Post1:Arrival and first activities
It has been a great start to this year’s Cambridge Orientation. We had a smooth flight to London on Sunday. A little turbulence and a few nerves got to a few of the students, but as soon as we arrived in London, we were ready to go. Immigration was quick and easy. There was a small mix up with the suitcases that the ground staff sorted out, but then we were through the gates. There was then a bus ride to Cambridge and taxis to homestays. I think the students were surprised that it was still sunny at 8pm in the evening.
After their first night’s sleep in their homestays, everyone arrived at Bell School to start their induction and have a tour of the grounds. Everyone was impressed with the school and the fields and play areas on the school’s grounds. The first lesson was focused on getting to know the teachers and Cambridge, then in the afternoon, we took the bus to the city centre.
Students walked around the city centre looking for some of the famous spots in the area and getting to know their way around. It was a good walk for everyone, then they headed home to have dinner and do some homework to prepare for a presentation the next morning.
Tuesday was a busy day filled with study, culture, and sport. After sharing their impressions of Cambridge in their morning lesson, we enjoyed some traditional English food. Especially nowadays, English food is delicious, but we still have a few traditional snacks and drinks not everyone will enjoy. The students got to try both sides of this with some funny results.
On Tuesday afternoon, we visited Cambridge International School, CIS. It was a great time, I only wish we had more time. Kaetsu students gave out name cards with the CIS students’ names in Kanji with the meaning. They then sang a beautiful song and introduced some Japanese games. After this, we all headed to the sports field and played an English game of rounders – a little like baseball, just a bit simpler. Finally, we headed back inside for English scones with clotted cream and jam.
After this very successful event, we went bowling. Everyone had lots of fun. You couldn’t tell that they were jet-lagged and tired – they all looked like they had lots of energy. When bowling was finished, most students ate in the area. Many students decided to try English Subway, but some had pizza or tried some of the other options.
There’s lots more going on this week which will keep the students very busy. The weather has been more than perfect. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next!
Post2:Innovation, Philosophy, Culture, and Tradition.
These are the themes that help describe the last couple of days. On Wednesday morning, students had their first taste of innovation and entrepreneurship. After reviewing some modern-day innovations to the traditional suitcase, they thought about how things we use every day could be innovated to meet the needs of today. They put together a quick presentation about their marketing plan with a sales pitch and sales poster that outlined the issue, solution, and the potential market.
Great presentations and great ideas, but the deep thinking wasn’t over yet. In the afternoon, we had the pleasure of Mr. Dutson’s company again. He is studying again in England now, but he took a trip to Cambridge to bring some philosophical discussion to the class and get them thinking about their time here. The discussion addressed individual and global identity and many of the students had some good insights and interesting questions about the topic.
On Thursday, we went to London. This was a great chance to contrast the pace and lifestyle of Cambridge with England’s busy capital city. We started at the British Museum, then students went off on mini-tours that they had planned themselves. Other than a dropped cell phone, a couple of mistimed transfers, and an issue with a store only taking credit cards (so no gifts from there), everything went really well, and the students got to experience a different side of the UK.
Friday morning started a little earlier than expected. A few students made a couple of missteps getting home the night before and arrived at their homestays late. However, they did the right thing and kept me informed of their progress and will use this as an opportunity for personal reflection.
The Friday morning lessons started with students giving presentations on their London experiences. With students having made different plans for their London trip, it was good to see what they all did while they were off adventuring. In the afternoon, an ex-Kaetsu student who is now studying on the foundation course of King’s College London came to visit the new generation of A-class students. It was a chance to hear the experiences of a person who had been through the program, and for the students to share some of their questions and concerns.
On Friday afternoon, we saw the first rain of the trip so far. We went to Grantchester Apple Orchards, a famous tea room in Cambridge. Apparently, the area has been home to more Nobel Prize winners than any other town on earth. We, however, were more interested in the scones, clotted cream, jam, and tea – delicious and relaxing. Even in the rain, it was a good chance to relax and reflect on the week.
Over the weekend, students have a free day in Cambridge and a day in Brighton on the south coast. The weather changes every time I look at it. I hope the sun decides to be on our side, but I’m sure a little rain won’t dampen the students’ spirits.