Brigthon, here we come!

It all started on Monday morning (20/3/2023) , when we met the other 9th-graders in front of our school, got our luggage into the bus trunks and drove off. The teachers had checked our passports three times before departure because we were the first group to enter Britain after Brexit and some of us even needed a visa. We were all so excited about going to Brighton, so that time went by really fast! It was quite a long drive to Belgium where we were supposed to take the ferry from Dunkirk. Since our bus drivers had to deal with immigrations, we took the chance to stroll around the duty free shop, which was rather boring, but we took the first pictures. Finally, we were allowed to get on board. A few students had never been on a ferry before so it was quite an adventure. Some people felt nauseous on the ferry because they were scared and the ferry was shaking a bit. We were able to move freely on the ferry, there was food to buy and a video room to play. We all had gotten a voucher from the bus driver to get lunch and we queued up with about three other classes from Germany and also from England, just like good Britons. There was an English group of younger students and they played some jeopardy quiz with their teachers. They were very friendly and some of us played along and scored points too. That was fun.

Then we arrived at Dover! We could see the Dover Cliffs and Dover Castle from the ferry deck and took the direct route to Brighton. After another 3 to 4 hours, we arrived in Brighton, let off the students who stayed in the hostel with their teachers and continued our journey to a suburb outside of Brighton. At the meeting point, the host families were waiting for us and everyone was assigned to their host family. We were so excited and happy to be in families with our friends. My friends and I stayed with the Stacys who were a very nice family. They had a son and a dog, and we got on very well with the family. Our host family’s house was exactly as I had imagined it; it reminded me of the houses in the Paddington film.

On Tuesday, our first day in England, we took the local train to the city center because our drivers needed to rest after the long trip. The trains were very old and not comparable to the railways in Germany. Our schedule said we would first do a rally in Brighton and then visit the Royal Pavillon and the i360 observation deck in the afternoon. The city of Brighton is a typical pretty English sea town with a long pier and many beautiful old building at the sea side. What made Brighton so special to me, however, and what I liked best, was the Royal Pavilion. The Royal Pavilion was built by King George IV, then the Prince of Wales, between 1815 and 1823 as a summer residence. The outside looks like an Indian Mogul Palace and the inside the Pavillon is decorated in Chinese style which is quite an interesting mix and reminds the visitor of Britain’s important role in the world, the British Empire. Walking around the Pavilion was a really nice experience because you could walk through almost every room, see the art, the original furniture and some of the clothes of the Royals. Afterwards we had some free time to get lunch and then we met at the bottom of the Brighton i360. It is an observation tower made by British Airways right at the sea side and it was a very cool experience because you had a view of the whole city. Before we were taken back home to our host families, we strolled around the beach and the pier.

On Wednesday we went on our day trip to London, so we met very early and drove to London which took about 3 hours due to heavy traffic. The first attraction we saw in London was the Tower of London, it was amazing what a good condition everything was was. We walked around the Tower, inside some of its towers and also saw the Crown Jewels of the Royal Family, it was incredibly beautiful. At 1 p.m. we went on a boat tour on the Thames to get to the City of Westminster. On our way there, the guide on board showed us some famous sights, like the Globe Theatre, the Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin, the Shard, Tate Gallery, the London Eye etc. When we got off at Westminster Bridge, we saw the Houses of Parliament, Elizabeth Tower (formerly known as Big Ben) and Westminster Abbey. In real life, Elizabeth Tower is much bigger than in the pictures in our books. We walked down Whitehall, saw some horse guards and to Trafalgar Square, where we had some time to explore the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to explore the city on our own because we were scheduled to meet at the London Eye at 4 p.m.. My favorite thing about London were the sweets, there were a lot to choose from but the sweets were very expensive. At 4 p.m., all classes and teachers took a ride inside the capsules of the London Eye and had a great view of London. Afterwards we got something to eat and went back to Tower Hills by ferry to drive back to Brighton. It took us a long time to get back to Brighton because the bus driver got lost a few times, but then we finally arrived there and were picked up by our hosts. We all were a bit disappointed because we had hoped to see more of London, but there is always a next time!

On our last day of the trip, we went to visit Eastbourne, another famous sea town close to Brighton. The bus took us up to the cliffs where it was very windy but at the same time very beautiful. All 114 students and 10 teachers hiked back along the cliffs to get to the city centre of Eastbourne. The hike was easy but you have to be careful. There are fences in some places because if you fall off the cliffs, you will die. After about an hour, we got to Eastbourne. We were allowed to move around in the town in groups so we ate something and went shopping. Some of us liked Eastbourne better than Brighton because it is smaller and there were nice places to eat. In the evening, it was time to pack our bags for the next day.

The journey back to Germany was very much the same like on Monday and we reached Offenbach at about 10 p.m.. Our families had already been waiting for us and we were all happy to be back!

All in all, we had a nice time in Brighton, and it was exciting to experience the British life style and see some places in real life.

Hüseyin (9b) / Rus