I have been at Wellington College in Crowthorne, England, for about a week and a half. The school is about 50 miles west of London, situated near Reading, but out of the city and full of expanses of forest and lakes. This school itself is absolutely gorgeous, complete with castles for buildings and endless turf for rugby, rounders, and cricket. Many students at Wellington and local friends had told me it reminded them of Hogwarts, and I can confirm that that was indeed my first impression. Every aspect of Wellington is completely different from Athenian. I really didn’t know what to expect leading up to my exchange, as this is my first trip to England and my first time being a boarding student. I am a student in lower sixth form (junior year) staying in the girl’s dorm The Anglesey. There are around 17 houses at Wellington College, but after meeting the incredible and friendly people in my house, it’s safe to say that the Anglesey is the best one! “House identity” is emphasized far more at Wellington than Athenian, and even includes in-house competitions of all kinds. Although I have only been here for a week and a half, I will talk a little bit about Wellington’s Holi Festival, Scholar’s day, and a few other aspects of my adventure.
Last Friday, Wellington had its first ever Holi Festival, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. It was very different from Athenian’s Holi festival, and seeing as Wellington has around 1000 students, it was much larger. Needless to say, growing up in California, I have grown accustomed to warm, sunny weather for the majority of the year. At the Holi Festival, which was outdoors, it was freezing cold outside and raining. We wore short sleeve white shirts anyway to truly experience Holi in England. The rain only made all the colored powder and mud more exciting. Complete with music, food, and even water balloons, it was so much fun and I’m so lucky I was able to participate.
On my first weekend in England, I had the privilege of meeting a family friend living in Reading. After an amazing lunch, we walked along the Thames through a park, and it was gorgeous and sunny. I have been quite lucky with the weather here so far, and I find it can be quite unpredictable. It snowed a small amount today, along with hail, rain, clouds, and sunshine–all within 12 hours. Nevertheless, everything is always so green and the campus is even more gorgeous with a blue sky overhead.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in “Scholar’s Day” with a select group of academic scholars. Since I am a boarding student, I do not have a host family. However, I shadow a girl name Georgie and go to all her classes. Since Georgie is a scholar, I was able to attend with her. The day consisted of three different guest speakers, all experts in different areas of their fields. Two were professors of humanities or biology, and one woman worked in forensics and psychology. We explored the theme of the day, “what is means to be human,” with small round table discussions after each speaker. In the afternoon, everyone selected two specialty subjects, for example Chemistry and Biology, to learn about being human through a specific lens. I went to Classics and Linguistics. I found the day to be quite interesting and unexpected. It was nice to meet students from multiple grades, since often I only get to know the people in my classes. That night, there was a special “Scholars’ Dinner.” This is one of the highlights of my trip so far. The meal was incredible, complete with three delicious courses and a white/dark chocolate pyramid for dessert. For a chocolate lover like myself, it was a perfect way to end the day.
Continuing on the theme of food, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the food I was going to eat. I had heard many different accounts of food in England and, unfortunately, a few horror stories. I feel I should set the record straight because the food at Wellington is so good! Not only is the dining hall stocked with an incredible breakfast and new lunches and dinners each day, but there are also multiple stores on campus for food and a full café called the V&A. I should also mention that there is dessert at lunch and dinner.
I will wrap up the blog with new vocab I have learned, and hopefully add a new phrase each time I blog. Although I haven’t yet acquired a complete accent, I have learned many new phrases that simply don’t exist in California. For example, someone in California might respond to a joke or story with “that’s so funny.” In the UK it is common to respond with “that’s so jokes” or simply “jokes.”
I’m looking forward to what adventures my upcoming three-day weekend has to offer!