Learning from living abroad: England

Posted: April 10, 2024

England packed with sights, fond memories

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Europe? To be able to see Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower, or The Colosseum only a short trip away? For these three Minnehaha students, siblings senior Philip and first-year Caroline Sonstegard and junior Greta Gesick, that dream became a reality.

First, due to an amazing job opportunity for their father, sibling duo Caroline and Philip packed their bags and boarded a plane halfway across the world, while their father worked as a CFO of Optum, a healthcare company.

“We were always in London,” said first-year Caroline Sonstegard. “But we moved to a different little area [of London] in the last year we lived there.”

This wasn’t permanent with their father, Minnehaha alum Nathan Sonstegard, signing a contract only requiring them to live in London for three years.

Before Caroline left for England, she attended the Minnehaha Academy’s Lower School, where she became close friends with fellow 1st grader at the time, Maddie Bowring.

“I visited her the summer between fourth and fifth grade,” Bowring said. “I really enjoyed it. I wish I could go back now.”

During the Sonstegards’ stay in London, they both attended the International School of London, an educational program for students temporarily staying from all different parts of the world, while their parents worked there.

“I found that school there was a lot easier for me,” said senior Phillip Sonstegard. “But that might have just been the school that I went to.”

Another interesting aspect of British schools is that the students are required to choose their major at a pretty early age, typically around that of a high school sophomore.

“I know from my friends that they have to declare a major by when they’re 16,” said Gesick. “And they have different types of tests.”

Similar to the US, Europe takes their sports very seriously, especially football, the European name for the sport most Americans call soccer. There are numerous professional teams in the England area, including Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea FC, which bring spectators in from all over the world.

“One time, we were trying to go to Cambridge for a wedding,” said Caroline. “But all of the train drivers were on strike because they all wanted to watch the football match. So we couldn’t get there because all of the train drivers weren’t at work!”

England is a pretty small country compared to the United States. In fact, England can be compared size-wise to the state of Iowa. However, England’s massive population is roughly the same as both New York and California’s state populations combined.
To Americans, European countries feel small and close together, making travel to different regions a common and exciting experience.

“I just miss how easy it was to travel around Europe,” remarked Gesick.

Overall, London is a beautiful city that makes visitors want to return.

“I for sure want to go back sometime!” said Caroline Sonstegard.

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