Student Exchange: Living & Learning in Argentina

2017_2018_Student_Exchange_Isabelle_Whittall_007This past month, I have had the chance to attend school and live with a family in Argentina. It has been an incredible experience, full of new and wonderful things to learn each day.

The lifestyle here is very different. The food consists of a lot of meat, and almost every dessert has dulce de leche, a sweet spread that is similar to caramel. Some of my favourite foods here have been alfajores, empanadas, and asado. Every day we have a fourth meal – tea – in the afternoon, and dinner is eaten around 10 or 11 o’clock. This means we go to bed much later, which I thought might be hard to adjust to, but I became accustomed to the new food and schedule very quickly.

At school, we have class in one room, and the teachers come to us. At Belgrano Day School, there are 10 periods in a day, and many more classes than we have at LCC. Along with the core classes, they have economics, multiple science classes (such as biology and chemistry), and two elective courses, with the choices of art, drama, music, IT, and business studies. Half of the classes are in English and half are in Spanish. Instead of vending machines, BDS has a kiosk outside, where you can buy lunch, pastries or snacks.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, we have PE. After lunch we drive 40 minutes to a large campus with locker rooms and fields, where we have class for the rest of the day. Girls can play field hockey or volleyball, and boys can play rugby, soccer or volleyball.

On the weekends, I’ve had the chance to explore the city and experience the culture. I have gone to two quinceñeras, which are traditional parties for girls when they turn 15. They are huge events that last all night, with food, festivities, and lots of Latina music. I’ve also been around the city. Two weekends ago, we took a bus tour around Buenos Aires, going to La Boca, Puerto Madero, Palermo, and other areas in the city. I had the chance to try some food, see some monuments, and overall get a feel for what the life was like.

Last weekend, we stayed at the beach house of my host’s cousin in Mar del Plata, where we had some delicious churros and spent the days on the beach. My first weekend, we went to Lollapalooza, a huge music festival with artists such as Khalid, Imagine Dragons, Wiz Khalifa, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, and more. It was an incredible experience and a great way to start the trip.

Throughout my time here, my Spanish has been improving. My host’s family and the people from school all speak English, so I always have a way to communicate, but I have been trying to practice Spanish as much as I could. At home, the host family speaks Spanish with me and I speak it as well, to practice. At school, the students speak only Spanish with each other, so I am constantly surrounded by the language. My vocabulary has expanded quite a bit and I’ve gotten used to the Argentinian accent.

It has been an amazing month, and it’s hard to believe I only have one more week here. I have met so many incredible people and made so many memories that I will never forget. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend this time here, and know it is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. – Isabelle Whittall ’20, Exchange Student at Belgrano Day School

Student Exchange: Adventure in Australia

2017_2018_Rebecca_Yedid_001Since arriving in Melbourne, Australia, two weeks ago, my experience has been really eye-opening.

I am attending Carey Grammar School with my exchange, Taylah. This school is so different from LCC. To get from class to class, you have to travel outdoors, so we spend most of our free time outside. This is a very big contrast for me because at LCC, the only time we go outside is for lunch recess and gym in the warm weather.

One of the many differences from LCC is that the year is split into two semesters (four terms) and for each semester they have three electives. Their electives are things that we at LCC would never think we would learn, like fashion, wood, food (cooking), CSI (as a class), and law and order. I participate in indigenous studies, where we learn about the relationship between the Australians and the Australian indigenous peoples. It is very interesting.

On Thursday, we had summer sports day, a day where all the houses compete in a number of sports, including volleyball, cricket, softball, water polo, patanque and tennis. I played volleyball with a couple of new friends and it gave me the chance to meet some new friends inside and outside my house.

Last weekend, I attended a regatta, which is like a rowing tournament. It was a unique experience and one of the highlights of my trip here. It gave me a chance to meet some more people and create some great friendships while my exchange was racing. Now that I know how the races work, I will be training with my own crew of exchanges from England and will be racing in Head of the River, an overnight regatta this coming weekend.

The Yarra River, where rowing practices take place, is a river that goes right through the city. On Wednesday morning, I had a chance to take a ride on a little boat. This was a very unique way to experience the city, and a big contrast to the way I saw it on foot. There are some cool spots to eat, including one right on the river. It is such a beautiful city.

My exchange and I have done a number of interesting things throughout these two weeks, like going to the fashion festival in Melbourne, the Ed Sheeran concert, and a wildlife sanctuary where we got to see many animals. Although moving into someone’s house and lifestyle across the world can be tough, this experience has been really enjoyable and I don’t know how I am ever going to be able to get on a plane and come back to Montreal. I love it here. – Rebecca Yedid ’20, Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School

Rowing on the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia

Yarra RiverAfter school on October 26, I was really nervous because I was about to go rowing. The team needed a cox (the person who steers the boat, gives commands, and is usually small in stature), so I volunteered to do it. I decided to try it because rowing is THE sport to do, with training six times a week and so challenging that kids drop out every year. I thought it would be a great experience, plus I’d be navigating a boat through the famous Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne. I was also nervous because maybe I’d crash the boat!

At the Yarra Yarra Rowing Club, everyone got dressed in their skin-tight outfits, with their Carey School caps and flip-flops. They also put on sunscreen under their clothes even though it was cold and cloudy. I wore my gym clothes, flip-flops, my Montreal Expos hat, and borrowed my friend Quinn’s Carey spray-jacket.

We walked downstairs into this huge room with the boats. They were like kayaks, but thinner. The 12 grade 9 rowers got together, and Nathan, the adult coach, split them up into two boats, one with four rowers, and one with eight. I was in the boat with eight rowers. Nathan talked to us about motivation and what we want to work on. The boys then went in the boat room, lifted up the boat, and placed it in the Yarra River.

The river was cold and very polluted – the water was brown. The water was up to my ankles before I could get in. I didn’t have a lot of space, sitting in my mini-chair with my feet facing toward Ben, who was providing the commands to say. I had my headset on, which was plugged into the boat, and there are speakers next to each person. Each rower had one oar, the first on the right, the next left, and so on. I wasn’t as nervous, other than the fact that eight huge guys were facing me and I was the only one who could see where we’re going. I loved talking to the guys, and every now and then I said something to keep the boys motivated, such as, “Let’s go boys!”

I was pretty good at steering the boat, with the two strings, one on each side of me. Coach Nathan was following in a motorboat and telling the boys, through a loudspeaker, what type of row to do. There was one time when I accidentally brought us close to a wall under the bridge because a boat was coming on the other side, but we didn’t crash.

As we got further into the training, they starting rowing – all eight at the same time – as if it was a race. Passing by all these skyscrapers, restaurants, and people watching and pointing at us as we went by, I realized how amazing this was. I was an exchange student from Canada navigating eight rowers on the Yarra River through Melbourne!

All the kids at Carey said they hate rowing because it’s so hard, but I had so much fun. At some point, we turned around, which wasn’t difficult. That’s when we started passing the girls and the older boys. Also, when we were on the river, we saw three different helicopters. One landed right next to us and the powerful wind generated from its blades caused water to lift and spray on us!

On the way back, I steered us perfectly so that we could put our feet on the ground when getting out. They then lifted up the boat out of the water and cleaned it inside and out, before placing it in its spot in the boat house. We all went outside to get our post-practice talk from Nathan and then got changed.

Now, it’s 10:08 pm and here I am in bed about to fall asleep. I have to say that today was an exciting day! Good night! – Max Miller ‘20, Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School

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)