Amanda Yares’ Final Post from the UK
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.”
Second Posting from Amanda Yares – Wellington College, UK
I have been at Wellington College more than two weeks now, and have a few more experiences to add to my traveling adventures. As my exchange goes on, I am starting to realize that my time here is passing all too quickly. This past weekend was a three-day weekend, or what is known in England as a “bank holiday.” A friend of mine, Sascha, was kind enough to host me and show me around London. On Saturday morning, Sascha and I spontaneously decided to go to the London Eye, something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. After buying tickets and packing our favorite British snacks that I have grown to love, we set out to catch our train. The train system in England is far more extensive and efficient than ours in California. We transferred from the train to the tube, where I became familiar with the phrase “mind the gap.”
The London Eye was just as stunning as the pictures. We all shuffled into a glass capsule and began the 30-minute rotation. I was lucky with the weather that day, as it was gorgeous and sunny. Big Ben, the House of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace were all visible. The Thames stretched out below in both directions, with ferryboats puttering up and down the river. The city seemed more compact with all the famous sights laid out right beneath me, but I was shocked at the same time at how far the glistening city spread out in the distance.
After the London Eye, we crossed over the Thames by Big Ben and the House of Parliament. Along the way, there were multiple street performers all playing a gambling game with cups and a ball. There was even one man playing the bagpipes.
After seeing some of the central local sights, Sascha and I hopped on the tube to Camden to meet a friend. Upon our arrival, it was clear that Camden was completely different from London, from people who dressed differently to touristy shops, markets, and tattoo and piercing stores lining the road. Nevertheless, the Camden Market had some of the best food and shopping of the weekend. We went to a restaurant called Wagamama, which doesn’t exist in the United States, but is home to the best curry I have ever had. After shopping in local markets, browsing local crafts and jewelry, and becoming unofficial “coat models,” we headed to the infamous cereal killer café. They had every possible cereal you could imagine, with endless toppings of chocolate “magic stars,” chips of every flavor, fruit, and even whipped cream. As bizarre as it sounds, there were even different flavors of milk, such as caramel or peanut butter. It was so good, and was definitely a highlight of my trip to Camden. I hope they have some in California.
The next day, we did a little bit of shopping and went to Buckingham Palace. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard. It looked similar to a parade, with guards in uniform with rifles, flanked by horses and riders. The palace was massive, and complete with bright flowers and a garden next-door.
I have written a bit about my travels, but I thought I should talk a little bit about being a boarding student. At Athenian, I am a day student, so boarding at Wellington has been a new country, school, and lifestyle. The majority of students at Wellington are boarding students. As an exchange, it has been quite helpful to board in order to meet new people. Living with your peers naturally brings you closer. I am in lower sixth form, as I mentioned before, which grants me a few privileges that the underclassmen don’t have. The Upper and Lower sixth form students have a different, more flexible uniform than the lower three grades. In addition, the upperclassmen are allowed to have “breakfast in house.” On the mornings when class starts at 8:40, we all make toast, cereal, bagels, etc. in house and aren’t required to walk up to the dining hall, which makes for a convenient and relaxed morning.
On certain mornings, we have chapel and go to the dining hall. Chapel is a new experience for me, and not something I do in my everyday life at home. We have chapel and assembly in the chapel 2-3 times per week. It has been really interesting to take part in a completely different ceremony than I am used to.
Overall, I have loved being a boarding student and traveling on the weekends. My experience at Wellington is constantly presenting new challenges (for example the showers which really don’t seem to like me…), but I have had so much fun during my stay. I truly can’t believe how fast my time here has passed.
I will end the blog with my new piece of vocab.In the United States, whenever we are tasked with something we don’t feel like doing, we might say, “I don’t want to right now,” or, “I’m just too lazy.” However, in England, people frequently use the phrase, “I just can’t be bothered to…” Since that one isn’t too different, I will also add that the equivalent for “awesome” in England is “pang,” which is used as an adjective.
Amanda Arrives in the UK
I have been at Wellington College in Crowthorne, England, for about a week and a half. The school is about 50 miles west of London, situated near Reading, but out of the city and full of expanses of forest and lakes. This school itself is absolutely gorgeous, complete with castles for buildings and endless turf for rugby, rounders, and cricket. Many students at Wellington and local friends had told me it reminded them of Hogwarts, and I can confirm that that was indeed my first impression. Every aspect of Wellington is completely different from Athenian. I really didn’t know what to expect leading up to my exchange, as this is my first trip to England and my first time being a boarding student. I am a student in lower sixth form (junior year) staying in the girl’s dorm The Anglesey. There are around 17 houses at Wellington College, but after meeting the incredible and friendly people in my house, it’s safe to say that the Anglesey is the best one! “House identity” is emphasized far more at Wellington than Athenian, and even includes in-house competitions of all kinds. Although I have only been here for a week and a half, I will talk a little bit about Wellington’s Holi Festival, Scholar’s day, and a few other aspects of my adventure.
Last Friday, Wellington had its first ever Holi Festival, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. It was very different from Athenian’s Holi festival, and seeing as Wellington has around 1000 students, it was much larger. Needless to say, growing up in California, I have grown accustomed to warm, sunny weather for the majority of the year. At the Holi Festival, which was outdoors, it was freezing cold outside and raining. We wore short sleeve white shirts anyway to truly experience Holi in England. The rain only made all the colored powder and mud more exciting. Complete with music, food, and even water balloons, it was so much fun and I’m so lucky I was able to participate.
On my first weekend in England, I had the privilege of meeting a family friend living in Reading. After an amazing lunch, we walked along the Thames through a park, and it was gorgeous and sunny. I have been quite lucky with the weather here so far, and I find it can be quite unpredictable. It snowed a small amount today, along with hail, rain, clouds, and sunshine–all within 12 hours. Nevertheless, everything is always so green and the campus is even more gorgeous with a blue sky overhead.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in “Scholar’s Day” with a select group of academic scholars. Since I am a boarding student, I do not have a host family. However, I shadow a girl name Georgie and go to all her classes. Since Georgie is a scholar, I was able to attend with her. The day consisted of three different guest speakers, all experts in different areas of their fields. Two were professors of humanities or biology, and one woman worked in forensics and psychology. We explored the theme of the day, “what is means to be human,” with small round table discussions after each speaker. In the afternoon, everyone selected two specialty subjects, for example Chemistry and Biology, to learn about being human through a specific lens. I went to Classics and Linguistics. I found the day to be quite interesting and unexpected. It was nice to meet students from multiple grades, since often I only get to know the people in my classes. That night, there was a special “Scholars’ Dinner.” This is one of the highlights of my trip so far. The meal was incredible, complete with three delicious courses and a white/dark chocolate pyramid for dessert. For a chocolate lover like myself, it was a perfect way to end the day.
Continuing on the theme of food, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the food I was going to eat. I had heard many different accounts of food in England and, unfortunately, a few horror stories. I feel I should set the record straight because the food at Wellington is so good! Not only is the dining hall stocked with an incredible breakfast and new lunches and dinners each day, but there are also multiple stores on campus for food and a full café called the V&A. I should also mention that there is dessert at lunch and dinner.
I will wrap up the blog with new vocab I have learned, and hopefully add a new phrase each time I blog. Although I haven’t yet acquired a complete accent, I have learned many new phrases that simply don’t exist in California. For example, someone in California might respond to a joke or story with “that’s so funny.” In the UK it is common to respond with “that’s so jokes” or simply “jokes.”
I’m looking forward to what adventures my upcoming three-day weekend has to offer!