By Eliza Rimmer, Ciara Taylor, Tiffany Evans, Arianne Kane and Sophia Azzopardi
We have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be the inaugural Australian exchange students from Presbyterian Ladies College, Perth.
Along with the initial excitement and responsibility of travelling independently to the other side of the world to stay with families we had never met before, the overall experience has certainly been eye opening.
Our host families have been very welcoming to all of the girls, and have really given us all the chance to experience Bedford and the rest of the UK. We have all had numerous trips outside of school time with our host families, including London, Northumberland, Thorpe Park and many more. By visiting all these places, we have gained a sense of the culture, and have been able to immerse ourselves in it. We are all very grateful for how inviting and accommodating the families have been and how they’ve accepted us into their homes.
During our first week, we were immersed in various activities including a day trip to Cambridge (pictured, above) with our exchange students. We first went cycling around the town and saw the colleges, rowing clubs and scenery before punting along the River Cam and visiting the University itself. This experience allowed us to form a stronger bond with our exchange buddies and learn about the history of Cambridge.
In our second week we visited Warwick Castle (pictured, below), which was certainly a different experience for us – especially as Perth doesn’t have any castles or dudgeon tours. We visited Stratford-upon-Avon later that day, which again, was a different experience. Being able to visit the house in which Shakespeare grew up in is something few people are fortunate enough to experience.
Visiting Bletchley Park and learning about the breaking of the enigma code was by far the most intriguing and moving experience of the trip. It was so interesting to extend our knowledge of British history and gain an insight into the legacy of this. In addition, our exploration of the Higgins Art Gallery gifted us more knowledge on Bedford’s history.
Overall, this exchange trip has been the most incredible opportunity for all of us. We came to Bedford to experience a new schooling life and walk in the shoes of our fellow host friends and peers, but little did we know we would leave here with so much more than a new host friend and a love for Yorkshire puddings.
As we come towards the end of the trip, we can safely say that we’ve made many new friends we will keep lasting connections with, extended our understanding of travelling abroad, and tried every single English chocolate bar in existence. Our excitement has grown for the girls to come back to Australia and we are confident this exchange will continue to be a success.
On a final note, we would also like to sincerely thank Mrs Jones and Ms Mason-Patel for their dedication to making this an incredible stay, as well as Miss MacKenzie (pictured, above) for welcoming us into the school.