Spotting the ‘Big Five’ in South Africa 

During the summer holidays, two Fifth Form girls went on a Global Schools’ Exchange trip to South Africa.

4 November 2019

Phoebe and India spent four weeks studying at Herschel Girls School as day girls and living with their exchange buddies and their families in Cape Town. They spent the final week of their trip travelling along the scenic Garden Route with the whole group of exchange students from all over the world who had attended Herschel and their brother school, Bishops at the same time. Along the way, they visited an ostrich farm, saw cheetahs and elephants, did a bungee jump and a Segway forest tour, as well as enjoying the multitude memorable sights of the stunning coastline. 

India reports on her trip,  

“On our arrival in Cape Town, we were both very warmly welcomed at the airport by our host families and taken home. Their generous hospitality soon made me feel very comfortable in their home which meant a lot to me 

Everyone at Herschel School was friendly and at lunchtime, everyone sat together in a big hall. I noticed that there were friendships between girls in different year groups, different Houses and how well everyone seemed to get along with one another. This made my time at Herschel so much easier than I had anticipated before I travelled to South Africa. English and Maths were compulsory and both Phoebe and I chose Biology, Geography and Art as our additional subjects. Every day, we had one lesson in each of our subjects and it was really interesting to see how the subjects were taught differently to Downe House. For example, the English lessons focused on watching and analysing a film, and in Geography, they primarily studied African-based themes. 

Even though five weeks may sound like a long time to be away, there is so much to do in Cape Town which meant our weekends were always busy. The first weekend, I walked up Table Mountain with my buddy, Olivia’s family which took about five hours. I also spent a weekend in Simon’s Town, just outside Cape Town where we enjoyed time at the beach, drove along the Cape of Good Hope and visited Cape Point. For Olivia’s 16th birthday, I went with her family to a game reserve where we saw all of South Africa’s ‘Big Five’ which includes the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. All the weekends were so memorable, and I am very grateful to Olivia’s parents who took me to so many amazing places.” 

Phoebe said, 

“As soon as I met my buddy, Lauren and her family, I felt so welcome and at home with them. They made such an effort to make me feel comfortable and I enjoyed getting to know them as a family. After the first evening of settling in, we got my uniform and bag ready for my first day at school. Despite my nerves, I was so excited to meet Lauren’s friends and to experience going to school in South Africa. Everyone made such an effort to chat and get to know me right from the start, and after the first day I already felt like Lauren’s friends were my own.   

The teachers really helped me settle into their lessons quickly, and although it was a little confusing to begin with, I gradually became used to my new surroundings, joined in class discussions and understand the school dynamic. Herschel’s school day ends at 3pm, so we had a lot of time to explore Cape Town after school, whether that was going shopping with a group of friends or going sightseeing.   

We were always busy at the weekends and some of my favourite things included going to Camps Bay with Lauren’s friends and going to the waterfront. We also drove around the Cape and saw some amazing sights and visited a cheetah reserve.” 

Find out more about the Global Schools’ Exchange Programme

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