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16 September 2017

Five Fifth Formers Experience Life in South Africa

Over four weeks during the summer holidays, five Fifth Form pupils participated in the annual South African school exchange. Ed Cashmore and Harry Geddes spent their time SACS (South African College High School) and Ellie Redford, Bailey Cameron and Hattie Fox attended Herschel Girls’ Schools.

Ellie, Bailey and Hattie tell us more about life at Herschel and the fantastic trips all five pupils experienced:

“As well as attending our chosen lessons during the working day, we were also encouraged by the school to make the most of Herschel life.

Herschel have incredible school spirit, which was amazing to be a part of, especially through the annual derby versus the local rival school Springfield – the whole school came to support and we joined in to chant the school ‘ war cry’ in the stands.

While this was a school exchange, in the evenings and over the longer weekends of Friday-Monday we were able to spend our free time with our exchange partners, their families and their friends, both individually and as a group, exploring the city of Cape Town and the surrounding area together – from climbing Lions Head and Table Mountain to visiting Robben Island and local markets.

The most memorable week of our trip was the tour along the Garden Route, which takes you along the south eastern coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. We did the tour with all the exchange students from Herschel and the boys’ school, Bishops. Highlights of the tour include walking with elephants, feeding ostriches, segwaying, encountering cheetahs, bungee jumping and caving. The variety of activities we undertook allowed us to experience all aspects that Cape Town has to offer, including visits to the Winelands, the stunning coasts and impressive mountains, the lively shopping centres, and peaceful Veldriff.

We will be forever grateful for the incredible opportunity we were given and we are so thankful to our host families for looking after us so beautifully. Herschel’s extensive exchange programme now means we have made friends for life with girls from all over the world including the US, Canada, India, Spain, and many others from the UK, as well as forming very close bonds with the girls at Herschel. We are so thankful to Miss Schultz for organising this trip and accompanying us, which allowed us have the trip of a lifetime that none of us will ever forget.”

Ed and Harry focus on life at SACS and a different daily regime:

“Boarding at SACS is certainly different to King’s! Everyone sleeps in dormitories that accommodate eight people and the accommodation is far more basic. There are around 80 boys living in the house; all meals are served in the house itself and life is more regimented.

The house is mainly run by the Matrics (equivalent to the Upper Sixth). Everyone is woken at 6.30am by a deafening bell, and frequent dorm inspections take place. No one watches TV or plays the PlayStation; in fact, we did not realise there was a TV in the house until the last day. There is however, a basic gym.

Bed times are firmly enforced with lights going out at 10pm, and there is absolutely no talking during prep or after the lights go out. Failure to adhere to these rules results in punishments being given. The environment was quite a shock to start with but we were made to feel welcome and included in all aspects of house life. One of the most striking parts of life in the house is its inclusive atmosphere. Everyone is included and no one feels left out. Boarding life at SACS is more intense than at King’s and by 10pm all we wanted to do was sleep, in order to be ready for the following day.

Day life is also fairly different to King’s; there are little to no free periods, with lessons packed throughout the day. During the day, everyone has Maths and English and Afrikaans with a mixture of sciences, humanities and life skills spread throughout the week. However, like King’s there are two breaks during the day, although they are much shorter – this is mainly due to the day finishing at 3pm and on Fridays SACS finish at 1pm.

After school there is normally sport such as rugby and hockey. Sport is a massive part of life at SACS with everyone attending the rugby games and representing the school. Normally after the day is over most of the pupils go home – SACS is primarily a day school – leaving just the boarders, who will stay in school for prep and supper.”

The exchange programme with SACS and Herschel has been running for several years now and is a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to experience life in a different setting. The exchange is open to any pupils at the end of their Fifth Form year who are continuing into the Sixth Form at King’s. Applications will be invited and the candidates will make presentations to a selection panel later this term.

Three girls from Herschel will be coming to King’s after half term this term. Two boys from SACS will join us in January.

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