Arriving in Newark Airport on the afternoon of 1st September – I had little idea as to what was ahead of me! There I was greeted by Mr Bill Freitas, a teacher at Lawrenceville, who had offered to drive us (myself and Peter Sheerin, St Columb’s College alumni) from the airport to the school campus and help us settle in. When we arrived on campus, the first impressions were very good and I was astonished by the sheer beauty of the campus; an 800 acre landscape, with housing, school buildings, tennis courts, solar fields, golf course, farm(!), etc.
Settling in proved relatively easy as everybody was very welcoming and teachers understood we were suffering from jetlag. Compared to A-Levels, schoolwork was manageable and I had time go to the gym every day. However, during the second month I began to experience homesickness…I wasn’t in America for a holiday. It felt difficult at times (especially trying to adjust to American culture and Lawrenceville’s Saturday classes), but knowing that home was just a facetime away made it so much easier.
After the first couple of months, time began to fly by and, before I knew it, I was home for Christmas. The two weeks at home really broke up my time at Lawrenceville and made the second term so much easier. During the first term I studied Economics, Calculus, Physical Geography, History and English. However, in the second term, I decided to study ‘new’ subjects, such as The Evolution of Reproduction and Statistical Reasoning in American Sport.
During the second term I also decided to experiment with a different sport and my Housemaster, the Head of Dance, convinced me to sign up for his male dance class. I was quite hesitant to begin with, but I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made at Lawrenceville! Mr Wilder also managed to persuade me to sign up for the School’s annual Spring Dance Concert (SDC), where I performed a nine minute dance with seven other senior boys in front of the entire school over three nights.
The scholarship has also afforded me the opportunities to travel around America. During Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to travel to Tennessee to visit family friends and experience some of the different cultures within America. I have also made regular trips into New York City, as it is only an hour away by train. Most recently, during Easter weekend I flew to Boston to stay with Peter’s (the other Northern Irish Scholar) cousin, where we got to experience the traditional “Irish” part of America.
As I write this I am coming to the end of my third term and I can look back on this year with the fondest of memories. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity because the trip has matured me and prepared me for University life. Being forced into an environment with so many diverse people from all corners of the globe has allowed me to learn about other cultures and make lifelong friends. The biggest gain from this year is not the educational benefits (which, truthfully, were excellent), but the opportunity to meet and network with extremely clever teenagers who are destined for success.