Keep an Open Mind, Try New Things and Enjoy the Adventure

day-838784_960_720If there’s one thing we, as high school students, hear more than anything else, it’s the questions: So, where do you see yourself in a couple years? Or, What do you want to study when you graduate?

And if there’s one thing we feel more than anything, it’s overwhelming guilt when we are unable to come up with a solid answer to these questions.

You see, high school is the time to discover what you enjoy most. It’s the time for “personal adventure”.

Personal adventure can mean infinitely different things to different people. In fact, the words themselves only mean whatever you want them to.

Perhaps, for you, personal adventure could mean taking part in that annual March Break trip you’ve been hearing about for the past couple of years. Maybe it means standing up at Model UN or debating and speaking in front of a crowd. Or maybe it’s simply just raising your hand in class to make your ideas heard.

No matter what it means to you, high school offers you a unique chance to create your own little adventures. We won’t again be lucky enough to have so many opportunities placed in front of us while having so few responsibilities.

Because personal adventure is more than just enjoying the time we have here to the fullest. It’s more complicated than saying carpe diem. It presents the opportunity to discover not only what we actually want out of life, but why we want it and how we’ll get there.

There was a point in my high school career where I hadn’t realized the importance of these little adventures. In fact, I had planned my entire life out for the next two decades. That’s longer than any of us students have been alive.

In grade 2, I saw the movie Nim’s Island and decided that I wanted nothing more than to become a marine biologist. I was so sold on this idea that by the time I reached Middle School, I had a list of my top universities planned out. Then, grade 9 rolled around along with a year-long biology unit in science. I then realized how little I enjoyed the topic (sorry Ms. Commerford). So then, what was I supposed to do? These plans I had made to last a lifetime had suddenly fallen apart in a matter of months and I felt lost. Although we may feel confident in our own judgement, it’s impossible to know what we will enjoy before we have enjoyed it.

The thing I realized then is that excessive planning for your future takes an excessive amount of time; it leaves you with a one-track mind that is wholly closed off to new ideas and experiences.

The second I realized I no longer knew what I wanted to do was also the second I began to try new things. I signed up for every club, eager to see what I had been missing. I found a love for Model UN and politics, realized how much fun physics was and took every opportunity I was given to travel to new places.

When I was locked in to biology, I stopped myself from straying too far from it. Why waste my time doing things that won’t help my future career? And I’m not advocating for you to join a club to pad your resume. I’m asking you to not be defined by your future plans.

Because, in the end, that’s what high school is for. high school isn’t here for us to already know how our life is going to roll out for the next 20 or 30 years. High school is here for us to try new things, go on wild trips, meet new people and make life-changing memories.

So enjoy the time you have here. The future may seem infinitely brighter than the present but along the way there will be spots of darkness. And when you’re fighting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of those dark places, you must be able to look back and feel the warmth of the memories you forged to help you get through it, not the pressure of exhaustive plans that were born out of the illusion that they would save you.

To those who don’t know what you want to do in the future, you’re not alone. To those who do, I trust your judgement, and I know that you will find success and happiness in whatever you choose. – Emma Belhadfa ’18

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 Australia: Becoming a Stronger Individual

Auclair_Sophia_GlidingThe past few weeks have been fun, doing things I never expected to do in a million years and challenging myself to push my comfort zone and make new friends.

While the first week of school was a bit tough, this experience has helped me become a stronger individual. The classes are super fun, the teachers are wonderful and overall, Westminster School is just a great environment.

In math, the students are working on items which I have already covered at LCC. In English, we are studying Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In history, we are working on the Industrial Revolution. Meanwhile, in art, we are looking at the painting style called Impressionism. It is very fun to learn new ways of observing things in these classes. For example, in math, I have been learning new styles of studying, which has also been helpful in learning skills.

I believe I have been participating very well in class and simply getting to know the environment. I have also been making a ton of Australian friends and friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Last weekend, I went plane gliding and flew the plane myself!! I also asked the instructor if we were able to do aerobatics and luckily he did a barrel roll, which was awesome. This recent weekend I went to a maze where I climbed four levels and had to avoid obstacles. This was approximately four stories high and lots of very hard work but a blast.

I am leaving in 14 days and will be sure to make the most out of the rest of the time I have here. We will be going to Sydney next weekend…stay tuned! – Sophia Auclair ’19, Exchange Student at Westminster School, Adelaide, Australia

Student Exchange Australia: Discovering my Passion

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Since I’ve arrived in Australia, all my days on this wonderful journey have been filled with joy. This trip has not only been the best time of my life so far but it has also been a time where I learnt about myself as an individual and my passion for animals has deepened.

The day after I arrived I started to explore this beautiful country. On July 19, my exchange student, Abigail, Angela (her mom) and Alana (a close friend of Abigail’s), and I, explored downtown Adelaide and the amazing sites that awaited us. We first started off our day by visiting the central markets where we wandered around for a while, and then headed off to the North Terrace where we saw the university of Adelaide, an art gallery and a library. We also had an opportunity to visit Adelaide’s war memorial; it was beautifully detailed and filled with representations of soldiers that fought for Australia during World War II. We then visited the Alpine festival, which is an annual festival to celebrate winter with a lot of different fun activities available to the public. We ended the day at the Torrens River, where we relaxed for a little while.

On July 20, I had a very memorable experience. I learnt something about myself that I am very happy with as it made me aware of my deep passion for animals. It was during our visit to the Urimbirra Wild Life Park where I got to see so many different animals from those I have seen in Canada. Yes, everyone loves animals but something in my heart told me that day that I definitely want to work with animals in the future. This day was also filled with numerous activities, such as a visit to Victor Harbour where we ate fish and chips and indulged in some candy I had never seen or eaten before. We also walked around Granite Island where we found some spectacular views overlooking the bay. However, this will be the day where my happiness was greatest as it touched my passion for animals.

The next day, we went to Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Although there weren’t many leaves on the trees to see—it is winter in July, which feels like a warm Canadian fall—it was an amazing experience to see the Australian nature that surrounded us. After this, we went to Melba’s chocolate factory. Who can get enough junk food? Here, I tried many different chocolates that Australia is known for in this part of the world. We then walked through Hahndorf, a charming German town with lots of pretty sites and then wound down our day with a little bowling and dinner with some of Abigail’s friends.

July 22 was somewhat rainy so we had a laid back day as we walked around the Westfield Marion Mall where I had an opportunity to see stores that are unique to Australia. We also caught a movie—Central Intelligence—that was actually pretty funny. It was too rainy to do anything else so we headed home and had a relaxing night watching movies and eating junk food. The next day the weather had cleared up, and we spent some time in the Kuipto Forest where we made a bonfire and…went Pokémon hunting! We also explored the forest and roasted yummy marshmallows.

On July 24, we walked down to Jetty Road in Glenelg where we strolled along the coast of their beach, which was very windy. This being their winter, it was too cold to swim in the water as the temperature hovers around 15 degrees Celsius.

Although my trip has only begun, I have had an awesome time so far. I am very excited to go to Westminster School—even though it is my school summer break!!— and I am really happy that I am having this opportunity to travel the world.  – Sophia Auclair ’18, Exchange Student at Westminster School, Adelaide, Australia