Nicholas Wong reflects on his time in Perth

These last four weeks have been a complete blur. It feels as if I just arrived yesterday with my bags at the airport. My exchange trip has been an extraordinary adventure that I will remember for the rest of my life. The beginning of school was rough for me; I didn’t know what to do or where I was going. But as I learned the general time table, I became more comfortable with the students around me. At Scotch, I was put with my exchange partner, Will, in every single class period. This was okay, but as time went on I decided to branch out and look for new people. I met Dan through one of Will’s friends in PE and we quickly became great friends. I never expected to make a really good friend on exchange, so I was unprepared to say goodbye when the time came to leave Perth.

Perth itself was not very different from San Francisco. The Perth culture is generally progressive and it is also located on the coast. On one of the weekends I was there, Will caught the flu and I had to decide to either go to a family friend’s farm an hour away from Perth or stay home. I really wanted to stay at his house because I didn’t have the confidence to leave Will and go to the farm alone. When Will’s family pondered if I were to go or not, I was about to say no when something changed in my mindset. I don’t know what it was, but I ended up saying yes, I’d go. After going to the farm and getting to ride in a tractor and push out a hay bale, I was very glad that I chose to go even though I was alone. After thinking about why I said yes, I think Perth has given me the confidence to say yes to live my life the way I want without worrying about the judgement of other people. Leaving my various insecurities in the dust for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure is what my decision came down to.

One of the prime highlights of my trip was walking back from school next to the train and going to one of the various cafes in the Claremont quarter. It was a cool new experience to sit down and have a berry smoothie or an iced tea after school and talk with my exchange.

Another highlight was learning how to successfully jaywalk in Australia. Unlike California, Australia doesn’t have many crosswalks, so it’s commonplace to walk across the street when there aren’t any cars coming. I must admit I’m glad to be back in California with crosswalks.

When I heard that Scotch had marching, I thought it was going to be a once a year sort of thing.  It turns out that it’s a very serious event on Friday mornings and I was supposed to march with the Shearer house (pronounced Shira). I was terrible the first week and kept on shoe flat-tiring the student in front of me. The next week I was better, but got yelled at by a Shearer house head for wearing the wrong shirt with the uniform (oops). We laughed when I told him I was an exchange. (Exchanges generally wear their school uniform from home, so people thought I was a normal student.)

When I was at the farm, I had the opportunity to ride inside a tractor, which was pretty awesome. I also got to stand at a real bonfire and roast super oversized American marshmallows.

Finally, going to Perth’s city beach with my exchange host and Dan was an enjoyable experience. We didn’t go into the water because of “Warning Sharks!” signs placed everywhere, but it was still an experience I hope to never forget.

I would definitely recommend and encourage sophomores to take this wonderful opportunity to not only explore a new part of the world, but also to learn something new about yourself. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. I am grateful for the lifelong friendships I’ve made and the chance to go on exchange.