Mitchell, Schools Assistant, UK

 

Mitchell's first weeks abroad in the UK with Lattitude!

Hello all,
Salisbury is going fantastically well, the weather is freezing as expected but we have had some sunny days which were amazing!
The flight over was extremely tiring and the delays began at Auckland when we couldn’t hop off the plane for 20 minutes with no terminals free. That set us back instantly giving us little time before the next leg. I scoffed down a burger from Mcdonalds and had half a frozen coke which just had to do. Then to customs we went and i got pulled over and my bag searched (Would be me). Then straight away boarded the plane. It was a long flight but time went quick looking back. Singapore Airport was massive and i would have loved to explore it or take the city tour but i was exhausted and knew rest was needed before the next leg. So for $36 i and a couple of others checked into a transit lounge which had heaps of hot and cold food with plenty of drinks available too. Here we had a chance to rest as well! 6-7 hours later was the longest flight. 14 hours…certainly felt long too!!!
I struggled to get any naps on this flight making time go extremely slow. Flying over those amazing cities like Istanbul (Turkey), Milan (Italy), Hanover (Germany) and Brugge (Belgium) was awesome at night because we saw all the lights below and made the whole flight worth it. London gave us an iconic welcoming with rain. Customs was a breeze, the line took a while but there was no questioning about where abouts i was going, how long? etc, which was surprising. It was real cold outside waiting for the coach to come, a sleety rain come towards us so we all got sacharated. Going on the coach was cool as, seeing all the double deckers, black taxi’s, red telephone boxes etc. The hostel we stayed at was in a great location. It was in Islington, right near the Wax museum so that afternoon myself and a coupe of others went there which was such awesome fun! Then the rest of orientation went real well too, the group of volunteers are all real friendly people and the staff from Lattitude UK are real helpful. 

 

We sorted out our bank accounts and things like that together. On the Wednesday morning after a real good night sleep we went on a tour of London around Buckingham Palace, London Eye (Which i can’t wait to do), Big Ben and Trafalger Square which is a tad more impressive than the one in Wanganui. On the Thursday morning we all packed and headed off in small groups to various stations or airports depending on where our placements were located. I went to Waterloo Station with 8 others. Getting there was a mission in itself, lugging suitcases through the wet streets, (Luckily it wasn’t raining at that time). Then onto the tubes which id already fallen in love with the day before. Although slightly dangerous and dirty they are so efficeint and fun! Once at Waterloo our group of 8 then split off onto various trains at different times. I had to wait about an hour for mine but by the time you get something to eat and drink time goes real fast in a packed place like that. The train was nice. We went through some nice country side but to be completely honest NZ’s country side is nicer than the brief area i saw. It took 90mins to Salisbury. I got met by Sandy who is one of the secretary’s here at SCS (My placement) and Ben who is the other mail gappie (he arrived two hours before me). The town is so amazing and quaint with lots of nice shops with huge variety! My favourite shop is Poundland which if converted is equvilant to our $2 shop in NZ. The world famous Salisbury Cathedral is literally 200m from my bedroom which is simply amazing. The ‘Close’ i live in is gated with castle like walls around the grounds. I have a nice view over the grassy back grounds from my bedroom window which gets all day sun (on those rare sunny days).

 

 All the staff are super friendly and helpful. Im slowly learning more and more childrens names, especially the borders who i look after some mornings and nights. The parents are all extremely friendly and welcoming. The first few nights here were spent at the pub. Theres a few nearby in the village centre but the one all staff tend to use is called the, “New Inn” which is a real nice, iconic english pub which also has a nice fire in the back courtyard. I am yet to buy a single drink with all the staff being so kind which is much appreciated. The four of us gappies (Myself, Ben, Bianca & Courtney) have got on so well. We have been together a week and yet it feels like forever! Such a good group! Shockingly iv only been here a week but already addicted to drinking tea. Literally 6 a day is normal. We got our timetables sorted the other day and it makes life so much easier. Our duties include: predominantly the games department and boarding house (morning and night), then smaller duties like guiding choristers to the cathedral, helping in pre prep (age 3-6). Also the arts department and matroning duty. My day off is currently monday plus then some weekends off as well. This term consists of 4 weeks, one week off for half term then 4 weeks again. Yesterday i took a year 4 hockey team to an away match against supposedly a very strong side. Our team was inexperienced compared to the opposition. The first half ended 0-0 and to be fair we were getting dominated but still competing reasonably well. I decided to call on my football experience and implemented some football structures. It payed huge dividends with the team winning 4-0 in the end. The deep pep talk at halftime worked wonders and the oppostion coach was shocked. All the staff back at school were amazed at our result which was nice. So in the flat we have three bathrooms and five bedrooms, the four gappies each have one and then Jack has one who is a trainee teacher. He’s about 24 and a real nice guy! The food here is amazing i must also point out. Its like a cruise ship with just constant food and sweets always seem to appear in the flat kitchen which is great.

 

My experience so far has been incredible and I have nothing bad to say.
I can’t stress enough how helpful the Lattitude staff were when we arrived and how organised they were. I’m hardly a pro volunteer yet but if you are even slightly considering taking a gap year in 2015 I’d say go for it! It’s an absolutely magnificent experience!
Cheerio,
Mitchell Sherman.