Australian Exchange: Thank You For This Remarkable Experience!

11024897_1556005361326569_890745846_oAfter my tenth out of twelve flights in seven weeks, I arrived back in Sydney this past Saturday from my amazing two-week trip in Thailand! I spent the rest of that day catching up on sleep and spent Sunday relaxing and going out to lunch at the Park Hyatt, which overlooked the Opera house.

Thailand was incredible! All 113 Year-10 MLC girls arrived at Prem campus on February 15 at about 9:00 pm. We were shown our clusters and accommodations, then, whisked away to a quick introduction and dinner. Although it was dark, we could still tell that it was a beautiful and scenic campus. We were not disappointed in the morning when the sun rose and we headed off for breakfast.

I can easily say that the food was amazing, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Constantly changing, we were surprised and excited to see what was on the menu for the upcoming day. When we did find out two seconds before we ate, we attempted to pile on as much as we could on our already big plates. No one hesitated going back for seconds.

After a couple days of adjusting group 1(the group I was in) and group 3 headed off to a village about an hour away from Prem. We were going to be staying four nights and five days. Two nights were going to be spent at the tree house and the other two at the riverside huts. On our first day of arrival we walked to the school where we were going to be working and were given a tour. After the tour the work commenced. Group 1, 3 and a whole bunch of the school kids made a giant line. People at the top were to fill buckets and pass them all the way down so the ground could be flattened for the concrete. We did that for about two hours then group 1 headed back to the tree house and group 3 to riverside.

For the next five days we endured 8-hour days of physical work. We worked hard mixing concrete and finished our required work a day before we were supposed to. I think seeing a bit of a finished product was one of the most rewarding feelings of the entire trip. The second day of work Georgie, Teddy, Isabelle and I were keen to teach a class at the school. We got everything sorted out and that afternoon we were asked to teach a grade 3 class for an hour. Although there was a large language barrier between the kids and us, we were still able to communicate through signs, movement and limited words in English that they knew. We did activities like musical chairs, head, shoulders, knees and toes, soccer, what time is it Mr. Wolf and we made them laugh with silly faces. I think we actually ended up spending the rest of the workday with them.

When we got back to Prem, everyone was eager to shower. We had a relaxing rest of the day with a nice dinner and a full night of sleep.

During the next and final week we spent time doing the touristy things in Chiang Mai. We did a Thai massage class, visited temples, went to the elephant nature park, did Thai and jungle cooking, farm activities at the local farm and went to two night markets. The night markets were definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. We learned how to bargain and found some really unique and interesting things. I have no clue how I’m going to manage to put everything in my suitcase to bring back with me!

I also really enjoyed the elephant nature park. Where we went, they didn’t allow riding of the elephants and all the elephants were rescued from bad situations. Some were used for excessive breeding, abusive labour and more. Some elephants had even stepped on landmines, so they were injured. We got to feed one of them and we also go to wash them. After we washed the elephants all of the girls had a massive water fight in the river, it was awesome!

On the last night we enjoyed a Khantoke dinner. We sat in tables of six already filled with food and as soon as we finished the food it was filled right back up.  That was my kind of meal. After we finished eating we enjoyed some cultural performances that were amazing and finished the night off with releasing the lanterns we had made earlier in the week. Despite the fact that the wind blew one of them into the tree, we all laughed it off and enjoyed the rest of them.  It was a truly a great way to finish the two memorable weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I leave from Australia on Saturday, which is unbelievable. I can’t believe how fast it has gone by. I’ve learned a lot in Australia and in Thailand and am very eager to share my wonderful experience with my friends and family. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know everyone and see everything that I did. It has been only wonderful attending MLC for the past six weeks. I’ve learned a lot and seen what its been like to go to a very different school from LCC. I have had an amazing and eye-opening time while on my exchange. I will definitely come back to Australia. I’ll see you soon Montréal and I’ll be bearing Tim Tams!

Thank you Australia, MLC, and Georgie, Lynn and David for making this a remarkable experience! - Rachelle Collins ’17: Exchange Student at the MLC School, Australia

Student Exchange: Week 1 – My Thai School Experience

IMG_1679Friday, February 20 was my date of departure from Montreal to Pattaya, Thailand. I could hardly contain my excitement during dinner with my family earlier that night. I was driving my mother crazy by talking and acting like I had drank ten cups of coffee! I am still consumed by my passion for planes, although a bit less than when I was younger; when I wanted to quit school to become a pilot to fly all over the world, so the thought of flying alone on an airplane was very exciting.

After a long twelve-hour flight to Doha, a three-hour layover, a six-hour flight to Bangkok, and an hour and a half drive to Pattaya, I arrived to an empty school, with an empty stomach. After a snack, the head of boarding, Mr. James Grey, told me that the boarders were still on break, and they were going to come back in a couple of hours, before supper (6 pm). After learning that, I fell asleep, as it was 4:00 am in Montreal, and I hadn’t slept in a day.

I woke up to all the boarders and my roommate Osman returning. The Regent’s School Pattaya consists of 100 boarders (boys and girls from year 1 to year 12 (kindergarten to grade 11 in Canada)), and 900 non-boarders.

At dinner (and breakfast and lunch), we had the choice of Thai food or Western food. Of course I opted for the Thai food because I wanted a taste of what I spent a day travelling for.

My year (year 10, which is grade 9) consists of mostly Russian, Thai and British kids. I was the only Canadian in a grade of 100 kids. Everyone greeted me and treated me well on my first day, and if I got lost, there was always someone to show me around. They are also one year ahead of us, because next year (our grade 10 and their year 11) we get to choose our courses, and we have career fair. They do it this year.

The rest of the school days were uneventful as my schedule consisted of:

6:45 am – Wake up and complain to Osman that it’s too early to wake up!
7:20 am – Eat breakfast
8:20 am – School
3:30 pm – Go back to boarding
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Homework
6:00 pm – Dinner
10:00 pm – Lights out and complain to Osman that it’s too early to go to bed!

On Friday nights, the boarders go to Central – a big six-floor mall in downtown Pattaya. It is so large I would have gotten lost if I had been by myself!

On Saturday we got to sleep in until 9 am (yay!), then we went for a fifteen-kilometer bike ride to Horseshoe point, and went swimming there.

On Sunday we got to sleep in until whenever we wanted to (yay!), so I slept in until noon. Sunday is a relax day, so I spent all day with my friends having fun.

Some facts that you should know before coming here:

  • Soccer is football
  • Supper is dinner
  • We are allowed phones in class
  • Spicy for Thai people is killer spicy for normal people
  • Thai people drive on the wrong side of the road – or do we drive on the wrong side…
  • There are a lot of motorcycles
  • Water is non-potable, so you must buy water bottles which are very cheap: 10 baht ($ 0.39)

So far, Thailand has more than lived up to what I expected it to be in terms of people, food and how can I forget about the temperature? It is always around 30˚C – 35˚C, but it feels much warmer with the humidity and in the sun. I bet everyone in Montreal is jealous. Thailand is amazing and I can’t wait until this Saturday, when we are going paintballing! – Eli Samuel ’17, Exchange Student at Regents International School Pattaya

L’exposition du musée canadien de la guerre arrive à Lower Canada College

2014_15_MS_WW1_Display_005Le musée canadien de la guerre organise une exposition itinérante d’objets de la Première Guerre mondiale. Ceux-ci ont été exposés à la bibliothèque de LCC. Cette boîte de découverte comprend des objets et des plans d’apprentissage, le tout lié à l’expérience des Canadiens qui ont servis outre-mer durant la Première Guerre mondiale. Elle a été assemblée par les experts du Musée canadien de la guerre, le musée national d’histoire militaire au Canada

Voici quelques commentaires d’élèves de 9e année:
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J’ai trouvé que c’était une excellente expérience qui me permettait d’apprendre encore plus sur la Première Guerre mondiale. The exhibit helped me to imagine life in the trenches and really made me feel closer to the soldiers, nurses, and all the people in the war. – Alethea Ng

C’était une excellente expérience d’être capable de voir tous les différentes armes et outils utilisés pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. I really enjoyed trying on the uniforms and gas mask of the soldiers that participated in the war. - Alyssa Howard

Même si je viens d’essayer plusieurs vêtements, chapeaux et outils de guerre, je ne pourrais jamais savoir comment c’était horrible pour les soldats de vivre une telle expérience. This experience really opened my eyes to how lucky and fortunate we are. – Sophie Rivest

J’ai eu l’opportunité d’apprendre à propos de cette guerre d’une façon créative en essayant des uniformes, des équipements et en lisant de nombreux livres intéressants. Today, in our own school library, I put myself in the shoes of those who lived during World War I. – Abby Shine

Les artefacts qui étaient en vedette, entre autres des uniformes, des cartes et des éclats d’obus étaient fascinants. They truly breathed some life into all the dates and statistics that we’re taught in class. – Adam Vandenbussche

Aujourd’hui, on a vu les difficultés rencontrées lors des combats avec des masques à gaz. Les soldats ne pouvaient pas tirer facilement avec eux, mais, les gaz pouvaient les tuer s’ils ne les mettaient pas. Today, we have seen how the soldiers of the First World War fought with heavy artillery while waiting in the trenches for the opportunity to fight. – Max Topiol

La belle peinture illustrant la Première Guerre mondiale montrait le sacrifice de nombreux soldats canadiens qui ont malheureusement perdu la vie. The artifacts on display demonstrated the struggles and efforts made by the soldiers as well as the women’s role during World War 1. The nurse’s outfit is made out of silk similar to Edith Cavell’s. – Priscilla Johnson

J’ai appris qu’il y a plusieurs peintures magnifiques qui ont été créées pour capturer certains moments de la guerre. I saw many artifacts from WW1 that carry stories of war and represent the struggles and efforts of the armies from over 100 years ago.  - Alyssa Cohen

Nous avons appris à propos  d’artefacts utilisés pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. We also had the opportunity to try on these very interesting (and somewhat suffocating) relics that many of the Canadian soldiers that served for our country wore. – Ben Rossy

C’était intéressant d’être capable de toucher de vrais artefacts de la Première Guerre mondiale et j’ai découvert l’art de la guerre. I learned a lot from this experience but I know I’ll never know what it feels like to be in their shoes even if I tried on some of their clothes. - Erika Kaperonis

J’ai été capable de voir nettement une partie de la vie des soldats. It was a very interesting look into the First World War once we got to interact with the different objects used during that time. – Andrew Zhang

Nous sommes allés à la bibliothèque pour observer et essayer des objets de la Premiere Guerre mondiale. We went to the library to see some of the artifacts that were used in the First World War. – Adam Mahrouse

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Round Square: To Err on the Side of Compassion

HomelessI walked in someone’s shoes the other day. What I mean to say is that for one night, I voluntarily slept outside. For one night, I was like the homeless who more and more frequently sleep on the doorsteps of stores and churches, right here in my prosperous city. But, in truth, not really. Unlike the men and women who cannot find or who refuse to seek shelter, I was in the warmest sleeping bag my neurotic and overly protective mother could find; I slept in a quinzee which served as a perfectly adequate shelter, surrounded by friends, protected by teachers. Unlike the men and women who sleep outdoors, I haven’t been ignored, eyed malevolently or stared at contemptuously. My night spent outdoors has earned me a lot of (frankly not quite deserved) sympathy. Still, a little glitch in the zipper of my ultra warm sleeping bag meant that I shivered during the night. It was not totally pleasant, and perhaps explains why today, a few days after my winter experience, I stopped before the man seated on a threadbare blanket in the snow. He held a cardboard, with the heartbreaking words, ”hungry and cold”. I just couldn’t do otherwise. I couldn’t bear to ignore him. I gave him all the change in my wallet.

I have read enough on the issue of the homelessness to know all the arguments against giving loose change to the cold and hungry men and women in the street. I have been warned that my poor dollar would be used to buy hard drugs; that most of those who appear to be homeless are not homeless at all; that they contribute to the decline of neighborhoods, that it is best to leave their fate in the capable hands of organizations. This may be true. It is undoubtedly true, at any rate that dropping a few quarters in a cup will not solve, not even temporarily, the issue of homelessness. Except that I have no hard evidence at all the man shivering right before my eyes is a drug addict. I have no real evidence that all men and women on the streets have drug problems. I have no evidence at all the man staring at me, a little incredulously, really has a home to go to. I do not know that organizations have tried to help him. I do know that he is outside in unbearable -30 C weather, and that he is cold. I do know that not a single person, not a single one, has stopped to acknowledge him. Sherbrooke is a busy street, and there have been many pedestrians. Their steps, though, did not even falter as they passed him by. They rushed past him, without a glance, as though he did not exist at all.

I wonder when we have all become so jaded that we do not shudder when confronted with human misery. This is a man sitting before me. He deserves to be, if not helped, at least acknowledged. He deserves to be looked in the eyes. He deserves an “excuse me”, a “hello”, a nod or a smile. I wonder at the level of misery and despair, which moves a man to seek refuge in the frozen streets. My loose change might not have done much good, but it at least served to remind me, and him, that he is a human being, and he matters. If there is the least little doubt, I will choose to err on the side of compassion.

Service to others is a great Round Square ideal, and it takes a dozen different forms. It does not always have to result in accountable service hours. It does, however, every single time, start with humility and humanity. – David Elbaz ’15, Round Square Head

Student Exchange Australia: G’bye Australia

City View[1]The last two weeks in Melbourne have been absolutely wonderful. Time flies when you’re having a good time! I still can’t believe I’m heading back to Canada tomorrow. As much as I want to see my friends and family back in Montreal, I don’t want to leave what has become my second home yet. I have developed a lifelong connection with my exchange, Erica, and her family, the Gikovskis. Luckily, I have made many memories here that I will cherish forever.

Contrary to being “Down Under”, as Australia is known, last weekend I went to the Eureka Skydeck, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing tower. It was absolutely stunning looking over the city 300m in the air. An elevator transported us from the ground, to the 88th floor of the tower within 45 seconds! My ears got blocked so I ended up shouting with my already-very-loud voice at Erica and her dad. (It probably didn’t help that I was already half deaf from going to a One Direction concert the night before. It’s fascinating how loud teenage girls can scream…) I had to yawn about ten times before my ears finally popped! The view was gorgeous: the blue river running through the city, the open green land where kangaroos lived, the mountains in the horizon, and even the tennis courts where I watched the Australian Open a few weeks ago. It’s not something I could see when I’m standing on flat ground. After getting a 360° view of Melbourne and all its landmarks, I went on the Edge. Basically it’s a glass cube that projects three meters out of the building with me standing in it. It actually wasn’t all that scary! It was fun to see miniature people and tiny little cars running around through the glass floor while I was on top of the world!

My last weekend here was full of fun (at least for me!). I had told my family a few weeks ago I wanted to see something historic in Melbourne. Yes, it seems really weird and nerdy and the Gikovskis looked at me like I was from space and not Canada. But I don’t feel like I have really gotten to know a city if I haven’t seen it’s history. This weekend, Erica’s mom, Anna, took me to the Melbourne Museum. Despite Daniel’s (Erica’s little brother) protests, we dragged him along. We saw lots of dinosaur bones, and other animal skeletons. The history part was interesting as well. It’s amazing how much Montreal and Melbourne have in common. I really enjoyed my trip to the museum!

On Sunday, we took another trip to the zoo. This time, we went to Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo featuring Australian animals. My first stop was the koalas, which were absolutely adorable! They pawed at tree branches and took their time chewing the leaves before proceeding to take a nap. Australia has many species of exotic birds (unlike the seagulls and the pigeons that poop everywhere in Montreal…). I got to see these upfront and personal at the Spirits of the Sky Show. One bird swooped so close to my ear, I thought it would clip some of it off! I also saw emus, kangaroos, platypus, dingos and many different types of venomous snakes. I heard someone say to their child, “We are really lucky to live in Australia. We have the top ten most venomous snakes in the world!” I don’t know if she was being sarcastic… My favourite animal I saw at Healesville was the Tasmanian devil. It was like a huge, chubby black mouse that jiggled when it ran. It was really cute! It became less adorable when I saw it eat its dinner: a dead wombat. Is it a coincidence I also saw wombats that were alive at the zoo a few hours before?

I can’t believe I’m leaving Australia tomorrow morning. Six weeks have zipped right by me. I’m very sad to be packing my bags, I will not only miss Melbourne, but I will sincerely miss the Gikovskis who have been truly wonderful to me. I could not have asked for a better family to stay with. From the moment I arrived, they made me feel like part of the family. They have made every experience here fun and unforgettable. I will miss Emilyan’s jokes, Anna’s laugh, Erica’s stories, and Daniel’s craziness. Daniel was the little brother I never had (my brother from another mother) and Erica was the person I could turn to and have a good laugh with.

Today, I did not say “G’day mate!” but “G’bye.” I’ll even miss the times my friends laughed at my imitation of the Australian accent. I knew the day would come where I would have to say goodbye to my friends and my family, but I did not realize it would come so soon.

Words cannot describe how I feel about Australia and the time I have spent here. I can ramble on for hours and it still would not serve the experience justice. I think this exchange has had a big impact on me. I will return home with a different perspective, as a more independent person and most importantly a lifelong friend! - Lucia Huang ’17, Exchange Student at Ivanhoe Grammar School, Australia