2015 Sander Scholar, Clare McInerney-Heather

The thought of my trip to Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, Scotland was both exciting and a little bit daunting. Travelling across the world on my own was definitely a new experience for me and I hoped that I was going to manage it well. I left Ōtaki on a very sunny January 7th and travelled to Aberdeen via Auckland, Los Angeles and Heathrow. LA airport is not the most welcoming but I safely made it back onto the plane to Heathrow, London. Aberdeen was experiencing some of its worst flooding in history as I arrived and the airport had been closed a few hours earlier while the runway was repaired! I made it and was warmly welcomed by staff from Robert Gordon’s ­College. During my time in Aberdeen I stayed with their Head Girl, Morna Holmes, and was made to feel like one of their family. I arrived in the middle of winter and the temperatures were at times below 0 degrees. I found that even with my polypro, polar fleece and puffer jacket on I was still not quite warm enough! My first week was spent trying to get over jet lag (I had 6 nights with very little sleep) and spending time at the college. Robert Gordon’s College has 1,650 students from age 3 years in the nursery school through to 18 year olds in the senior school. I ­really ­enjoyed spending time with the younger students and they enjoyed hearing about NZ.

At the end of the first week I caught the train through to Edinburgh and spent an afternoon and night there. I really loved Edinburgh and was able to have dinner at the restaurant which was the building where JK Rowling wrote the first of the Harry Potter books.

I then had a 3 day tour of the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye which reminded me a lot of the scenery of New Zealand. I was hoping to see the Northern Lights but unfortunately the timing didn’t work for this.

While in Aberdeen I was able to meet up with Benjamin Osugo, the 2015 Ōtaki Scholar, who had stayed with my family. It was really good to catch up with him again.

My 2 weeks away were a fantastic experience for me. I have made new friendships and it has given me a desire to travel more.

I would like to thank Shelley Macrae of Sander Ties for providing this ­scholarship and to Ōtaki College for the support that was also given to me. I highly recommend this scholarship to other students. See more of Clare's photos here.

Clare McInerney-Heather

Ōtaki College 2015 Head Girl and Sander Scholar