It was my many firsts, first airport experience, first flight experience, first trip without parents, first trip with my best friend (Diva!), first time staying at someone else’s place – in short, my first independent interaction with the world.
I was in 10th class when I got this opportunity to go on an exchange program to the United Kingdoms. 20 students from my school (I am from Vidyasharam!) went on this trip. And trust me I was the balloon of excitement for this trip. Firstly, because this was for the first time I’ll be going somewhere without the comfort of my parents around and secondly, because I was going there with my best friend Diva<3 .
My school believed there is more to education then just classroom learning therefore they let us go through the whole process of applying for visa to choosing which places to see in the country we knew nothing about independently with a very tacit guidance.
After all the formalities, processes, planning, packing, byes and cries, mid way teas and fries we found ourselves at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi to board our flight for Dubai. We were having our connecting flight from Dubai (again a new concept for my blank slated mind). At DBX, Dubai you’ll find like every brand possible in the world.
We flew for 6hrs from Dubai to London and landed at Gatewick. It was one rough landing. As soon as we were out of the airport, Diva and I were so delighted that we were just blabbering out “WE ARE IN LONDON <3”.
But the travelling did not stop here. We still had to drive for 3hrs to reach our destination, Polesworth.
Throughout the journey from London to Polesworth, we were just wowing over UK’s landscapes and systems. We even saw people carrying their caravans with their cars and we were very excited to see that.
Polesworth is a village in the U.K having a population of around 10k people. Here, all houses look alike.
At Polesworth school, we met our hosts. My host was Caitlin Doherty and I was so overwhelmed to see her (We had met before. She came to Jaipur when we were the hosts). I also met her mother, she used to teach at the same school. We took my luggage and headed to Caitlin’s house, mid-way they took me to a very cute bakery where I was asked to choose a cupcake but I was too shy to speak a word therefore Caitlin had to choose for me. We reached home and I was shown my room (Caitlin sacrificed her room for me for 7 days). The house was so warm and nice and clean. The setting was perfect. It was filled with books and they had a very nice backyard.
The one thing that was common in us was our love for tea. We would have a mug full of tea thrice a day and used to talk of how the day went on. Every morning I would have a British style breakfast and for dinner we would have pasta and other dishes that I don’t remember. Apart from this, the family I was staying with made me feel so much at home. They always used to take care that I am eating and enjoying my stay with them. They even ordered an Indian flavored pizza for me and took me to a very nice restaurant where I could have some Indian food. They had also cleaned their kitchen because they thought non-veg food might hurt my religious beliefs. I remember we always talking about the rains over the dinner. Everybody in India told me that Brits mostly like to be by themselves, that they don’t mingle or entertain people out of their schedules. But what I saw and felt was pretty different.
Bamm!! there too we had to go to school. Same schedule, morning 8, the school starts but the schedule for education was not really same. Apart from the main subjects like English, Math, History they had some optional subjects too like carpentry, baking class, fashion designing etc. And, oh what to say about their computer labs, it was no less than our IT offices, equipped with all kind of essentials from high speed internet to printers (Yes! It’s a luxury for us). Their library also had more books than any bookstore in India.
Polesworth school organized many events for us like cultural night and banner- making competition and everyday they would make dal-chawal for us in the canteen.
The school also organized a one-day trip to London. This was the much-awaited day as all were super excited to visit London.
My best memory of Polesworth was going to the Cadbury World (It was not in Polesworth. It was in Birmingham. My host family took me there.) and Snow Dome. I could have never ever in my life had imagined that I’ll ever see the factory of chocolates and that too Cadbury. As soon as you enter the place they’ll give you chocolates and there were many activities that you can do with chocolate, like write your name with it. I remember how chocolate buttons used to be the most famous commodity there. They had a shop where you can find lots of chocolate at very minimal price and people were buying chocolate easter eggs, chocolate football, chocolate shoe and what not.
The Cadbury World had a mini car which will took us around the room displaying the history of chocolate. They also had human size figurines showing how people processed chocolate.
This trip is a long long saga and will be continued in the next post…