Jonah Kirmse – Westminster School, Australia
I just recently returned from an exchange trip to Westminster School in Adelaide, Australia. Before the trip I didn’t have many ideas of what to expect, but a few things worried me. My primary worry was finding out what the students at the school would be like and act like. My second concern was that I wouldn’t be able to find my classes, since for a majority of my classes I would be without my exchange. Lastly, I was concerned about my teachers’ impressions of me. The actual challenges I faced itself did not pertain to what I had been concerned with prior to the trip. One of the largest challenges was switching families two weeks in, and even this was not too difficult. My intended host family was away on vacation in Europe when I had arrived, which meant I stayed with a different family at first. Luckily enough I had met the first student I would be staying with when he came on exchange to Athenian earlier this year. Already knowing this exchange helped massively with my becoming comfortable in Australia. Another challenge was getting used to some of the customs of the school. These customs include things such as wearing uniforms, calling teachers by their last name, and going to mass.
But I don’t want to make it appear as though my trip was only filled with challenges, as the majority of my time was filled with amazing new experiences. One of my favorite experiences was meeting new people. Luckily not having my exchange in most of my classes forced me to meet and talk with new people. As well, the majority of students were welcoming to me. Another favorite was our mini-trip to Kangaroo Island, a small island off the coast of South Australia. During the trip Courtney (another Athenian student on exchange at Westminster) and I were able to show our exchanges what s’mores are and go quad biking.
Overall, although Australia is similar to California in some ways, the trip was a chance to meet new people and have new experiences, which made it fantastic.