Madeleine Kardek – Scotch Oakburn, Australia
My Tasmanian Adventure
Nearly a month ago, I hugged my family goodbye, scrambled to find my way through security, and finally found the correct gate, where I would wait for three hours before boarding. I observed my surroundings, and the accents around me assured me that I was at the right gate. Sitting in a row by myself, I waited for the travelers to slowly file into the gate and occupy the once vacant seats around me. Across the aisle, I met three families: one middle-aged businesswoman, an older couple, and two parents with a teenage daughter and son. Talking to these three amazing families about their lives in Australia, I got a feel for the Australian outgoingness and culture before I even arrived in the country. I was excited to try this interesting, salty concoction called Vegemite, to encounter drop bears during bush walks, and to watch a “footy” game (where apparently you’re allowed to kick AND throw the ball without any real protection). Before my plane even took off, I was already exposed to the Australian culture and friendliness by these strangers. I made myself comfortable in the plane seat I’d be glued to for the next 17 hours and awaited my journey.
My first day of school, I experienced the same kindness and hospitality that I first encountered in the airport. Honestly, I had already encountered some of the most genuinely nice people I have ever met in my life–and I had only been in Tasmania for 24 hours. My exchange, Katie, joined the netball team at our school, Scotch Oakburn. I decided to pick a more familiar sport: soccer. I moved up to the senior’s first team, and have had the privilege of training and competing with girls ranging from grade 9-12. I have loved competing and practicing with these girls because I got to create friendships with girls from different grades that I probably wouldn’t have bonded with otherwise. I was also persuaded to join our school’s musical, Grease, and have become very close with a lot of the cast members during our long rehearsals every Sunday and Friday.
Going to school at Scotch Oakburn is a very different experience than my school, Athenian. Adjusting to wearing a school uniform every day was originally difficult. Because of the weather; when it is only 30 degrees outside, all you want to wear are cozy sweatpants, not a skirt with stockings. I have actually grown to appreciate the school uniforms, because it’s a lot easier to decide what to wear in the morning: jumper or no jumper and pick out a pair of stockings. In general, Scotch Oakburn is more formal, in that we address our teachers by Mr. and Mrs., are required to wear our hair up, need to wear our complete school uniform at all times (even walking through town after school), and have Chapel every week. Our school has four different houses: Briggs, Nance, Dean and my house, Fox. In the houses students from all year levels come together and bond with students in other grades. The houses are like families within our school and compete in school carnivals against the other houses. Recently, all four houses competed in our school singing carnival, and our house unexpectedly won singing Y.M.C.A.!
My exchange family has taken me to Sydney where we toured the Sydney Harbor and Opera House, to notable raspberry, chocolate and cheese farms, to the Blue Mountains, and to Hobart where I got to feed kangaroos. I have been able to participate in a snowball fight, hike over waterfalls, pet a koala and a wombat, and eat many, many Tim Tams. It is an amazing opportunity to have the privilege of visiting all these incredibly unique and beautiful places and to travel with my exchange family, who has become a second family to me. I am forever grateful to have been sent to this amazing place, with remarkable people that I will have to leave in seven short days. I am looking forward to see what this last week has in store and to continue creating unforgettable memories in Tasmania.