It was 06.15am and Michela was awake. Kate’s alarm went off and she got up and woke up Francesca who was fast asleep. We sleepily got dressed and then had breakfast in the kitchen. A not-so traditional English breakfast of an apple, a yogurt, Babybel cheese and strawberries. Yum!
We set off at 07.15 for the bus and it was lovely and fresh outside. We bought three subscriptions (a 10 trip ticket pass each) for the bus and Kate, bear in mind that it was super early, couldn’t understand what the bus driver said. She then realised after three repetitions that he had said: Young persons or adults? So after this we sat on the top deck again and talked about lots of road vocabulary! As it was peak time there were a lot of traffic jams but we arrived in good time.
When we got into Norwich and we had half an hour to kill, so we helped Kate find a nice present bag for the Headmaster. We had prepared a lovely present of Italian pasta and Italian chocolate to say thank you for the invitation. Then Kate couldn’t remember exactly where the school was, so we followed the green and white uniformed students all the way to the school.
Notre Dame High School, which has been a school since 1864, is in the centre of Norwich and it’s a selective Catholic School from Years 7 to 12 (ages 11-18). We arrived at the reception and had great fun having our picture taken for the visitor cards. We met the Headmaster (with the present) and we were briefed about our day and the times and subjects by the safeguarding senior member of staff who was our host and gave us a wonderful tour.
Feeling nervous, we attended assembly with all the Year 12s and really enjoyed the topic of the assembly. It was about forgiveness and world events and relating it to the bible and Jesus who forgave those who did him wrong. The students were all interested and very focused. All of the staff so far had been so lovely and friendly.
The first lesson was Physics, which turned out to be one of the best, and we sat among the students who were studying Newton’s Third Law and reviewing a mock test. The teacher was incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about his subject and made the lesson very interesting as he explained everything so well.
We then changed after half an hour to Philosophy in which the students were revising for an exam. We got to talk to the students and get to know the school ins and outs and subjects in more detail. The students were all lovely and also the teachers.
After we had a French lesson which was very interesting but only Kate could make out what was going on as she was the only one who had studied French at school. However, the lesson was very interactive with lots of resources and the students were very good – it was taught in a bilingual way.
Spanish was also very interesting and they were going through a mock test with a listening part and they were talking about grammar and the exam. It was nice to see the room and the students who were very into Spanish.
Then we finally had a break for 15 minutes and we ate in the staff room and got to talk to some teachers who were so lovely and helpful.
Then we had Art and it was fascinating to see the portfolios that the students had made and painted. We were lost for words! The art was spectacular! A student from the class took us to the Biology department and he was really talkative.
Biology was definitely one of the best lessons and the most memorable as we had two students as teachers! Gab and Alex were geniuses! They helped us refresh our memories of the difference between Meiosis and Mitosis. They were so good at explaining everything and we had so much fun and a good laugh. We also spoke to them about their future, the classes and the school.
Then we had lunch in the canteen. We had prepared a packed lunch beforehand so we ate it with our host in the centre of the canteen like a teacher. A traditional British lunch of sandwiches, crisps and fruit! We really enjoyed the break and got to talk to a range of teachers who were eating fish and chips and lasagna.
Next we had English literature which was really relaxing and creative as the teaching style was very laid back and chatty. The topic was about love poems and stories. The students asked us a lot of questions about ourselves and it was great to chat to them and practice our English! The REAL English that we need!
Then we were shown to the English Language and Literature class and at this point we felt drained and tired. It was very analytical and serious, but interesting. The students seemed to be really into the topic.
We then had half an hour of Psychology which was amazing because the desks had built-in computer compartments which magically popped up! They were revising for a Mock Test too and two students spoke to us a lot about their life, studies and school. It was amazing to talk to them!
The last lesson, we almost crawled to as we were out of energy, was History and this was intense and very analytical due to the topic of Civil War and Oliver Cromwell in the UK and preparing for the test.
At the end of the school day we felt so happy and extremely grateful to the staff and students at Notre Dame High school for the wonderful tour and visit. Everyone was so friendly, helpful, lovely and so passionate about teaching and learning. The differences we noticed the most are that: in the UK they have more resources, the teachers are much more open and friendly and specialized in their particular subject, the school days are much longer than ours (from 08.30-15.30) and they have to wear uniforms and change class for every subject so you have to know your way around the school! It was fantastic! The best experience ever!
We got the bus home, had a rest for a few hours in our amazing bedrooms and then played football with Kate’s nephew: Harry who is three years old. He is SO adorable! We also spent time with Kate’s family and had lemonade and tea.
For dinner we had Domino’s Pizza! Kate had gluten-free cheese and tomato, Francesca had pineapple and ham and Michela had vegetarian. It actually was very delicious! Not bad at all. Now we are watching a film and going over the new vocabulary we learnt today…. Which was about five pages!!
Kate was extremely content because everyone thought she was a 17-year-old student all day and not a teacher! 10 years younger than she is and very happy with these comments!
Amazing time. Love every second.