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By Christian Hogenkamp

From 9th to 19th October, a group of 23 pupils of Year 9 visited Abingdon School and the School of St Katharine and St Helen. For ten days we attended lessons, lived in British families and went on day-trips to Portsmouth, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, saw some regional sights and most of us even visited London.

abingdon201103We were shown normal British school life, which is completely different to the German one. Firstly, in Abingdon School the periods are 10 minutes longer than the German lessons. Moreover you eat at the school cafeteria in the fifth and sixth period. After that you have the seventh period and time for activities like sports or academic clubs until 5 p.m. After 5 p.m. the school coaches depart to take the pupils home.

Additionally we visited Portsmouth and its historical docks to take a look at the HMS Warrior, HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s ship, and a museum about the Battle of Trafalgar.

abingdon201104In Oxford we visited Christ Church and Keble College, two colleges of the University of Oxford, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum, a museum of ancient graves and art.

Moreover we went to Stratford-upon-Avon, visited William Shakespeare’s birthplace and the theatre of the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company).

Apart from all these joint activities, we could also learn a lot about family life in Britain. Our hosts spoilt us a lot and everybody had a really great time together with their partners. In February we will try to offer our friends a wonderful time too.

By Friederike Stadtmann 

On 9th October, our group of 23 pupils from Ratsgymnasium Bielefeld and two teachers, Dr Schütze and Ms Geuting, went on a trip to Abingdon, England. After a long journey interrupted by some traffic jams and a delayed ferry departure we finally arrived at the School of St Helen and St Katharine, where our host families were waiting.

The next day the girls were shown around St. Helen´s while the boys had a guided tour through the boys’ school:  Abingdon School.

abingdon201101At St Helen´s there are a modern library, an assembly hall, a theatre, rooms for individual music lessons, a room for ballet lessons, two gyms, a fitness room, nice fields for Lacrosse, a swimming pool and upper school common rooms. Apart from the size, the main differences are that it is a school only for girls, who have to use a code to get inside the school building, and the length of the normal school day, which ends at five past four. Because of that, the school has a big cafeteria with lots of different meals. Other differences are that the girls have to come to the teachers´ rooms and that they have to wear uniforms. Most of the German girls’ attitude towards school uniforms has been changed by the experience of our short stay. Now we welcome the idea as a sign of community. Moreover, the students can choose between lots of different sport activities that they can do after school.

abingdon201102But of course we had a programme apart from our partners´ timetable, too. We went to Portsmouth, Oxford, Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon. In Stratford we saw Shakespeare´s birthplace, visited a museum about his life and his plays and we were shown around the theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  In every city, we had some free time for shopping or other things and I think we had some very nice trips together.

At the weekend most of us also went to London with their host families. All in all I think everybody was happy with his partner/family and nobody had any problems with communication or anything else.

So it was a great exchange, we had a fantastic time and I´m very happy that I was one of the lucky girls who were allowed to take part in this exchange programme.

I already look forward to February, when the English pupils will be here in Bielefeld. I´m sure it will be a great time, too!