary in the future, too.