2019: Lauren Blakeley

From the warm summer of Ōtaki to the freezing city of Aberdeen, this trip was sure to be a change in weather - however that definitely didn’t take away from the trip of a lifetime. After over two days of flying I was greeted at Aberdeen Airport by my host sister Piper Kerr and her family, who I would be staying with throughout my trip.

My first week in Scotland was spent at Robert Gordon's College getting to experience Scottish schooling and culture. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful, which made a daunting experience in such a massive school much easier. I spent the afternoons/nights with Piper and her friends and family, attending things such as sports games and practices which was right up my alley.

From my time at Robert Gordon's I found that there was a few differences between our two colleges but more similarities. Robert Gordon's is a much larger, grander school with large, stone, multiple story buildings. However I found both colleges shared a similar culture of friendliness and welcome. The teacher/student relationships were also very strong and classes had a very inviting feel to them. I also noticed that the curriculum is quite similar. Whether I was spending time in the senior school shadowing Piper or spending time in the junior school I always felt welcomed and a part of the college.

I spent numerous days in the junior school and nursery at Robert Gordon's College which is something I thoroughly enjoyed. The children were all so friendly and interested to know about me and New Zealand.

The next week, Harriet, a gap student from Scotch College in Adelaide Australia, and I set out on a tour around Scotland. Starting out in Glasgow we were met by previous head girl of Robert Gordon's, Morna Holmes. We were lucky enough to be shown around the city by Morna. Visiting Glasgow University, which was awesome and also catching the subway along with lots of cool other things.

The next morning Harriet and I started a three day tour of the Isle of Skye. This was an amazing experience that took us around the highlands, visiting lots of beautiful castles, and places such as the Harry Potter bridge and Lochness. The views and scenery were absolutely beautiful. We were lucky enough to experience all sorts of Scottish winter weather such as, thunder and lightning, snow, hail, and lots of rain and wind.

After the tour we spent a day in Edinburgh exploring the city. I enjoyed visiting the Edinburgh castle, going to the National Museum and catching up with a family friend who showed us around her favourite parts of Edinburgh.

The next day back in Aberdeen I got to decide what I would like to do for my last day at Robert Gordon's. I chose to spend the morning with my favourite primary class, the seven year olds with Mrs Robertson. After that I spent the afternoon with Piper and her friends in senior school. At break time we went to one of their year 13 house competitions which was really fun. To finish off my last day at school I had a farewell meeting with Mr Mills, principal, and Walter Stephen, the Ōtaki Scholar from 1967, who I had met previously in 2018 when he traveled to New Zealand with Cameron Stephen.

My last day in Scotland was spent exploring Aberdeen with my host family. I would like to thank Piper and her family for hosting me. They were absolutely amazing and went out of there way to make sure I had the most amazing trip and I really appreciate that.

I was sad to see the end of this trip of a lifetime and would like to also sincerely thank Shelly from Sander Ties, Matua Andy and Ōtaki College, and everyone at Robert Gordon's. I have made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime and am beyond grateful for being given this opportunity.

Lauren Blakeley, 2019 Head Girl and Sander Scholar