When my mother sat me down to tell me that she had enrolled me in a summer course in Switzerland I was really nervous. Isn’t that far away? How will I ever make friends there? I wanted to stay with my friends here at home. I knew that my parents were considering boarding school once I was a bit older. They said that this was a chance for me to see what it would be like to be away. It wasn’t easy to get used to the idea of leaving my family and friends, even if it was just for a couple of weeks.
So when it came time for me to pack my favorite suitcase and go to the airport my stomach was so jittery! The airline lady on the flight was really nice and made sure I was taken to the proper arrival gate when we got to Switzerland. This is when I met the first Brillantmont International School staff. They were holding up a welcome sign for me and had a big smile on their face.
From the airport they took me all the way back to the school and I asked them some questions about what this summer school was going to be like. They gave me a great snack as we travelled and were so welcoming. I have travelled to many countries before on vacation, but this was the first time I was without my family. Switzerland was quite different from my home, and it felt even more foreign not having my family nearby. But the staff taking me to the school were so friendly, that I was starting to feel excited.
We arrived at the school in the afternoon. The campus was close to a big lake and the buildings on the grounds were majestic and beautiful! I met a few more teachers and adults as I entered the main hall and I was given some pocket money for the week along with some information about the activities of next week. I could tell that many other kids had already arrived…
Next thing I knew, I found myself in my new room! That is where I met Akane, my roommate from Japan. She was shy, like me, but we quickly became friends. She too had never flown on a plane without her family. That evening at dinner I realised that I was not the only one with a roommate from another place: there were kids from all over the world here! My house parent told me there were kids from over 30 countries!
That first night away from home was the hardest one for me. Akane was so tired that she went to sleep right away, but I was up thinking about my friends back home and my own comfy bedroom. This place seemed so much more foreign and unfamiliar at night… but eventually I did drift off to sleep.
Sunday was when I really started to make more friends. Akane and I stayed together at first, but soon we were meeting all these other kids and having so much fun. After breakfast we all went on a mountain train with a bunch of teachers. It was super steep and scary but beautiful with amazing views! We kept going higher and higher. We went on a hike and saw all these summer wildflowers. We even got to have ice cream at a cafe overlooking a deep valley. By the time we got back to the school, I had made a bunch of new friends and was excited for the week ahead!
Most of our days during the week followed a similar pattern: I had French classes in the morning, lunch, and then sports in the afternoon. I had taken French for two years in school, but I didn’t feel that confident yet. They first tested me to put me in the right level and once I was with other kids who knew the same level of French as me, it went well. My favorite part was when we could go into town to the market and practice some of the new phrases we learned. It was pretty scary, but it felt so good to be able to buy a bracelet in French!
In the afternoon we did sports. I do not like sports that much, but this was actually really fun! Every day we did something different and I learned lots of new things like volleyball, tennis, and zumba. We even went on a banana boat on the lake one afternoon. Sometimes after sports and before dinner we had a short study time with a few teachers to go over our lessons of the day. But my favorite day was Wednesday .
Wednesday is when you get to go out with your class to visit something very Swiss. On my first Wednesday we got to go to the Nestlé chocolate factory. I love chocolate, but I had never been to a factory before! We got to eat so much chocolate and learn about how they make it and all the different kinds they make. I want to go back there next year if I can! After the trip to the sweet factory, we met up with the entire summer school at the lake and had a big barbecue. Barbecues are not common where I am from, so it was fun to try all the things the cook made for us. I played some games with my friends and went swimming in the lake since it was really hot.
During my second week there it got even hotter and on Tuesday evening we went down to the public pool by the lake where they have a water park, volleyball grounds, frisbee, and huge inflatable trampolines and slides - that was my favorite part. It was fun to play in the water and stay out with friends. On Thursday we got to watch a movie in the viewing room at school.
Every Friday we had a disco night! I was a bit nervous for this at first, but it was really fun in the end. They had laser lights, a DJ, and lots of yummy snacks and drinks. Since I knew my friends quite well by then, it was not awkward at all and I loved the dancing.
By the time the second Saturday rolled around, I couldn’t believe it was almost time to go home! Before I packed my things, I got a really cool certificate with my grade for the summer school and some comments from my teacher. She said I had made good improvement with my French and that if I kept studying hard, I may even be fluent by the time I graduate from secondary school!
It was so hard to say good bye to all the friends I made. I miss them so much. They are from all over the world, but I hope I can see them again next summer or maybe even in boarding school… Yes, after going to summer school in Switzerland, boarding school no longer seems so scary. Maybe some of my summer school friends will even be at boarding school too!
Our summer programme is 6 weeks long, but students can be here for a minimum stay of 2 weeks. In that way, you can fit it around your summer holiday schedule quite easily. If the student is here for 6 weeks, the activities will continually change. It is a rolling program where we make the effort to always have new outings and lessons that continually keep the students engaged. Want to learn more about the Summer Course at Brillantmont International School?