Ever since I was 11, I have wanted to go on exchange to Australia. After I met and bonded with several Australian students who visited our school this year, my desire to travel to Australia was confirmed. But I would have never been able to guess how difficult the experience was actually going to be. I have just finished my first week at Westminster School in Adelaide, South Australia. A lot of people questioned why I was going to Australia and not somewhere that is more of a culture change. But, it is quite different. I have had a hard time trying to translate their English to the kind of slang I speak every day and I have become very aware of what I am saying all the time. During this experience I have learned how much I love my parents even though I tell them that every day. This experience has really made me realize just how much I love and appreciate the amazing people they are.
The school is completely different from Athenian, from how the teachers teach to how students feel about one another. The first and most difficult thing for me is the strict dress code present at Westminster. I am a huge women’s right activist and a large supporter of individuality, so dress codes are already hard things for me to follow. But a uniform, yuck. All girls need to keep their hair back at all times, have no more than one stud earring, and keep a completely buttoned up shirt tucked into their ankle long plaid skirt with their tie under the collar. If any one of these rules are broken, you are immediately told off or given a detention. Even everyone’s backpacks are the same! I have been told four times to take my three pairs of earrings out and my earrings are not too happy about that. Another thing that is fairly different from Athenian is there is close to no communication between people from different year levels, which I find sad. All classes are with your year and you only sit with people from your year.
Which brings me to how the people are at Westminster. Let’s just say I think I have gotten too familiar to the nice and outgoing faces at Athenian and forgot how normal people are when you first meet them. I have learned that as an exchange student you need to be ready to feel awkward, like you’re intruding, and lost but that is only the first week. You remember what it was like to be a new kindergartner, except this time you’re the only one who’s new.