NCS - what it is all about?

(or at least your summer!!)
Wave 2 week 2

From my previous posts about my past summer some might gotten the impression that I was writing about NCS, but forgot that it was my own experience. That didn't go to say that it was about NCS completely. 

The truth is, some of you don't know what NCS is and I think that is the place to start too. 

NCS stands for the National Citizen Service. It is popular for being a summer programme (but actually runs over the course of the year if I'm not too wrong) for young people aged 16-17. It provides for many things, like independence from your parents the summer before you start college, learning new skills that you have probably never thought of before but most importantly it is about meeting new people from your area. 

And if you don't happen to meet the 'friends for life' as they promised in the advert, you become part of this massive NCS family that runs across England, and every time you meet a graduate you will have something to discuss, something to bond over as you most likely experienced the same things.

It is also recognized by UCAS, and helps you gain up to 70 UCAS points (very handy, the same amount of points that you are offered for an EPQ!) by just enjoying 4 weeks, where you really get out of your comfort zone, and my friend Caroline will know all about it!

To explain in more depth, and to roughly outline what I did during my NCS summer I will summarize the 4 weeks:

When you arrive your whole wave is divided into teams, and these are your new friends. You will go through all the challenges, successes but fails too with these people, so I suggest you try your best to be as friendly as possible, so you are not the grumpy loner kid whose mum signed them up. This is not to say that there was anyone like that during my summer, because most of the people I have met turned out as really lovely people, so don't judge just get out there and make some friends!

Week 1: You are offered to do adrenaline powered activities. For my area we went to the beautiful Dorset coast, where we went cliff climbing, coasteering (jumping off of a tall rock, though we were promised a cliff), archery, kayaking, raft building etc. We camped in little teepees with Land&Wave who were looking after us too. 
You go home for the weekend and may I just suggest, you enjoy that bed and long hot showers!

Baking bread on fire? Nuts!!
Week 2: You are accommodated in a dorm, or hall of residence, or in our case in an old fort. This week you learn to budget, cater for yourself and many other useful lessons that the team has prepared for you, including fun stuff like barbecue with candy floss too! We had the firemen visiting us, received a lecture on arsen, but about sustainability too as well as a workshop in the Sky studios in London and much, much more. The food was an improvement too! 
Over this week you get very close to the people you share a room with, in my case I had the luck to share it with 3 other lovely ladies that I felt comfortable with, and still keep in touch, even if we weren't the same team!
Again, you go home for the weekend.
Room mates for the week!
Our dragon's den
Before presentation stress
Week 3: This week you will be arriving at a set time to a set place in order to plan your social community project, which is a way to give back to the community. In your teams your duties will vary, but you will have to assign each of you a role. For example you have the communicators - people who call up places, write emails reply to emails etc. This is important as they will create the first impression on your potential 'client'. Other duties will include: project planning, presentation, speaks person, financials including shopping lists and so on. 
Don't forget this is your week to raise all the needed money, and your budgets will vary among your groups. My group, for example needed less than £100 to carry out the projects. Others were more ambitious and needed more money. So be ready to put together a presentation and pitch your idea to some people with money, they call it 'dragon's den' is it? Yes, it is stressful, but it's nothing you cannot conquer if you all work together. Plus you will get some fabulous pictures of the group, all dressed up nice and smart! Time to bring out those prom suits boys!

Week 4: Now this will be dependable on where you arranged to carry out the project, because you will actually do the 'hands on' project during this week. In these last 2 weeks I think you have to work 30 hours per week in order to successfully graduate from this course and gain all the credit from this programme.
Team 2 with their beautiful outcome!
Overall, it is worth it. There obviously is nothing that I can say to convince you to go, just that you will have to risk it to know about it. 

And what's that graduation thing I mentioned?

Well, to finish off your summer in style, NCS people put together a celebration, the graduation, for you to meet up with your new friends, to celebrate the summer and the time spent together and you will receive your award. 

It is a nice little way to see each other again, and hopefully you will continue seeing the true friends afterwards too, because if we keep it real here, there is no way you will stay in sincere touch with everybody you've met, but honestly, you will always say hi to each other when you see them on the street, or smile at each other when you're catching the same train.  
It truly is a nice way to meet people, and to somewhat get to know them, all you need to do is be willing to give it a shot. So go ahead, you try it.

(NCS official website) and be sure to get into contact with them for further informations! 

I would like to dedicate this article too all my fellow NCS graduates, because only we know what we've been through, all the ups and (few) downs. We all shall remember the summer for what it was. And it was fun, so thank you all!
Special thank you to our leaders, the organisers, the leaders of the programme and everybody who took part!




To spare time, but to still tell, I put together the most beautiful moments of the vacation, so I hope you enjoy reading about it, or at least looking at it.

50 Shades of Grey?!
Hard to believe that only 2 weeks ago, I was 640 metres above the sea level, in the beautiful world of the Slovakian nation that plays well with colours of each season, even though there was no snow at that time of the year - which, by the way is extremely unusual Incredibly warm winter for these people, yet it was still this beautiful in Liptovsky Hradok. Of course by now there is over (roughly) 20cm of new snow and the temperatures are sinking only.
Frozen lake
Even higher than the castle, there are lakes that like to freeze over winter, especially when it is around -7°C. Occasionally, between the trembling of teeth and shaking of hands you are offered a beautiful shot overlooking a hotel. Impressive place, is all I can say.

Place where you can not only lose yourself in the vibrant landscape, but find yourself as an admirer of the view, not necessarily naturally that way. It's true, you will get overwhelmed, in a positive way, when something like this shows itself to you, and let me just tell you that the camera doesn't do it much justice,
Toretto loved his little rug/
After 20 pictures where he couldn't hold still I managed to convince him to pose for the camera. I was grateful for the light interior of our apartment, as it made it relatively easy to have a decent picture of him, as  he is quite dark. We would like to thank the Grand Castle Liptovsky Hradok for making space for this little sweetheart too, he enjoyed his stay, his apartment and the heating of the floor to the fullest!
More than antique
Ever wondered what it looks like inside of a renovated castle? No? Well I'm going to show you anyways, just an advance spoiler. 

Wood, wood on the walls, wood in the air, wood on the floor.... 

Back in the times...

History in the day's presence
The castle itself, which is the centre of the property is dated from the 13th century, with his first owner master Donč (I am not a historian, so I cannot tell you who he was but you can Google it;) 

Winter gardens

Full of tradition and culture

The only apartment with a view to all sides

Second part to the property
Then there is the Chateau to the castle, which was built almost 300 years later by Mr. Šándorfi and Mrs. Magdalena Zai. In fact, the top left hand side corner window is apparently the chamber once occupied by Mrs Zai, and so it is her apartment, for a week occupied by my parents.

It was a truly enjoyable holiday, visiting family, friends, spas and saunas with lots of our dearly-missed traditional food (to a point when I still can't stand too much food) and a great New Year's Eve at the castle. If by any chance, the chatelaine Mrs. Machová (current owner) happend to read this, I'd like to thank her for the amazing experience of the pre-industrial times at for the warm welcome, stay and goodbye. Wonderful lady.

I believe your holiday, my dear reader, was just as fabulous and beautiful. Do tell your story with the #winter2015tales (if you feel like being an active reader).

Thank you and have a good day!



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