My Experience at Marymount London

Freddie von Siemens ‘21, Staff Writer

The six months that I spent at Marymount London were so life-changing for me that I’m not sure how I can possibly capture the whole experience in one article, but I will try my very best. In June of my freshman year, after returning from a trip to London with my family, I got the idea that I wanted to do a semester in London. I knew that there was an RSHM school in London, so it seemed almost meant to be. Unfortunately, there was no existing exchange program between Marymount London and Marymount Los Angeles, so I decided to create the opportunity for myself. I emailed the head of admissions in London, introduced myself, and proposed my idea to her. Right from the start, she was nothing but supportive of me and my crazy idea to spend a semester of my sophomore year abroad. We emailed back and forth for six long months until eventually I was accepted into Marymount London and was all set to attend my second semester of sophomore year there. I was absolutely ecstatic. I couldn’t believe I had pulled it off! My dream had come true. I counted down the days until eventually, on January 18th 2019, I boarded the plane to London and started what felt like my new life.

Three girls sitting on Marymount London’s lawn.

For the first few months of my stay in London, I felt like I was in a dream. When I arrived at the school to move into boarding on the Sunday before my first week, I was greeted by one of my house parents, who showed me to my room and made sure that I was completely settled and happy. She introduced me to the girls in boarding, who would quickly become sisters to me, and then it all began. I met my roommate, all of the girls in my hall, and all of my house parents; within only the first night, I could feel how welcoming the people at Marymount London were. The next day, this feeling was taken to another level. As I walked to my first class with my roommate, her two best friends ran over to me, hugged me and told me how excited they were to meet me. My entire class wanted to get to know me as soon as I walked through the door, and they instantaneously became my friends. Our grade was only 40 people, so I got to know everyone more quickly than I expected to.

My dorm room, taken by me.

On the first day, a group of friendly girls, including my roommate and her friends, invited me to eat lunch with them, and the rest is history. We went on to spend every weekend together, every waking moment at school together and we talked on the phone when we were apart. Even now that I’ve moved back to LA, we still talk every day, and my best friend is even coming to stay with me in December. The teachers at the school were equally as excited to meet me as the girls in my grade were. In such a small grade, not only are all of the girls friends, but I became extremely close with my teachers as well. Whether it was my red-headed math teacher, my eccentric design teacher, or my intense German geography teacher, they all welcomed me and made me feel like I was truly a part of the school and the community. The headmistress went out of her way to make me special and ensure that I was happy and felt truly welcomed in the community. The head of admissions and I became very close and we still email back and forth. If it wasn’t for her, I never would have ended up at Marymount London in the first place. The people at MMI (Marymount International School) made an impact on me that will be with me for the rest of my life; I’m already desperate for the next opportunity to go and visit them.

My roommate and I visiting a museum together, taken by me.
One of my best friends and I reading on the lawn, taken by our friend.            

One aspect of MMI that taught me a lot about myself and the world around me is the “international” aspect. I expected everyone at the school to be British, but that was not at all the case. The people at MMI come from all over the world; speaking about my best friends alone, they come from South Africa, France, Spain, New Zealand, Singapore and other countries all over the world. I was able to really connect with my German heritage, taking German lessons and even visiting Austria with my theatre class, which gave me an opportunity to practice my German. Meeting and becoming such close friends with people from all over the world opened my eyes to what life is like in other cultures and, honestly, it also just feels pretty cool to be able to say I know people from all of those places.

My drama class and I in Vienna, taken by Ms. Szymczak, my drama teacher.

Living away from my family was another aspect of Marymount London that allowed me to grow in a lot of ways. I learned to be independent and take care of myself; I did my own laundry, kept after my own things, and became a lot more responsible overall. I took the bus or the tube almost everywhere I went, which allowed me to be independent and gain some big-city experience. Due to the time change, I usually couldn’t call my parents whenever I needed help or something went wrong, so I had to problem solve and grow up a lot. Because we were all far away from our parents, the girls in boarding and I formed family-tight bonds that I know will last until we are all old and grey. We looked out for each other and I knew that I was never on my own, which stopped me from ever feeling lonely or homesick. Although we all went to school together, spending so much time with my boarding family after and before school allowed us to become almost inseparable. So much so that it almost feels odd to be living in my own room again without my friends next door.

My PE class and I with our PE teacher, taken by another student.

Overall, I feel that I came home from Marymount London a completely different person than when I left. I made so many life-long friendships and connections, learned lessons about myself, experienced learning in a different curriculum and style, became more independent and ultimately saw the world in a different way. I flew to Marymount London with no hesitation because it felt like the right thing to do, and I can say that I was absolutely correct in thinking that. I feel so lucky that I was able to experience something so magical, and looking back, I can’t imagine my life without the memories that I made at Marymount London.

My best friends and I on the weekend, taken by a friend.