Day 2

We began the second day bright and early with a full English breakfast and boarded the coach for the hour-long drive to out of London to Sir John Lawes School. It was dark out when we first headed out and many of us were already nodding off to the rocking of the bus. I, for one, was actually falling asleep when I heard the shouts of my friends and was quickly shaken awake to be rewarded with a magnificent view of the sunrise. It was simply breath-taking and it awed me as the sky was a wonderful blend of warm orange blended harmoniously together. The sight was something really different from the sunrise we see in Singapore – back home there are always high rise buildings hindering us from actually viewing the sky clearly. With life being so fast-paced, we are barely spared the time to sit back to relax and watch the sky. However, viewing the sunrise this morning reminded me that if we were to just slow down and take a breather, we will be able to notice and appreciate the beautiful things in life.

The lovely sunrise really started our day well and definitely left us refreshed. We arrived at Sir John Lawes School and were warmly greeted by the Head Boy (the equivalent of the President of the Student Council in SAJC) as well as the teachers. Then followed a video of the school.

For this introduction we learnt about their school values – ACE. A represents Achievement which could be in any form – be it academics, the artistic, sports and so forth. C represents Care, be it for students, staff and others beyond the school community. E, representing Excellent Standards, specifically talked about the students’ manners, honesty, personal integrity and their uniform. It was really comforting to see that they placed such great emphasis on being able to care for peers and others. This was also manifested in the numerous posters and slideshows mounted around the school, reminding students to be caring towards everyone.

We were then introduced to our buddies and I was paired up with a lovely girl from Year 12 named Faiza. She brought me around the school and one thing I noticed was that the school itself was very busy. The corridors were crowded with students because it accommodates students from  Year 7 to Year 13 (Sec 1  – JC2) and the sight of the different students interacting with others, regardless of age, warmed my heart as it demonstrates how friendships really have no barrier.

I had a great opportunity to sit in on a Psychology class. I was blown away by how outspoken the students were. They were not afraid to voice their doubts and thoughts, and this is something I felt that we could learn from them. The teacher was also very encouraging to his students as he constantly praised them and prompted them to go further. Additionally, as Psychology is an unfamiliar subject, I was absorbed by its theories.

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After lunch, we moved to the school hall where we made our presentation on Singapore and SAJC, and also had a collaborative session with some of the school’s students. We had to draw a life-size outline of our body and then share fill in this figure with our thoughts on four issues suggested by the teachers. These issues included our thoughts on our ambitions, what might impede us, how we could achieve then and also what we wanted to be able to contribute to society.  We were astonished to discover how similar the British students and we are! We had the same types of fears and problems, and also the same type of motivations to work.

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In the evening we attended a Creative Writing Workshop by poet Jacob Sam La Rose. He demonstrated to us the beauty of writing. Inspired by him, I realise writing is something less complicated than I thought it to be – I initially thought that writing would be difficult as it would be hard to link the ideas together but Jacob proved us wrong as he played simple games with us that taught us how to write, specifically using the five senses.

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Overall, the second day has been an eye-opener and I am looking forward to our second day at Sir John Lawes School tomorrow!

-Rachyl Lim

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Day 1

26 November 2016

The day had arrived. Together with our teachers, the 22 of us arrived at Changi airport at 9:30pm, hearts full of excitement. We were expectant that the next 10 days would be very fulfilling but definitely tiring too. We checked in, cleared immigration and began working on our workbooks. We had mixed feelings when we saw it- some of the students from the science stream seemed overwhelmed by poetry they were asked to comment on, while the literature students were rather enthusiastic ( Alicia claimed she “ seriously love(d) it” ).

On the flight we were advised to rest well, given the long and packed day when we landed. I honestly didn’t think it would be anything difficult, especially since we have all witnessed the JC student’s ability to fall asleep anytime and anywhere. However many of us found it difficult to sleep on the plane with the uncomfortable sleeping positions and resorted to the in-flight entertainment. Nevertheless most of us caught enough sleep in the 13-hour journey to recharge for what was in store when we landed.

 

27 November 2016

This morning, we arrived at Heathrow airport slightly earlier than expected. We went through immigration and soon boarded the coach. While waiting for Graham, our driver, we had our first taste of London weather. It was chillier than expected and we became little kids, marvelling at the fact that we could see our breaths in the air.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum we picked up our tour guide Dominic. He would be bringing us on our city tour. Dominic who is a Blue Badge Guide was extremely knowledgeable about the city of London. He shared with us the stories, legends and the history of London’s buildings and sculptures.

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Meanwhile, we were constantly turning our heads left and right, trying to catch sight of what his rapid fire narrative was describing. Some of the places we saw included Harrods (world-famous department store which sadly we had no chance to shop at. All we could do was simply gawk at it as we went by), Albert Pub (where many politicians supposedly gather for leisure) and the buildings of M15 as well as M16 (a centre of secret intelligence, that may be familiar to James Bond fans)

We also had the opportunity walk around some of the more famous sights and areas. We walked round Parliament Square with its fine view of Big Ben and the palaces of Westminster where the parliamentarians of British politics meet to set the course of the country’s future.

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We visited the Tower of London (where Dominic shared with us ghost stories of those executed there as well as the royal history of its cobbled stones) and we walked around the perimeter of Buckingham palace.  At the Palace, we were able to witness the Changing of the Guards (where many of us did wonder how they were able to march in such and orderly manner with their bearskin helmets covering their eyes as they did). It was grand ceremony full of pomp with a military band and other guards on horses. Dominic mentioned that this ceremony took place once every two days and it made us realise how the City places importance on ceremonies and symbolism.

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After this tiring introduction to the next 10 days I feel that the thing that struck us most about London is the magnificent architecture, with its symbolic columns and statues. This was intriguing as I feel that Singapore doesn’t have such a display of historical monuments. Personally, I was baffled by the constant juxtaposition of cathedrals and structures that were hundreds of years old and modern skyscrapers.  It was a stunning juxtaposition that showed me how London takes much pride in its history and yet strives to the future.

-Kaitlyn Tay