Jael from Switzerland studied with us at Wimbledon School of English for 3 weeks last year. She was very kind to share all her experiences with us - from her anticipation and worries of coming to London, how she coped, the friends she made, how she felt about her accommodation, in a nutshell, her whole experience. Thank you Jael and we really hope to see you again in the near future!
(Jael is on the left)
Language Stay in Wimbledon
To be honest, I first was very nervous, when thinking about my language stay on my own in Wimbledon. But it turned out to be the perfect place to spend three weeks for English studying. Wimbledon is a lovely quiet place, which does not feel like a city near of the crowded loud London. Here in Wimbledon I got to use my English and was able to communicate with people from all over the world!
The first thing I noticed in Wimbledon was that people generally are very polite and friendly. Whether I asked someone for travelling directions or about the name of a bus station, I usually ended up chatting with this person. After some days in Wimbledon and London itself I realised, that I never lived in a city before. Even though there are a lot of leafy parks, one can't call it nature and it is never quiet. I was shocked when I spoke with a girl from Taiwan, about how we grew up, that she never spent time in a forest or generally in the nature. On the other hand, it is never boring in London. I really enjoyed the diversity of the city as well as the multicultural people. One thing I enjoyed within the most was watching musicals, as the school quite often organised tickets. My favorite one was "les Miserables" or how people in London call it just "les Mis". I was amazed by the singers as well as the whole set up. Even children played in the piece and they never missed a beat, which was very impressive. On the stage was a turning platform installed, where they could easily change the background without darkening the whole stage. After all it was a very sad story, but I would definitely watch it again. Another musical I watched was Annie, also played by children, since the story is about an orphanage. Some of these songs were very catchy, so I sometimes still hum them silently.
The lessons at school were always very enjoyable. Although new students arrived every week everyone could keep up easily without being underestimated. The focus during the lessons always lay on speaking or working with a partner or in groups. But we also did a lot of grammar and writing exercises. We often compared different themes, words or expressions in our native language with each other, which was very interesting. In the morning I always had general English, advanced plus level and in the afternoon classes FCE and CAE preparation. For the first two weeks I was the only student in my afternoon class; however I could improve much from these lessons. In the last week a girl from Germany joined me, what I appreciated. After two hours working one to one with a teacher on exam preparation I always felt exhausted, but satisfied. After all I did not do so badly at these exercises.
One day we had a teacher from Ireland, who jumped in when one of our other teachers was ill. At first we had some difficulties to understand him. But soon we got used to his accent and like with all other teachers, the lessons were very helpful and interesting.
During my stay a lot of Swiss people arrived at the school, sometimes whole classes. But I often spent time with people from South Korea or Brazil, so I did not talk Swiss German too often. Furthermore it is far more interesting to talk to people from abroad, who may be interested in Switzerland. Something I had to explain often was my apprenticeship and how the school system works in Switzerland. Some people I will even meet again, when they visit Switzerland. I promised them to show them everything!
Once again I got to realise how lucky I am to live in Switzerland. While students from other places explained me how difficult it will be for them to find a job in their country after their studies, I thought about all the opportunities we have in Switzerland.
My host mother was a very friendly retired lady, who often takes in students from different schools. What I found interesting was that the TV was always on, even though nobody was watching. After chatting with other students about it, we found out, that this is a common thing here. My host mother, being experienced with language students, let me do a lot, since Wimbledon is not a dangerous place at all. After an evening at a theater in London watching a musical with the school, it could get late till I arrived at home. After the first few days at my host mother's house I caught a cold, caused by the not turned on heater. Despite that, I really liked living at her house in Wimbledon. When driving to school by bus, I always tried to get a place at the top of the bus in the front seats. From that place I had the best view to see all the different neighborhoods. It was easy to tell which school was next to which bus stop, since all children wore a school uniform. Often parents bring their children to school, which is different in Switzerland.
One of the advantages of living in Wimbledon was to be so close to London. Almost every evening I went there with friends by train or underground. Whether we went to the theater, the cinema or just walked around in the streets, it was always exiting and we had a lot of fun. Being around people from all around the world, I always had to talk English.
I think royals are an important part of London and England in general. Getting up really early one Sunday morning we went to the Buckingham palace to see the guard change. Because we were so early we fortunately got a place right in front of the fence and got to see everything. As a rider I of course only had eyes for the beautiful elegant horses from the police officers. The very well trained animals stayed calm no matter what happened. What I found great was when the musicians played a piece from a James Bond film and so did my friend I went there with. After all I was surprised, that the Guard change takes place every second day. There were hundreds and thousands of people watching the spectacle.
Another thing I visited was the famous tennis courts in Wimbledon. I always imagined it as much bigger than it actually was. There were a lot of pictures of Roger Federer. When we asked about the prices of a seat for a famous play we were more than surprised that the most expensive Tickets only costs £ 200. I had to buy a souvenir for my dad, since he is a big tennis fan and urged my in the first place to see the centre court.
To sum up I would definitely recommend the Wimbledon School of English. I had a wonderful time here, pushed my English to the next level and I met some wonderful people. It is a great opportunity to study in another environment with other teachers, methods and possibilities. I think even students who are not fond of the language will learn to like it.