Elisabeth Merrifield reflects on Felsted

My exchange ended a couple of days ago. I definitely miss my school, but I cannot wait to go home. I think I will miss the people the most, along with the stunning campus. I will not miss having to go school on Saturday. The people at Felsted were easy to talk to and have a conversation with, but were definitely harder to become friends with. Therefore, it took me a while to make some good friends, but once I did it made my exchange much more fun.

Originally, I was the only exchange in my year, but during my last two weeks another girl came in from Australia. There were then three other exchanges who were all from Australia, and all there specifically to play cricket. This surprised me because I thought there would be a lot more exchanges at Felsted with me. As it turns out, they don’t do too many exchanges.

I had quite a long exchange, around two and a half months. I was able to learn a fair amount about a different culture and about myself. I know it’s cheesy–I also thought so when I heard it–but even if you don’t have a bunch of crazy stories to share from exchange you cannot come out of it without learning something. Also, even if the effect that exchange has had on you isn’t immediately visible that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Whether it’s just being more comfortable talking to people that you don’t know or having more independence.

Being in England, besides the accent, people my age don’t act too different than they do at Athenian. I originally thought that they would all be posh as the school appears that way, but for the most part they didn’t act that way. They do have different traditions and ways of celebrating things, but I didn’t find it too hard to have a conversation and connect with people.

Since I went to England, there wasn’t a huge culture shock, but there are a couple of things that are different and that I use or watch now. One of the obvious things is their vocabulary. I only thought a couple of words would be different like ‘rubbish’ and ‘cheers;’ however, it turns out that many words that I use in California mean something else in England. You have to be careful with what you say.

One of the ‘traditions’ that they have there is to watch Love Island. I know this might sound odd but almost every single student watches it and many of the teachers do as well. Every time it is mentioned it turns into a 20-minute conversation about the latest plot twists. It is similar to Bachelor in Paradise (if you know what that is), except it is on every single night for eight weeks straight. Every night everyone gathers in the common room and we set up the couches like a movie theater. It has been a bonding experience as you get to know everyone a little better.

Field hockey games were another thing that happened quite often. Much like Athenian, there are a bunch of people cheering the school on. The only difference is that all the games are at night and outside, so it gets cold very quickly.

Felsted offered a couple of weekend trips, but it was during the breaks that I got to go places. During the first break I stayed with a friend and we went to Cambridge. She showed me all the classic British clothing shops as well as the best English food and chocolate (such as a Sunday roast and Cadbury chocolate). During the other break I got to go on a trip with my great aunt and uncle to Venice and Cambridge. During the week-long breaks none of the students can be on campus, and most of them go home no matter how far away that may be.

Overall, I enjoyed my time at Felsted and I will miss all the wonderful people that I got to know there.