Round Square Exchange to Keystone Academy, Beijing
By Camille Firmenich, Grade 8, Dover Campus
Round Square exchanges are amazing opportunities to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people and experience new things. In April 2019, I left for a two-week exchange at Keystone Academy in Beijing. After a couple of weeks of planning, I flew off to Beijing. This was my first time travelling completely alone and I have to admit, it was a bit nerve-wracking going to a country I had never been to before, where I spoke the language only to a small extent.
After a delayed flight, an emergency landing in Hong Kong and two hours of waiting time, I finally landed in Beijing. The first thing I noticed was the amount of people. It was crazy. The line for immigration was extremely long. After a 30 minute car ride, I arrived at the school. I was very surprised because the school was not very big but it looked like a university. The walls were bricks and there were nice green places all around. It was very different from UWCSEA.
All of the girls from my dorm floor were incredibly kind and welcoming and very eager to meet both me and my friend who had arrived earlier. This was my first time experiencing boarding life and even though I enjoyed it, I know that it is not for me.
On the first day, I noticed that the food options here were very limited. There was an Asian counter and a western counter. I was so used to having countless options at UWCSEA that after a week, I had already tried most of the food that they served.
Nethertheless, it was very tasty and I got to try food that I had never tried before!
It was a bit hard making friends at first because of the language barrier and even though they all spoke English, most of them would speak Chinese with their friends. After a couple of days though, I got used to it.
Overall, I had an amazing two weeks in China, making lifelong friendships and discovering Chinese culture. I learned about myself and that even though I had a tough time at first, I really enjoyed it later on.
If you are thinking of signing up for a Round Square exchange, I 100% recommend it. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn about yourself, to develop personal growth and a intercultural understanding.
UWCSEA is a Global member of Round Square, a world-wide association with over 160 member schools in 40 countries. Students attending Round Square schools share a commitment beyond academic excellence, to personal development and responsibility. Learn more here.