Story/Interview December 2, 2022
Student balances online IB with Russian diploma to secure bright future
Meet Alina Mazina, the 17-year-old student who by day, attends her local school on an island off the coast of Japan and by night, shines at her online school. She is determined to secure an exciting, international future and feels the online International Baccalaureate, where her classmates are based in over 39 different countries, is the best place to achieve this.
We had the chance to speak with Alina to understand how she juggles studying at two schools and what she hopes to achieve in the future.
What was your experience like in mainstream education?
I have always loved mainstream school and studying in general. I always try to go beyond what I am taught within the curriculum because learning is my passion! Last year, I won the Russian Olympiad in both literature and English! This is a really rigorous academic test and winning this means I can go to any Russian university for free if I wish to.
This accolade demonstrated to my teachers how dedicated I am to my studies. As a result, they were comfortable with me studying mostly at home so I could investigate the subjects and projects I found most fascinating in my own time. At the moment, I’m studying for my Russian diploma in this way and I’m loving it!
What made you interested in the IBDP course?
I love travelling and have always wanted to study abroad, but I never thought it would be something I’d be able to do. The universities I have been considering often prefer IB students, yet none of my local schools offer this qualification. When I realised this, I thought my dream of studying while exploring a new culture was over.
Then, I discovered King’s InterHigh and the online IB Diploma Programme; it was a dream come true! I love studying from home and so having access to this international qualification has given me hope that I can achieve my goal of studying abroad. Ialso think it will help prepare me for university as it forces you to become an independent learner and someone who is very organised.
Did you have any concerns about joining the online IB course before you started?
Initially, I had a few concerns, including the time difference. I live 10 hours ahead of the UK, which means I have to study in the evening. This can be quite challenging but is something I’ve adjusted to and have created a nice routine.
I was also initially apprehensive about studying at two schools at the same time! This might sound a bit overwhelming but I have been able to manage my time and so far, it’s working really well. I am also able to take what I learn in one school and apply it to the other, so I gain a more well-rounded education.
For anyone questioning the idea of language barriers, I had the same thought but my cohort spans 50 different countries and so it’s something we navigate together! It's not an issue, and love being part of the international community!
Lastly, the Russian curriculum is very different and so I was nervous about the content of the course as the IB adopts different approaches and involves theories I had not come across before. However, after playing catch up at the beginning of the year , I now feel a lot better about this and more confident. I’m excited for what lies ahead and the prospect of university, knowing I will be an IB student, with lots of amazing skills under my belt.
What is your favourite part about the course so far?
The course in general has been spectacular! I love everything! I love all the subjects, the content, my teachers and my classmates. However, if I had to choose one thing, my absolute favourite part has been meeting the teachers! They’re brilliant. They explain everything perfectly, they use a huge variety of content to help us understand new concepts and topics and they’re so supportive and kind. If we don’t understand something, we can freely ask questions and our teachers will not judge us. We can email them at any time and they will always help us. They do all they can for you to be successful in your studies, which is so important.
What are your favourite subjects?
I am really interested in all the subjects that I have chosen to study, including biology, chemistry, literature and maths! I am also very fond of business management! I have never studied it before (the Russian curriculum does not contain a similar subject), so it is all new to me, but my teacher Ms Short always prepares something special for each topic, which makes our studying process comprehensive, unique and enjoyable!
What skills do you feel you are gaining since joining the programme?
The IB programme has definitely helped me to strengthen my organisational and time management skills as well as my resilience, motivation and work ethic. I’ve also become more open-minded and finally, I feel I am part of a truly global community! I have been exposed to many opinions and thoughts and am in contact with people from all over the world which is amazing. I can finally see lots of different perspectives on many things and it has changed my way of thinking. Now, I believe passionately in my bright future and I know I can make it happen!
The IB programme has definitely helped me to strengthen my organisational and time management skills as well as my resilience, motivation and work ethic... Now, I believe passionately in my bright future and I know I can make it happen!
Have you connected with others in your cohort?
Our cohort is in constant contact. We chat all the time, discussing so much from books to the holidays we celebrate, local cultures and adventures. It is great we can explore and celebrate the things that differentiate our cultures as well as what connects us.
We even have studying sessions so students who are really advanced in certain subjects can teach and guide others who feel they would benefit from extra support. We have also formed clubs already, such as virtual reality club and book club! We are so close we have already discussed where we would like to meet in person once the course comes to an end – I can’t wait!
How does it feel to be amongst the first students to study the IB online?
I feel like a pioneer! I’m doing something very innovative that has never been done before. I feel the responsibility to help mould this course for the next cohort for the better. We are part of the history of online education, which I believe is the future!
Do you feel this course represents the future of education?
Yes! This course is definitely laying the foundations for the future of online education. I believe, over the next few years and decades, online education will only grow in popularity as it offers so much freedom in terms of location, time, and subjects! It is great we have this level of autonomy. However, to truly take advantage of this, students need to be motivated and organised.
Twenty years ago, it seemed unreal you could study with people all over the world from the comfort of your home - online education may be something you would only see in science fiction films or books! Now, it is not only real, but it has been developed so brilliantly. Today, it’s all true! We sit in the same ‘classrooms’ despite being thousands of kilometres away from each other. This not only enhances our communication but our experience too. It’s amazing to be part of this revolution.
What is your parents’ opinion of the IB programme and were they supportive of it being delivered online?
My parents were so supportive! They knew I wanted to study the IB so I could go to a university abroad and when I told them about King’s InterHigh, they were happy my dream could become a reality. I think they might have been even more excited than me!
My parents have always believed in me so much. I feel it myself! It’s really motivating. They don’t push me at all in any particular direction. Instead, they let me choose my own path because they just want me to be happy. They’re incredible parents.
Do you have any advice for new students thinking about applying for the online IB?
They need to prepare themselves for working hard, being assertive, determined and diligent. They will need to be really organised in terms of keeping their own notes and hitting deadlines, preparing for exams, revising and being engaged and participating in class. To help them do this, I would advise keeping track of the curriculum, the study guides, and where their previous studies can support their current subjects. Also, lean on friends and family for support! In addition, there are some really helpful pre-IB courses out there which I would recommend.
What do you want to do after school – and how will the IB course help you achieve this?
I am not sure what I want to do yet. The online IB is a great opportunity for me because it opens so many doors and helps keep my options open! I can go on to study anything I like, at any university, when I decide what I want to do.
In the future, I want to be a successful and respected person who has done something good for the world. I want my career to be beneficial for society and positively influence others, making the world that little bit better.