Alina Cao arrives in Australia

Being here in Australia seems like a dream come true! My exchange, Hayley Wapper is one of the nicest and funniest girls I’ve ever met. At her house, we make traditional (original) Australian food together. I have enjoyed every single meal and the snacks that I’ve had here in Alice Springs. In fact, a drink called milo–made of chocolate powders mixed with milk–is now in my daily routine. The weather here is surprisingly similar to California. It is freezing cold during the morning and night, but brutally hot during lunch time and the afternoon. It is also worth mentioning that Alice Springs is more than just a desert! You’d be surprised that there are actually green grasses and tall trees all around the town. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of kangaroos, reptiles, and sands. Hayley is also a very sporty girl. I was lucky to watch her play footy and netball, which are both very popular sports for girls in Australia.

Before my first day of school, many concerns went through my head all night. What kind of people would I meet? Would Hayley’s friends like me? Would I like them? How would people treat me? What are the classes like? And so on. The next day at school, I was surrounded with many warm welcomes from students and teachers. People greeted me like I was their friend for ages. I immediately became friends with the other exchanges from France and Hayley’s friends, and I received countless offers of help from the students and teachers throughout the day. Besides the knowledge from classes, I also learned a lot about Australian culture. For example, a very Australian way of greeting people is “Good day, mate!” And I find it very funny that Australians call McDonald “Maccas.Everything was perfect except the uniform. I was not shocked at this very different school system considering that most schools in China have uniforms, but I still felt unfamiliar with uniforms after having been at Athenian for two years. Another major difference between Athenian and St. Philips is that no phone use is allowed during class or outside of the classroom. I was shocked by this rule, because my phone is one of the most important items that I needed for survival. In fact, now I have to wear a watch to check for time, instead of using my phone. Hopefully I’ll get more used to this in the future. Finally, the classes offered in St. Philips are also very different.  Compared to Athenian, there are not many choices for courses.My first week at St. Philips was everything that I did not expect, and I believe that that is the beauty of being on exchange. I look forward to my future weeks here in Alice Springs and to discovering new challenges.