After a 40-minute drive from London Heathrow Airport, I arrived at Wellington College, a school situated in Crowthorne, England. The moment I stepped out of the cab, I knew, that this place reminded me of Hogwarts. I was expecting a tough time adapting to a new culture here at Wellington, as I have heard things from last year’s exchanges, but surprisingly I was overwhelmed by the differences between Wellington and Athenian. Everything is so different, from how you dress, what you eat, how you behave, to how the school works, how the people are, as well as what Wellingtonians value. First, let’s talk about Wellington as a school.
Wellington is in the middle of nowhere, which doesn’t seem like a good thing, but it actually gives Wellington a big advantage–land. Wellington is gigantic. I have been here for two weeks now, but still, I get lost sometimes, even when I have a map with me.Unlike Athenian, Wellington is a boarding school with a day program. There are a total of 17 houses, or what Athenians call dorms, on campus, and I live in Hill, a boys’ house, which has about 60 people in all forms. More than 1,100 students board at Wellington. Needless to say, the facilities at Wellington are extremely amazing. Even though the school has been around for 150 years, the inside of the buildings here are very new and up-to-date. The classrooms are really big with all the awesome supplies that you will ever need. Wellington also has a café on campus for students to buy snacks between meals, like tea or brownies. In addition, Wellington is a traditional school so everyone has to wear uniform, even for sports and meals (except for dinner). I find uniform a great way to close the gap between people, but if you don’t like uniform, it is going to be tough wearing a suit every day. In summary, Wellington as a school is really great.
English people are different from Americans, or more specifically, Wellingtonians are different from Athenians. I have been here for two weeks now, and I can guarantee you, that Athenians are so much more welcoming and friendly, especially towards exchanges, but that doesn’t mean English people are not nice. I have noticed that they appear a little cold, but if you make the effort and try to know them, the English are actually so kind and caring. I have made friends with the best English here in Hill, even though that took me a lot of time and energy. It is worth doing, especially when exchange only happens once in life. You will not regret it when you look back.
At Wellington, there are great separations between people. First, students have to really respect teachers and adults. You cannot go “Hey April!” here, unless you want to be dragged to the office. You have to call teachers Sir or Miss. Second, boys and girls don’t belong to each other. In the dining hall where we eat, the left side is for girls, the right side is for boys, and there is no in between. Girls hang out with girls and boys hang out with boys. Even sports are separated for boys and girls. Some sports are just for girls, some are just for boys. Third, people are greatly divided into forms. Wellington has 5 years of high school. They are named, from lowest to highest, 3rd Form, 4th Form, 5th Form, Lower 6th, and Upper 6th. If you are in 4th form, you eat, you hang out, you live, and you go to classes with 4th formers. The same goes for other forms as well. Also, if an upper classman asks you to do something, then you have to go do it. It is just how it is. Upper 6th have the most power here, as they can command the lower forms to do the things they want. Everything above is so different from Athenian. Athenians don’t care if you are a boy or a girl, if you are a Freshman or a Senior, or if you are an adult or a teenager, do we?
About food, English food is super amazing. I have heard some stories that English food is horrifyingly disgusting, but now I know that I can take those stories and toss them into the rubbish bin. Wellington has absolutely gorgeous food, whether it is breakfast or supper. There are lots of choices for you to choose. We usually have bacon, baked beans, eggs and bread for breakfast. Lunch and supper vary, but there has not been anything that I don’t like since I got here.
That has been a lot. I will save the rest for my next blog. I look forward to what is going to happen when I go to London next weekend!