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.
AJ Sheinberg leaves Adelaide
I just got home from Australia a couple of hours ago. I was there for five weeks and made some amazing friends and memories that I will never forget. My Grandpa was born in Australia and moved to America when he was little, however, a branch of the family tree is still there. Over EXEAT, when they kick the boarders out for the weekend, I went into the Adelaide hills and spend the weekend with my Great Grandmother’s sister’s daughter, Michele. Sadly I was sick all night Friday and was unable to do much Saturday. As it turned out, one in three boarders got sick over that weekend, and they even ran test on some of us. The results showed it was a virus that spread through the boarding house. After this doozy of a day, we had to pack two days into one. They live on a farm that has about 150 acres and own a few other plots of land that total around 1000 acres. The hills on their farms are covered in vineyards and they have tons of sheep and cattle. I also had the opportunity to drive their tractors, forklifts and gators. After experiencing farm life, we went into Adelaide and saw my Great Grandma’s sister, which was an amazing experience.
After another good week at school, I flew into Sydney and spent the weekend with Michele’s daughter, Kate. Kate has three kids: Jordan in year 12, Chloe in year 10, and Dior in year 9. Over the weekend we took a ferry from Manly Beach to the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge. It was awesome meeting these relatives that I had not known before.
The lessons at Westminster were quite different to those at Athenian and consisted of mainly lectures and assignments. Some of the classes I took were, Wood Tech, Maths, English, History, Science Plus and PE.
On my final weekend at Westminster, the day known as Intercol was held. Intercol is the day where Westminster and their biggest rival, Pembroke, face off in every sport. Each sports team from year 8 up competes in this huge event. On this day I woke up to the song “We Ready” being blasted over the boarding house speakers at 7:00 am. I then went and watched all the girl’s netball games, which is pretty similar to basketball. After that, I played in the year 10 soccer game, which we won 4-3. The main event was the opens football match at 2:15. All students from both schools circled around the oval and did not stop cheering till the final whistle blew. In the end, Westminster destroyed Pembroke by over ten goals. Afterwards I went to an Intercol after party and spent the night at someone’s house. The next morning I woke up, headed to the airport, and started my journey home.