Josh Birnbaum’s time in Perth


After a brutal 15-hour flight, I finally touched down in Sydney, Australia. I thought I had the heavy lifting behind me, but the 5-hour flight from Sydney to Perth was harder to endure because of the anxiety leading up to experience of a lifetime. After meeting Kirwan’s family at the airport, we drove an hour and a half from Perth to his house in Northam. Northam is a very small country community in rural Western Australia. We spent a night in Northam and then traveled to their farm in Koorda. Koorda is another hour and a half from Northam, totaling three hours from Perth. Although Kirwan’s family owns the farm in Koorda, they no longer use it to grow and produce canola. It is simply kept to continue the family tradition of owning agricultural land. On the farm, we rode motorbikes, shot birds, hit some golf balls, and kicked the footy (Australian football). That night we went kangaroo spotting in the truck, fulfilling one of my to-dos while Down Under.

After a day on the farm, we made our way to Rottnest Island, which is about 30 minutes off the coast of Perth. On the island, we went fishing, snorkeling and explored the entire island on bike. While on this island I was introduced to an animal called a Quokka. I would describe it as a mixture between a kangaroo and a koala. Quokkas are only found in one place in the whole world, and it is Rottnest Island. After an amazing weekend on the island, we made our way back to Northam to prepare for school. I am very excited to meet everyone at Scotch College and cannot wait to continue my exchange experience in Western Australia.


After having the time of my life at Scotch College, I am very disappointed to say I am currently 10 hours into my 15-hour flight back from Sydney to SFO. The highlight of my trip was easily the boarding experience. Simply put, I would describe boarding as living with your best friends. I loved being able to ride my bike to the beach after school or walk downtown for food after soccer practice. The school is in close proximity to Perth city, and everything I needed was a bike, train or bus ride away. I made my closest connections with the boarders. Because Scotch belongs to a private school collection called the PSA, I made friends from a number of schools, not just Scotch. Scotch is an all-boys school, but there are a number of girls schools less than a 15-minute bike ride away.

Living in a boarding helped me become much more independent and forced me way out of my comfort zone. I suddenly went from having my mom do my laundry, to doing my own every Tuesday, at the allotted time slot assigned to me. I would highly recommend exchange to every sophomore. I came in with low expectations and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of my time Down Under.