My time at The School of St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon
Anna Hoene, EP
Unfortunately, I was unlucky in the lottery for the Abingdon exchange 2018/2019, but then Dr Schütze told us in December 2018 that there was the opportunity to apply for a scholarship for a term at St Helen’s. I was immediately very enthusiastic and told my parents about it. They also thought that I should apply for it. So I started to write my application about me, my family and my life.
Then, in January 2019, I received the great news that I had been awarded the scholarship and that I was allowed to go to England. This made me feel really grateful. A couple of weeks later, the exchange students from my year group came to Bielefeld and I had the chance to speak to Mrs Norman, one of the German teachers at St Helen’s. We talked about my future timetable and I could ask her everything I wanted to know about the scholarship. I was already really excited at that time. And then in May, I received an email from a girl called Josie Wheaton who was going to be my exchange partner. We stayed in contact. My family organised a visit to the school before my actual time there began. And on 21st June my parents and I went to Calais, took the ferry and finally arrived at Josie’s home, a place called Rowstock, at about midnight. It was a day when I didn’t have school in Germany, but the English students did. And the next morning we went to school. It felt weird because I was the only girl of my age without a school uniform. I experienced the whole day together with Josie, which was really good. At that time I already knew that the School of St Helen and St Katharine was the right place for me. All summer, I was really excited and looking forward to my upcoming time at St Helen’s.
On 31st August, my mum and I took the ferry from Dunkirk to Dover and once again we arrived in Rowstock, in the evening. The term was close to starting on 5th September, so I had a few days to get used to my new life and my host family. They were really nice and I used the time to get to know them.
And then on Thursday, I had my first day in school in England. I had already bought the school uniform in June. I was really nervous and my legs were shaking on our way to school, but it turned out that I had nothing to fear. The girls were all extremely kind and helped me to find my way around the school. However, I sometimes felt quite lost. The first lessons were alright, some harder than others. But after one or two weeks I got into a certain routine.
I had brought my cello with me to England, so I decided to audition for the First Orchestra. Luckily, I was accepted and played regularly in this club, as well as in the “Cello & Bass Squad”, which I always enjoyed. My favourite subjects were
Music, Maths, English, P.E., Sciences and History. In English we read a novel called “Lord of the Flies” and wrote essays about it. In German I helped my classmates with speaking practice and gave them hints to understand our language.
I really enjoyed the time with my host family. My host parents always cooked a great dinner, which the family had together. My host dad Chris sometimes helped me with my Maths homework and in the evenings I practiced speaking German with Josie. On weekends, we often went for a walk, sometimes further away and sometimes nearby. On my penultimate weekend, we went to London to see the Tower of London, which was really interesting.
The Wheatons live in Rowstock which is only about 15 minutes from school by car. Other girls in my year group have to take the bus or the train, which takes way longer than my journey to school. I had the opportunity to try this when I stayed for a sleepover at my friend Ella’s house. For another weekend, I stayed with a different family, and it was also great to see how they live.
In Abingdon, I started to learn lacrosse, which is a great sport. I was even allowed to play four matches for the school team, however, one was sadly cancelled due to the lovely British weather(!). The ones I played I enjoyed a lot. I also played twice in the football team of St Helen’s at national matches. This was a great experience as well as a great honour.
At the end of September, the German exchange for the year group below me came to Abingdon. I really liked to see the other students and teachers I know and for me it was a nice time. I could talk to Dr Schütze and the German classes with the German girls were a lot of fun.
Then, on Saturday 12th October, our half term began. It was really early in the morning when I went off to London Heathrow Airport to catch my flight to Amsterdam. I met my dad and my best friend there and we sailed on the Ijsselmeer for the next week. And in the second week of my half term I saw my family and together we travelled to Cornwall and had a great time. We visited the Wheaton family and on the last Saturday my family left England without me.
After the half term holidays, time flew by faster than before. I had two more Lax (Lacrosse!) matches, two football matches and a couple of Christmas concerts. And then on 13th December I had to say goodbye. It was really sad to leave all the nice people I had met at St Helen’s behind, but I am sure that I’ll stay in contact with most of them. On my last day I even had to cry a little because the girls surprised me with some really cute farewell presents and because I couldn’t believe that my time in Abingdon was over. But my parents came to pick me up from school and of course I was very happy to see them again.
I would highly recommend a stay abroad if you want to find new friends in another country. It surely helped me with my English and also made me feel a lot more confident whilst speaking. Even though my life in England was different, I realised that there are not as many cultural differences as expected.
All in all, it definitely was a great once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am ever so grateful for, and I am sure that this will not be my last stay in a different country for a longer time. So thank you again for granting me this great opportunity!
Abingdon Exchange 29th September - 9th October 2019
Sunday, 29th October 2019 - Our journey to Abingdon
Today was the day of going to Abingdon! I was really excited when I got up VERY early.
After I had said goodbye to my family, our bus left at five o'clock. First, everybody tried to sleep, but after one and a half hour we stopped for the first time at a motorway service area.
During our bus trip I read my book "The Hunger Games" and I talked to Lora and Emma.
At about twelve o'clock we arrived at the harbour of Calais in France. There we had to wait for more than an hour before we could go on board because the storm was very heavy so that the bus couldn't go onto the ferry.
On board, we went outside. It was almost impossible to stand on the wet floor because the wind was so strong.
From the top deck of the ferry we saw the White Cliffs of Dover getting closer and closer.
When we arrived at the harbour of Dover, we had to wait again because of the bad weather. On land again, we took an English bus and went to Abingdon. On the bus we had to do a motorway quiz.
We arrived at St Helen's, the girls' school, at about half past eight British time. There our exchange partners were already waiting for us. My partner Leah's very nice family took me to an Indian restaurant in Newbury. At ten o'clock we arrived at their house and Leah showed me my room or little apartment: I have of course a bed, but also a little kitchen, a table and a bathroom.
But then I was so tired that I couldn't do anything else but go to bed. It had been a very nice evening in England and I am looking forward to the next days we are going to spend here.
Antoni Weißinger, OIIIb
Monday, 30th September
When I woke up I realised that I had neither heard my mobile nor my exchange partner, who had been knocking on my door for some time. I only had a few minutes until the school bus would arrive.
On the bus it was very quiet, so I had the possibility to snooze a little bit. When I arrived in school the other boys and I were able to listen to an interesting presentation about the history of Abingdon School. After that the Headmaster of the school told us something about the history of the exchange from Abingdon School’s perspective. He spoke great German, because he had been living in Germany for a few years.
In the following lesson we had a tour of the school itself. It was surprising to see how big the school is and how well-groomed the lawn looks. After the tour I had two lessons with Freddy, which were very informative, although I didn’t understand everything.
Surprisingly, lunch in school was pretty nice and tasty, although I had always thought that food in school canteens isn’t so good.
After two more lessons Freddy had a singing lesson and then we went home by bus. When we came home we had dinner immediately because Freddy’s brother hadn’t had any school activities that day. After we had eaten Freddy and I watched a movie called “Poirot” together. I was very tired after that and went to bed.
Milan Ramsbrock, OIIIc
Wednesday, 2nd October 2019
It was a pretty cool day!
We took the bus to go to Oxford, and it was soo much fun! On our way to Keble College we saw Christ Church Cathedral, Deadman’s Walk, Merton College and Magdalen College, where the author of “The Narnia Chronicles” taught.
A nice student gave us a tour of Keble College. After that we visited the Natural History Museum, which was quite interesting because there were many skeletons.
We also had some time to go into the centre of Oxford. I bought some bracelets for my friends back home and tried a cookie at “Ben’s Cookies”, which was the best cookie I have ever had. I also bought some shampoo and conditioner. They had a “three for two” deal, so I took another shampoo.
For dinner that night we had sausages with carrots and mashed potatoes.
Emma Bobbert, OIIId
Monday, 7th October
We went to school by bus as usual and met in Old School Hall. Then we got on the coach to Bath and arrived there 1.5 hours later.
We walked to the Roman Baths. The museum itself and the buildings around are really beautiful. I really liked visiting the museum, because you could see so many traces of the Romans and many sculptures of their gods. Moreover, there were many coins and pieces of jewellery. There was also a big pool and I could definitely imagine how much the Romans must have liked being there. Having seen almost everything, I went to the museum shop with Emely and bought myself a necklace with an owl, because this bird is the symbol of Minerva, the goddess the Roman Baths and the temple were dedicated to. After leaving the museum, we went milling around the town for about two hours and bought some fudge, which Bath is famous for. It tastes like Fondant with a lot of sugar, but it is really good. And as I knew that my host family likes fudge, I gave them some at the end of the day.
Lora Turan, OIIId