Poppy Northing arrives at NEGS

I am currently studying at the New England Girls School (NEGS) in Armidale, NSW Australia. For the first three weeks of my time in Australia, I had the privilege of traveling around the country with my beloved family. Poppy 2We flew into Melbourne, then up to Darwin, across to Cairns, and then back down to meet up with my exchange and her family in Sydney. After spending two days together, I said goodbye to my family and off to my exchange adventure I went. Together, Jenna’s family and I drove four hours north to her house in Port Macquarie, NSW. One night at their house, we had a massive bonfire, and I got to experience an authentic Australian cuisine, sausage sizzle and dough boys (cooked dough with syrup or jam filling). After spending three days in Port, we made another four-hour journey west to Armidale, where I would be spending the next five weeks at school.

Only a few minutes after arriving at the school, I already had people jump to introduce themselves to me. It took two or three days to meet everyone in year-10. I had no trouble remembering the students’ names, just the teachers’. Because we address our teachers at Athenian by their first names, I had to re-adjust to my pre-Athenian ways of addressing teachers by Mr. and Mrs. I still don’t know most of my teachers’ names, to be quite honest, and have to ask Jenna (my exchange companion) their names every day.

NEGS is the most polar-opposite environment to AthPoppy 3enian I have ever found myself in. Although I have relinquished many of the familiar freedoms I have the privilege of having at home, I have quickly learned to appreciate the structure that NEGS offers. Having the same routine every single day minimizes some of the stresses I endure daily back home, such as not having enough time to eat breakfast or dinner and waking up too late for school. When I initially read through all of the boarding student rules, I was rather upset that I would only be let out of the boarding house for two hours every Friday. However, I quickly realized how much fun being in the dorms was and love boarding at NEGS.

The major asset that draws students from all over Australia to NEGS is the incredible equestrian program that the school offers. Nearly every student at NEGS rides horses, Poppy 1which are kept in individual paddocks covering two-thirds of the school. Life at NEGS is catered to those who ride; many students leave during school hours to have riding lessons and the hours of free time are coordinated to work with the students who ride. Personally, I couldn’t imagine waking up at 5:30 every morning to walk 15-20 minutes to feed my horse before breakfast, but for most students this is a daily routine that has been embedded into their school life.

Thus far, I’ve really enjoyed my first two weeks of exchange, and can’t wait for the next four to come.