Berlin Trip (February Half Term)
It was a fantastic trip for my first visit to Berlin. Upon arrival, I was mesmerised by the history and culture of Berlin. I was particularly excited to go on the U-Bahn, and the experience did not disappoint me! We also visited many attractions such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the TV tower at Alexanderplatz, which provided stunning views and a deeper insight into the city. Berlin was bursting with landmarks that constantly reminded people of the war that happened, and that certainly made an impact. The trip was packed with attractions and that left me exhausted, but I did not regret coming on this trip and am looking forward to my next visit to Berlin.
– Christoph, Form 4.
During the February half term holiday, I visited Berlin with a group of amazing teachers and students from different year groups. We had to depart from college to Luton airport at 1am in the morning, and even though we were advised to get some sleep before then, I was busy completing my first full draft of English NEA coursework. 6.2 is no joke! After a few hours of bus ride, we woke up in a muddle to see that we had arrived at Luton airport. We then went through the check-in procedure without much fuss.
This trip was physically exhausting as it involved a lot of walking, with the first day being fully packed with places to visit literally straight after landing. However, this trip, full of visits to historical sites and museums, was also an intellectually enriching history lesson. I also took this trip as an opportunity to revitalise my memory of the German language, and I was surprised at how much I remembered as I could understand conversations in German and some texts on menus. Amongst the many places we visited, my highlights include walking up to the glass dome of the Reichstag where I got to enjoy the cityscape of Berlin and appreciate the political symbolism of the architecture. We also visited the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where we were given a guided tour by an enthusiastic guide who informed us about the heart-wrenching history and description of the treatment of prisoners in the camp. Another highlight was the Blue Man Group concert, which gave us a serotonin boost with loud drums and music after a long day of visits to places with quite depressing history. On the last day of the trip, we ascended the Fernsehturm (Berlin TV Tower) in Alexanderplatz which overlooked the city of Berlin where we tried to spot the different places we visited over the past few days. For lunch, I had currywurst made by an amiable Afghan guy. The chilli-sauce was the star of the dish, though I was confused by the ironic lack of curry.
– Irisa, 6.2.
Ski Trip (February Half Term)
The agony of the 26 hour coach ride was quickly dismissed when the 50+ group of staff and students stepped onto the Austrian ground. Immediately, the cultivating mountains and the fairytale like houses caught my attention I was struck by the beautiful sights surrounding where we lived that week. Gathered around the hotel cafeteria, the staff and students were briefed on the following week’s events and hotel rules by our lovely hotel manager. Soon after, the exhausted group fell into their silky sheets, something we all lacked the previous night.
On the first ski day, we were split into groups based on our experiences and ability. Inevitably, everyone was placed in groups with fresh faces – a catalyst for blossoming friendships. We all started on the ‘baby slope’, but slowly, one by one, the groups got sent to the mountain. The gondola ride we took every morning was a crucial part of the day, we would chat, catch-up and of course, discuss the snack selection of the day (our favourite activity).
The itinerary was filled with a range of ‘after ski activities’ including but not limited to visiting an ice cream parlour, a pizza meal and the collective favourite – bumboarding! Personally, it was my favourite activity as the laughs and cheers energised and lifted each other’s moods! Above all, I enjoyed viewing the teachers under a different light, where they unlocked their inner child and raced us down the baby slope. In hindsight, I appreciated how a simple activity requiring a piece of plastic and some snow invoked so much joy for us all.
Across the week, we were blessed with blue skies however this meant the snow condition was not ideal. The lack of snow meant we were skiing on very icy texture and were faced with a row of moguls. I found this very challenging due to the lack of decisions we had in terms of where we could turn and many of us ended up in the air more than on the snow. Our group were brought onto a black slope on the second day, personally I hadn’t been on one in years so anxiety filled my body. However the supportive environment and encouragement from Dr Pugh slowly but surely lead me down the frightening slope. On this trip, we learnt new skills such as carving and I really believe, as a group, we have improved drastically since the beginning.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to bond with my peers and make new friends in an environment away from college. This was my first trip away with college and there will definitely be many more to come.
– Abbie, 6.1.
October Half Term
There are many activities run by the school for boarders during half term, which are perhaps difficult for Day students to attend – particularly during a pandemic, leaving them with 9 days to do something they like.
We undertook a Lower School survey just before half term asking students what they will most likely be doing during the holiday, and most of them replied with the stereotypical answers of sleep or relax. But after weeks of tiring and busy schedules during the start of the academic year, students certainly deserve a half term where they can take a mental and physical break, which is what half term might be about for many people. For others, half term might be an opportunity for a short trip, domestic or international, to leave school behind, or for some, it might be a chance to take part in the action-packed activities programme here on campus, or time to catch up on prep/revision, readying themselves for the rest of the term to come.
Remember, it’s all about balance.
Parshva – F4
Birmingham Trip 2020
Birmingham sure is a wonderful place, with almost all the shops you could imagine… There even is a Chinatown in Birmingham where they sell the best bubble tea!
The mall everyone usually goes to is Bull Ring since it’s very close to the drop-off area. Bull Ring has wide variety of shops and department stores such as Selfridges; if you love designer brands such Off-White, Gucci, Balenciaga, etc., Selfridges will be your paradise. If you like less expensive clothing but still look nice, Urban Outfitters is the place to go.
There is also delicious food in Birmingham. I highly recommend the ramen bar in Selfridges called Tonkotsu. It’s cheaper and tastes better than Wagamama. Most people go to Chinatown to buy bubble tea in Gong Cha, so the shop is crowded at times.
Nicole – F3
Harry Potter Studio Tour
On a rather windy 21st February, during half term, our fellow Concordians set out on a journey to London to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour. For many, it was a fascinating time to learn about the process of making a book and transforming it into a movie.
Here’s a Form 5 student’s opinion on her exploration of the Studio Tour:
“The tour consisted of a large range of exhibitions, props and sets used in filming the Harry Potter movies. Some of the most impressive props were the realistic prosthetic masks used to portray different creatures, and it was surreal to be standing in the sets such as Gringotts bank and a replica of the Forbidden Forest, where the magical stories unfolded. I thought, when watching the movie, that the making of the goblins and the creatures were mostly CGI effects, but actually, the producers seemed to have spent lots of time making costumes, planning outfits and molding characters that were only going to be seen on-screen for less than a few seconds. The amount of effort and time they spent for the small details was astounding to learn about. Even the plants were not CGI; some of them were made as props as they just edited movement in them.
Besides looking around the museum-like area, the most important event was, of course, trying the signature ‘Butter Beer’. It was sweeter than I expected but it was satisfying that I finally got to try this long-anticipated drink.
Later, we got to see a gigantic replica of the Hogwarts castle where they apparently filmed the long-paneled shots of scenery using that exact replica. Once again, it was amazing to realise that the production of Harry Potter used many wonderful props. In conclusion, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone.”
Sophia – F5
Liverpool Trip – Half Term
During half term, Concord provided us with lots of trips, and one of them was a multiple museum visit in Liverpool. We were put into groups and visited different types of museums. My group went to visit the Museum of Liverpool first. There were many exhibitions of the history of Liverpool; there was another exhibition about one of the members from The Beatles, John Lennon, and his wife Yoko. I’ve heard from my friends that Tate Museum was also quite interesting. They said there was lots of variety of art and sculptures on display, and it was very cool to see the most memorable one – a display that was made of a ‘mountain’ of clothes.
The second half of the trip we went to The Beatles Museum as a whole Lower School. We got to wear headsets to listen to audios introducing each section of the exhibition. The one section that amazed me the most was a stage set up that was exactly how the Beatles would perform in a club.
Josephine – F5
Most students look forward to a time of freedom and celebration from the stressful school term, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it as well. But, one of the main attractions that most people can’t wait to experience, is one that I absolutely despise: rollercoasters. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ‘down to go’ to an amusement park any day, but I’m one of those people who’d rather linger in the souvenir shops and coffee shops and actively avoid rides that give me goosebumps, and not in a good way.
I hate rollercoasters. I’ve hated them all my life. It’s a bit of a ridiculous statement I know, sometimes I amaze even myself with my odd tastes. But, despite this, I still managed to actually thrive at Alton Towers, and I admit, kind of enjoyed my time there. Sure, there were long lines, crying children and rainy skies. I won’t write about a perfect trip where nothing went wrong because that’s not the reality of how things go. But, ultimately, those weren’t the things that I remembered the most.
Rollercoasters aren’t my thing, but I’m glad I tried one out, because it was actually kind of enjoyable. It was no high-speed, neck-snapping, super sonic rollercoaster, but it was pretty fast for my gutlessness standards. I sort of liked that feeling of freedom, that exhilarating rush of adrenaline that got my blood pounding. I loved being in an environment where I didn’t have to worry about prep or Saturday tests, and had the time to relax. Learning can be rewarding, but everyone needs a break once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, I’m nowhere near loving rollercoasters, nor am I seeking to ride them any more often than I do now… But, maybe rollercoasters aren’t that bad after all.
Joline – F4
Cheshire Oaks at Half Term
Half term in Concord, of course, was filled with fun and educational activities, on and off campus. And the last trip during the February half term was a visit to Cheshire Oaks. When we heard that it was going to be a trip to an aquarium and a shopping outlet, the feelings were mixed. To be honest, beforehand, most loved the shopping part, not so much enjoying the marine life…
As we got off the bus at Cheshire Oaks, we were faced with quite an ordinary looking building. “Get into groups please! In order as well!”, Mr Bates shouted. But the dreariness of the group instantly shifted to attraction when we walked inside and saw the jungle-like exhibition on the left. Our group dashed in with no delay, and started to wander around amongst a group of kindergarten students on a visit. ‘Wows’ and exclaims from every single one of us followed. The turtles and reptiles in the first sections were resting on mud and sand, and lazily glanced up and gave us a good stare.
After twists and turns of corridors with exhibitions of ants, spiders and insects, we came to a very cool-looking, impressive glass tube. My jaw dropped when I saw it – a glass tube inside of an enormous tank, which was filled with sharks and fish. We all rushed onto the nearby conveyer belt and started this tremendous adventure ‘underwater’. When I was taking my phone out to catch pictures of the impressive marine life, a huge sting-ray swam by and the entire tube became covered in pitch black darkness. Those 3 minutes of the ‘underwater adventure’ were literally the highlight of the trip. Forget about the outlet, this was so fun! But unexpectedly, there was something even better coming…
We were all called by our teachers and gathered in an amphitheatre-type setting, with a humungous piece of glass in the front, looking towards the fish tank we were travelling through earlier. A staff member from the Blue Planet Aquarium team came up and started to introduce two divers in full diving gear, already in the tank. The presenter, Jess, engaged us with the divers, showing us the pressure gauge and oxygen tanks. It was intriguing. But the main attraction then started… The highlight was the two divers feeding the sharks and fish. When they fed them, I thought vigorous tribes of sharks would attack the bucket of food. But actually, most of the sharks did not even appear. Apparently, sharks are extremely shy. I did not know this before the trip!
Overall, the highlight of Cheshire Oaks turned out to be Blue Planet Aquarium, instead of the shopping outlet as most had originally thought. It was a great day, we learnt a lot, and I felt like I was six again when I was jumping up and down in excitement seeing those sharks swim around. What a day!
Kenneth – F4
Bristol at Half Term
In the morning, we visited a planetarium. We watched a show on exploring the solar system in a spherical theatre. It showed us short videos each on a specific aspect of the solar system, for example, the Comet and the Jupiter Ring. I particularly enjoyed watching the ‘zooming out’ from Earth to the whole solar system, then the Milky Way, and finally the whole universe. It’s quite impressive to see how big the world is and how tiny we are as humans.
We went to a buffet for lunch and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of food that was offered. The restaurant had different sections which provided food from around the world, such as an Asian section and a European section. I think everyone was satisfied by the looks on their faces.
In the afternoon, we went to a psychology workshop, where we learned how our brain responds to different stimuli. What I found most interesting was that our brains are best at memorising things if it is at optimum stress level. If the brain is experiencing no pressure at all, it will not pay attention to the surroundings, whereas in high-stake situations the brain tends to switch into ‘panic mode’ and it would be too stressed to remember anything effectively. I always thought stress is a bad thing, but it turns out having the right amount of stress enables better performance!
Anna – F5