A term in England 02.03.2016 10:24
My trip to England has been just full of different discoveries. Although I had been to the UK several times before, I had never stayed there for so long and I had never participated in the school life.
The first time I got confused was when my mentor, a Chinese girl of my age, who didn`t understand and speak English well, took me to a room with a huge inscription ‘Spanish’ on the door. I had never learnt even a couple of words in Spanish, so I was totally against entering the class and when I told the mentor I wasn`t going to study this subject, she said ‘Me too’ and nothing else! As I understood later, this was our form class and we had to gather there every morning before the lessons.
All the teachers were nice to me and what surprised me a lot were the relationships between them and the students. There was a girl who showed her drawings to every teacher in the beginning of a lesson and though the pictures, to be honest, were not works of great talent, everyone smiled and complimented her. Nobody even thought of asking her not to bother as some of the Russian school teachers would do.
My first problem was connected with footwear. I took my school shoes to England but as I found out during the first day, English students have another type of shoes which they don`t change when they get outside! One important thing I haven`t mentioned before is that the school is not just a building – it is a large territory with small blocks for different subjects: one for all the science lessons, another one for languages, one more for history and geography, even a special Art department. After every lesson you leave the building and go to the next one through the wet roads covered with puddles. So, returning to my problem, my housemistress took me to the city to buy good leather shoes. First we went to a supermarket where, as she thought, I was supposed to find something. Of course, there were no normal shoes, so we had to come back and look for a shoe shop the next day.
What I found great about the British schools is that as soon as you are thirteen years old you don`t have to study all the subjects. There are three obligatory ones: maths (divided into two groups depending on your knowledge), English (divided into two groups as well and there is also an EAL group for the foreigners whose English is not very good) and PE (divided into a boys` group and girls` group). And there are also some subjects you can choose from. You can either study science or physics, biology and chemistry as separate lessons. You choose History or Home Economics (Cooking); French or Geography; Art, Music or ICT; Religious Studies & Philosophy & Ethics or Spanish. However, if you want to study ICT and Art together, for example, you can drop a foreign language and do Art during the free lessons. So the students are given a wide choice of what they want to do and as a result they are far more interested in school than the Russian pupils who are forced to study all the subjects even if they will not ever need them in real life. What about me, I chose History, French, Art and RS. The Art lessons were absolutely wonderful. Although my works were far not as good as the British girls` ones, I enjoyed it a lot. The RS were also exciting: we discussed the different views on various aspects of religion and ethics.
The schedule is different to ours, too. In the morning everyone goes to a Form Room or an Assembly which is held twice a week. It is a meeting of the whole school in the Hall where the headmaster makes a speech and greets those who have done well or got an award for something. In the end everybody stands up and sings an anthem or a hymn. After the Assembly the students go to the lessons. Each of them lasts eighty minutes. When the first two lessons are over, they go to an activity they have chosen for this day of the week. I used to have Choir on Tuesday, Ukulele Club on Thursday and Debates Club on Friday. On Mondays and Wednesdays I usually stayed in the Art Department or just walked round the school.
After the activities there is a lunch break for an hour. The food is absolutely awesome and for about a week after coming to England I ate lots and lots. I just couldn`t stop putting the food on my tray when I saw a million of different salads and desserts. You can take as much as you want and I suggest if you only take one spoon of every dish in the salad bar, you will get full even without the main meal.
After lunch there are two more lessons and then the school day is over. The day students take a bus to return home, the boarders can come back to the boarding house, change the uniform to their own clothes and have a rest for an hour. As I was one of the youngest so I lived in a room with five more people. This aspect of the school life annoyed me the most. I made long walks outside (I don`t think this would be possible otherwise as I am not a fan of walking a lot) just not to stay with the two Chinese girls who were watching Chinese TV shows and talking in Chinese on Skype all the time, even late at night! And nothing could stop them: when I asked them to have a talk with their friends the next day as I wanted to sleep they said that I was the only one who was disturbed by this so it was my own problem. Anyway, let`s return to the schedule.
Afterwards, everyone comes down to have supper, which is quite early – at half past five. However, if you are hungry later in the evening, you can have a fruit in a dining hall or a biscuit in the common room which is a special place where the boarders are able to get together. After supper there is an activity again and then time to do your homework. The boarders go to bed at ten o`clock.
For the half-term, which is a short holiday in the middle of term, me and two Spanish students went to a host family`s house. These people were very friendly and hospitable and I liked the town where they live so much that I decided I would like to live there when I am old. During this free week I also visited several English cities – Plymouth, Torquay, Exeter and Teignmouth. What I enjoyed the most, I guess, was getting ready for Christmas. The school was decorated very well and I was always in a good mood while walking through it. We played Secret Santa and visited Bath Christmas Market, which was amazing. In the last weekend the boarders had a Christmas Dinner, which was also incredible.
To sum up, this was an unforgettable experience for me and I would love to go there again, although I was happy to come back home.
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