AJ Sheinberg checks in from Australia

My exchange started when I left SFO on July 24th and landed in Sydney on the 26th. I then had a two-hour flight to the city of Adelaide in South Australia. I was picked up by my exchange, Luke Charlton, and the exchange coordinator, Mrs Chukuwani. We drove to Westminster School and I settled into my room. The boy’s boarding house is similar to a hotel; however, the girls live in the nearby neighbourhood in small houses. The first thing I noticed about boarding life was how friendly and welcoming everybody was. Although Luke and I get along well, we do not have similar interests and personalities. At my first dinner, the year 10s who would turn out to have similar interests to me asked if I would like to sit with them for the meal. These people have now become some of my closest friends at Westminster and I look forward to spending the next three weeks with them.

Life at Westminster is completely different from life at Athenian. For starters, students are required to wear the school uniform every day and do not call teachers by first name. Also, in lessons students do not have the same respect for their teachers and constantly mess around in class. Sport and competition are essential to the school culture at Westminster, unlike at Athenian where it is solely an extracurricular. Students are divided into separate houses and students from these houses compete in numerous sports during most lunches. Also, they have an entire day called Intercol, which is where every sports team from their rival, Pembroke, plays Westminster. I think the competition between students allows people to make friends and get to know each other better.

My trip to Australia has forced me to try new things and be outgoing. The last time I went to a school where I didn’t know anybody was in Kindergarten. Early in my exchange I realized the only way to make it worthwhile was to be interested in having conversation with other people. I think one of the reasons I am having such a blast on exchange is because I have had the mindset of saying “yes” to everything (as long as it is safe and legal).

A few things that I have done while here are: take the train to Marion (a mall a couple miles away from the school); go karting with the boarders; played with the soccer team against St. Michael’s where I scored the game winner; watched the Canoe Polo house tournament; visited my relatives that live in Adelaide; watched a play in the city; and tried South Australian foods like Farmers Union Iced Coffee, Tim Tams, Marlow, Vegemite and pork schnitzels. So far, my exchange to Australia has been a great experience and allowed me to make friends I hope to stay in contact with for years to come.A