By Jessica W.
When signing up to fly to the opposite side of the world where the water goes down the drain backwards and people drive on the “wrong” side of the road, I never could have imagined having such an amazing adventure. During my five-week stay in Melbourne, Australia, I was overwhelmed by the kindness people showed me. I loved the beautiful sky and the thrilling feeling of doing simple things that were new to me such as eating a creamy pavlova! Leaving my home, I was a little nervous. Although five weeks away from home is short to most people, to me it was still the longest time I ever would have been away from home. However, I was not nearly so nervous as I was eager to arrive and form some impressions on my own. Once I arrived, I was welcomed at the airport by my exchange partner, Luci, and her family, as well as Angel’s exchange partner, Mia, and her family. About halfway through my exchange experience, I, unfortunately, caught a cold and started to feel a little homesick when it finally hit me that I was far away from the home I knew and my loving family and friends. Looking back at this challenge I faced, I am only grateful. It taught me so much about myself and how to adapt to unfamiliar situations and conditions. Overall, I grew more independent and immersed myself in the incredible culture and people around me. I also learned lessons that I will carry with me through life. Apart from all else, I developed so many wonderful memories in such a short amount of time.
Some of the best experiences I had were ziplining fifty meters high in the eucalyptus trees with Luci, feeding kangaroos and wild cockatoos, swimming in waves that were eight feet high, as well as lying on a trampoline late one night as Luci, Angel, Mia and I studied the Southern Cross. The sky in Australia seemed ever so close.
Although I am overjoyed to be back home in Vancouver with my family, giving my yellow labrador big hugs and visiting my friends, I will certainly miss what I hope will be the lifelong friendships I made in Australia. I am more than grateful for having had this opportunity.
This short summary does not do justice to the adventure that I will forever hold close to my heart. I am now pen-pals with one of the girls, and I have already made plans to visit everyone again someday in the future. It was a good time.
By Pippa B.
During my final days at school in Hamilton, New Zealand, I began to say my last goodbyes. Giving one last goodbye to the friends I made, the family members I met, and the beautiful country that I was so fortunate to explore was extremely tough.
Over the past four weeks, I have visited Queenstown, Raglan Beach, Rotorua, Kawhia and many other stunning destinations. Throughout our travels, we have been educated on many aspects of Maori culture. Whether it was eating traditional food like a hangi, or watching the Haka, we were able to learn about the different aspects of the Maori culture.
When thinking about Vancouver and what I am most excited to experience again for the first time in a month, I think about how the high twenty-degree weather has made me eager to feel cold air again, and have the ability to actually sleep under the blankets at night.
I can honestly say that I will never forget my experience on exchange and that I have learned so much about independence and adapting to new lifestyles. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to travel to New Zealand and immerse myself in the kiwi culture.