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

Student Exchange: Saying Goodbye to Australia

Ella_Waxman13Coming into my last week, I feel a bunch of different emotions. I’m excited to get home, see my friends and family, and sleep in my own bed; but I am also sad to leave the place I’ve been fortunate enough to call home for the past five weeks.

On Friday, I had my last youth group at Sarah’s church and said goodbye to a lot of friends. Although the chances of seeing everybody again are very slim, I’ll always remember the great friendships I made here. I was told by a number of people that I’m welcome back any time and, next month, a group of my friends and I are going to try to video chat and play a game of cards together.

The weather on Saturday was great, and even though my exchange had a birthday party to go to, I got to go into the city and walk around with her mom. We went to the New South Wales Art Gallery, where I got to see and learn more about Aboriginal art. After almost two hours at the Gallery, we went across the street to the Botanical Gardens. There, I saw a flying fox hanging from a tree, unique plant species and eels in the pond! For dinner, Sarah and I met up with a group of her camp friends and we went to Darling Harbour. We ate right next to the water and then walked around afterwards.

Sadly, the weather was bad again on Sunday and we weren’t able to go to the beach like we had originally planned. I was able to finish up my Australian shopping by going to one real and multiple fake UGG stores. Sarah and I took the train into the city and went shopping right next to the Sydney Tower. I also got Tim Tams and other Australian treats to bring back.

This trip has really been a once in a lifetime experience. Even if I come back to Sydney, it will not be the same. Because of this Round Square exchange, I have had the opportunity to fly across the world and make memories and friendships that will last forever. I’m sad to leave all of my friends here, but I know that we’ll keep in touch and that I’ll remember this trip for the rest of my life. – Ella Waxman ’19, Student Exchange at Methodist Ladies’ College

Student Exchange: Exploring California

It all started off last Sunday morning. Adam picked up my dad and me and brought us to the airport. After going through security, we made it on the plane and arrived in California about six hours later. The weather was amazing. On the first day of school, I noticed how different the school was from LCC. It was all outdoors. For the Middle School, there were only 8 classrooms, and they were labeled classroom A, classroom B, etc. The classes were very small and all separate. To go from class to class, you need to walk outside. Also, the grades are very small. For Rahil’s grade, (my exchange’s grade) there are only 54 students while at LCC there are approximately 100 students per grade. Also, at Athenian everyone eats outdoors and there isn’t any assigned seating during lunch. There are also seven periods a day.

So far, I’m having an amazing time in California. The Athenian School is fun and Rahil’s friends have been nice to me too. On many days, when Rahil was practicing baseball with his dad in the backyard, Adam and I played basketball on their mini-court. We also went swimming in the pool.

On Saturday, we went to San Francisco. We went to Union Square and saw huge buildings. We saw Alcatraz Prison and the Golden Gate Bridge. We also went to a seven-floor NIKE store. It was insane. I can’t wait for the second week in California to see what else I can do. I’m excited to explore the rest of California! – Andrew Korne ’20, Student Exchange at The Athenian School

Student Exchange: Outdoor Education in the Australian Countryside


After by far the longest trip of my life, my exchange, Thijs, and I landed In Adelaide Airport on Friday, March 10, and were immediately greeted by his family and two of his friends who had left school early to come pick us up. Despite our jetlag, Thijs and I didn’t have much time to relax, as we had to pack for a two-week outdoor education trip called Westventure. We were leaving in less than two days! When we arrived at Westminster School early Sunday morning ready to get on the bus, I was so nervous. I was about to spend the next two weeks in the Australian countryside with Thijs and 30 strangers.

When we arrived, we were immediately thrown into sailing and kayaking sessions. After a few days, which included three sailing lessons, three kayaking lessons, an overnight hike and three 5km runs, we were already exhausted. However, the constant physical activities and team-building challenges didn’t give us time to be tired. On the fourth day, we embarked on our unassisted sail to a small town called Milang. In Milang, we spent some of the money we brought to Westventure in the downtown area. We wandered around the town, eating real food and throwing a Frisbee around in a park. We finally had some time to relax. The next day, we woke up bright and early to pack up and kayak back to camp. It was a rough awakening back to reality, because the following morning, we had to run 17km in a group of eight. We had to stay together the whole time and cross the finish line as a group. It turned out to be more of a teamwork exercise than a physical one. Our next challenge was paddling to a small strip of Aboriginal land called the Coorong. We arrived, and set up our campsite. We were right on the Coorong Channel, but if you walked 1.5km away from the water, you would reach the Southern Ocean. While we were there, we went on a guided environmental walk. Our guides were Aboriginal elders, and they knew everything about the Coorong. I learned a lot about which plants you should and shouldn’t eat in South Australia. We also went over to the ocean beach, played beach games and just let loose and had fun. We then sailed back to the campsite and woke up early for the individual 17km run. This was the last challenge on Westventure, and the following day we went back to Adelaide.

The day we got back, it was day 1 of Sports Day, their equivalent of Shourawe. Apparently, I had been signed up for 800m and 1500m races, because no one else wanted to do them. My 1500m was that day, and my 800m was the following day. I was a bit sore, but still did pretty well. Luckily, so did the rest of my house, because we won Sports Day.

All in all, Westventure was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I will never forget it. I made countless memories, learned many new things, developed great friendships, and even discovered a lot about myself. I look forward to the rest of my stay, including meeting everyone who wasn’t in my camp, going to school, and all the memories yet to be made. – William Hamilton ’19, Exchange Student at Westminster School