Student Exchange: City of Gold

Ash Wednesday_ Saints Girls 2017I arrived in South Africa two weeks ago to attend St Stithians Girls’ College. So far it has been an amazing experience. Johannesburg has many nicknames such as Joburg, Jozi and the City of Gold. It is referred to as the City of Gold because of all the gold mining that has left the city with gold sand.

After about 21 hours of travelling (including one 15-hour flight), I arrived in South Africa to meet my host family. I met my exchange, Edith, her parents and her three siblings who are 10, 5 and 4. Everyone here is very welcoming and it is completely normal to greet a person you have never met before with a hug (which took some getting used to).

Living in South Africa is very different from living in Canada. All middle-upper class families live behind walls topped with fences of barbed wire, electric wire or both. The less fortunate people live in places called townships where people build houses from any scrap material they can find and they all live in extremely close proximity, often fitting millions of people into tiny plots of land. The main townships of Johannesburg are Soweto, Cosmo, Diepsluit and Alex.

Many languages are spoken here, the primary ones being English, Afrikaans, Sotho and Zulu. I have learnt a lot of new South African words such as “eina” being the word they use instead of ouch when they are in pain or “woza” meaning come here.

School here is very different from LCC. Everyone brings their own lunches, we are allowed our phones in class and we have to attend chapel weekly because it is a religious (Methodist) school. I am taking grade 10 classes but I am finding that a lot of what they are learning is similar to what we are learning at LCC in grade 9. Also, to pass a test you need 33% meaning that it is very hard to fail a test.

School pride is very important at Saints. On Thursday I watched the inter-house aquatics tournament. The four houses: Trewen, Cambourne, Stratton and Kenwyn competed in diving, water polo and swim racing. Everyone got dressed in their house colours and cheered on their houses with organized cheers called war cries that are accompanied by drums.

I have had the experience of visiting a game reserve in rural South Africa. Nature here is referred to as the bush. I got to see many animals such as lions, giraffes, ostriches, cheetahs, impalas, hyenas and wildebeests. We were able to get very close to these animals and it was amazing to be able to see them in such close proximity.

So far, South Africa has been a great experience and I am glad that I chose to go on exchange and visit this amazing country. – Natasha Ryan ’19, Exchange Student at St Stithians Girls’ 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

Student Exchange: Exploring the Animal Kingdom

IMG_7898On March 12, I was taken to the Rhino and Lion Reserve where I had a once in a lifetime experience. About an hour into our drive, I saw the big sign with two lion statues next to it. We drove in and I immediately saw animals. I saw ostriches and a giraffe. While driving around, we saw all sorts of bucks, like the blesbuck, rooihartebeest, sable and springbok, which is South Africa’s national animal. We also saw a warthog with her two babies. We then drove up to the predator camp, which is where the more dangerous animals are, and we were just in time for the feedings. We watched wild dogs, cheetahs and lions being fed. It was so cool because we were right next to all of them in our car watching them eat.

We then went to the cubs pavilion where there were cubs and other grown feline friends. There were also pygmy hippos and a rhino, but because the cats are so dangerous and you couldn’t be in a car in that area, they were behind fences so you couldn’t get hurt. At the cub centre, there were baby lions, tigers and cheetahs. I got to pet baby tigers which was so exciting! Some of the larger cats we saw, were grown cheetahs and tigers, leopards and black leopards. When we were driving back towards the exit we saw some zebra too. As we were about to leave we saw the giraffe right next to the restaurant balcony so I rushed up and as I got there, I saw its long neck and head right in front of me. I probably could’ve touched it! By the end of that visit I had seen the lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard, which is four out of the big five.

The next weekend we went to the elephant sanctuary, which also consists of a mini monkey sanctuary. We were put into a group of around 20 people. We walked through the monkey sanctuary where there were lemurs and bush babies. Next, as we walked through a gate, there were two elephants standing right in front of us. We got two buckets of food that we had to feed to them. I cupped my hands and put the food in one of the elephant’s trunk, and then he brought it up to his mouth. Once we emptied the buckets, we got a lesson on the anatomy of the elephant and saw some bones, which were so big. We then met two other elephants, and got to touch them and take pictures with them. I touched an elephant’s trunk, tusks, stomach, legs and ears. We also got to look inside his mouth and see his teeth and tongue. I then went to see the second elephant and got a kiss on the cheek. His trunk was so big and dirty, so it left a muddy mark on my face. Once all of us had gotten kissed by the elephant, we went to walk with two other elephants. It was my turn to walk with them, so I put out my hand behind me and she put her trunk to my fingers as if holding my hand. We walked for a few minutes and then said goodbye. It was such an exciting outing and on top of that, we visited an African craft market. After both of those trips I got to see all of the big five. How many people can say that?

– Dahlia Kahn ‘18, Exchange Student at St. Stithians College

Student Exchange: Gaining New Perspectives

Dahlia_Kahn26On Saturday, March 5, I attended my first ever rugby game. I went with my host and her dad, two other exchanges and their hosts and their families. It was at this huge stadium with what looked like a football field in the middle. We were all dressed up in blue, including face paint, to cheer for the Blue Bulls. The Blue Bulls were from South Africa and were playing against the Rebels, who were Australian. We were all sitting on the edge of our seats cheering and having a great time. We won the game and everyone was jumping and screaming for joy. Once the game was over and we were just about to leave, they opened the gates to the field and a bunch of kids ran onto it. At first we weren’t too sure what was going on, but then realized that anyone could run on the field and have a good time. The rugby players were also there behind a rope taking photos and signing autographs. It was a really good game, the best one I have ever seen.

A few days later, on March 9, I went to Albert Street with the grade eights on a community service outing. There I got the chance to spend time with young children who don’t have parents and are refugees from other African countries. We got there and the first thing I noticed was that when the kids saw us they were so excited. They were waving and smiling at us and it was a great feeling. We got separated into groups of two and placed in classrooms. I was placed into a grade 2 class with around 12 students. The class itself was very small and cramped and there were no games or books, which is very different from the grade 2 classes at LCC. It really made me reflect on how lucky and fortunate I am for everything I have. Once we got to know some of the children, we played games with them such as Simon Says. A few minutes later they had a break. Where they played was very shocking to me. It was in a small back alley with barbed wire around it, pipes above the ground, and a big muddy puddle because it was raining. There was a piece of cardboard in the middle of it which all the kids wanted to jump on and over. They were all running and jumping and even fighting over whose turn it was. It really made me think how these kids have so little and just jumping in a puddle put a huge smile on their faces. Time passed really fast and it was time to go. I will never forget that day of how just playing a game with those kids or giving them a hug put a huge smile on their faces. It was such a memorable experience, one I will keep with me forever.

Dahlia Kahn ‘18, Exchange Student at St. Stithians College

Scenic Cape Town

Dahlia_Kahn11On Wednesday, February 17, I landed in Cape Town awaiting the adventure that followed. We got in quite late so our journey only really began the following day. We awoke early in the morning and headed off to Table Mountain. We reached the top and the view was amazing. You could see everything. I walked around, took a ton of pictures and had a great time. After, we went to the aquarium, which was pretty cool. We got to hold starfish, sea urchins and sea anemones. We also saw many other creatures, including fish, sharks and turtles. It had been a long day and we needed to get some sleep.

On Friday, we decided to take the train to Simonstown and then walk to Boulders Beach, otherwise known as the beach with all the penguins. The train ride was very scenic and we were by the ocean the whole time. We even got to see dolphins swimming and jumping around. When I reached Boulders Beach, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were so many penguins. There were baby penguins and even eggs!

The last day, we woke up early in the morning and started our drive to Cape Point, the most southern part of Africa. We got there after two hours and hiked up the mountain to see the point and everything around it. We saw where the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans met as well as beautiful beaches. We walked back down and headed home. On Sunday, we flew back to Joburg. After this long journey I can definitely say that Cape Town is a beautiful city and I would love to go back one day.

 – Dahlia Kahn ‘18, Exchange Student at St. Stithians College