Friends Across the Pond: SA Students on Visiting England in Eighth Annual Perse Exchange

Hannah Travali-Peacock, Travel Blog Editor

Embarking on an eight-hour flight and arriving bleary-eyed in England, five SA students journeyed to experience life in England during the June segment of the Perse Exchange.

Founded in 2011, this exchange brings four to five British students to Pittsburgh in the spring and sends the same number of SA freshmen to Cambridge, England in June. The trip is chaperoned by Ms. Helen Large, Games Teacher and Conditioning Coach at The Perse School, and SA Middle School Social Studies Teacher Ms. Kate Lukaszewicz. The visiting students live with their host families for all two weeks of each trip.

The American students attended school with their hosts, visited classic attractions, and explored London and Cambridge.

As they wrapped up their time in England, four of the SA students who participated in the exchange this year reflected on their experiences. Read some of their thoughts below!

Roshni Thakkar:

“The Perse Exchange was so much fun! I had a great time! Throughout the trip we spent time at the Perse School, where we learned about English and history as well as different maths and sciences that we learn here. We got the chance to meet a bunch of people from England who are alike and different from us in many ways! We also got the amazing opportunity to travel into Cambridge and London which were both very very fun experiences. In Cambridge, we not only got to tour the town and visit a prestigious college there, but we also got to go punting! Punting is where you are on a boat and you stand up and paddle, almost like paddleboarding, but you put the stick in the bottom of the river and push instead of moving the paddle through the water in paddleboarding. It was challenging but fun! In London, we saw the musical “Waitress,” which was very, very good, as well as visited the Tower of London, saw Shakespeare’s theatre, and ate yummy ice cream! I also had a great time with my exchange partner Bella! With her and her family, I got the chance to swim in her pool, watch cricket, and visit a castle! The Perse Exchange was really fun and because of it I have memories that will last me a lifetime! ”


Rebecca Glass:

“Our time spent at the Perse School in Cambridge was an experience like no other. Getting to emulate the day to day lives of British students with a bit of extra fun thrown in was a great way to spend part of the summer. At the school, I got to try my hand at cricket, which was interesting just because it isn’t popular in the US. While we spent most of our time at the school, we got to go into downtown Cambridge one morning to explore King’s College Chapel. That day we got to go punting on the Cam which was certainly an enjoyable and relaxing experience as well. Not only did we visit Cambridge, but we also took a trip into London to see the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and Buckingham Palace. Right after we saw Buckingham Palace, we got to see the royal carriages come down the street which was very cool. Overall, my time spent in England was full of excitement and adventure as I not only got to see incredible places, but I got to experience a full taste of English culture. ”


Milla Dobrovolska-Ivanova:

“Getting to go to Cambridge on the Perse Exchange was one of the most unique and interesting experiences of my life. This is due in part to both a difference in culture as well as the great activities that we participated in throughout the exchange. One of the highlights of my trip was biking to and from school every morning. Many students in Cambridge get to school by biking along the main roads, side-by-side with cars. At first, I was nervous, but as I grew more confident in my biking abilities, I grew to love this form of transportation. It was interesting to see that few students come to school by car, and most either walk, take the train, or bike to school, whereas in America most students drive or ride a bus.

As well as learning about the culture, I also had a great time spending time in Cambridge and exploring London with my friends. We went punting in Cambridge, and got to ride the train to London, where we got to see the show “Waitress”. We also had quite the adventure trying to catch a train back to Cambridge, which resulted in us running from station to station. While hectic at the time, it’s now a fond memory we have to look back and laugh at. ”


Angela DiAndreth:

“My experience in England was pretty cool! I had a lot of fun touring around Cambridge and getting to see all of the colleges (I didn’t realize there were that many in Cambridge). London was fun too, it was really cool to see the crowned jewels at the Tower of London. It’s kind of weird to imagine that they aren’t just for decoration and that the monarchs actually get to wear them at ceremonies. Out of everything though, I think that the coolest thing about going to England was getting to see all of the differences in the culture. They did house competitions at the school, just like we do here, but it’s so much different. The competition we got to see was a bunch of these plays that they’d had to write and perform in themselves based on historical events. The one house’s play/video was a spoof on the British reality tv show Love Island (it’s basically the Bachelor but more British) except it was with Henry VIII and all of his wives. It was also really weird to hear all of the slang that they used. Like, for example, in England when they say someone is hot they say “fit”, and for some reason, I thought that was the funniest thing. A really crazy thing that they’d had at the school that I really wasn’t expecting was a whole cafe with cookies and cake on their campus (they were really good cookies). I kind of wish we had that here because it so was great to just be able to go and get cookies whenever you felt like it. Overall, it was honestly a pretty good experience, and I’d do it again if I had the chance!”