Student Exchange Australia: An Unforgettable Experience

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After spending a great time with my exchange Lachlan’s family in Queensland, I had the chance to start school at Carey Grammar. Although I was a little anxious as I didn’t know what to expect, I was quite excited to finally meet the students and attend classes in a foreign country.

On the first morning of school, I was welcomed by the school’s exchange coordinator and introduced to four other exchange students from New York. We received our school and gym uniforms, which was very much like ours other than the colours, as well as a laptop and a schedule. We were now well equipped to start our first days at Carey Grammar.

One of the first things that I noticed upon arriving at the school was how big the school was. The “Kew” Campus, as the students called it, took up a whole city block and had numerous buildings to accommodate the 2,000 students. The Middle School Area, which holds students from grades 7, 8 and 9, was comprised mainly of a main hall and two outdoor areas with classrooms around the borders. At first, I was a little intimidated by its large size, but after a few days and a lot of help from Lachlan and the other year 9 students, I became more comfortable around the campus and found my way to all my classes.

What I also found interesting at Carey is that their curriculum is quite different than the one at LCC. My schedule and even those of my classmates in Melbourne had less time slots dedicated for core classes, which allowed students to participate in more electives and other classes, which I thought was interesting. I was given some unique courses such as an introduction to coding, an economics class and a unit on CSI and forensic science. I thought that these classes were all awesome and engaging. My personal favorite was the economics class because the teacher, Mr. Warmbrunn, would give very informative lectures and we started a neat project where we pretended to buy stocks to see how well they would do.

The core courses at Carey were like ours in that they taught English, Math, Science and History. The only major difference was the language course that everyone had to take. The students had the choice between French, Chinese, German and Indonesian. This course was taken as a second language and for most of the students, they had started in Grade 7. We also had, once a week, a class called C-Change, where we would discuss how to develop personal qualities that are important to our well-being and how well we interact with others. This class would finish with a chapel session. With all of these different features in the school, Carey was definitely a great place to attend.

As part of the exchange experience, Lachlan and I, together with the other exchanges and their partners, went to Healesville Sanctuary, which was home to many indigenous Australian animals, including koalas, kangaroos and even platypus. It was remarkable that we could get so close to the animals without them even moving. We even saw some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, which I was happy to see through the glass! My favorite animal was the dingo. The animal is only found in Australia and is half-dog, half-wolf. We caught them right before their morning walk and we took pictures right next to them. It is a beautiful animal and was unlike anything I had ever seen.

With all their great athletic facilities, I was really looking forward to playing a sport at the school. At Carey, everyone has to participate in a sport and since Lachlan plays field hockey, I would try out this sport. I didn’t know anything about the sport and figured it would be similar to ice hockey, a sport that I really enjoy playing, but it was completely different. Everything from the field and the number of players to the sticks and balls were different. The game actually bears a closer resemblance to soccer. Although it took some time to get used to, I had lots of fun playing the sport and was even able to play in 3 games, which was an amazing experience. I was also very surprised to learn that field hockey is one of the largest sports in the world and is played almost everywhere, especially in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Speaking of sports, I also had the opportunity to watch an Australian Rules Football game with Lachlan and his family at the MCG. The game was so entertaining and although I didn’t quite understand the rules, the atmosphere in the stands was incredible. Both teams had a passionate fan base that weren’t afraid to share their sometimes-colourful opinions. The game itself was very fast-paced and finished with a very high point total. This sport seems to combine the best of many different sports that are more common in North America, like rugby, handball and soccer. It was loads of fun!

Spending five weeks in Australia was an incredible experience for me that I will never forget. Although it was difficult to leave my family, I was able to visit Australia and discover its incredible natural life and culture. I also had the chance to take part in some unique classes and meet some really nice people at Carey which was lots of fun, even if it is my summer break. I also believe the exchange has helped me become more mature and responsible as a person. Finally, and most of all, I met a really great friend in my exchange Lachlan and I hope that we will stay in touch and see each other soon. – Andrew Fata ’19 Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School

Student Exchange: The Colours of India

Photo5Imagine this, a display of fluorescent colours, laid on the smooth marble floor, to create fanciful patterns, such as bright fuchsia lotus flowers with forest green backdrops, or candles that burn purple flames, much like in a child’s dream. These picturesque creations are a renowned form of Indian artwork, known as rangoli. They are most often seen during festivals such as Diwali, the festival of luminous decorations, which commemorates the return of Lord Rama, as well as the triumph of light over darkness and during Holi, the festival of colours.

India is a diverse nation, which has multiple states that spread amongst its vast territory, and each state has its own customs and traditions including food which varies greatly within the country. If you visit the city of Bangalore, in the southern region of Karnataka, you will discover a white spongy, circular white cake made from rice, called idli, along with tasty coconut chutney. In the northern state of Punjab your mouth will water at the smell of fried parathas, filled with green peas and potatoes. Finally, In the state of Madhya Pradesh, your taste buds will be delighted to try bhutee ka kees, a corn based dish, served with chick peas.

When I’m not trying these delectable repasts, you will find me dancing in the Daly College dance studio. I have tried the Punjabi dance style, which incorporates sporadic jumping motions, as well as impeccable coordination. There is also a contemporary dance which requires gracefulness and balance. Finally, my favourite dance originates from Rajasthan, however, this one was too arduous for me to try, given the pots that must be placed on your head!

Though every state has minor cultural differences, each part of the country celebrates a month long tradition, celebrating the return of the god Shiva. People walk for days to temples to worship this god, transporting holy water in little pots hanging from each side of their body. Driving down the road, you witness a sea of saffron orange, with fanciful decorations as they pursue their quest to the temple. I take in the moment, not letting time evade me, and observe the wonder which lies in front of me. – Jane Robeck ’19 (Student Exchange, Daly College, Indore India)

Student Exchange: A Change of Pace in Australia

Nikolas_Gardilcic5I have been in Australia for two weeks now, and I am thoroughly enjoying my stay. At first, it is a bit tough to get used to being in a foreign country on the opposite side of the world, after spending around 24 hours on airplanes. A few days in, however, thanks to my welcoming Australian family and my fairly rapid adjustment to the 12-hour time difference, I began to feel comfortable in my new home. Now, I can’t believe I’m getting close to being halfway through my time here.

In Australia, winter is just arriving, yet so far it has been warmer than in Canada, despite it being spring over there. Our house is about a one-minute walk away from the beach, so we can go there anytime, which I thought was really cool since going to a warm and sunny beach is something you rarely get a chance to do when you live in Canada.

I am enjoying school. It is a very relaxing change of pace to be going to school and learning things but not having as much stress with loads of homework and studying. Without having so many things I need to get done when I’m at home, I can be more organized, not to mention I can get more sleep and not have trouble waking up early. I have had the chance to do many fun activities and have gotten to see some very cool things throughout my first two weeks here in Australia. I am looking forward to the next three weeks of my stay. – Nikolas Gardilcic ’19

Student Exchange: Getting a Taste of Sydney

Harbour_BridgeAfter twenty-two hours of flying and layovers, I finally got to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport on Sunday, February 26. I got my bag in less than 15 minutes and met my exchange, Sarah, at the arrivals gate. When we stepped outside, it was very humid and I was thankful for the shorts I put on before landing. I slept for about ten hours on the plane so by the time I landed, I wasn’t tired, and I had enough energy to walk around.

Sarah’s dad dropped us off in downtown Sydney, and the two of us walked around the water. We went up to the Sydney Opera house and continued into the area known as the Rocks, where there was an outdoor market. Then we got lunch from a really good bakery and ended our day in the city by going to Woolworths, a grocery store, to get different types of Australian food. I tried a whole bunch of Aussie treats and, of course, I tried Vegemite: a mixture of salt and yeast that tasted like salt water to me.

When we went back to Sarah’s house at the end of the day we got our things ready for school, baked muffins, and ate dinner outside. Their backyard was filled with different types of parrots that were flying all around us while we ate.

The next day was my first day at school and it was really nice. The school is on two separate campuses that are just down the street from each other. Instead of advisory, they have something called lunary, which we have twice a week with our house, Whitley. At Methodist Ladies’ College, we have to bring our own lunches and snacks, but they do have a nice cafe that they call the canteen, where you can buy food.

So far, this trip has been amazing. I was able to travel here on my own through three different time zones, I’m on the other side of the world experiencing new cultures and going to a new school, and I’m having a lot of fun. – Ella Waxman ’19, Student Exchange at Methodist Ladies’ College

Student Exchange: Athletics Galore

Simon_ShepherdI’ve been at Stanford Lake College for a week and a half and overall my experience has been great.

Our daily routine consists of an early 6:45 am breakfast, then five hours of classes. After that, we go to our extra curricular activities or athletics on the big field. While our extra curriculars are more or less the same as LCC, the athletics are a bit different. Among South African sports such as cricket, rugby and field hockey, they also focus a lot on track and field. Since I’ve been here, I’ve competed in and won the school’s long jump competition, and made the team. I also made top three in the high jump competition.

The actual curriculum and materials taught are similar to LCC, however the school is less technology-oriented. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it opens me up to new teaching styles.

I’ve really been enjoying my time here so far! – Simon Sheppard ’19, Exchange Student at Stanford Lake College