Studying A-levels at Kings in my home town of Brighton
At the end of Kings Brighton's first academic year, Enrichment Sports & Social Coordinator John Murphy sat down with British A-level student Joe Murphy (no relation), who comes from Brighton, and his fellow students Diego Marcel from Belgium, Mark Markushevskiy from Ukraine, and Art Foundation student Pak Fai Chui (John) from Hong Kong.
Hello all, can you introduce yourselves please?
Diego: I am 19, and I am an Advanced Level Foundation student from Belgium.
John: I am John, I am from Hong Kong...
Diego: That is not true, he is from Austria.
Joe: I'm 18, I'm studying A-levels at Kings — Spanish and Business. I am from Brighton, England.
Mark: I am 17, I am studying Foundation too — I just finished my exams so I am excited. I am from Ukraine.
I can see you are all excited to finish college but how was your first day here? Did you feel intimidated at first?
Joe: I don't know if I was intimidated, but on the first day people tended to group together — so the Chinese over there and Eastern Europeans... but then after a while you just end up speaking to each other, and then as their English improves I found it a lot easier speaking to them and then they taught me things. I made some friends for life.
Is it much different here from your old school in Brighton?
Joe: It is quite similar but it was just a bit more mature and it is a better learning environment.
What has it been like studying here as an academic student? What are the classes and teachers like?
Diego: We are quite small classes — in my previous school we were 30 per class, here we are 6 per class or maximum 10.
Joe: I pretty much had one-on-one tuition, which is very good. It meant if I didn't do my homework, I had nowhere to hide. The teachers were really good, they were so patient and they understood what was best for me. They were there to help you. I know that every teacher does that, but they genuinely wanted me to do well.
Was that new for you?
Joe: It was new in a sense because I went to a public school and it was kind of like, 'You can try if you want, I'll teach the ones who try', pretty much. But in Kings the teachers are more interactive and more empathetic.
Diego: They all understand that we are from different countries, when we have some issues, they are really nice.
Joe: The food is good as well!
Mark: I totally agree.
Diego: We learned a lot from Marc Benier [Head of Academic Subjects, and Teacher of Economics and Business Studies].
Joe: I can honestly say he was the best teacher I have ever had. Genuinely.
Diego: It is true, we learned lots from Marc.
Joe: It is the perfect balance of like a fun environment to actually getting your head down and actually working.
Mark: I totally agree with Joe. I came to Mr. Benier and had a small chat. I told him he was the best teacher I ever had.
Joe: Mr Benier won't hear it, will he? I don't want him to get a big head!
Kings should have a reality TV show, like do you know how there is Educating Yorkshire [a British fly-on-the-wall documentary series filmed in a school]? There should be something like that in this school, because it would be great for promotion and branding! I think the students would love it.
What clubs or activities have you got involved in since you came here?
Diego, Joe and Mark: Football!
Joe: At the beginning I didn't really know much about it, but John Murphy, the Enrichment Coordinator, came up to me and told me about football so I thought I would see what the international football scene was like in Kings.
Mark: I also did a few of the hikes. We had walks every two weeks and I think I only missed two of them.
What are your plans for next year?
Joe: My hope is that I will go to a university. I applied for a few like Liverpool, Leeds and Sussex but I am hoping to go to Liverpool. It is so nice, quite similar to Brighton, the whole city vibe, but obviously it is a lot bigger. Hopefully I'll get it — the teachers have been good and I have got my head down, so hopefully I'll get it.
Mark: I can not agree with Joe at this moment. [Everyone laughs] Because next year I have different plans but I hope I will go to university. I have already applied to universities in Toronto, Canada — George Brown and Seneca College. I hope to get it as I have a few friends there and I hope I did well in my final exams so it will make it easier to get into the universities there.
John: I applied for Leeds and Edinburgh. I got both of them with conditions of Merit.
Joe, to John: Do you think university will be much different?
John: I have already experienced one semester of university in Newcastle. I will probably get used to it quite quickly.
Did the school help you out when you were choosing your universities?
Mark: The school has a specific person for it, who is Mr. Alan Beer. We had a class every week, he helped us a lot, he helped us with our personal statements, he helped us with the UCAS website and he helped us find the best university choices which would suit us better for the future. He helped me a lot.
When we went on the university trip to Kings Bournemouth, he advised me to talk to a specific person there who talks and prepares students with hospitality management in universities so I found some universities where I could apply for the master's degree after I finish my bachelor's degree in Canada.
Joe: The school helped a lot as we had a UCAS class every week and we also went to university fairs.
Did you connect with each other quickly when you arrived at Kings?
Diego: I met John first. I came into the residence, down to reception or something, and I met him in the elevator and he asked me to go have something to eat, and I said, 'Let's go'. So we just went to eat and there were a lot of people there.
Joe: I introduced the guys to Subway [sandwich restaurant].
Diego: I don't think we have them in Belgium, maybe we do.
Mark: I met the guys when we had our tour around Brighton and we became friends.
Joe: What is good about Brighton, is there are so many things to do. There are shops and pubs...
John: There are a lot of vintage shops.
Diego: The people we first met were language students, we were the first academic students in the school.
Mark: We are the Founding Fathers of Kings!
Diego: The Founding Fathers as Mark said, I like it.
John: I remember the first day, Mark was dressed in a full suit, very formal. [Everyone laughs]
Mark: In my previous school, we always had to wear an official suit for the first and last day so I thought it would be the same thing here, but I didn't expect everyone to be wearing their own clothes. My suit is upstairs in my room and I haven't worn it since.
Joe: We will all go out together tonight and you can wear it then.
[Everyone laughs again]
How has your year at Kings been?
Diego: It was interesting to meet different cultures. To get to know that everyone is the same.
Mark: Yeah... I have been in Brighton for 9 months and I can definitely say that it is one of my favourite cities in England because there are a lot of friendly people, it is a really nice place to visit, it has a lot of interesting places to visit so Brighton is a nice city to live in.
Joe: Well, I have been around Brighton for most of my life, being English, so I kind of know what it is like. Everyone is pretty similar and has the same stuff.
Coming here as one of the English people, I was not scared but I was nervous that I wouldn't have friends, everyone would be speaking different languages. Surprisingly, I made some really good friends. It is so funny how similar you actually are. If you strip down the language barrier, we are all the same.