Eton College Exchange 2017
After hearing about Peter Taylor’s (MBA Class of 2017) exchange to Eton College during the third quarter of 2016 and extensively reading about the school and the blogs, I became obsessed with leaving MBA for the winter to go and spend a term at one of the world’s most prestigious schools. After a long and stressful application process, I was lucky enough to be selected for the incredible exchange. I had no idea just how amazing and life changing this trip would be for me.
After two months of excitement and waiting, it was finally time to depart my home and jump on a plane to head across the pond. After a long delay in Chicago, I flew overnight to Heathrow Airport in London to be picked up by one of Mr. Gioia’s good friends, Mr. Ralph Oliphant Callum, who drove me the short drive from Heathrow to Eton. It was a very surreal experience, actually being on the campus after spending so much time reading articles, looking at pictures, and trying to find out anything I could about my new home. Even with this excitement, the jetlag soon caught up and I spent the Monday afternoon taking a well deserved nap after a long day of travel. Afterwards, RDOC took me out to a fantastic dinner at one of the best restaurants in Windsor, The Bel and the Dragon. We spent three hours chatting about my what my three months would entail, politics of the world, the princes, and many other topics that we had shared interest in. The Etonians were not set to return to school until Wednesday night, which gave me a nice dyand a half to get adjusted to the time and to explore Eton and Windsor. On that Wednesday morning I walked all around Eton’s campus and into Windsor and it was not until then did I realize how incredible my experience was about to be. The history is nothing like that of the United States, as Eton was founded in 1440, before the United States was even a thought and the world was still thought to be flat. Both Eton High Street and Windsor are amazing places, and I was mesmerized by both the beauty and the age. I could not wait to find out what was in store next.
Later that day, I moved into my new home for the next three months, Manor House, run by Mr. Justin Nolan (TEJN), teachers and staff are often referred to by their initials, who was my housemaster while I was there, as well as one of my beaks. I was given my uniform for my time there, a set of full tails, and was introduced to the house staff. The boys in my house arrived that Wednesday night after having their Winter break, and we wasted no time becoming friends. All of their dorms were located very close to mine and the house life was incredibly fun.
General Eton College Information
Eton was founded in 1440 by King Henry the 6th, and is well regarded as one of the most exclusive and best boarding schools in the entire world. The fees at Eton are about 40,000 pounds a year, which at the current exchange rate is about 50,000 U.S. dollars. It is no secret that Eton is a very privileged school, but the school is very generous with financial aid, and for the most part the students are very humble. Eton is located in Windsor, Berkshire and is about 45 minutes outside of London. 1500 students attend the school, and the school runs for five years, from 8th grade until 12th grade, which is F Block to B Block for them. Eton has an incredibly distinguished list of alumni, including 19 Prime Minister, and both Princes, Harry and William.
I had chosen to take four classes during my time, and unlike MBA where we are required to take a core curriculum, there is no course requirement so I, along with all of my friends, were free to take whatever classes we were interested in. My courses consisted of Politics and Government, History of Art, Economics, and English.
Unlike MBA where we have the same classes every day, we had a rotating block schedules with classes Monday through Saturday, with half days on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I also had two beaks (Eton’s term for teacher) for each class. In contrast with MBA’s demanding homework and test load, Eton focused predominantly on essays and discussions.
In English, I was taught by both Mrs. Sarah Jane Bentley (S-JB) and Mr. Knowland (WSK) where we studied both Othello and The Merchant’s Tale, in incredible detail. We studied each book line by line and discussed many of the smaller details so that we could have a strong grip on the bigger topics and details of the novels. Having already studied Othello in detail as well as having read a bit of The Merchant’s Tale at MBA, I was able to thrive in both classrooms and participate in some fascinating discussions with beaks and peers.
History of Art was unlike anything I had ever studied before, as I have never been that interested or involved with the Arts at MBA, but this was a fantastic class, and both Mr. Nolan and Mr. Vaughan Clark were very energetic and lively in class, which made it incredibly fun. It was definitely my favorite class that I took while at Eton, as I was in class with many of my closest mates and the topics of discussion were very interesting. We studied an array of topics, ranging from the early life of Michelangelo to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Economics was the most intense class that I took while at Eton, as both of my teachers were some of the best at the school and my peers were very committed and involved with their work. I had never studied Economics before, so it definitely took a good two weeks to get used to. One of my beaks, Mr. Tanweer, was the head of the Economics department and by far of the most intense and smartest teachers I have ever had the privilege to be taught under. Mr. Tanweer is the only student in the history of Cambridge to be offered an unconditional offer from Cambridge University, meaning no matter how poorly he did on his final exams he would be allowed to attend Cambridge for university. His class was very demanding and even as an exchange student much was expected of me, but I learned an incredible amount and it said me up very well for my AP Economics class for Senior year at MBA. Mr. Tanweer (MT) was my Macroeconomics teacher and Dr. Purshouse (LJP) was my microeconomics teacher. His class was similar to Mr. Tanweer’s, as they were both masters of their subjects and fantastic teachers.
Government and Politics was my fourth and final class that I took while at Eton, and definitely one of my favorites. After having been educated on American politics throughout my whole life and watching the crazy election play out last fall, it was incredibly interesting to learn about a whole new political system and government. These topics were some of my favorites, and the classes were very fun as I had many of my friends in class and the teachers were light hearted and fun. I was taught by Dr. Purhouse (LJP) and Mr. Murray Cusati (BJMC), both of whom were experts on the U.K.’s politics and government.
I was expected to keep up with both my classes at MBA and my classes at Eton, but even then the workload was nowhere close to as extensive and challenging as it was when I was at home at MBA. Eton focused much less on busy work and memorization and more on independent study and essays. I found that I much preferred Eton’s academic style to MBA’s, as the less stressful workload and classrooms made the learning more interesting and easy, and allowed me to go into much more detail on my topics outside of class. Also, not being forced to take classes that one was not interested in made all of my friends and peers much more interested in their learning, as they were only responsible for classes that they actually cared about.
A Typical Day in the Life
My typical day at Eton consisted of waking up at around 7:20, having a shower, organizing my things for the day and heading downstairs to Breakfast at 7:50. After that, we had chapel at 8:30 which lasted until 8:55, and from there we went to class starting at 9:00. I was accustomed to my MBA lifestyle, which usually consists of a wake up at around 5:30 and then getting two hours of study and homework in before the day starts, which truly freaked my friends out as they would struggle to make it to chapel by 8:30. From 9 until 11:20, I had morning classes, each lasting 40 minutes long, and then from 11:20-11:45 we had chambers, which was a block of time where we would head back to our boarding houses and have a snack and tea provided to us by the house staff. We would then have two more classes, from 11:45-1:15, and then would head back to the house for lunch and afternoon sport. Lunch lasted from 1:15-1:50, and afternoon sport lasted from 2:00-4. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we would have class after sport from 4:30 until 6:00, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, we would be free in the afternoon after sport. We often went to stores, such as Bugden’s (the grocery store, we abused their sale prices), Tudor’s (the only place with authentic American burgers, milkshakes, and candy), Eton’s Tap, which was the school bar where students could go and have beers and sandwiches on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and the Windsor Mcdonald’s. This freedom was fantastic and some of my best memories were made sitting in a booth at the tap joking around with my buds, as well as walking down to get shakes after class. A quiet hour was allotted for students from 6:15 until 7:15 for us to do our school work and study, and then dinner was provided after that. After dinner, we were free to do whatever, but were not allowed to leave the house. There was no bedtime, but if there was too much noise Mr. Nolan would be up on the top floor to quiet us down. Boarding life was an incredibly fun time, and our activities in the house typically included soccer in the halls, Call of Duty, TV, Cards Against Humanity, Darts, computer games, movies, and the playing of various instruments owned by some of my buds. I very much preferred boarding school life to the day school MBA life, as living with all of my friends was incredibly fun.
Activities and Involvements
During my term I participated in many facets of Eton’s student life. One of my favorite involvements was being in the societies, and I frequented the Medical Society and the Economics Society. I saw many different speakers, attended dinners, and had great discussions with many of my peers. Societies are a huge part of Eton’s student life, and some of the speakers who come are incredibly famous and distinguished. For example, the term before I got there, David Cameron had spoken to a group of Politics and Government students and let them ask him very honest questions after his recent resignation and Brexit. I was also able to apart of the climbing team, which would travel to various climbing gyms nearby three times a week. The climbing coach, Mr. Jefferys, was an avid outdoorsman and we had some great conversations sharing various stories of our various adventures. I was also apart of Manor House’s field game team, which was a sport that was a combination of rugby, football, and soccer. Some of the boys are very into it and enthusiastic about it, but most of my friends and I usually spent our time trying to get out of it, as it was often cold and not much fun. Outside of sports I was able to participate in Eton’s service club, where I tutored some students at a local public school in Slough, and was also able to help plan and work Eton’s TedX event, where six renowned speakers came and spoke. It was an incredible event. Every year, Eton holds a house play competition, and I acted in Manor House’s play, directed by my friend Charlie Wade. The play was called Blue Kettle and it came with no stage directions, which left Charlie to create and think of all of his stage directions and ideas. Although we ended up placing second in the competition, it was a fantastic time and one of my favorite parts about my term.
Travel and Leaves
Because it is a boarding school, Eton has many breaks allotted during the year for students to return home and to travel. These consisted of two B weekends, a short leave, and a long leave.
B Weekend #1
My second weekend at Eton was a B weekend and I travelled to London to stay at one of my friend’s, Ollie Nicholas, house in London with my other friend Charlie Wade. It was geat to meet his family and to see how people live in London, and how similar it is to life in the U.S. OIlie lives in South London and we were able to go and travel around the city on Saturday night and Sunday during the day. We went down to the South Bank, walked across several of the bridges, saw the London Eye and Big Ben, and ate some great food from a street vendor in London. This was my first trip to London, so it was very exciting to see the city for the first time. Along with this, it was very nice to just relax away from school for a bit and to have a break from the work.
Two weeks after B weekend, we had a full weekend off, where we left school Friday morning and had to return by Sunday night. I had made arrangements to stay with one my best mates, Charlie Wade and his house in Sussex, which is a countryside town in rural England. It is very popular amongst families to have a country house to live in predominantly and then a townhouse or apartment in London. This was the case for the Wade’s, but I had the pleasure of being able to stay at Charlie’s country house. Charlie was one of 4 siblings, and the only boy, so his house was a very busy and energetic place. His dad is a prominent screenwriter in the U.K., and has written the scripts for the last five James Bond movies, along with the show S.S. GB, which aired live while I was at Eton, so there was some very cool memorabilia and awards from the James Bond series in his house. We did some mountain biking out in the hills of Sussex where we were able to see the ocean, and also played a substantial amount of playstation, and watched Inception in his home theater (my first time seeing it). The Wade’s were incredibly friendly and it was a great weekend staying with them.
Halfway through my term, there was a 10 day break from school which I spent at several of my friends’ homes in London. I shuffled through four of their houses and saw every major site and attraction in London. I visited every part of the city, rode the London Tube all around, even got to see an Arsenal Match at the massive Emirates stadium, and got to meet up with T. Whitton, MBA class of 2016, who attends college in London. London is an incredible city, and very crowded. The custom in London is to build the houses close together and high up. Most of my friends’ houses were very narrow, but often went 4 or 5 stories up. It was a great experience to be able to meet so many of my friends families. They were all amazing hosts and so generous to let me stay with them.
B Weekend #2
For my second B weekend, I was feeling a bit ambitious, so my buddy Nick Robson and I decided that we were going to go on a trip to Paris, France for Saturday night and check out as much of the city as we possibly could. We bought Eurorail tickets a few weeks before, and on the weekend of March 4th we did it. We left school at around 1 o’clock to get to London for our 3:30 train to Paris. We went under the Channel and had an incredible trip. I had never been to Paris, so it was all brand new to me. We went halfway up the Eiffel Tower, had a great dinner by the Tower, went to the Arc de Triumph, walked around the Grand Palais, saw the Palace de Concorde, and walked around Paris at night. We woke up very early Sunday morning as to maximize our time in the city. We watched the sunrise in the Jardain de Luxembourg, saw the Pantheon, had a great breakfast in Paris (lots of great coffee), walked to the Louvre and saw hundreds of paintings and sculptures. The Louvre was easily one of the coolest places I have ever been to in my whole entire life. The history was truly mind blowing. After the Louvre, we headed to the Notre Dame and did a quick tour of the Church. We had lunch, I had my first macaroons, and we kept on moving through Paris and onto the Picasso museum! After the Picasso museum we headed to the Sacre Coeur and walked all 300 of the stairs to the top of the Dome! The views were so amazing, some of the best I have ever seen! We took the Eurostar back to London and headed back to Eton. Our train was delayed several hours so we did not get back to the house until about 11:00 at night, but Mr. Nolan was so intrigued and impressed by our trip that he did not mind. It was most definitely some of the most fun 24 hours of my life!
Farewell and Thanks
At the end of my term, I was lucky enough to be able to spend the last couple of days at Eton showing my Dad around, as he was on business in London and was able to line up his trip with the end of mine. I had not seen a familiar face since the end of my first week there when Mr. Gioia came and visited me for an afternoon while he was in England for a conference. We had some tea and ice cream overlooking the river in Windsor and it was great to see him. Because it had been so long without seeing anyone, it was very strange to see my dad, but a great memory for me. Being able to show him around Eton and where I had been for the past three months was a highlight of my trip and made the end of my trip especially memorable. The last week at Eton was very sad for me, as I had no desire to leave whatsoever, and would have stayed at the school if I had been able to. The friends I met and the experiences I had will stick with me for the rest of my life, and I will never forget my term at Eton. It was without the greatest three months of my life, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world. It really was that special. The makeup work wasn’t too terrible, and all of my teachers were very flexible and accommodating with my absence. I have no regrets whatsoever about leaving for three months. I encourage every single MBA student to at least think about going, and I promise that if you are selected, you will not have any regret, and it will be the greatest trip of your life. I would like to give a special thanks to The Warner Family, Mr. Gioia, Mrs. Scholer, Dr. Tarkington, Coach Klausner, Elijah Reynolds, and all of my teachers for making my trip so great. None of this would have been possible without them. Floreat Etona!