Agents on English UK's inward mission to South East England got a real taste of the culture - in the form of home-made cake.
Whether it was scones, blackberry and apple, ginger, or even a traditional English high tea, most of the language centres visited by the 14-strong party last week tempted their visitors with home-made treats.
"We thought: we'll give them some cake: no one else will think of that. We thought it was an original idea... but it wasn't," joked Paul Clark, director of Language Teaching Centres UK, who hosted the party at their Eastbourne centre.
Trip organiser Roz Rozidor, international manager for English UK, said the amount of cake offered to the party had been a complete surprise. "We've never had anything like this before - it was almost as if some of the schools were trying to outdo each other with the best warm scones. I've got no idea if it was influenced by the Great British Bake Off, but it felt like being in the middle of it sometimes. We all loved it."
The inward mission took 13 agents and a British council representative from Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe to London and the South East, visiting Ramsgate, Canterbury, Upper Dicker, Eastbourne and Brighton. The week ended in the lively sea-side resort of Brighton with a mini-workshop followed by a champagne flight on a sightseeing big wheel. Centres visited included Churchill House School of English Language in Ramsgate (with its own pub), Canterbury Christ Church University, Bede's School, ISIS Brighton and EC Brighton.
The agents were delighted with what they saw. Marek Kaczorowski, marketing director of Study Travel in Poland said that he sent most of his students to the South of England but hadn't previously visited any of the centres himself. "I would send students to all of them - each one has something specific to differentiate them. It's really important to see them, not just learn from the brochure. This way we can better advise students which schools they should choose. If you advise them well they are happy and you don't have complaints, which is exactly what we want."
He added: "The most important thing for me was to talk to the staff. This is the essence of it. I've been working with people for five years and don't know what they look like."
Natasha Doronina-Nesterenko, owner of International House DNK in Ukraine, said: "It's my first fam trip, though I've been on several workshops. I absolutely enjoyed it - it was the best way to learn about schools. It's completely different to workshops because there you meet several people and you are listening and concentrating, and it's hard to remember who offered what and what which school you like. Here you can see with your own eyes. The Eastbourne school surprised me in terms of their buildings, and because they had hundreds of stories about the school and its buildings. The centre at Canterbury was completely different - very modern and spacious."
Aykut Ozalay had been in the job with YDS Abroad Educational Consultancy in Turkey for just eight months. "I've learned a lot and absolutely enjoyed it. Before I came here I just knew about schools from brochures and websites and what my director told me. I was surprised by some of the schools. Bede's was so beautiful. The Eastbourne school surprised me too. It was like a museum, with paintings."
He added: "I've always wanted to see Brighton and it's very beautiful. I wanted to see the pier. There are a lot of yacht people here which will be attractive to Turkish students. What I have seen will help me market these schools."
Click here to view a gallery of pictures of this inward mission.
English UK plans to hold the next inward mission in May 2013 with agents from Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa.