I really don’t know where to start. These final weeks in Launceston have been a blur. I’ve had my highs and my lows during Exchange. The saying “it will get better with time” applied to my experience at school. I admit I didn’t feel the most comfortable with the friends of my exchange partner Caoilainn, as they were two years older than me and talked about people I didn’t know. During the last few weeks, however, I branched out and found my own friends. Not only did I get to know more people, I have come to realize that talking and initiating conversation has gotten much easier for me.
Unfortunately, during the final few days of Exchange, I ended up getting the worst fever. I stayed home from school on Monday and I ended up having to leave early school on my last day. However, I was always surrounded by the most caring host parents and friends.
- Being featured in Launceston’s local newspaper, The Examiner
- Reading and playing with the most precious three-year-olds who were apart of Scotch Oakburn’s early learning program – This was through my Working with Children class. My classmates had to drag me out of the early learning classroom.
- Going to the east coast – My host family took me on an overnight trip to Freycinet National Park. If you simply search ‘Tasmania’ on Google, pictures of the beautiful coast automatically pop up. We hiked up to the gorgeous Wineglass Bay outlook and hit Bicheno Beach.
- Going to the famous MONA art museum in Hobart as an art class excursion – This museum is known to be extremely controversial, as they took on the theme of “Death and Sex.”
- Fun fact: Launceston is in the North of Tasmania and Hobart is in the South. Driving from Launceston to Hobart took two hours, which really shows how small this state is.
- Tasmania is made up of lots of farmland. I first went to a dairy farm with my agriculture class and saw many baby calves. My second trip was with Caoilainn’s rowing team. They hold an annual fundraiser selling sheep poo as fertilizer, so I had the pleasure of shoveling and packing sheep feces for the day.
- Getting the biggest burgers and waffle fries from food trucks at night in the pouring rain
- Dying at Caoilainn’s crossfit sessions
- Local raspberry farm
- Passion fruit
- Going to an official AFL [Australian Football League] game – They only play in Tasmania three times each year.
- Making spontaneous trips after school: grabbing coffee and cake at nearby cafe, walking to a local park, taking the bus to go shop downtown
- Winning Scotch Oakburn’s annual Singing Carnival and War Cry with the Fox House
- I have my host family’s contact forever saved on my phone as “Australian Dad” and “Australian Mom”
Before coming on Exchange, some people asked me, “Why did you pick Australia?” The answer to that is still unknown. Australia and America are known to have similar interests. Furthermore, I was nervous about going to a place where there was less diversity. There were moments where I wanted to go home so bad I cried. I was told that some people might think I was a new Chinese boarder who didn’t speak English. With this in mind, I even felt embarrassed talking to some Chinese students in Mandarin because I didn’t want to be stereotyped. These were the moments where I had to step back and think about what I was doing. At the end, I thought “Who cares? I’m on a once in a lifetime experience and I’m doing my best.” I’ve had my difficulties and I’ve grown through them.
To those thinking about going on Exchange– it won’t be easy for some, but it’s truly an amazing experience. I’m so thankful for the lifelong friendships I have made and for having the opportunity to come.