EXCHANGES, SCHOOLTRIPS, Uncategorized

BIGMUN 2018

Learning and debating about world issues while meeting lots of like-minded students our age – we had a great time during the first week after the February half-term. A group of 16 of us travelled to Denmark to take part in BIGMUN. We travelled to the school on the driverless metro and were very well greeted by staff on our arrival.

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The opening ceremony really kickstarted the whole event, and we were honoured to listen to the inspirational words of a special guest and incredible speaker, Christian Friis Bach, the Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council.

BIGMUN is a conference hosted by the MUN (Model United Nations) Society of Birkerød Gymnasium, situated in the beautiful Danish countryside and just 25 minutes from the centre of Copenhagen. Although we cannot compare this conference to any other, we were very impressed with the organisation of the event all round, especially as it was primarily organised by students. It was a truly international event with over 400 participants coming from local and international schools in Denmark, Europe, America and Asia.

Through simulated UN conferences, students are able to debate numerous international issues in the manner of the actual parliamentary procedures of the real UN, which promotes international awareness and understanding, as well as being a platform for forming friendships through educational and cultural enrichment. As delegates we had to carry out research before the conference and formulate the positions that we then debated in the committee, staying true to the actual position of the member we represented. This year our school represented Italy and Sweden.

We were also very lucky to have seen some snow but nice and sunny weather as well. As part of the conference programme, we went on a canal tour of Copenhagen which was very interesting, and discovered more of the city walking around the centre that afternoon. On the last day we stayed the night at a hostel in Copenhagen, some of us visited the little mermaid and in the evening we all had great dinner at a cosy restaurant a short walk from where we were staying.

We want to thank Birkerød Gymnasium for hosting this fantastic event, Mrs Meredith for organising this trip, Mrs. Nicholson for accompanying us and a special thanks to our own host Niels and his family!

By Julia Whitehead and Aitana Verdú

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EXCHANGES

Going on an Exchange: A Student’s Perspective

Have you ever wondered what it is like to wake up in a completely different country than your own and going to a different school with different people? That’s exactly what hundreds of European School studenexchangets are living every year. Six exchange students from all over Europe tell us about their story at our school in Alicante.

“The people you get to meet were definitely the best thing so far”, most of them said. It is an incredible experience to meet new friends, explore their culture and discover the city they live in. Everyone greatly enjoyed the summer temperatures in December, the beach, all school trips and evening activities. Wherever you go you will be amazed by the way of living in your exchange country. The differences can be so overwhelming that they open up a completely new way of perceiving the world around you!

You acquire more skills than you think!

Academic work is fairly similar in most European schools. What you really learn is something completely different. You learn how to manage time and money, you gain independence and you become able to rapidly adapt to change and to find a way out of tough situations. You answer questions about yourself you had never even asked, you master the skill of opening up to others and daring to speak that third or fourth language you have chosen. Believe it or not, “you learn a great deal of Spanish only by engaging in idle chit chat!”. And even though you are only travelling to one specific place it makes you realise how immense the world is and how much there is still to discover.

Challenges you face

Not everything is a piece of cake. Just the fact that you are in a different country by yourself for the first time is quite scary. Travelling on your own is not easy and not having anybody to talk to about your worries sometimes makes you feel lost and alone. But you soon realise that there are so many people in your host family and at school who are ready to help! Many of them will become close friends and you will quickly feel at home. And just like that, what looks like a huge mess of fears, worries and inexperience turns into the most exciting semester you’ll ever experience at school!

It is perfectly fine to miss your home, friends and family sometimes!

After a few weeks, when you’ve got used to the new environment and you are engaged in countless activities in and outside school there is hardly any time to miss your family! Some don’t miss their home at all! But after 4 months you do naturally miss them a little. All were keen on staying, but were also looking forward to going back to their home country. “There’s nothing wrong with missing your family”, they said, “it’s another side of an exchange that makes it an unforgettable experience”.

What about our school as an exchange destination?

Although the school is much smaller than most schools like Brussels or Munich, it is seen as a great advantage! You aren’t always late, you’re not constantly rushing through the hallway and it is very nice when all the students know each other so well.  “Your school is so small and cozy!” they say. The whole community, including students and teachers, are very welcoming.

“We would recommend going on an exchange to everyone!”

It does require some extra work, which can become a struggle if you’re not well organised. But everything you need to go on an exchange you will learn when you’re already there! It is an eye-opening experience which everyone should have the opportunity to live. “It has boosted our confidence and we’ve made friends for life”

by Aitana Verdu (S7DE)
A special thanks to all exchange students having contributed to this article: Romane (Strasbourg – Year 4), Sofia (Munich – Year 4) , Mia (Bruxelles II -Year 5), Anissa (France- Year 5), Emma (Bergen – Year 5) and Katrinna (Bruxelles II – Year 5)