Kari Leif – Westminster School in Australia
Kari Leif’s final post from Australia
G’day from Adelaide, South Australia!
It has been 5 amazing weeks so far, and I only have one week left! I can’t believe how fast it has gone by!
After my last blog posting, my amazing host family took me to Sydney for a weekend. It was a pleasant surprise when my exchange, Cordelia, told me that we would be going to Sydney, because we live so far away. We arrived at the Sydney airport late on Friday night and headed straight to the little apartment we were would be staying. After getting settled in, it was too late to go do anything so we just went to sleep. On Saturday morning, however, we got an early start and had a huge breakfast at a chocolate café, which was delicious. The first thing we did after breakfast was take the ferry to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, where I was able to take some beautiful pictures. Afterwards, we took the ferry to the zoo. It was really fun and we got to see both a seal show and a bird show! Cordelia got to be a volunteer at the bird show and got some really cool, close-up photos of an owl! After the zoo, we went back to the apartment and changed into warmer clothes and took the ferry to a really cute amusement park called Luna Park. At Luna Park we went on a lot of the rides. It was really cool because it was dark so all of the attractions were lit up in tons of lights. The weather in Sydney was gorgeous–I was even wearing a T-shirt! Then on Sunday, we got to sleep in before heading off to go shopping! It was really fun shopping with Cordelia. She took me to all of the popular shops in Australia which included Top Shop, T2, and Sports Girl. After our morning of shopping, we went to a wax museum; I have never been to a wax museum, so it was really great experiencing it with Cordelia. We took so many pictures with all of the statues! After the wax museum we had to catch our plane so we headed back to the airport.
Another fun experience I had was a before my Sydney trip: I taught my host family how to make s’mores! They had never had a s’more before! I was so surprised when Cordelia came up to me one night and asked, “have you ever had a more, so’more? I don’t really know what they’re called.” So we made s’mores one night. Well, we made modified s’mores, because they don’t have graham crackers or Hershey’s chocolate in Australia, so we had to use biscuits and really thick chocolate that didn’t melt. I promised Cordelia that when she comes to the U.S. we will make “real” s’mores with graham crackers and chocolate that is thin enough to melt. It was really funny when we tried to make them, but everyone had a good time making Australian s’mores.
This weekend is my last weekend in Australia and so Cordelia was super sweet and organized a goodbye bonfire party for me on Saturday. I am looking forward to it, as well as wishing that it wasn’t happening so soon!
Going on exchange has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it has been one adventure after another! I have experienced the Australian Outback, fed a kangaroo, spent an amazing weekend in Sydney, and had the incredible opportunity to hold a koala. These past 5 weeks have been some of the best I will ever have experienced and I don’t want to say goodbye so soon! Thanks for all the memories and good times! See ya later, Australia.
Kari Leif’s first post from Australia
After 21 hours of travel, I landed in Adelaide, South Australia. When I walked out into the arrival area, it was wonderful to see my exchange, Cordelia, her mother, and the exchange coordinator there to meet me. It was so great to finally meet them after weeks of communicating through countless Facebook messaging and emails. As we walked to the car I was greeted by 40 km/h winds and 12 degree C weather, which was shocking, as I had been in 95 degree F weather less than a day ago.
When Cordelia’s mom got into the car on the passenger side, I was confused and a little surprised, but when I looked, I realized that the steering wheel was on the other side of the car! There were a few times while we were driving when I forgot that we were supposed to be on the left side and I silently freaked out until I remembered.
Cordelia lives in the countryside in the little town of Willunga. When we got to their home, I put all my luggage in my room and Cordelia and I started unpacking my clothes and toiletries. Afterwards we had sandwiches for lunch and talked about everything from how my flight was to whether I liked the show Dance Moms. It was really great having time to get to know Cordelia and her mom. After lunch, Cordelia and I watched a movie and TV the rest of the afternoon. It was really nice because after 21 sleepless hours of travel, I just needed to relax. I met Cordelia’s dad when he got home from work that afternoon. It was nice to have finally met all of my host family for the next 6 weeks.
The next day I went to Glenelg with Cordelia and had lunch with three of her friends. Their school was on holidays, so it was a great chance to meet them before I started school. Before school started, Cordelia and her parents took me to the Flinders Ranges, a part of the Australian Outback. I was amazed when instead of seeing wild turkeys or deer along the road, there were wild kangaroos and emus! We even saw a couple of wild male kangaroos boxing. We also went hiking and almost ran into a wild emu!
On Monday, I attended my first day at Westminster. I had my hair pulled back in a ponytail and a very green uniform on when I walked into school that day. It felt so different from how Athenian is. I had no clue where to go and constantly had to follow Cordelia to every class to keep from getting lost.
I thought it was kind of funny how everyone kept telling me how cool my accent was, when I all I was thinking about for most of that day was how cool their accents were! The rest of the week was a blur of new faces and getting lost around the campus. But by second week I had started making friends and was finally remembering the way to the food tech room.
During the next weekend I finally had a chance to explore Cordelia’s farm. She lives on a huge property and has cows, sheep, two dogs and a llama. I had the chance to drive through her land for a little bit, but it was definitely really weird driving with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. I also had the experience of getting the truck stuck in mud and Cordelia’s dad needing to use the tractor to pull it out. Right after that, he got a stick stuck in the gas tank, so it broke and started spewing gas everywhere. It was quite an experience for a suburban girl like me. We also had fun rolling the hay bale out for the cows and sitting in the back of the truck.
The next weekend they took me to the Cleland Wildlife Park and I had the amazing opportunity to hold a koala and feed kangaroos and wallabies. It was so crazy that I could just walk up to an emu and feed it, or walk up to a kangaroo and pet it. It has definitely been a highlight of my trip so far.
I’m already halfway through my exchange and it has been one incredible experience after another. I am excited for the many experiences that are yet to come.