Ratsgymnasium and the School of St. Helen and St. Katharine School have been partners in an exchange programme for nearly 40 years now, but I can say for sure that for us this year was special. For example this time it was cheaper for us to fly than to charter a coach and go by ship. We were the first group ever to fly and it was really cool to go on an airplane with our friends.
But there are more reasons why it was an especially great trip. SHSK is a beautiful, independent girls’ day school. The buildings are really pretty and old, but inside it is quite modern. In the middle of the school grounds there is a romantic garden with old apple trees and several flower beds. The reputation of the school is so good that even those children who live more than an hour away study there. Every morning, pupils meet in their form rooms and then go to assembly together. After assembly, everybody attends their courses. I would say that the lessons at Ratsgymnasium and at SHSK are on a similar level. The girls have lunch in school, which is a lot better than German school food. SHSK offers a lot of extracurricular activities, so they have a variety of clubs, e.g. in the fields of art and music, extra lessons etc. to participate in.
What I particularly liked is the fact that the St Helen’s girls are really communicative and sociable. I now do not only have contact with my exchange partner, but also with a lot of other girls from SHSK.
The other students and I lived at our exchange partners’ homes. Everybody got along pretty well with their newly found friends, their parents and siblings. A lot of the exchange families took us to London, which we were really happy about. But we did not only go on a trip with our exchange family, but also together with the other German exchange students. The most popular places we went to were Oxford, where we went twice, and Portsmouth, but we also went to some other nice places like Warwick Castle and Stratford. I guess I represent the opinion of our group when I say that we particularly enjoyed these excursions.
Sadly these 10 days went by too fast and in a wink it was time to say goodbye and get on the plane back to Germany. But from above the clouds we thought about this amazing experience and the kind people we had met. Now I’m really looking forward to our exchange partners visiting us in Bielefeld in February.