Music at Abbotsholme

Round Square Exchange ~ Dan Harrison, Westminster School, Adelaide, Australia


Although apprehensive at my 26 hour journey ahead, I was excited to board the flight on 18 July from Manchester airport to Dubai for my journey to Adelaide, South Australia for my six week stay at Westminster School.

I had already emailed Mr Stewart, my host teacher, and he had agreed to meet me the Hudson Coffee Shop in the airport. I was advised to look for a man in a green tracksuit.

I was nervous when I landed at Adelaide and was shocked to find that the airport was much smaller than anticipated, with few people and an easy exit through Customs. I was relieved to see a man in a green tracksuit standing outside the only coffee shop at the airport. It was the first time I had actually gone off with a stranger in a strange country in a strange car!

Mr Stewart could see how exhausted I was and kindly took me straight to the boarding house where I met Sally the House mother. Apparently I slept for 12 hours straight. I had a week to settle in and acclimatise myself. I explored Adelaide’s wild beach, the city and the suburbs.

School hours were much shorter than at Abbotsholme, but all sports clubs took place after school. I played a lot of football (soccer in Australia) and had football coaching twice a week from a national coach. I represented Westminster at soccer, playing against several other schools. I scored six times for the school and was rated highly by the coach. At the end of my stay I was presented with a football shirt and some football boots for playing for Westminster. I really enjoyed the sport opportunities that Westminster offered. I also got to play handball and represented the school as the handball goalkeeper. One weekend I went to see Port Adelaide, the Australian Football Team, which was a great experience. It was really great that I was made really welcome by all of the football team.

During my time I enjoyed helping out on the school farm, especially helping with the pigs. I helped to clean them out and they were walked around the school on leads, which was rather odd! No-one bothered about wearing overalls or wellies. I also visited a large chicken farm. The landscape was very different, the fields were vast and flat. It was very different from England.

Most of my friends were from Japan and Fiji, also boarding at the school and a long way from home. Everyone was very kind and I was surprised at how many British people were teaching and working at the school. One of the housemasters was from Chesterfield and it was odd that he knew exactly where I lived, when I described it.

I was surprised at how much freedom I had. My friends and I were allowed to go the cinema, catch the train into the city and go to the beach. It was an experience to catch the train and have a school pass for this purpose. It was so different to Abbotsholme, and the contrast was really interesting as Westminster is based in a city. Although it was English speaking, the culture of Australia was still very different to England. It was much more laid back and not as politically correct maybe as here. I thought that was refreshing.

I had a really good time and would very much like to visit Australia again. I would like to thank everyone at Westminster that made me so welcome and of course to Mrs Holmes for making the exchange possible.

Daniel Harrison (Lower Sixth)

If you are in Y11 and interested in taking part in an exchange in your summer holiday, please see Mrs Holmes


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