Saturday school and US culture at Gordonstoun

Yesterday was my first experience having school on a Saturday. After breakfast and chapel, I had a free period, and got to know some of the Australian exchange students (Matt, Julia, and Marny). Luckily lessons end at lunchtime on Saturdays, so after Physics and English I was done. After lunch, I played squash with Angela, one of the girls in my house. Squash is a combination of tennis and an elementary school wall-ball game I used to play. It was pretty fun and once I got the hang of it we played an actual match.

After squash I had some free time, and hung out until our social, which was an international night. Year 10’s had dinner in the Aberlour dining room instead of the refectory, and were split up into teams to do some international trivia games and such. The night was meant for the returning Gordonstoun students to get to know the new and exchange students. I thought it was alright, and the girls in my house said that there are more fun socials coming up.

After the social, all of the Hopeman Year 10’s watched Hairspray in the common room. I thought it was interesting, because Hairspray is a musical about the civil rights movement and integration during the 1960’s in the United States, specifically Baltimore. Even though I am the only American at Gordonstoun, I have noticed that American culture is very dominant here in general. Most of the music people listen to is by American artists and bands (except for One Direction) and most of the films and TV shows people watch are from the USA (i.e. Pretty Little Liars marathons on Sundays). People talk about the USA a lot here too; in fact discussions about hurricane Sandy and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary have come up quite a bit. In Drama the other day, we were supposed to act out something “worldly,” and one group did hurricane Sandy and the other did the shooting at Sandy Hook. Also, in English yesterday, we were reading a poem called Belfast Confetti, which depicted the Belfast riots and violence. We were then talking about the effects of violence and war.  Upon learning that I was from the USA, my English teacher, Mr. Richardson, asked me my opinion about gun control and the 2nd Amendment in relation to the Sandy Hook shooting. Mr. Richardson is from South Africa, where there is a lot of gun violence, and has an interesting viewpoint on the subject. Anyway, I find it interesting that so much American “stuff” is here. I hope to represent my country respectfully, especially when discussing its policies.

I have also noticed that there is a great focus on the performing arts at Gordonstoun. Its drama program is known worldwide. There are  many classes and extra-curricular opportunities regarding dance, drama, art, and music. It is not to say that Athenian doesn’t celebrate the arts, but here they are much more popular and focused on.

It is also much more formal at Gordonstoun. I wear a knee-length skirt, tights, wellies or black flats, a white collared shirt, blue jumper, and usually a warm jacket over it as my weekday uniform. For the Sunday uniform when we go to chapel, we wear a green jumper and a full-length kilt. We call our teachers by their last name, or for short, “sir” or “miss.” It is much more casual at Athenian. I’m trying to remember to add a “sir” or “miss” at the end of each sentence when addressing my teachers.