Kamcee Ugwokegbe arrives in England

It is coming to the end of my third week here at Felsted and I’ve finally settled down. When I first arrived, I was jet lagged for about three days and I was homesick for a week. But my family and friends here and in Cali really helped me through that.

I experienced my first moment of culture shock at Heathrow airport. When the person who was picking me up led me to the car, I naturally went to the right side of the car. But noooo, there was a steering wheel there. I was confused, so I decided to sit in the back, but then I was invited to the front seat, which was on the left side. So for the first 20 minutes of the 90 minute drive to Felsted I sat, staring at the dashboard, thinking: “there’s supposed to be a wheel here.” You might think that it’s not a huge difference. It’s just a steering wheel. I knew English cars drove on the opposite side, but you won’t understand until you see it. My mind was absolutely blown.  (And I just wrote a whole paragraph on steering wheels… Whoa.)

One of the major differences between the two schools is that Felsted has a uniform. Here secondary school is from year 7 to 11 our equivalent of grade 6 to 10. I’m in sixth form at Felsted, our equivalent of grades 11 and 12, but here it’s classified as college. After this they go on to university. The uniforms for prep school year 8 are all red/yellow kilts and red/yellow blazers. The uniforms for year 9 to 11 are green and blue kilts with a blue blazer. The sixth form uniform is a black/blue/gray shirt or pant suit. This was a huge change for me. It was a bit uncomfortable at first, but then I got used to it and now it’s the norm. It’s weird to be able to tell something about a person just from their uniform.

The weather has been fun. It’s May. You’d think there would be sun, but no. People, it’s not Cali. A week ago it was hailing, and there’s so much wind. Being here has made me realize how much I love the Californian sun.

The food here is amazing. Like wow. One of the things I didn’t expect is the important role that ketchup plays in every meal and I mean EVERY meal. When there was no ketchup there was panic.

Like the food, the people here have been amazing. I live in the Thorne House which has greeted me with open arms since I first arrived. Thorne is a lower sixth house, the equivalent of a junior house. It’s a house of around 20 girls, which is relatively small compared to other houses that have around 60. There is another exchange named Meg from South Africa who came two weeks after I did, but she’s in a different house.

So far, being in England has been a positive experience. I am looking forward to the three weeks I have left here.