Four Colorado Academy Fifth Grade students recently traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, escorted by Fifth Grade teachers Buck McKenna and Sara Wachtel. Their trip was part of CA’s Travel and Exchange Program. The students attended two weeks of classes at the independent school, Erskine Stewart’s Melville School. When they returned, we asked Jack Shapiro, Liam Driver, Georgia Roberts, and Jane Prall to share some of their experiences.
All of you say that you felt very welcome in your host homes and at school. How did people make you feel welcome?
Jane: I was matched with a girl named Beth, and we had Skyped and Facetimed before I ever left Colorado, so it wasn’t scary. She was really nice, and we could even walk to school.
Jack: My host took me all around the city, and we even went into tunnels under the city on a tour called “Ghosts and Ghouls.” It was really cool to see places from 600 B.C. You had to ask, “How is that still standing?”
Liam: My host took us to a Christmas market that had rides like an amusement park. We also visited Doune Castle.
Georgia: It was a different world from home, but not so different that I felt scared or nervous. It was just the right amount of different. And it was so much better than going as a tourist, because you got to live in someone else’s shoes.
How did the school feel different—or the same—as CA?
Liam: There was a lot of emphasis on discipline in the classrooms. The teachers had systems to reward and punish. If you were good, you got a marble. If you did something bad, like not listening, you would lose a marble.
Georgia: It felt more formal than CA. At CA, we feel like we can talk with our teachers. There, it seemed like there was more of a wall between students and teachers.
Jack: At CA, we can make a joke or laugh in class, but there if someone made any kind of noise while the teacher was talking, they would be called out.
Jane: What was interesting was that they were studying the same things we are. When we were there, we worked on fractions and when we came home, we were working on fractions!
The students at the Scottish school wore uniforms, so you wore uniforms while you were there. How was that?
Jack: I loved the uniform! It meant I didn’t have to wake up in the morning and figure out what I was going to wear that day.
Georgia: Same with me, I loved it.
Jane: I feel like my clothes express my personality, so when I can’t pick my own clothes, it makes me feel a little bit boring.
Liam: The upside was that the uniform was comfortable to wear. The downside was that you didn’t feel exactly like yourself without your own clothes. My host was astonished that we can wear whatever we want to school.
Did your Scottish hosts learn anything from you?
Liam: They learned that we don’t eat pizza every day in the United States.
Georgia: My exchange buddy learned to do an American accent by copying me!
Would you recommend this trip to future CA Fifth Graders?
Jack: Yes! It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
Liam: You can always go to Scotland again, but you can’t go to school and study and meet people. Once you are an adult, you will have a different perspective.
Jane: If you went to Scotland as a tourist, you would have to rely on the Internet to tell you where to go and visit. Our families knew what we would enjoy. I made so many friends. I just hope I have a chance to see them again.
Georgia: It’s such an amazing opportunity. I got a little homesick one day, but our CA teachers were there to comfort me and remind me that it’s normal to be homesick. Being away from your parents prepares you for life!
The CA students who traveled to Scotland will host their Scottish exchange buddies when they travel to the United States in April.