Hello,
and welcome (back) to the third part of “How to become an exchange student”. In the first part it was all about the Online Application and in the second part I explained to you how the preparation by the organisation could look like. Now in the third part it is about the Orientation Camp that most organisations offer. If you haven’t read one of the previous parts I’m going to link them at the end of the article.

What is the orientation camp?

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This can vary between the country and the organisation you are going on your exchange year with. Just have a look at the prospect or the internet site of the organisations you are considering. Most of them will have some information about the programme. However, an organisation camp is not always included in the price and is likely just available for students that leave in the summer. Some organisations also just got a welcome/orientation meeting once you settled in.

London Baby

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My orientation camp was at the start of my exchange year in beautiful London. We spent three nights in London and got to explore the city.

Day 1

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Some would say the first day wasn’t really exciting as we didn’t do much but it was the biggest step. We landed in London Heathrow and for many of as the bus journey alone was exciting because we’ve travelled on the left side of the road. So we drove to our accommodation, hand dinner and afterwards we had a walk along the Thames.

Day 2

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The second day was packed with new impressions, famous sights and a boat trip = we went sightseeing! Our first stop was in front of the Big Ben where we got on a Boat to cruise on the Thames. The guy who pointed out different sights and gave us some information about those was really funny so we all had a great laugh and our tour ended in Greenwich (where I still don’t know how to pronounce it btw). There we had some free time to walk around in little groups. Many of you probably know that the prime meridian is in Greenwich, personally I found it a bit disappointing. I have no idea what I expected but well it was a line on the floor. We didn’t went into the museum where you can really stand on the meridian simply because we didn’t want to pay, but if you’re interested in things like that it’s probably nice to visit.
After the boat trip we made our way to the famous Camden Market. My group and I got lost whilst searching for a supermarket but nevertheless I really enjoyed it there. I think it’s just the whole atmosphere that’s lively and colourful but still relaxing there that makes it so nice.

Day 3

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Day three marked our last full day in London and we started it with going to see the changing of the guards. We arrived quite early so my little group and I decided to have a walk around for a bit and it was such a good decision. As we walked along one road we came past the house of the guards and the band was just practising. It was amazing! They were playing Thriller by Michael Jackson and all sorts of songs. To be honest I liked that better than the actual changing of the guards. As we went back, as expected loads more people were there, so we had a slightly worse place to watch but we could still see fairly well. I think in the end we didn’t even stay to watch the whole procedure but left 10 minutes early because I can’t exactly remember but I think it went on for almost an hour and it was quite hot so we strolled through the neighbouring Hyde Park to cool down a bit.
After we saw the changing of the guards we walked back to the London Eye that we saw the day before on the boat trip. This time we not only stood in front of it but we had a ride. The view is amazing from up there! I would strongly recommend to go onto the London Eye if you got the time, it’s really worth it!
In the afternoon we had time to explore Oxford Street and gosh it is really busy!

Day 4

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On our last day we just had breakfast and depending on where in England we would spend the following year we split up into groups and took off to meet our hostfamily. For me and to other girls that meant to get the train to Birmingham!

Is the Orientation Camp important?

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Now that you know what I did on my orientation camp you might think: But is it really wort it? Especially if it isn’t included in the price? Of course you can visit London on your own (I’m going down in April again and it’s going to be my 4th time) BUT I would recommend booking the orientation camp. Because: I would describe it as a buffer. It is a transition from leaving everything you’re used to and coming into a completely different culture. The orientation camp helps you to orientate yourself in the country, if that makes sense. You have time to get used to the language. And that is a really good thing. I was flying with British Airways hence the stewards being English. My brain wasn’t the fittest with changing language so it happened that I responded in German to the stewardess and started to order my meal in German in a restaurant in London.

Yes, I would say the orientation camp is important because you can also get to know people there that are going to stay in England as well. Because compared to the preparation camp you had people that would spend an exchange year all over the world but at the orientation camp it’s just people that will be in England as well. That’s a great opportunity to make friends that know exactly how you feel because chances are high they feel the same! And to be honest generally I think it’s so easy to make friends with other exchange students because we’re all just really open for it.

If you are interested you can pop over to my blog post to see pictures of my orientation camp: https://at-tea-and-rain.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/how-to-become-exchange-student-3.html

I've also written a post about London before if you are interested: https://at-tea-and-rain.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/london-oh-london.html

You can have a look at my Instagram as well where I post pictures about my travels in the UK: at.tea.and.rain

Have a lovely week,
Selina

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