Amanda Hamilton writes from Adelaide, Australia

When I got to the Sydney airport, both my parents were really sad to see me go but I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to head off. When I landed in Adelaide, I was greeted by Nicole and Jane Rundle, who were to be my hosts for the next few weeks. We headed home and they asked me a lot of questions about myself and my home. A few days later, we headed to the uniform shop and I was fitted for a uniform. I haven’t worn one since fifth grade and it was really strange to put one on again! It does make getting ready in the morning a bit easier.

I was nervous for my first day of school but it turned out alright. Westminster School is a lot bigger than Athenian, so there was no shortage of new people to meet. The school was buzzing with excitement, as everyone was just coming back from winter break. I am playing both soccer and volleyball while I am here to keep me busy and active. I ended up on the Year 12 Open A volleyball team, which I am told is quite an accomplishment. In the US, there is a bigger focus on sports so the teams here don’t quite measure up to the sports program at Athenian. I only practice once a week for each sport, although the volleyball practices are at 7:15 in the morning!

Since my first day, I have met a lot of fantastic people who will be hard to say goodbye to when the time comes. My host family has been really great and I truly feel like a part of the family. They have a dog named Charlie and a cat named Tazzie, so I don’t miss my pets as much as I would without having those two around. My host family has taken me all around Adelaide and I’ve seen a lot of the beaches, even though it is winter. We’ve gone to the zoo, where I got to hold a koala and feed kangaroos out of my hand! It was really exciting, but scary at first because kangaroos can be quite big. We also went to a football game (also known as footie), which is quite different from American football. I cannot believe how physical the game is and the players wear no protection whatsoever. My host dad is really into footie. The home team (and his favourite team) is the Adelaide Crows, so we went to a game at their stadium. I had a really great time, even though it did rain through part of the game.

My two favourite classes so far have been Wood Design & Technology and Food &Hospitality. In the wood tech class, I am making a box that I hopefully will be able to get through customs! I definitely have put a lot of time and effort into it. In the Food & Hospitality class, we cook a lot of unique foods and I am having a great time. This type of experiential learning is really useful and I will definitely miss it when I leave. The maths and science classes are quite interesting, as the level of education is lower in Australia than it is in the US. It has made me grateful for all the time and effort that me and my teachers have put into my education. I know now that I am truly fortunate to go to such an elite academics school such as Athenian. It was a bit difficult at first calling the teachers here by Ms and Mr, but I have got the hang of it. I do miss and appreciate now the intimacy of the Athenian community and how much each teacher is invested in our success.

The thing I miss most from home is definitely my dog Jessie. From the emails my mom has sent me, she misses me just as much! I also miss my family, and their cooking. I am also very fortunate to have great chefs in the family! As much as the saying is a cliché, it is spot on: you never know what you have until it’s gone. This experience has definitely made me appreciate everything that’s around me and the things that my family provides for me on a daily basis.

I leave in 9 days, and I am already dreading that day! I have had such an amazing time so far, it’s going to be so hard leaving. I will miss the pies and pasties especially, they seem to be unique to Australia and I will try to recreate them for my family once I’m home. I’m enjoying the time I have left here at Westminster School. It really has been an experience of a lifetime!