This will be my third and final blog entry, as I have reached the end of my exchange here at Wellington College. I had the privilege of staying with a new host family this past weekend in Arundel in West Sussex. Arundel was unlike any part of England that I’ve seen thus far, and was the opposite of London life. We left school on Saturday night since Wellington has school on Saturday morning. After a bit of a drive out to Arundel, we walked through the quaint, lamp-lit downtown to a bistro for dinner. The town reminded me of something from a movie set, with narrow roads of cobblestones leading to white brick antique shops.
On Sunday morning, I went with my host family to a local barn that they were considering for riding lessons. I am an equestrian eventer back in California. After having not ridden for a month, it was really nice to see a barn and horses again. It was a beautiful stable. I was amazed at the enormous green pastures and hills., lush due to England’s plentiful rain.
After the barn, we had breakfast at a country club called the Kennels. The menu had classic British food, and I discovered how much I enjoy sausage baps. That afternoon, we explored the West Dean Gardens. They were no ordinary gardens, complete with miles of land, a castle, an estate, greenhouses, and so many sheep I couldn’t count them all. We spontaneously decided to go for a hike in the hills on the garden’s property, which led us to beautiful views (and even more pictures of sheep). After a brief break to drink some rose lemonade, we drove back to Arundel.
Back in Arundel I had some free time to explore the downtown. As I mentioned before, I was impressed by the number of antique shops, which are far less prevalent back in Danville. I stumbled upon a cute little shop that is home to the best homemade fudge I’ve ever tried. We headed back to school later that night, since my boarding house had mandatory chapel at 8 pm. To break up the drive, we stopped at a beautiful park along the way for a “proper English picnic.” Although in the past I’ve taken food to the beach, park, etc., I’d never had a picnic like that one. The food was delicious and once again, the view was unbeatable. We may not have had a long weekend, but nevertheless it was filled with new adventures and delicious foods.
As I reflect back on my time at Wellington, I can truly say it has gone far too fast. I’d heard other people who had gone on exchange say the same thing, but now I completely understand what they meant. I didn’t know what to expect coming into a new school in a new country with new people. On my first day, I could not foresee how much I would grow to love the school, the people, and the delicious avocado sandwiches from the school café. Exchange has without question presented me with new challenges every day, but by saying “yes” to so many wonderful opportunities, I have taken part in an adventure unlike any other. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. I would advise anyone considering going on exchange to set aside any fear or apprehensions and just jump in.
I will end my blog with a final piece of vocabulary. In the US, if something is ugly, we would just say “these sweatpants are ugly.” Here in England, they say, “these trackies are butters.” On the other hand, if something or someone is attractive, in the US we say, “he/she/that is cute,” or some variation of that. In England, they would say, “he/she/that is so fit.”