Hear from Issy and Rose about their transformative month spent in South Africa.
Over the Summer we were fortunate enough to go on a Global Exchange to Cape Town in South Africa for a month. After a long 11-hour flight we arrived in the beautiful city of Cape Town where we were met by our host families. Everyone was so kind and welcoming.
The school that we attended throughout the duration of our stay was Herschel Girls School, which is a very academic and sporty school. Their school colour is pink so when big school events like Hershfield came up there was pink everywhere. Hershfield is a huge sports event including hockey and netball where they play against their rival school Springfield. It was extremely competitive, but Herschel obviously won by a mile!
While we were there, we took History, French and Drama. We engaged in our lessons which included learning about the Haitian revolution in History and the past participle in French. School days started bright and early at 7.40am and finished at 3.00pm with Sport afterwards. All the girls were inclusive and made an effort to make sure we were involved and we were lucky that during our time at Herschel there were 14 other exchanges from America, Australia, England and India.
During our exchange, our host families offered us some amazing experiences.
Issy: On my first weekend, I took a cable car up to the top of Table Mountain which is the iconic mountain in the middle of Cape Town. The views were incredible, although going up when it was extremely windy may not have been the best idea! Liv’s friends also came around later that evening, so we baked and decorated cookies.
Rose: My host family took me and lots of the other exchange girls to go and explore the City of Cape Town. We went to Bo Kaap and explored the colourful streets and then I also got to try some traditional Cape Malay dishes, which were delicious. We then went to visit the District Six Museum where I learnt much of the history of Central Cape.
Issy: On my second weekend, we went to visit Cape Point which is where the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean meet. We also met up with the other exchanges. Excluding the exhausting hike to the top, it was so fascinating.
Rose: For my second weekend we drove down to Hermanus which is by the coast, and we spent the weekend at Nicole’s friend’s house. I had a lovely time there doing activities such as swimming in the freezing sea and exploring the markets.
I feel like I gained a lot of life skills and became aware of the privileged life that I live. I also gained an awareness of the political and social state in South Africa.
– Rose, Upper Fifth
Issy: On my third weekend, I had the unforgettable opportunity of going to a cheetah outreach and stroking a cheetah. I had never been more terrified in my life. Later that afternoon, we went to a bird sanctuary where you got to pet owls and one even landed on my head! We finished off the day by visiting a beautiful vineyard where we had a delicious picnic.
Rose: I took a ferry to Robben Island which was the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for twenty-seven years. I had a tour of the island from a man who had actually previously been imprisoned on the island himself. It was a fascinating tour where I learnt much about Nelson Mandela. I also got to visit Table Mountain, where my early, cold hike up was rewarded by a fantastic view of Cape Town at the top.
For our final week in Cape Town the school organised for all the exchange girls to go on a five-day Garden Route Tour across Cape Town, without our buddies. The journey began by travelling to Knysna where we went on a picturesque walk and then to the beautiful Plettenberg Bay. We then travelled to Tsitsikamma National Park where we went on the hanging bridges over the Storms River Mouth. We also took part in activities such as feeding elephants as well as an evening safari drive where we saw lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, cheetahs and many more animals.
The final few days of the tour included travelling to Cape Agulhas which is the tip of Africa, as well as travelling to Stony point where we saw some local penguin colonies. The Garden Route Tour was an incredible conclusion to end an amazing exchange.
I definitely became more confident in my ability to problem solve and deal with unknown situations. I have also become more culturally aware and appreciative of peoples different living situations and circumstances.
– Issy, Upper Fifth
This whole exchange would not have been possible without the amazing support from Mrs Adams, Ms Akhtar and Miss West; so a massive thank you to them. We are so privileged to be able to have opportunities such as this at our school – we have not only had a great time, seen some fantastic places, experienced a different kind of education but we have both made friends for life!
We would highly recommend taking advantage of this and going on an exchange as it was the most amazing experience which we learnt so much from.
The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.Discover