For the past month, we have been completely immersed in the Bedalian culture. On our very first day, we were greeted warmly by everyone and began to adjust to the life here. We were given our timetables almost immediately after we arrived, then we went to our lessons and were toured around by students whom we soon became good friends with. Even though we only had about three hours of sleep on the plane the night before and were quite jet-lagged, we were still very excited to be in this new place, meeting new people. We attended Jaw on our first evening, which we soon realized was similar to a tradition we have at Groton, in which a student or faculty member gives a talk before the whole school. It was also interesting to find another commonality between the two schools in the tradition of handshaking. A difference we realized that night was how important the activities are here, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that Quiet Time does not happen six days a week like it does at our school.
As soon as we joined our classes here, we noticed how different the education system is. In America, we don’t take GCSEs or A Levels; most people take about seven or eight classes each year throughout their high school career and never specialize in three or four subjects like sixth formers here do. It stuck out to us as different right away and we couldn’t imagine how we would ever be able to pick only four subjects to learn. This was definitely the biggest difference that we noticed. After observing the system here and comparing it to our own, though, we decided that each one seems to work best for its environment, and it was very interesting for us to be able to experience the one here in comparison to the one we are familiar with.
We were asked many times about the differences between the schools, and it was hard to answer at first because we had mostly noticed small ones, other than the difference between the education systems. Everyone seemed to be expecting us to draw some drastically large contrast between the two, but in reality we just have a list of subtle ones that add up to make each school individual. We board at our school as well, and we noticed that the atmosphere of the community here is quite similar to that of Groton. We were surprised to feel so comfortable at this school right away, but we did because of that similar sense given off by the community. From the moment we arrived, girls came to greet us on flat. Students gave us tours around the campus and showed us how to get to our classes during our first few days. We became good friends with many people over the past month. It was great to be so fully immersed in the culture here, even for such a short amount of time, and our amazing experience is all due to the people here who helped us.
By Abby Power and Christine Bernard, Groton School, USA
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.