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.
Kamcce Ugwokegbe Bids Farewell to England
It’s coming to the end of my exchange here at Felsted; I go back to California in a few days. I feel like my departure will be bittersweet. Although I am excited to go back to California, I will still miss the new friends and connections that I have made here… It’s actually now my last day and I’m a lot sadder than I thought it would be. I’m honestly going to miss everyone here. Today, Thorne is having a pizza party for me and they’re going to sign my flag.
We recently had a house feast. It was amazing. Everyone got dressed up and we all had fun. There was dancing, singing, embarrassing videos, and speeches of everyone. I’ll really miss the Thorne girls, Dr. MacGuire (the Housemistress), and Mrs. Donaldson (the Assistant Housemistress).
In the past two weeks, I’ve had two firsts. First, I went to a place called Sky Ropes with another exchange, Meg. When I signed up for this event, it didn’t really register in mind what the name of that place meant. Ropes…in the Sky. When I arrived at the place, I remembered that I’m moderately scared of heights. After looking up, I didn’t want to do it anymore, but Meg persuaded me. Although we had harnesses, I was still super nervous. I looked around and there were little kids doing it like it was nothing, so I thought “okay, I can do this.” After a few trials, I got the hang of it and it was uber fun. The teacher who took us had a little daughter and she became my walking buddy. She loved destroying dandelions 🙂
Secondly, I went to Cambridge with a couple of friends and went punting. Punting is when people sit in the boat and then someone stands on the little platform at the end of the boat. There, they have a long stick they push into the ground of the lake to move the boat along. Being the adventurous teenagers that we are, we decided not to get a chauffeur and have one of the guys do it. Both boys were in year 9, so they decided to switch. The first half Sam did it and we were so scared of the boat moving, but we got used to it. When it came time to switch, the boat was moving so much and we were begging them to stop. Justin finally got on and stayed for literally two meters and they switched again. But overall, it was an experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.
For people who are on or will go on exchange, I would like to tell you that at first it may seem like you’re never going to make friends or memories that matter. It most likely will get better, but to be honest, for some it doesn’t happen and that’s okay. Either way, give it a chance. Things didn’t really start happening for me until halfway through. Although it was short, I will cherish the memories that coming here on exchange has given me. Thanks for everything England.