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: Exploring Melbourne and Northern Queensland

IMG_0928After spending more than 20 hours in flight aboard three different planes, I arrived in Melbourne in the morning of July 8 where my exchange, Lachlan, and his family were waiting for me. Although I was very tired from the long trip, I was looking forward to seeing Lachlan again and to finally meet his family. They were all very welcoming and I felt comfortable with them right away.

It is now winter in Australia and Carey Baptist Grammar School is currently on their holiday. We took advantage of time off school to explore the city of Melbourne. We took the train downtown to the Flinders Street Station and explored the Central Business District of the city. We spent some time walking around the Yarra River and visiting places like Federation Square. The city has a lot of very interesting modern art sculptures with a heavy Aboriginal influence, which I thought was very impressive and neat. We also went to the Eureka Tower, which is the tallest building in Australia. From the 88th floor, we could see the entire city, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Art Centre and St Paul’s Cathedral. It was really spectacular! I also got the chance to visit Monash University, where Lachlan’s dad works in physiology. He is doing research on diabetes and obesity and how the brain is linked with these two things, which was really interesting. He had a lot of animals in his basement that he was testing on like rats, mice and rabbits. We also visited a 3D print lab on the campus which was amazing as they were printing with all sorts of different materials, including stainless steel.

I went with my exchange family to Port Douglas in Northern Queensland, where it was much warmer than in Melbourne. Even though we spent a lot of time swimming and going to the beach because it was so warm and nice outside, we also explored different places in the area. We first visited Mossman Gorge, which we got to after driving past what seemed like endless sugar cane fields. The rocks in the gorge were massive and the trees and plants in the area were really colourful and nice to look at. We also went to the Daintree River which was near the gorge and took a crocodile tour. This area is known for having a large crocodile population and we saw quite a few of them. I was amazed at how calm they stayed even though our boat was very near to where they were resting. We also saw some unique birds and a few tree snakes whilst on the river.

On another day, we went up to Cape Tribulation, which is a massive beach on the coast of the Northern Queensland that James Cook found when he first discovered Australia in 1770. On the way to the beach, we stopped at the Daintree Discovery Centre, where we learned about the oldest rainforest in the world and how the ecosystem worked in that part of Australia. It was very interesting to learn about this unique place because I never would have expected that there would be a rain forest in Australia but it was quite remarkable. They were also showing many old animals that lived in Australia that are now extinct, including dinosaurs and procoptodons, which are sort of like giant kangaroos. When we arrived at the Cape, I was shocked at how untouched the place was and how they’ve kept the water and the beach so beautiful.

However, the highlight of the trip for me was when we went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t really know what to expect since I had never snorkeled before but it was an amazing experience. We went to three different places on the reef and we were able to see many different fish, sharks, oysters and corals living together. Some of the fish were so brightly colored and fluorescent it was as if they were artificial. We also saw massive grouper fish and even a couple reef sharks. The coral was also impressive and we could see how important it is in providing shelter and food to the other organisms in the sea. Although I wasn’t able to take a physical memory of what I saw, this was something that I will definitely not forget. It was an awesome first week that I really enjoyed. I discovered a lot about hidden parts of Australia that I didn’t previously know about and I’m happy I had the chance to visit these special places.

School will restart soon and I will be able to participate in classes and meet new people, which I am looking forward to. Even though I am going to school in the summer, I’m sure that it will be a very unique experience and I can’t wait to start! – Andrew Fata ’19 Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School

Student Exchange: The Treasures of Indore, India

StudExchange_2016_2017_Robeck_DalyCollege_05One message of Hinduism is that you should stay calm in the face of adversity and not let fear overpower your peace. This is represented by the Hindu god Vishnu, when he remains still, while floating on the cosmic waters of the universe, surrounded by many headed snakes.

When I first arrived in India, I saw many people driving their scooters on the busy streets that had no stop lights. It was surprising!

As time progressed, I began to experience the hidden treasures of Indore: the temples, the festivals, the food, the call to prayer. One temple was called the Kanch Mandir, and it was a mosaic Jain temple. Its interior was decorated using millions of handcrafted shards of glass and the inside glittered when the sunlight bounced off the walls. Another temple featured statues of the gods, with large murals that told the story of how they came to be, and at the front stood two large elephants.

When I walked in our neighbourhood temple, I could smell the incense burning, as women dressed in saris brought their offerings to the god, Shiva. Outside these temples was the city, which, is the home to many venders trying to sell their goods to the general public. I found many fruit stands, selling mangoes and bananas, as well as stalls selling jewelry and other handmade goods. I even attended an Indian engagement ceremony, and saw the mix of both traditional and modern attire, as happy people danced to Indian pop music on the dance floor. I opened my eyes, and cherished the feelings of celebration, and joy. I was starting to feel more and more at ease, especially given the warm welcome ceremony of my host family.

Finally, Daly College reminds me of the lost city of Atlantis, with its dome shaped roof tops and its spread out campus. I saw the beauty of the lost city, and focused on all the adventures I would have in the near future! – Jane Robeck ’19 (Student Exchange @ Daly College)

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Student Exchange: A Taste of Everything in Buenos Aires

Avinash_LalOn June 21, I took a 13-hour flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina is such a great place with a lot of amazing people. So far I am having a great time and learning more about Argentine culture. I am very happy here in Argentina and I’m sure this feeling will last for the entire trip.

I’ve made many new friends at Belgrano Day School. Most are in my classes, but there are also some people I met during lunch and other activities. Everyone at BDS is very nice and welcoming. Whenever I enter a new class, the students give me a place to sit, the teacher introduces them to me and then lets me introduce myself to the class. There are six other exchanges currently at the school with me, all from different places in the United States: Colorado, North Carolina and New York. I am the only Canadian and the only one from my school.

The Belgrano Day School campus is much like LCC. They are both day schools and have a similar sized campus (though LCC is bigger), but instead of having fields on campus, when we have gym class we take a 30-minute drive to the fields that the school owns.

I have done a lot of different things, such as a walking tour of the city, visiting different neighbourhoods, and watching the school play, which was utterly amazing. Over 100 students joined the musical play, The Wedding Singer, and it was extremely well done.

The food is also very good in Argentina with a lot of meat products, such as steaks, milanesas and asado, Argentine dishes. Their desserts are also very good. They have medialunas which look like croissants but taste a bit different, and also alfajores, a cookie filled with dulce de leche, their version of maple syrup.

The main differences between Canada and Argentina are that there is no snow in the winter, the class setup, and the driving.

In Buenos Aires, even during the coldest time of year, July (yeah, that’s surprising), you will not find a trace of snow anywhere. This is not how I imagine winter, since in Canada temperatures can go down to -40º Celsius.

The class setup is different in that students stay in the same class and teachers change classes. There are some classes that they have to move for, such as art, music and lab, but they mostly keep the same classroom. The school day starts at 8:15 am but ends at 4:05 pm. Eight hour school days instead of seven! There are many classes that are in Spanish, but I didn’t choose them as there was enough Spanish being spoken in the English classes and my Spanish is not quite up to par with theirs. Each period is 40 minutes and are in groups of two, so if you don’t have lunch during that group of two, you have the same class for 80 minutes instead.

Finally, the driving is very different as well. In Canada, most people are respectful of pedestrians, but in Argentina you better watch out because they will not stop for you. The bus drivers are crazy as they rarely obey street signs and don’t look out for people walking.

I am having a lot of fun and I am glad I have much longer to stay. I have enjoyed going everywhere whether it is to the top of a lighthouse in the middle of the city with the other exchanges, or to a different neighborhood where the walls have graffiti art on them. I am truly having an amazing time in Argentina. – Avinash Lal ’19, Exchange Student at Belgrano Day School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Exchange: The School Experience Down Under

William_Hamilton1I am writing this blog from the plane, over the Pacific Ocean. Leaving everyone I met in Adelaide was a very difficult and sad thing to do, but I can’t wait to see everyone back home. Even though my last four weeks at Westminster were less active than Westventure, they were no less fun.

The weekend I returned from the trip, I went to my first Aussie Rules Football game, and I absolutely loved it. To be fair, I knew I would, because any sport that involves running, kicking and tackling would interest me. The Adelaide Crows won the game and, four games into the season, they are Premiership favourites. I have decided that I will try to follow the AFL from Montreal.

I then had to come back to reality and actually go to school. However, Westminster School is nothing short of great. In some ways, it’s very similar to LCC. For example, they have a house system, they have a core class, but also some elective courses to choose from. On the other hand, some things are extremely different. Between each class, you walk outside – even in winter! Also, they have seven classes in a day but they only last 40 minutes. Finally, lunch is completely different. You can either bring your own lunch or buy food from the canteen. However, there is no cafeteria; you can eat anywhere in the school. Every day, I would eat outside on the field.

The following weekend, my host family took me down to their beach house in a small town called Middleton. As I was hoping, Thijs taught me how to surf. Although I wasn’t exactly a pro, I did manage to stand up a few times. Also, we went for bike rides around the town and visited a wildlife park called Urimbirra, where I fed kangaroos and saw all kinds of Australian animals such as koalas, emus, cassowaries and echidnas.

After another good week of school, on Friday, April 7, we left school a few hours early to catch a flight to Melbourne. It is honestly one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been to. The whole downtown area is built around the Yarra River and I had a really good time. We went up the Eureka Tower and did “The Edge.” You walk into a glass box and the box moves three metres out of the building. It was a pretty scary experience but also one to remember. We also went to a family friend’s Porsche 911 race and I got to sit in the racecar and rev the engine. We then flew back to Adelaide on Sunday in time to go to school on Monday morning.

My third week at school was my final week, because Westminster had a break starting on the Thursday. Immediately after school, we went on a five-day trip to a small town called Marion Bay in Innes National Park at the tip of Yorke Peninsula. Throughout the national park there are countless undeveloped beaches. Every day, we went to a new beach. We went swimming, bodysurfing, body boarding, surfing, hiking, sand boarding and exploring. We even discovered a rock pool at one of the beaches and went swimming in it. Altogether, it was an amazing trip. I can’t remember ever having seen such beautiful uninhabited beaches.

Back in Adelaide, we spent my last few days touring the city and seeing the places I hadn’t gotten the chance to see. Also, for a final goodbye, Thijs and I went to the beach with about 10 other people. It was a great time but also pretty sad.

Looking back now while I’m en route home, I can say that Australia was the time of my life. I met so many amazing people who I will never forget. I also want to take this chance to thank everyone at Westminster for being so welcoming and going out of their way to make my time in Adelaide as good as it could be. More importantly, I’d like to thank the Jaarsma family for being the best host family I could have asked for. You guys took me to do everything I could have hoped to do, and more. I can’t wait to see everyone at home but I promise that I will do everything I can to come back to Adelaide to visit. – William Hamilton ’19, Exchange Student at Westminster School