Pierson Tan from The Armidale School in Australia

Over the last three weeks, I fully experienced The Armidale School–from playing rugby, to being in my first play, to going into the bush on Advance Pioneers. During my first Saturday at The Armidale School (TAS), I played my first rugby union match with only two practices under my belt. A high school from Sydney came over to TAS for the weekend to participate in a sporting carnival with shooting, foot races, rugby, basketball, and tennis. I played on the fourths team (lowest level of competition) as the winger. I got a couple of good tackles in and we ended up winning the match.

The following week I continued to go to classes and Monday/Wednesday rugby practices. I lifted weights almost every day with the other rugby boys to work on our strength training. On Wednesday, I left with one of my friends to go to his house for the long weekend on the Queen’s birthday. His name is Tom but he convinced everyone that his middle name was Football when he first came to the school, giving him the nickname “Footie.” We drove for about three and a half hours to a beach town called Crescent Head. The family owned a caravan park and a resort with around 30 little houses in a row where people could stay. When we got there it was already night time, so we had dinner, watched a movie, and then went to sleep.

The next day we woke up at 9 am to go for a surf. The swell was pretty big that day and after about 30 minutes of paddling for my life, I called it a day. For the entire day Footie and I surfed and skateboarded between meals. The next day we went canoeing on this gentle river nearby. About 20 minutes in, I caught a flat head fish on a hand line. We paddled to the shore to give the fish to Footy’s little brother, but he had forgotten to bring a bucket. After arguing about “who goes fishing without a bucket for fish?!” the two boys sent their little sister home to grab a bucket. We didn’t catch anything else for the rest of the day and Footy’s little brother let the fish go because he felt bad for it. Over the next few days we went on bike rides, went snorkeling, and I got second place in a skateboarding competition. It was sad to leave, but I was excited to keep playing rugby at school.

When we got back to school, Footy and I had to start learning our lines for our drama play on Wednesday and Friday. Between learning lines for drama, we had to paint one of Caravaggio’s pieces. Since I came late I did a pencil drawing on a big piece of paper. The play, “Alice Dreaming,” went really well, but was really stressful right up until show time.  Being in my first play, it was an awesome experience.

I had a relaxed weekend and hung out with another exchange student from India named Yash. On Monday we had Advance Pioneers, which is an outdoor education program. My group and Yash’s group each had three boys in it. Our two groups were driven about an hour into the bush where we hiked to separate locations and set up checkpoints for younger kids to navigate to in a race. We made a fire and relaxed in the warm sun for around five hours. Footy, our other friend Ed and I boiled water for coffee and instant noodles, and then ate food for the rest of the day.

For the rest of the week I had normal classes with regular rugby training. I got better at passing and tackling over the last few practices. Rugby will be a sport that I am going to miss playing. I said another sad goodbye to all the boys and made plans to see a couple of them in Sydney.