Sofi Kaplan says farewell to Scotland

I can’t believe I am already writing my last post. My time at Gordonstoun has flown by, and I am sad to say I still haven’t started my Cold War paper. Since my last blog post, I have learned to sail in the Moray Firth, been to London and Salisbury, watched my friends run into subzero water in speedos, and so much more.

Seamanship was a wonderful and unique experience. I had to wear a giant yellow oil suit which I later appreciated because it was freezing out on the boat. I was in charge of hoisting the main sail along with steering for parts of our journey.

I was here for Gordonstoun’s half-term break and my host family took me to historic Salisbury. I saw the Salisbury Cathedral, where one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta is. I also explored London for a day where I saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and other attractions.

Since coming back from the break, there have been two exchange trips. For our first trip, we drove to Loch Ness and took a boat across the lake to a historic castle. Sadly, I did not see Nessie, but what I did see was unbelievably beautiful. While exploring the ruins of the castle, many exchanges had trouble standing and later slipped in the mud, which was not only hilarious but memorable.

Our second trip was yesterday. We walked from the campus to the coast and explored seaside caves, went into an old lighthouse, and watched some brave exchanges go into freezing water wearing just speedos. While my time here is coming to an end, I still have many events to look forward to. Princess Anne will be on campus next Monday and I will be attending the Round Square house cabaret this weekend.

My time here has been unforgettable. I have met so many people from around the world and I have created friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

To those who hope to come to Gordonstoun on exchange I do have some advice:

  • Don’t set expectation, set goals. – Exchange is unique for everyone. Your experience at Gordonstoun will mostly rely on what you hope to achieve on exchange.
  • Understand that you are going to a completely different environment. – If you look at the fundamental elements of each school, Gordonstoun and Athenian seem like opposites. At Gordonstoun there is chapel every day, school on Saturdays, uniforms, and you will get detention for calling a teacher by their first name.
  • Have fun. – I know its cheesy, but sometimes you forget that you are on exchange since you are still at school. There have been nights that I wanted to watch Netflix, until I realized that watching TV is not the point of exchange.

When I received the email from Mark saying I had to write my final blog post, my heart dropped. Time flies when on exchange. While the rest of my grade at Athenian would probably disagree with me, this school term has been amazing. Even though I haven’t learned much academically, I have learned a lot about myself and the world around me. Through meeting so many people from all over the world, I have a new found passion to travel and learn about the world.

Exchange has also given me an appreciation for the Bay Area bubble I live in. I love how understanding, accepting, and overall how liberal it is. But going on exchange has not only given me a break from American politics, but has helped me further understand other cultures and beliefs. While I hate that I have to say goodbye soon, I am already planning an exchange student reunion in Australia, and I am excited to see my Bay Area bubble again.