I have been living in Perth, Australia for the last 3 weeks and it has been amazing. Compared to America, everything is different, whether it be the food, the wildlife, or how students my age interact with each other. My first week in Perth was during the holidays for Scotch College, the school that I would be attending. That week my exchange, Mitchell Smith, and I, got to relax and hang out around Perth and with a group of friends. Although I found the actual city of Perth to be quite small, it is surrounded by suburbs that each have its own feel and identity. I really enjoyed exploring the area, as there was such a large difference between each suburb. Later that week, we travelled about three hours south to an area known as Margaret River, where we stayed in a house with some other families. While there, we got to explore the forest and river, relax, and play Australian Football, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Life at Scotch College is very different from Athenian in many ways. Some of the more instantly recognizable differences is that it is an all-boys school and everyone has to wear a uniform. Although I found wearing the uniform uncomfortable at first, I have grown used to it. The only problem is changing for PE and then changing back into the uniform. The school is also much more formal in that all of the students have to address the teachers by either “ma’am” or “sir.” This felt a little awkward to me at first as it felt almost too formal. Another major difference is that students are not allowed to wear backpacks during the school day, so everyone leaves their backpacks in their locker and carriers around their school supplies in their arms. I found this very interesting, as I did not seem the most efficient to me, although now I am quite used to that idea. However, one of the hardest parts to get used to was marching. Every Friday, students have to march with their House in order to earn points for the House reward every year. Although marching sounds simple, it is actually very difficult to stay in time and not mess up.
The social aspect of living in Perth is also very different than the Danville area. Most of the schools in Perth are private and have only one gender. Because of this, everyone seems to know people from tons of different schools and people are always hanging out with students from separate schools. Since so many people know each other, students are always going to parties or dances on weekends with students from up to 5 or 6 different schools, so it is very easy to meet new people. Perth also has a great transportation system that can get you anywhere in any suburb through buses and trains. Since everyone uses this, I often end up seeing the same people on the train after school and have gotten to know some of them very well.
Overall, I am definitely enjoying my stay here in Perth and am excited for the rest of my exchange!