Beauchamp College has maintained a successful partnership with the prestigious Eton College for several years. We have run a joint exchange project where six students from Eton College have spent a week with us to experience college life and have been hosted by Beauchamp students and their families. During the same week six of our students have spent a week at Eton College and have been immersed into life in a boarding school.
Diary extracts from the Spring 2017 exchange
Today we arrived at Eton after a pleasant bus journey (including a service break at Subway). When we arrived we were introduced to the students we were going to exchange with. After we were shown to our rooms so that we could leave our luggage, we were given a brief tour of the immediate surroundings. After this, we went for lunch with our new housemates who were friendly and welcoming. This was followed by an hour session of kayaking which involved getting very wet! This took us up until 3:30. The first true lesson we attended was physics, something which we could understand due to the similarities to the Beauchamp syllabus. The final events of the day were the tutorial, where we got to speak to other Etonians with drinks and food, followed by prayers which was a relatively informal affair which included a chilli eating contest!
Sohan and Priyesh
We arrived just before lunch, were greeted by our Etonian counterparts (who were heading to Beauchamp), and took a quick tour around some of the nearby buildings. The school is less of a school and more of a university, with a campus that makes up much of the town. However, it seems that almost every one of the numerous buildings is rife with historical significance.
All of the boys with whom we have met have been very welcoming and haven’t hesitated to help us, offering guidance when we get lost and organising our schedule such that we have a week during which we may experience a multitude of aspects of life here. They are actually quite similar to us, and not as the stereotypes might suggest; although they grow up to a backdrop of ancient architecture and traditions, the way in which they interact is no different to us.
Today I attended lessons in Maths and Art, both of which I do not take at Beauchamp, but it was nonetheless an interesting introduction into an Eton education.
Thus far the experience has offered an interesting opportunity to gain an insight into what is a very different style of schooling.
This morning we went down to an assembly, which was held in the rather grand School Hall, before heading to lessons. I was able to try History of Art and Politics, the latter of which I found very interesting, and an English lesson. Fortunately, they were studying Othello, as I have done at Beauchamp, thus I was able to follow the lesson more so than had been the case with the other subjects.
After lunch we had the chance to experience a particularly unique aspect of Eton: ‘Field Game’. The sport is only played at Eton, and preserves much of the traditional rules of how football would originally have been played. These rules were somewhat complicated, but it was enjoyable enough to watch.
The Beauchamp boys were able to meet up shortly afterwards and we played ‘fives’ – a game similar to squash, but using gloves, not rackets.
In the evening, there was another chance to experience a different aspect of Eton, as we attended a Classical society. It was a talk – lasting about an hour – on classical poetry. Whilst I wasn’t able to follow the entirety of the talk, as I don’t take the subject, it was a unique experience. Moreover, the setting for the talk was the Classical Civilisation library (unlike Beauchamp, Eton offer individual libraries for each subject, along with a larger, general library) which was brilliant to see, with it containing a variety of impressive works in an equally impressive room.
After an exciting first day, my first night staying at Eton was a good one until we were woken up at 6:45 by the fire alarm! Luckily I was able to go back to sleep before having to be up for breakfast at 7:50. In my morning lessons I had physics and chemistry which were very different to these lessons at beauchamp even though we were doing the same topics. The largest classs I was in was 12 people and the classes seemed to be based more on discussion, and due to the small number of students in these, there was an atmosphere of togetherness and that the students could more easily express their individuality. After these lessons it was on to lunch back at the house I was in, and then a free afternoon due to classes finishing at 1:15 on a Tuesday.
In the afternoon I went along to watch my house compete in field game and even though I did not understand the rules at all it was still enjoyable! I then met up with the other students from Beauchamp and we played fives. This is essentially playing squash with your hands and was first played in Eton. I still find it strange that there isn’t a time when you go home and that you are in school all day, everyday but it is clear to see the Eton boys in my house have formed great friendships with each other which would have otherwise not happened. Even if the group of boys are very close to each other they are all very welcoming to me and go against their stereotypes by being very kind and friendly and by being very similar to any normal teenage boy.
Today was our first full day and, strangely, it started with a younger Etonian knocking on our door asking if we wanted our lights switched on. At 7:45 we went down for breakfast in the house canteen where we were faced with a wide variety of choices ranging from fruit to sausages and beans.
The first lesson we attended was Chemistry from 9:00 until 9:40 where we studied a similar topic to the one we would have at Beauchamp this week. After this lesson we arrived back at our house where we had a chance to get to know our house mates further and wander around Eton which is almost the size of a small village! This took us up until lunch at 1:30 where we had spaghetti and smoked salmon. At 2:30 there was a field game between different houses scheduled so we went to watch the fierce competition unravel. The field game can be described as a mix between rugby and Sunday league football We were pleasantly surprised by the fact we met our fellow Beauchamp students for the first time. As a result we decided to catch up and play a game of “fives” which is similar to squash except using your hands with goalkeeper gloves.
In the evening, one of the houses put on a play in the Farrer Theatre which looked magnificent as it was lit up during the night. The play was called ‘Chips with everything’ and was a well attended performance with a good turnout including the parents of the Etonians, many other Eton students and subject teachers. It was an excellent piece of acting and a very professional eye catching performance.
Priyesh and Sidiq
Lessons this morning included Biology and a double in History of Art. I don’t take either of these subjects, so it was an interesting experience, with History of Art proving to be particularly enjoyable.
Following chambers (break) I had two free lessons during which I tried to catch up on some work form Beauchamp.
During the three-hour lunch break I met up with all of the other Beauchamp boys, and we made use of the available squash facilities, before two of us had to return in order to meet with our exchange students’ tutor. This meeting was very informal: We met in a nearby café to talk about our experience with the tutor and a handful of other students.
After supper we attended a play, which another house had prepared, held in the impressive Farrar Theatre. Eton’s school theatre is not dissimilar from the sort of thing one might expect from an actual venue, only on a slightly smaller scale. Perhaps the highlight of this was the presence of Sir Ian McKellen in the audience, something the boys had been excited about all week.
Upon our return to the house, we found the others standing in the corridor, which, as they explained, was due to a power-cut. With little else to do in the dark, I took the opportunity to get to bed and prepare for another day at Eton.
After an exciting start to the week, it was a massive learning curve as I adapted to the different lifestyle of the Eton students but nonetheless it was an interesting challenge and one that I was able to enjoy. Today, I began by attending an assembly in a very grand school hall where a fellow Etonian was giving a talk on the NFL and the unique rules behind it. I then went to my first lesson of the day which was double chemistry and it was quite similar to the way we study chemistry at Beauchamp. It was a fun lesson in which we did a practical and made observations on the reactions of organic compounds. One clear observation about the Eton lessons was the smaller class size and this was good as it meant as students we were given more attention from the teacher. All the students were friendly individuals who always offered to help show me around when I lost my way and were also willing to have conversations with me about how I was finding the exchange, and this has made me feel very welcome.
After this, I tried out a lesson that I don’t currently study which was theology which was a very interesting subject with many debates and thought provoking issues. Later in the day, I made use of the vast range of facilities by playing squash and also ‘fives’ which is the Etonian version of squash using hands. To end the day, I attended the Eton medical society which had Medical students who kindly gave up their time to run interesting activities including CPR training and testing for heart beats. It was a very valuable and useful experience which has taught me some key medical skills.
So far I have been able to experience some completely unique opportunities which I have found very enjoyable and satisfying.
Day 3 at Eton began with a big breakfast and then an assembly on the NFL, which wasn’t really what we expected before we got there. Morning lessons began with history of art, which was more interesting than I thought it would be, and then politics, which I’d never done before. While the teaching styles were quite different, the lessons were quite enjoyable, although it was unusual seeing people make notes on their laptops and Ipads as opposed to the classic pen and paper.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, Eton boys have a 3 hour lunch break from 1:15 to 4:15 and they then have lessons afterwards in the evening. I spent this time playing some squash with the other boys from Beauchamp and talking to the boys that were in the house I was staying in. I then had theology, which was quite different but had similarities to the philosophy and ethics we do at Beauchamp.
James and I then went to Costa with the tutor group of one of the boys on the exchange. This was quite a nice experience, as we got to talk to some boys we hadn’t met before and they asked us plenty of questions about Leicester and Beauchamp.
The meals were some of the best parts of the experience so far. There is a lot of variety and some very nice food, but it was also a great chance to talk to the boys in the house, as meals are quite a formal occasion where everyone in the house sat together. The boys were all very nice and were happy to talk about what life at eton was like for them, which helped to understand the differences and similarities between Beauchamp and Eton.
Today was my last full day and it was a very exciting day with lots of exciting things planned. I started the day with a walk down the road from Eton to visit Windsor alongside some of my fellow Beauchamp peers. We saw some very eye catching views and were able to visit some shops in the area. After that, all us Beauchamp students kindly received a tour of the college by some of the teachers. We were able to visit some interesting sights including the college library and the visitors centre which included facts and pictures of the college and its modernising over time. We also visited the college chapel which was absolutely breathtaking and it had a very unique shine due to its extremely remarkable design.
Later on, we finally got to experience the much anticipated rowing. It was a tough but exciting experience in which we had to work as a team to coordinate well whilst having to battle the cold weather. I had never done rowing before and my muscles were aching by the end of it but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and the fact it was the Olympic lake made it even more special. I also took part in water polo later in the day from which I had planned earlier in the week and this was also a very pleasant experience but also challenging as I again was taking part in a sport I hadn’t done before but it was quite enjoyable. To end the day, I went to a talk by a well respected politician about the impact of Brexit and Donald Trump. It was a very interesting and thought provoking talk which widened my perspective about what may come in the future. I am highly impressed with these societies and the fact that Eton are able to regularly bring in guests to broaden the knowledge and learning of students.
This morning, the loud alarm bell failed to awake me but luckily a boy entered my room 5 minutes later to turn on the light. Breakfast was a poached egg with beans, a muffin and a croissant, food which I would just not have time to eat on a usual school day.
A few of the Beauchamp boys met promptly after breakfast to walk to Windsor Castle. On the journey to the landmark, there were dozens of high street shops which were very close and accessible to the Etonians. Windsor Castle was a beautiful sight but due to the huge tourist queue, unfortunately we were unable to enter. After walking back down to my house (the Farrer House), I got a snack from Chambers, which is a mid-morning snack that changes daily.
Later on we were dropped off by the Eton rowing lake, a spectacular 2000 metre lake that was used as the 2012 Olympic Rowing Lake. Canoeing was a tiring yet worthwhile event that led to very cold hands and faces! After the 40 minute walk that led back to Eton, there was time for bonding with the Etonians in my house due to lessons finishing early on Thursdays.
Finally after dinner I attended a politics conference where a famous politician, Shirley Williams, who represents the Liberal Democrats came to talk to the students. She gave an insightful speech including her views on Brexit and Donald Trump. Overall it was an interesting event to round off a wonderful week at Eton.
My final full day at Eton started off with double maths and a reader (study period) in between. One way in which Eton varies from Beauchamp is that when you have a free period you do not go to a sixth-form centre where everyone else goes but you just go back to your room. After these lessons, there was a tour organised of the libraries and museums that there are in Eton. This gave us a chance to look at how Eton has varied over the years with respect to discipline and boarding. It was also interesting as it showcased the facilities that Eton can offer its students, for example in the College Library we were shown manuscripts that were hundreds of years old. After this, I met with the other Beauchamp students and we were driven to the rowing lake based near Eton which was used at the London 2012 Olympics. When we arrived we were introduced to our instructor whose son was an Olympic gold medallist! We were then given a basic course on rowing and canoeing and had a very enjoyable but wet experience out on the lake. At the end, we then walked to Eton via Windsor back to our houses.
As Thursday is another day when lessons finish at 1:15, we spent the afternoon socialising back at the house and had time to play table tennis before dinner. Tomorrow morning we have an interview with the headmaster before leaving back to Beauchamp. My week here has been good as it has been interesting to see the differences and similarities between Beauchamp and Eton and to also learn how students are essentially the same no matter what school they go to.
After breakfast in the house canteen we thought we would take the opportunity to visit Windsor having been told how spectacular the views of the Windsor Castle were. After having spent some time taking pictures of the castle we came across an eye-catching shopping complex where there were a variety of shops ranging from sweet shops to Pandora. Due to the fact we had a tour of Eton College scheduled for 11:45 we made our way back admiring the magnificent scenery of Windsor until our eyes were turned by the sight of McDonalds. As expected we couldn’t resist the temptation and so we made a quick stop there to grab a bite.
After we arrived back at the College, we began the tour of the college starting at the Eton Life Museum where there were pictures of the famous people who have attended Eton College at some point for instance: David Cameron and the King of Thailand! In addition to this there were a variety of souvenirs from years and even centuries ago! As I enjoy cricket a lot I was fascinated by the fact there were a large number of souvenirs from the annual cricket match held at Lords between Eton and Harrow! We then made our way to the Eton College library where there were books and scripts dating back to the 11th century transcribed on vellum. After this we visited a number of other places but the chapel was the building that stood out to me. The design was extraordinary and the layout was just wonderful. This took us up until lunch where we had a quick bite to eat and then we all got ready for rowing. One of the teachers took us down to the lake in a car where we were greeted by the Great Britain Olympic Rowing coach who then took us out into the lake for an hour or so. It was an amazing experience, one which I would try again except this time maybe in the summer, not when its extremely cold!
Unexpectedly we were made to make our own way back which was a 20-30 minute jog through the countryside along the River Thames.
After freshening up we then spent time with our fellow house mates as this was the last night until we left tomorrow morning.
After dinner there was a society scheduled which was a talk about Politics, Donald Trump and Brexit.
Day 4 began with a lesson of ancient history which was about the “Oligarchy” of Athens, so something I didn’t know a lot about! Nonetheless, it was a really good experience and was definitely very interesting. Having the chance to be part of a lesson I wouldn’t be able to elsewhere was definitely a great part of the eton experience.
In the afternoon we had a tour of some parts of eton we hadn’t seen. This included the natural history museum in eton and also the college library. This was a building which had books that were very old, including a copy of the “Iliad” from the 13th century in Greek! Instead of being written on paper, it was done on an animal skin called vellum, and had obviously been hand written. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, as it was something we wouldn’t have seen anywhere else, and the books were beautiful.
Afterwards, the six of us got to go to the lake and do some canoeing. Despite the fact that it was very cold, it was a really fun experience and the man in charge was the father of an Olympic champion. Canoeing was also a great bonding experience between us.
In the evening, James and I were invited to a meal with one of the teachers and two of the eton boys. This took place in our house and was a very formal occasion. The food was excellent, as it had been cooked by the house chef called Nigel, who was fantastic. It was a great chance to discuss the week we had and what we were all considering after A-levels.
After the meal we attended the politics society as Barroness Shirley Williams was giving a speech about today’s politics and the various challenges we face as a country. This was an excellent occasion and was very informative as well as being very engaging and relevant to today’s world.
The final full day at Eton commenced as usual.
After breakfast, we made for an Ancient History lesson, which was most interesting, as it is a subject I have wanted to study, yet which isn’t available at Beauchamp.
Following this, we attended a Creative Writing class, which involved reading the work other students has produced – a few had written short stories as homework – and offering feedback.
We were not bound to attend any other lessons today, as a tour was organised for the Beauchamp students, during which we had the privilege of seeing some of Eton’s collections: This began with a look around the ‘Eton Life Museum’, a small room littered with souvenirs of the college, including signed photographs of celebrated alumni and models of the architecture.
A walk around the Natural History Museum was next; although small, it contains an impressive variety of fossils and stuffed animals.The highlight of the tour was undoubtedly the College Library. The walls are lined with books dating back centuries, and we were able to look inside an original manuscript from the Dark Ages.
Finally, we explored the chapel. Whilst I had seen this before when a member of my house showed me around, it was still equally magnificent.
The tour finished in time for lunch, after which we made for the rowing lake (which was used for the Olympics) and tried our hand at canoeing.
It was a challenging experience – and resulted in one or two of us walking back soaked – but a enjoyable one, nonetheless.
Supper tonight involved meeting with one of the teachers from our house. Four of us – Mustafa and myself from Beauchamp, and two Etonians – went into the section of the house in which the master lives for a meal prepared by the in-house chef.
It was a very pleasant experience, giving us the chance to talk about the week.
Immediately after this, a society was held in one of the older areas of the house, Election Hall, by Baroness Shirley Williams. She spoke about such political issues as Brexit and Trump, in what was an engaging way to spend the evening.
Overall, this has been an exceedingly unique opportunity which shall bare some very happy memories. It will undoubtedly feel quite peculiar to return to the normality of life at Beauchamp.
Click here to read experiences from previous years.