Kari Leif arrives in Adelaide, Australia

Kari Leif 1After 21 hours of travel, I landed in Adelaide, South Australia. When I walked out into the arrival area, it was wonderful to see my exchange, Cordelia, her mother, and the exchange coordinator there to meet me. It was so great to finally meet them after weeks of communicating through countless Facebook messaging and emails. As we walked to the car I was greeted by 40 km/h winds and 12 degree C weather, which was shocking, as I had been in 95 degree F weather less than a day ago.

When Cordelia’s mom got into the car on the passenger side, I was confused and a little surprised, but when I looked, I realized that the steering wheel was on the other side of the car! There were a few times while we were driving when I forgot that we were supposed to be on the left side and I silently freaked out until I remembered.

Cordelia lives in the countryside in the little town of Willunga. When we got to their home, I put all my luggage in my room and Cordelia and I started unpacking my clothes and toiletries. Afterwards we had sandwiches for lunch and talked about everything from how my flight was to whether I liked the show Dance Moms. It was really great having time to get to know Cordelia and her mom. After lunch, Cordelia and I watched a movie and TV the rest of the afternoon. It was really nice because after 21 sleepless hours of travel, I just needed to relax. I met Cordelia’s dad when he got home from work that afternoon. It was nice to have finally met all of my host family for the next 6 weeks.

Kari Leif 4The next day I went to Glenelg with Cordelia and had lunch with three of her friends. Their school was on holidays, so it was a great chance to meet them before I started school. Before school started, Cordelia and her parents took me to the Flinders Ranges, a part of the Australian Outback. I was amazed when instead of seeing wild turkeys or deer along the road, there were wild kangaroos and emus! We even saw a couple of wild male kangaroos boxing. We also went hiking and almost ran into a wild emu!

Kari Leif 3On Monday, I attended my first day at Westminster. I had my hair pulled back in a ponytail and a very green uniform on when I walked into school that day. It felt so different from how Athenian is. I had no clue where to go and constantly had to follow Cordelia to every class to keep from getting lost.

I thought it was kind of funny how everyone kept telling me how cool my accent was, when I all I was thinking about for most of that day was how cool their accents were! The rest of the week was a blur of new faces and getting lost around the campus. But by second week I had started making friends and was finally remembering the way to the food tech room.

During the next weekend I finally had a chance to explore Cordelia’s farm. She lives on a huge property and has cows, sheep, two dogs and a llama. I had the chance to drive through her land for a little bit, but it was definitely really weird driving with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. I also had the experience of getting the truck stuck in mud and Cordelia’s dad needing to use the tractor to pull it out. Right after that, he got a stick stuck in the gas tank, so it broke and started spewing gas everywhere. It was quite an experience for a suburban girl like me. We also had fun rolling the hay bale out for the cows and sitting in the back of the truck.

Kari Leif 2The next weekend they took me to the Cleland Wildlife Park and I had the amazing opportunity to hold a koala and feed kangaroos and wallabies. It was so crazy that I could just walk up to an emu and feed it, or walk up to a kangaroo and pet it. It has definitely been a highlight of my trip so far.

I’m already halfway through my exchange and it has been one incredible experience after another. I am excited for the many experiences that are yet to come.