My Exchange Experience: Harrison Dudley-Rode

Last year, three Dilworth school leavers received the good news that they had been granted the opportunity to work as a resident tutor for a year at the Royal School of Dungannon (RSD) in 2019. Dilworth maintains a special connection with RSD in County Tyrone, Ireland as it is the alma mater of our school’s founder, James Dilworth.

Thanks to Hugo Charitable Trust, the scholarships totalling $65,000 were awarded in the name of one of Hugo’s trustees, Bruce Stewart QC, who is himself a Dilworth old-boy.

We talked to one of the 2019 recipients and 2018 Head Prefect, Harrison Dudley-Rode (who has recently returned from his gap year) about his experience. Harrison hopes to study towards a Bachelor of Engineering specialising in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Auckland in the new year.

Harrison Dudley-Rode.jpg

Why did you choose to apply for the exchange programme?
I chose to apply for the exchange because I was eager to experience what life is like in a different country, what the cultures and customs would be like as well as what the people would be like and how similar or dissimilar everything would be to New Zealand. I also wasn’t 100% sure, or even 50% sure to be honest on what I wanted to study at university or if I even wanted to continue on with further education.

What has been a highlight for you?
The biggest highlight for me has been the opportunity to travel. Living in the UK makes travelling around Europe so much more accessible and cheaper than travelling from New Zealand. I absolutely love to travel but wasn’t able to do too much of it before moving to the other side of the world. I used this year to try and see as much of Europe as I possibly could. I managed to visit 24 countries in total from common European countries like Italy, France and Spain to some more remote countries like Iceland and even made it to America for a weekend in New York City!

What was the biggest surprise or culture shock for you (if any)?
There actually weren’t too many surprise culture shocks for me in Northern Ireland other than the lack of steak and cheese pies and butter chicken. However across Europe, one major thing that surprised me was the ability for most people to speak more than one language. This seems to be normal, where they speak their native language and then English and sometimes even more languages. This is something I would love to see more of in New Zealand and I’ve realised the importance of everyone learning Te Reo Maori in school because it’s unique to Aotearoa.

What have you learnt through your experience?
I’ve learnt a lot this year, most importantly through my experience transitioning from a student to a staff member at a school, which took some getting used to! It felt weird at first going to the staff room at morning tea and sitting with all the teachers.

I’ve also learnt to just enjoy each and every day. It is probably the best job any 19 year old could have and it seemed there was always another trip coming up and another chance to experience another part of the world

What advice would you give to a Year 13 student considering apply for the student exchange?
Something that I was worried about when applying for the tutorship was being a year behind all my friends at university and I know that is something that turns a lot of people off. However as the year has played out, one year away seems pretty insignificant as everything is still pretty much the same in New Zealand and everyone is at different points at university so it makes no difference whether I started a year earlier or not.

Another piece of advice I would give to any Year 13 thinking of applying is to really think about what it is that you are wanting to get out of the year. I am really glad that I did it, however I also realised that there are so many other ways to do a gap year. This is also relevant to anyone who applies and isn’t lucky enough to get selected. If you have a genuine interest for helping kids out, whether that’s on the sports field with rugby or in the classroom, then you will have an amazing experience. If you are purely looking to just travel and are not so interested in working at a school, where you are required to help out each day of the school year, then it may not be for you, but that’s okay because there’s so many other ways to see the world on a gap year.

December 27, 2019