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By Luka de Vos, Year 9

I wake up and it’s 7 o’clock. In Germany it would be 8 o’clock – great, I can stay in bed just a little bit longer! I’m lucky because it’s just 15 minutes to the School of St. Helen and St. Katharine from where I’m staying. For some girls it’s 1.5 hours from home to school every day!

My exchange partner and I get on the school bus at 8.15 and we already arrive at St. Helen’s at 8.30. Having arrived, all the girls have to go to their classrooms, where they have to wait for their teacher. This is called registration and means that the teacher checks if everybody is there. At 9 o’clock the girls either go to Assembly, to Chapel or they have a music lesson, for example a piano lesson. On Mondays there is Assembly: You go to the Assembly hall and listen to a teacher talking about something she wants you to think about. Chapel means that there’s a short service in the school chapel. The school reverend reads from the Bible, everybody sings a song and the school choir sings, too.

All this ends at 9.20 and everybody goes to their lessons. A lesson is 40 minutes and there are mostly double periods without a break in between. The first two lessons end at 10.40, then there is a break of twenty minutes. You can eat something you have brought from home or you can buy some cookies or muffins in the dining hall. The lessons continue at 11.00 till 12.20.

It’s lunchtime now. Some girls bring a packed lunch from home, but most of them eat something in the cafeteria. You can choose from at least three dishes, one of them being a vegetarian one. Moreover you can help yourself to other things like bread, potatoes, a dessert like a yoghurt, cake, fruit etc.

Some of the girls have some activities during lunchtime, for example sports like lacrosse or netball, or some conversation classes in German, French, Spanish etc.

Lessons start again at 1.20 and continue until 4 o’clock. After that you can do sports, have some music or drama activities…. or you just go home.

It was very interesting for me to see all these differences between the German and the English school system, the different traditions. But I experienced many more differences, not only at school, but in regard to family life and the country, too. I profited a lot from the exchange: My English got much better and I made some new friends, not only English ones.