13 April 2016

Brussels Exchange 2016

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On Wednesday 16 March a group of seven Lower Sixth French students accompanied by Mr and Mrs Dyer visited Belgium for an exchange with the Dames de Marie School in Brussels.

Upon arrival by Eurostar, we were all warmly greeted by our exchanges and were taken to what would become our homes for the coming week. On Thursday, we had a lovely day trip to Ghent, known for the remarkably well-preserved medieval architecture in Belgium’s largest car-free area. We were in school on Friday, and we had an instructive lesson about Belgium’s political system and an initiation in Flemish (which was very confusing because many words had two meanings: for example morgen could mean morning and tomorrow) as well as lessons with our correspondent – all in French, of course.

That afternoon we visited the Parc Cinquentenaire and we went to the top to see the impressive panoramic view of Brussels. Before we went home, we had an audio tour around the Parlementarium to gain an understanding into the workings and history of the EU. Over the weekend we stayed with our respective families and had trips around Brussels, to Bruges, and shopping.

When we returned to school on Monday and had our tour, we were left exhausted by the sheer number of steps – our exchanges had lessons on the top floor of a five-storey building! Nevertheless, it was refreshing to speak some English whilst we helped our correspondents’ class practise their English in their ‘Speed Dating’ activity. That evening, we attended a group dinner with the exchanges, some of their friends and their two lovely English teachers, and we tried the local speciality of prawn and cheese croquettes.

On Tuesday 22 March, our day trip to the Battlefields of Waterloo was cancelled due to the tragic bombings at the airport and Maalbeek metro station. Luckily we had found refuge in a hotel reception, and ordered some croissants and hot beverages whilst Mr and Mrs Dyer composedly handled the situation with parents and the school. We returned safely home by Eurostar as planned the next day, laden with chocolates, ‘Ghent nose’ sweets and a broadened French vocabulary.

Although it was an unfortunate week to travel to Belgium, it was a successful trip facilitated by the sensible behaviour of all involved, and special credit must go to Mrs and Mr Dyer for managing everything wonderfully.

Jess Wen

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