After a 14-hour flight and a two-day stop in Sydney to visit my aunt and uncle, I felt confident and excited about the adventures I would have on exchange. During the five-hour flight from Sydney to Perth, however, my mind was filled with anticipation and outright anxieties about the coming six weeks. Despite having a general understanding of the climate and some of the unique wildlife, I had no idea what Perth would be like. To my surprise, upon landing and meeting my exchange partner Mitch Hewitt, all of my worries vanished instantly.
Since I arrived two weeks before my classes at Scotch College started, I was able to travel around Western Australia and witness some incredible scenery and attractions. One of the first places I visited was the beautiful Kings Park. Situated in the center of Perth, Kings Park is home to some of Western Australia’s most interesting native flora. It additionally boasts spectacular views of the Perth skyline..
The following week, the Hewitts took me to visit their grandparents’ farm in Pemberton, approximately 240 miles away from their home in Fremantle. Stepping out of the car four hours later, I was blown away by the wide open spaces of the rural hillside. Although I was aware I would be staying in a farm, I was still surprised by the number of kangaroos and emus that were freely roaming around the nearby hills. Later that day, Mitch and his grandfather took me motorbiking for the first time around the tree-filled forests that surrounded their farmhouse. Despite being terrified for the first thirty minutes, I felt immensely relieved after I got the hang of driving the motorbike at high speeds (five miles an hour).
Two days before my classes at Scotch started, I visited the scenic Rottnest Island for an overnight trip. Although I was a bit apprehensive about starting school the day after a major trip, all of my concerns instantly disappeared when I took my first look at the beautiful island. The island was about ten times more breathtaking than I ever could have imagined. Waves of crystal clear water crashed on the sandy shoreline while the sun shone brightly over the expansive island. Additionally, Rottnest Island is the only place in the world inhabited by Quokkas: small koala-like rodents that tourists often take selfies with. A number of recreational activities such as surfing, fishing, kayaking, and souvenir shopping, are also enjoyed on the island.
My classes at Scotch College started the next day. Despite the fact that it took me a while to get back into the rhythm of school life, the transition itself wasn’t as bad as I predicted it would be. The hardest challenge was definitely trying to wake up at 6:00 AM after two months of sleeping in until 10:00 AM. After putting my school uniform on and eating a rushed breakfast, I boarded the 8:00 train to Swanbourne with Mitch. During the ten-minute train ride, I could feel my heart racing as my head slowly filled with intense apprehensive thoughts. “What if no one likes me? What will the classes be like? What will the teachers be like?”
As I walked off the crowded train and stepped into the Scotch campus for the first time, I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe that it was finally happening. Two class periods later, we took a 20-minute break. Oddly, I was mostly nervous about the break, since I knew I would meet all of Mitch’s friends in that time. To my immense relief, I got along really well with Mitch’s friends and we spent the entire break comparing our accents. Despite my general anxieties surrounding the first day of classes, I was surprised at how smoothly the whole process went.
For the following week, I kept noticing aspects of the school which heavily differentiate it from Athenian. Students don’t call teachers by their first name, classes are significantly shorter, and the overall homework load was a lot lighter than I was expecting (10-20 minutes a day). I highly advise sophomore students that are going to Scotch in the summer to use the extra downtime to hang out with classmates and learn more about the Australian lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to do other enjoyable or productive activities during your time away from home. For example, I found that I spent hours of my downtime writing screenplays, photographing scenery, drawing, and preparing for the SAT.
One of the most memorable experiences I had at Scotch College was my first marching day. The school has this tradition where all of the students march from the science block to the assembly hall every Friday. Although I was aware of this tradition before I arrived, I had no idea that the school actually makes it a competition between the various house groups. At Scotch, students are divided into 10 distinct house groups that compete throughout the year to win the house trophy. Since Mitch belongs to St. Andrew House, I was placed there at the start of the term. In the weekly marching competition, the winning house is determined by their ability to remain in complete synchronization. Since St. Andrew House is known for frequently winning the marching competition, I was nervous about messing it up for everyone. Although I was almost 100% sure I didn’t remain in synchronization, I was relieved when I found out that we won second place.
I’m approaching my final week here in Perth. Over the past six weeks, I have become attached to the beautiful city of Perth and the various traditions that Scotch College has to offer. Although I am sad to leave this wonderful place, I’m grateful that I had this opportunity to experience how people go about their daily life in Western Australia. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to go on exchange and making the most out of your experience there. Even though the seven-week experience might seem daunting at first glance, I truly believe that every student can find something to enjoy on this life-changing experience.