Hi all! My name is Anna, and I wanted to share with you one of the biggest things I took away from my trip to England. Upon arrival, there were of course observable differences. Brits drive on the other side of the road. They speak with funny accents, and use colloquial terms different than at home. The architecture is different… older, and somehow more classic. But my biggest disappointment was the lack of a “culture shock” I experienced. There was no language barrier, no different way to eat my food, and not much that made London different than Chicago. At first, I was jealous of those who traveled to Africa, Japan, China, etc, because they’d had their worlds turned upside down. But it wasn’t until after I had been away from England, and stopped hearing the stories of those who traveled elsewhere, that I realized how much my own International InterMission experience got me in touch with the world. Today, I am able to see that my ability to connect and relate to Benenden girls, because we were so similar, is quite unbelievable. To think that across oceans, girls speak the same language I do, face the same struggles I do, and learn what it means to be a young woman in many of the same ways I do, is absolutely crazy to think about. When the Benenden girls came to Miss Porter’s recently, I couldn’t wait to tackle my friends in front of Main. I am so grateful for the laughs we’ve shared, and wouldn’t trade my friendship with them for anything.
Hi, I’m Sarah Zhong. I’m going to talk about how my experience has helped me to challenge my assumptions about England. Before going to England, I thought England was a boring country; I thought that I would have a hard time finding good food there. However, my “assumptions” was challenged the first night in England. We went to a little pub, and the food there were all so good! I like most of the food, especially the deserts.
I have also tried other local food during the few days in London. When we have free time, I would go to a small restaurant or a café with a friend and order something to eat. Most of the food I’ve ordered were very delicious.
So it was a really interesting experience for me to challenge my assumptions about British food. I have learned that things people tell me and things I saw myself are fairly different, and no one can understand your experience better than yourself.
Hi I’m Miriam! Our trip to England definitely exceeded my expectations. Because I had already been to England and it wasn’t as “foreign” of a country as the other Intermission trips were, I definitely wasn’t as excited, but hey—free trip to London with my classmates was bound to be fun, right? Being in London for the first 4 days was by far the best part of the trip. Traveling around the city and discovering new places to eat and shop was WAY more fun with my friends than with my family (no offense). Something about being independent and navigating in a foreign place on our own is so exciting, no to mention it makes you a better traveler!! Both my favorite memories from our time in London involve food (surprise): dinner with Mayra’s aunt and uncle and a small Lebanese restaurant that my friends and I discovered—10/10 would recommend!! I also highly enjoyed our tour of Westminster, the Revolution exhibit in the V & A, and dinner in a pub (reminiscent of all the meals my family and I had during our trip to the UK few years back). I learned that the beauty of our trip that set our apart from all the others was the free time. Being in a country without a language barrier allowed us to have about up to 2 hours of daily free time, which was the best aspect. This time was when I ate some of the best food and had the most fun! I am confident that when (not if) I return, I will be able to navigate on my own and bring my family and friends to the best places! Benenden was an experience that I never expected. Learning about the British education system was strange but also really interesting. I like how they only have a few big exams and focus on certain fields. Something new was that since only 3 hours of sport were required per week, they had a 2 hour lunch break or something close and classes ended at 5:30. The classes were interesting (as they were more lecture than discussion based), the campus was beautiful, and the food was awesome! The Benenden girls were super friendly and we had so much fun learning about British culture through them. It was even better when they came to Porter’s just 2 weeks ago! Overall, I bonded with people I wouldn’t have otherwise and made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Even though our time together has ended, I think I can speak for us all when I say that we are determined to see them again, whether it be in the U.S. or in London!! (some of these pictures are from Benenden’s visit to the U.S.)
Students reflect on their most meaningful moments on our IIM trip in their journals
Plotting out ideas for our Symposium! STAY TUNED!
Dinner at Tayyab’s, which was a hip and modern Pakistani restaurant located in White chapel in London. Besides the outstanding food, It was so wonderful to be able to share a bit of my culture and where I come from to the rest of my classmates.
London at night time. My favorite part was to see the hustle and bustle on London for the 4 nights that we were there. I loved seeing how after busy work days, everything came to life. restaurants, coffee shops, malls, downtown, and much more.
Kensington, England during sunset. I love this picture because of what it captures; the beautiful and historic buildings that are high class apartments, the breath taking sunset and sky, the peacefulness of the empty street and parked cars. This was the last picture I had taken before we headed off to Kent, England. I can definitely say that every time I look at this picture, I remember good laughs, good conversations, amazing memories, amazing food, and an overall experience that I will never forget. Like I’ve said time and again, this will be something that I can tell my kids about 10 or 15 years down the line. It makes me so happy that I have pictures like this one to make these memories more alive.
Before going to England, our group spent a lot of time preparing to leave the country and thinking about how we could best absorb the experiences we were going to have. In these classroom sessions, we were able to get to know each other better before being in a different place together. When we were in London, many of us became closer with people we didn’t expect to become friends with. We were able to have free time in the city to explore places we personally found interesting while also spend time within the larger group doing activities that the school had planned. While in London, there was a tube strike for a day which made us reshape our plans and ultimately brought the group closer together. This trip served as a learning opportunity for me, and I appreciate the opportunity the school provided me with to experience new things and become close with new people.
Nothing disappointed me on this trip. Our group was so fun and I branched out and made connections with other people that I would not have made otherwise. We all share this experience now with nobody else, which is really special because it connects us in a happy/memory way. While in London I realized that I am more independent than I thought, which was fun because I took the tube without the group and I had the best time while I was in my own world, loving the city. I was nervous about going to Benenden because I didn’t know how the girls felt about us or anything, but they were all so nice and welcoming. I loved my host student, Charlotte, and I can’t wait to see her in March/April when the girls come to Porter’s!! Overall, this was the best trip and I would definitely recommend this trip in the following years!
The following is a reflection on our time at Benenden from Mayra B and Olivia G! Thank you for sharing, Mayra and Olivia! This reflection will appear in the next issue of the Benenden magazine.
My experience at Beneden gave me new insight and perspective not only in my life, but in the lives of the students I met. The only things that I knew about Beneden before arriving were that students needed to wear a uniform, and that the school was located in “the garden of England.” My impressions were that life at Beneden would be stricter than the environment I am used to at Porter’s and that our lives would be drastically different. But, with an open mind I walked onto campus ready to challenge my assumptions.
When we were first greeted and welcomed at the school’s waiting room, we met our host students for the first time. I was surprised that all of us got a hug rather than a more formal greeting! I am not really a “hug within the first three seconds you meet someone” kind of person. But, I was touched by how kind and charismatic the girls were and the bundle of nerves in my stomach began to fade away.
The times that I got to see the students the most were in the evenings. I was staying in the Founders dorm, so I would go to The Bar to talk and hang out with the Beneden students. My time spent there, talking, laughing, and eating (I love how you guys get snacks at night!), I realized that I was not so different from the other girls. We all like Sherlock, drank tea, complained about homework, listened to the same music – the list goes on. I started to feel less like a visitor and more comfortable as a habitant. So right away, my first assumption of being totally different than the girls at Beneden was not true. My second assumption also quickly fell apart. Though the dress code was considerably different than that at Porter’s, I did not find Beneden any more strict than Porter’s. In some ways, actually, it felt a little more relaxed.
My time at Beneden proved to me that we are not so different after all. Yes, we might disagree about how sexy a British accent is, but in the end, we are all just teenagers navigating our way through high school, figuring out what this whole future thing is. I am honored that I was welcomed to this beautiful and amazing school, and that I not only got to share my experience, but that I have learned from others’ experiences.
Sleepy but content and well fed, students and faculty arrived in front of 60 Main Street from JFK.