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Australian exchange pupils blog about life in the UK

Ailsa Wallace and Ryuun Fujihara have joined the school for half a term from Haileybury in Australia. They will write frequent blogs about their time in the UK and how they find it different from what they are used to Down Under. In the first installment, Ailsa gives her initial thoughts:

After two incredibly busy weeks at Haileybury in England, I’m beginning to adjust to a lifestyle that is, at times, quite different to my own in Haileybury, Melbourne, Australia. I must begin by thanking the Master, Mr Davies, staff, pupils and in particular Colvin House, Dr Dexter (HM), Emma Clark (Head of House), Phoebe Riggs (Deputy HOH) and Claire Oyekanmi (Deputy HOH) for such a warm welcome. Ryuun and I genuinely appreciate the thoughtfulness and preparation ahead of our visit, which has made the settling in process very easy. The British weather, though, has not been so welcoming, but we are slowly adjusting to the temperature drop of 30 degrees. Our tropical summer is a far and distant memory! White frosted lawns and rooftops greet me each morning when walking to breakfast at 7.30am. Not the familiar Cotton Palms, Birds of Paradise or purple Agapanthus that usually feature on my walk to the bus stop each day. Our physical environments are really quite different.

I am enjoying my time here immensely. The school grounds are beautiful, with an amazing chapel where services are held every morning. The grounds are also vast, but I have now come to grips with where all my classrooms are! The formalities of daily school life appear very similar and it is interesting for me to reflect on what is common to both our schools. Why do I feel so at home here? Mr C H Rendall, an old boy of Haileybury, England, founded Haileybury, Melbourne in 1892. As our first Headmaster, he was charged with building a school with the traditions of classics and cricket. (Perhaps wise not to dwell on the cricket!) Importantly though, our common traditions offer security and provide a belief system in which to grow and foster unity. I feel that elements of our past inextricably link our schools together, defying the obvious geographical distance.

The variety of activities and societies at Haileybury have kept me very busy – I’ve taken up swimming as my weekly sport, and joined the school’s Model United Nations club led by Annie Woodcock. Twelve pupils from MUN are preparing for a competition at The Hague. This will be the world’s largest MUN competition, featuring over 3000 international pupils. Last week we were fortunate enough to debate against the Richard Hale School, which served as great practice for all those competing and as a formal introduction to the process for myself.

Whilst weekends are normally very quiet, the first Saturday into term marked the annual Haileybury Ball with the 2011 theme, Arabian Nights. It was just incredible to see the entire school turn out to a single event! The decorations were magnificent, with palm trees and ornamental lamps colouring the hall, and even a magic flying carpet ride – just spectacular.

Finally, having taking up residence in Colvin House, boarding life is proving to be absolutely fantastic! House Mistress, Dr Dexter and House Leaders Emma, Phoebe and Claire have really made me feel part of the Colvin family. They have been so willing to help me with anything and answer my endless questions about what happens each day. We already have had some great fun, whether it be decorating cupcakes, ordering take-aways on Thursday nights and watching movies, or just chatting in someone’s room.

With such an eventful beginning to 2011, I eagerly anticipate the weeks ahead.