The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

From California to Yorkshire, the story of an all-girls high school

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN
Antony Marchiando

My mom stood giddily with the camera and squealed, “Smile girls!”

“Oh mom, if only you knew how pissed off I am right now,” I thought to myself.

My mom was excited. Her two daughters were embarking on their first day at Sheffield High School for Girls, in Yorkshire County, England. Unfortunately, my younger sister and I weren’t quite as thrilled.

I was 16. All I wanted out of life was a boyfriend who wore a letterman jacket and a cool convertible as my first car. A two-year trip to England with my family wasn’t exactly on the list.

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Yet, there I was standing outside a private all-girls high school. I was dressed head to toe in navy blue and teal, pleated skirt and all. Behind me, three large stone buildings, with an uncanny resemblance to Hogwarts, stood darkly. This would be my daily life for the next two years. I was so not ready for it.

After a childhood spent in California, this trip to England wasn’t ideal.

My whining made little progress on the situation. Come August, I kissed my letterman boyfriend fantasy goodbye, and hopped over the pond into reality. England.

Sheffield High School for girls was one of the most prestigious private schools in England, but to me, it was just a big, cold pile of stone.

As I was lead down the corridor to my homeroom, all I could do was notice just how different it all was. Finally, with the opening of a creaky, obviously old door, I had arrived. An overwhelming amount of young schoolgirls sized me up and wondered who I could possibly be. With one mention of the word “American” the silence seized and a whirlwind of questions swooped me up.

“California, that’s amazing, do you live in Hollywood?”

“I’ve always wanted to go to an American high school, are you a cheerleader?”

“I went to Taco Bell once. It was brilliant.”

Oh my god.

I was temporarily paralyzed because there was just so many of them. I pretty much was under the impression that all Europeans hated Americans, so this truly was the last thing I expected. They loved us. They seriously loved us. They were so fascinated with my life I even started to look at it as worth being fascinated about.

After the interrogation was over, I remembered I was taking fourteen classes. Jeesh.

English schooling is nothing like American schooling. So, despite my 23 new friends I was nowhere near feeling at home.

From one class to the next, I struggled to understand simple instructions and found myself wondering how the same language could sound so different here. The further north you get in England, the heavier and more Scottish-sounding the accent becomes. Yorkshire was considered Northern England. In short, I didn’t know what they were saying.

I became familiar with the “nod and smile” technique when it came to those people you didn’t want to ask to repeat themselves for the fiftieth time. I also learned to use the same technique when offered English food.

American food may only be as good as a burger and fries, but at least our country isn’t responsible for mushy peas and blood pudding.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted.

Embracing so much “new” all at one time was a lot more than I had anticipated. I guess I thought that because there wouldn’t be a language barrier that England would be almost the same as America.

I quickly realized that perhaps the biggest flaw of us Americans is our ethnocentrism. Because we are so prideful of our own culture, we often hold it to a higher prestige over others. I know I certainly did.

The thing is, no culture is any better than the next. Each one is unique, holding its own values, beliefs, and traditions.

England is a beautiful country with so many amazing quirks to its culture that I became completely accustom to. This trip was scary. I completely rejected it at first. Yet, three years after returning home, there are still times I miss all of the little quirks, maybe even seeing blood pie on the menu.

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