Nebelswall 1 - 33602 Bielefeld
0521 - 51 23 94

By Anne Bittner, Year 9

Some girls of 9a-c visited St Helen's School from 12th until 22nd October 2008. We all enjoyed the trip very much; our partners and host families were very nice and kind. (Even the teachers were okay!)

The school is a very large building, actually there are lots of buildings (a new library is being built at the moment). At the beginning we lost our way in lots of staircases, corridors, halls, rooms,... There are very modern computer rooms, a small theatre, a large sport complex, a chapel, an assembly hall and lots of other rooms, such as the Old School Hall where we met before excursions. We visited Oxford, Bath, Avebury and Portsmouth. That was sometimes nice and interesting and sometimes quite boring...

Well, the school. In the morning we went to the classrooms with our exchange partners. First the teachers always checked attendance. Then the whole class went to assembly silently. (Well, everyone was supposed to be silent but actually...)

At assembly there were short presentations and musical performances. Moreover they showed pictures and short films, for instance one about Columbus on the anniversary of the discovery of America. But on Tuesday there was a short religious service in the chapel with musical performances too (songs), prayers,...

Afterwards classes began. They nearly always had double lessons without breaks in between except after lessons 2 and 6. Lunch was after lesson 4 (There was a large cafeteria; the food was not very tasty but okay...). The pupils —and we— had school till 4.00 p.m. and after that they often had other activities like sports, orchestra, drama etc. Most of the pupils had a long way hone on the school bus, sometimes for more than an hour! So you got home at 5.00 p.m. at the earliest. And then you have to do lots of homework! It is always a very tiring day, I think, more tiring than here. (But you can sleep longer in the morning: School starts only at 9.00 a.m.)

Yes, some things are very different, not only the school uniform (a red or grey sweater, a blouse with red or green stripes and a grey skirt). Perhaps the rules are stricter but it is like here: Not everyone sticks to the rules... The lessons are sometimes as boring as here, quite normal, I think. But people are very kind (as I said) and they actually always say "sorry", "please" and "thank you" (You say "thank you" to the bus driver, too, when you leave the bus!)!!!

All in all, it was a great experience! I hope the English pupils will like Bielefeld as much as we enjoyed the ten days in Abingdon.

By Luka de Vos, Year 9

I wake up and it’s 7 o’clock. In Germany it would be 8 o’clock – great, I can stay in bed just a little bit longer! I’m lucky because it’s just 15 minutes to the School of St. Helen and St. Katharine from where I’m staying. For some girls it’s 1.5 hours from home to school every day!

My exchange partner and I get on the school bus at 8.15 and we already arrive at St. Helen’s at 8.30. Having arrived, all the girls have to go to their classrooms, where they have to wait for their teacher. This is called registration and means that the teacher checks if everybody is there. At 9 o’clock the girls either go to Assembly, to Chapel or they have a music lesson, for example a piano lesson. On Mondays there is Assembly: You go to the Assembly hall and listen to a teacher talking about something she wants you to think about. Chapel means that there’s a short service in the school chapel. The school reverend reads from the Bible, everybody sings a song and the school choir sings, too.

All this ends at 9.20 and everybody goes to their lessons. A lesson is 40 minutes and there are mostly double periods without a break in between. The first two lessons end at 10.40, then there is a break of twenty minutes. You can eat something you have brought from home or you can buy some cookies or muffins in the dining hall. The lessons continue at 11.00 till 12.20.

It’s lunchtime now. Some girls bring a packed lunch from home, but most of them eat something in the cafeteria. You can choose from at least three dishes, one of them being a vegetarian one. Moreover you can help yourself to other things like bread, potatoes, a dessert like a yoghurt, cake, fruit etc.

Some of the girls have some activities during lunchtime, for example sports like lacrosse or netball, or some conversation classes in German, French, Spanish etc.

Lessons start again at 1.20 and continue until 4 o’clock. After that you can do sports, have some music or drama activities…. or you just go home.

It was very interesting for me to see all these differences between the German and the English school system, the different traditions. But I experienced many more differences, not only at school, but in regard to family life and the country, too. I profited a lot from the exchange: My English got much better and I made some new friends, not only English ones.