This summer I attended the English language summer holiday courses at Millfield (MELHC), an independent school in Somerset, UK. I’ve never been to a summer school before so I pretty much had no idea what to expect an all I can say is that I had the best time. That’s why I want to share a bit of my experience here.
Sunday, on the 22nd of July, I caught a flight by myself from Bucharest to London Heathrow. At the airport a numerous team of Millfield staff greeted me and others that were arriving that day, making sure that everyone got to the right campus safely. Millfield has three campuses: Street, Bruton and Glastonbury. Street (the campus I chose to go to) is one big family made up from almost 500 students with ages between 12 and 17!
The coach ride was a little over two hours long, meaning that I arrived at around 7pm, just in time for dinner. Afterwards, I was guided to Southfield, the house I lived in for two weeks with 40 other girls under the supervision of two lovely houseparents: Livvy and Ellie. My first impression was: “Oh my god, this place is huge!”. The walk to Southfield seemed so long that all I could think of was how I was going to get lost the following day, but after going around a couple of times I managed to learn where everything was. There were about 14 houses for boys and girls around the campus, grouped in different areas.
Before I left for Millfield, I already knew what the biggest challenge would be. The only other Romanian girl on campus was a few years younger (so we barely even met), meaning that I had no one to speak to in my mother tongue or who I had previously known. Usually, students stuck with others from their country or with the group they arrived with. The majority were Argentines (about 150), followed by French, Germans, Russians, etc. During the first two days, I found myself walking or eating by myself quite frequently. However, I soon started talking to more and more people with whom I shared activities and got to know the girls in my house, so the loneliness disappeared. All I needed was patience and to be ready to get out of my comfort zone.
The timetable was pretty straightforward: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were normal days, while on Wednesdays and Saturdays we left the campus for excursions. Wake up time was at 7:15, everyone from the house being downstairs in the common room by 8, ready to leave for breakfast. Three hours of English lessons were held from 9 to 12:30, with breaks for happenings in between. The lunch break lasted one hour, followed by 2 and a half hours of academies. Between academies and dinner (at 6pm), various clubs were available and during the evenings social and multi-campus events or activities were lots of fun to participate in. Lights out was at 23:00.
On the first day our English level in speaking, writing and grammar was tested in order to make sure that every student was placed in the right class. During one of the breaks, a welcoming talk was hosted in the big conference room by Mark Greenow-the director of the holiday courses. Mark used to stroll around the campus in his golf car and made sure that everyone was having a fun time. I think that we all grew to love him!
When I was booking the courses a few months back, I had a hard time choosing my academies because of the many options: horse riding, swimming, sports & recreation, mind – body and soul, cooking, prep for UK schools (just to name a few). For the first week I decided to take on Leaders of the Future. The main focus of the academy was teamwork, alongside other captivating subjects: how to build your own tribe using social media as a tool, how to inspire others through your own actions or how a flash mob works. On Friday, as a final test of our teamwork and leadership skills, we had to form teams and create a video manifesto on a given topic.
The second week I was in athletics-which was so much fun! I did high jump for the first time, practiced long jump, hurdles and sprints, all while spending joyful moments with the coaches and friends. Students at Millfield are known to excel in sports, therefore the school has numerous sports facilities: outdoor & indoor tennis courts, football and hockey pitches, basketball courts, athletics track, gym, golf field and others!
Full-day excursions took place on Wednesdays, so we went to Cardiff and Thorpe Theme Park in London. My only complaint is that the bus rides were too long compared to the time we had available when we got there. For example, the bus rides to and from Thorpe Park were close to three hours each, while we only had three to four hours to enjoy the roller-coasters.
Half-day excursions were scheduled for Saturday afternoons: Bath and the Lyme Regis beach area. On these shorter trips I went together with my teacher (Franceska aka the COOLEST teacher ever!!) and my class, who made the long bus rides bearable. Over the two weeks during which we spent our mornings in a classroom learning in the most unconventional ways possible, we bonded and became friends in no time. Franceska also brought us closer as a class by always making us discuss, debate and play games on the topics she had prepared. I have to say, that if I were to have been in another class, I would’ve missed out on SO many memories and crazy, weird moments (in the best way possible)!
Awards and nominations were given by teachers and members of staff and if you showed them to Mark, he would give you a t-shirt: Mark’s Crew (which I have) or Top Banana! We were each given a CVO (Course & Vocabulary Organiser) to use both as a diary and a notebook for the lessons. At the end of the final week, there was a contest for the best CVO in the whole school, and Mark picked out mine as the winner!
Apart from happenings, meal breaks and all of the other daily activities, the social events were by far some of the most memorable! Some of my favourites have to be the Rock Festival, which took place on the field next to my house, the Millfield Olympics (in which Southfield came 3rd whoop whoop!), House Parties and the International Food Festival.
But, the saddest moments were always shared at the Disco on Saturday night, because it was the last time you had the chance to spend time with the everyone. And even though I said I wasn’t going to cry, tears were rolling on almost everyone’s faces as we were hugging goodbye.
The MELHC slogan is “Better Together”, and I can see why. These two weeks at Millfield offered me the amazing opportunity to meet and connect with people from all over the world, to strengthen my English speaking and communication skills. It was and will always be one of the most memorable experiences and I hope that some day I will see some of the people I’ve met again. A BIG thank you to everyone who made Millfield MELHC 2018 the best two weeks of my summer!!!
PS: If you want to see ALL the photos taken at Millfield this summer, check out The Zone(you can find me too in weeks 3&4 at Street): https://www.millfieldthezone.com/view-photo-walls.php?sid=6b9fd6e3d9bb1efb320121fc8a480001&year=2018