Highlights 2005 Exchange
All About Places To Go!
It is an experience in itself to go and stay with a different family for seven weeks, but when that family lives across the other side of the world it just makes it even better! As you undoubtedly know, Australia is one very big country, full of exciting and interesting things to do – and all very different to the kind of things we find fun in the UK.
Obviously one thing we all associate with Australia is hot weather and beaches. During my trip, we stopped off at many memorable beaches, including Apollo Bay and those on our drive along the Great Ocean Road.
That Great Ocean Road route that took us to Lorne was where we visited the 12 Apostles (giant standing stones in the ocean), the Otway Fly (a treetop walk), Erskine Falls and plenty of lookouts, viewing decks that are perfect for photo opportunities.
On the third weekend, my exchange family flew me out of their home city of Melbourne to Sydney. It was wonderful! We got to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, look around all the bays and ‘Surprise Surprise!’ enjoy another beach, this time in Manly.
Just like England, Australia has its native animals and, back close to Melbourne, Healesville is an Australian-owned Animal Sanctuary where we saw kangaroos, koalas, emus and other indigenous creatures. I also got to explore the zoo and see lots of animals from all over the rest of the world.
One of my favourite trips in Australia was probably to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. Here, was a little village that replicated the Great Gold Rush of 1851 and the Eureka Stockade. I was able to dress up and learn lots about the way of life in the mid-19 th Century finishing my day at Sovereign Hill by watching an evocative sound and light show.
By the end of my stay I felt we’d explored most of this amazing country. But instead, I was told I had ‘just scratched the surface of Australia’ so that just means one thing: I’ll just HAVE to go back and explore some more!
Carey school is about the same size as St. Aidans. However, it is, I found, very different. To begin with there’s the basic things like on their school campus they have the equivalent of our Reception all the way up to what we call Sixth Form. However, you never really get to see anyone from the Senior School or Junior School as you only stay in the Middle School (year 7 – 9) section of the campus.
The school is practically all outdoors. The corridors are covered with a sort of ceiling but otherwise it’s outside. It’s only really the classrooms and main hall that are properly inside. There are quite a few gardens and courtyards such as the Winter Garden which is where we spent most of lunch (45 mins???) and recess (40 mins), as it is a great place for socializing and getting to know more people.
Also, Carey is a private school so you all get laptops that you use in most of your lessons and is very different from using pen and paper all the time! In addition, everyone gets their own lockers which are really big and makes a nice change from having to lug your school bag around all day.
But one of the things that I found most different was the style of teaching. It’s much more laid back and the teachers don’t stress out so much if you talk – just so long as you’re getting the work done. Another difference is that, unlike at St. Aidan’s where the majority of pupils get school lunches, at Carey almost everyone has packed lunches and basically eats it throughout the day – a bit of a strange thing to say but I noticed that so I thought I may as well mention it!
Also Carey has a separate sports campus called Bulleen. You travel to it by bus for your PE lessons which you only have once a week but, unlike at St. Aidans, they have Saturday sports as well. Bulleen is really big – probably about the same size as all of St. Aidans!
Year 9 Australia Exchange – Personal Qualities
The year 9 trip to Melbourne, Australia, is a fantastic experience and defiantly ranks as one of, if not the best, experience of my life. If you want to go, you will need certain qualities to make the trip as successful as possible.
You need to be confident. Obviously you need this for the simple reason that going to literally the other side of the world for six weeks to stay with a family you barely know, in a completely new, and in many ways different community, requires you to have faith in yourself and a belief that you can achieve this, and enjoy the experience, and take all the chances that arise. You need to be able to adapt to any problems that may arise and not get worried about them, to face problems and move on from them. If you expect to go through the six weeks of life in Australia without the slightest problem, then you are wrong; basically, you may find yourself in a slight misunderstanding but you must just be able to get through it and move on. You must have good social skills and be good at making friends and talking to people who you maybe don’t know very well. In my opinion and I believe this is also true of the others who I went with, one the very best things you get out of the exchange is the friends you make and to be able to enjoy the experience fully you must be good at making friends and not shy of talking to people. Not only people of your own age but remember that you will be staying with a family and you must be unhesitating in talking to the family you stay with in the same way you would talk to your own family. One very important point is that you don’t get home sick so if you have never been away from home or if you think that you couldn’t handle that much time away from home then maybe this trip isn’t for you!
In terms of when you return home, you must be academically very capable, Year 9 is a very big year in terms of exams as you have your Key Stage 3 SATS in May. If you feel that going on the Australia exchange would jeopardise your chances of doing well in your exams then I would say, your SATS are very important so concentrate on them. You must be conscientious enough to catch up with all the work you miss whilst away and also to complete the work your teachers set you to do whilst in Australia. It would be sensible to be aware of the fact that the work you do in Australia is not necessarily the same as the work you do at St. Aidans, but, this is not really a bad thing, it could well open up new interests for you.
Finally, I think the most important thing is that you are both sensible and up for a laugh and a good time; if you can combine these two things you are bound to have a wonderful time in Australia, just like I did!
My Personal Development
While I was in Australia and during the whole of the exchange I have personally developed in many ways. These are all ways in which I mostly needed to develop in order to make the exchange work successfully.
Communication – at first I found communication with my host family quite hard. I didn’t know what to talk about. It was difficult having to explain who people were or what some things are. Even though we speak the same language we have a surprising amount of words to describe things or objects that are different. My communication skills have improved a lot and I find it a lot easier to hold a long conversation with people I don’t know that well. With my communication skills I have made many friends and met many different people.
Confidence – my confidence with other people has increased. When I am meeting people I don’t tend to feel embarrassed and I don’t feel afraid to express myself.
Personality – my new Friends in Australia thought I was funny. Many people thought I was kind, generous and chatty. The host family said I was a credit to myself and family.
Adaptation to a different family lifestyle – living in a house with a different family lifestyle was different and a skill I had to develop. It was strange at first because I was living with a family that was used to their own lifestyle and I was used to my own. Adapting to their lifestyle wasn’t something I found hard as I did it naturally and gradually got used to their routine.
Independence – All of the following and more developed my independence:
- Coping with the journey
- Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- The School differences
- Staying on the 68 th floor in a hotel above Sydney
- Diving through the waves at the Gold Coast beach
This experience has made me want to travel and definitely go back to Australia.
School In Australia
School in Australia is very different to our school in England.
During my time at Eltham College in Australia the main difference that I noticed between their school and St. Aidans was the timetable. During the week we would do five hours of P.E instead of the two hours we have in England. We would also be given the opportunity to elect 3 of 9 subjects that we would like to take part in during our stay there. We took part in usually five or six subjects per day depending on what we were doing. School would start at 8:45 and finish at 3:45.
Another main difference was the way the school was spread out. There were two separate campuses based in the city and the country which the pupils were at for half of the school term and then would change for the other half. The buildings were smaller but there were more of them. During my stay in Australia, we had most our lessons in a house that was separate from the rest of the school. In the morning, we would walk down to the house and stay there for registration.
Finally, another difference I noticed was the teachers. We would refer to the teacher by his or her first name and we would not have to stand up for them when they entered the room. The teachers are also a lot less strict and set hardly any homework compared to our teachers in England.
Overall, school in Australia is a lot more relaxed, less formal, easy and more energetic.
Going on trips was a great way to see parts of Australia and discover the differences between England and Australia. I went to numerous places and had loads of fun! Visiting places inside Melbourne was just as good as going outside of my exchange’s home city. One of the other pupils on the exchange didn’t go to Sydney, but still had an ace time.
I think most people on the exchange went to Melbourne Zoo, which was great. I just went with my exchange and her mum, which was a good opportunity to get to know them better and see Australian wildlife.
I also went to Torquay surfing, which was amazing. It was great to be surfing in the surfing capital of the world and drive past the beach where they hold major worldwide competitions. I had a 2-hour lesson in the hot sunshine, which was brilliant. Afterwards we went shopping in all the Australian surf shops. This was a great day as I got to see the surfing side of Australia and I got to have a go as well, a beach down from the pros! I also got to see lots of scenery driving to Torquay.
On the weekends when nothing was planned we just went shopping in the city and went to the movies with friends from school. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in our social lives.
Going to Sydney was brilliant. Sydney was nothing like I expected it to be. I visited lots of famous sights such as the Opera House and Sydney Tower. We had a cruise round the harbour and saw the ever-famous Harbour Bridge. We went out for meals and did lots of shopping! It was a luxury for my exchange and her mum as well as they hadn’t done all the sightseeing in Sydney before, so it benefitted them as well as me!
Canberra was brilliant. I went with my exchange and we stayed with my friends of the family for the weekend. We went to the AIS and Parliament House. It was good to see the political side of Australia just like you can in London and also for my exchange to see the differences between Melbourne and Canberra.
I also went on a few trips through school for an afternoon or morning. I went kayaking down the rapids of a local river which was fun, although a bit scary, a great experience. I also helped in the primary school swimming gala giving out the numbers of places to swimmer and doing the rope, which told the swimmers when to stop after a false start. Then there were the trips to the local swimming pool to do aquarobics and the trips to the gymnastics centre for pit gym.
Overall going on trips was brilliant and a great experience, which made my visit there extra special. I hope to give my exchange as good a time as she gave me.
To Go On The Australian Exchange, You Have To Have A Certain Kind Of Character..
- You have to be comfortable with going away from home as seven weeks is a long time and sociable, as your going to be meeting a lot of new people, and staying with people you don’t know.
- You need to be friendly, and as you are staying in someone else’s house you need to try to be tidy and well mannered.
- It’s good to be outgoing and sporty as they play a lot of sports, mainly tennis in the summer, but you can pick what you want to play. Even if your not into sports, its great fun.
- It also gets very hot in Australia so if you’re a winter kind of person its probably not the place for you, but if you love summer then it’s the perfect place to go.
Going to Australia was an amazing opportunity and was so much fun, you make new friends and can stay in contact with them forever. I can’t wait for my exchange to come back to England, and I am really looking forward to seeing her again.
You visit so many places and do so many things, it’s a great opportunity and you should definitely try to get in. Yes, it’s a long journey and a long way from home but once you get there, you won’t want to leave.