Q & A with Elena on becoming an Exchange Student in Australia
What were your first impressions of Australia/New Zealand?
Australia seemed be a huge country, and it actually is.
How did these change your overall experience?
It did not affect my experience much, but I just had some issues in being able to reach the city if not driven
What were your expectations when you arrived here?
I expected to be welcomed as a member of the family, and to be treated as one. Also, being able to improve my English, making friends with my school mates, and seeing beautiful landscapes.
Have these expectations been met?
Yes, definitely. It took time, cause at the beginning settling in was not easy, but now I just completely feel part of all this.
What changes have you seen in yourself during this period?
I think I became a stronger person, able to deal with tough situations and make my own decisions; also, more mature, open to new changes and always smiling and happy. This experience is making me the person I wanna be.
How did you get on with your host family?
We needed time to get to know each other, but now we just get on so well and so easily.
Did you have to make many adjustments to fit in with their lifestyle?
I just needed to get used to their way of eating, but nothing massive, and to the fact that they don't live in the city, but in the countryside, and I don't have any small town or city that I can each on foot or by bus.
Do you think your host family changed during your time with them?
I am not sure about it, but I hope they will never forget me, and the time we shared together.
What about school? How is it different from your school back home?
I went to an all girl school, private and catholic, which is very different from my mixed and public school. I enjoyed it a lot though, I chose subjects that I won't be able to do back at home, and I got used to changing class every hour, and staying at school till afternoon.
Did you enjoy your time at school? Was it easy/hard for you?
I did definitely enjoy my time at school; I got on really easily with the girls in my grade, and I was able to understand and follow the lessons with no difficulty.
What about teachers?
All the teachers were nice, helping, caring and understanding with me.
How did the subjects differ and could you study the subjects you wanted to?
I did; I chose chemistry, Maths A, English, religion which was compulsory, drama, home economics and HPE. They are not the same subjects I will study back at home, and were the ones I had hopefully planned to do.
What are your best impressions of the exchange?
I think an exchange is a great experience not only for the places you are able to see, the people you are able to meet and all the things you get the chance to do. It is about the person you become, thanks to this experience. It helps you to grow, to be responsible for yourself and to become part of a completely different reality.
Would you recommend an exchange program to your friends?
Yes, definitely. It is THE experience.