By Trent Stanley ’21
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to go to Australia. I’m not sure why, but the thought of traveling halfway across the world has always been something that has appealed to me. I think one of the main reasons I wanted to go is because of all the different nature and wildlife, such as the famous kangaroos. When I went on exchange to Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School in Australia, I saw many more animals than I thought I would, including kangaroos, dolphins, emus, pelicans, pufferfish, squid, magpie, stingrays, scorpions, shags and cockatoos, all animals that I saw in person for the first time in my life.
Most of the wildlife I encountered was on a 10-day camping trip called “Outward Bound,” where we travelled 70 km on foot wearing heavy packs and camping under tarps each night. This was by far the most challenging experience I had while in Australia—pushing through hard weather and rough water while rafting. One of the hardest parts of the trip was on day 8 when we had to climb up and over 3 mountains in a row, bashing through thick bush the entire time, while the boiling hot sun beats down on us. Another very difficult moment was on the second day when we went rafting, the weather was not on our side and it rained the entire time while the wind was blowing against us—because of this, we had to get in the water and walk the rafts almost the entire way. Though we had a tough journey, the Outward Bound trip did have some very rewarding times. On day 8 when everyone was hot and miserable, when we finally reached the top of the last mountain there was an amazing view, and we all sat down to eat some food and have a well-earned rest while looking out over the beautiful landscape.
While in Australia I found that a lot of anxiety I had about going, had not been so bad after all. For example, I was very worried about getting settled in and whether or not I would fit in, but from day one my exchange family made sure I knew I was part of the family. We very quickly settled into a daily routine of getting ready for school, and the whole transition was much smoother than I expected. The part I worried about the most was getting up early for the one hour drive to school, but surprisingly I was more than capable. Aside from the one hour bus ride to school, there were also some other differences. The schedule of classes was much different, as there were seven 45 minute classes per day, compared to our four-1 hour 10 minute classes.
One of my favourite memories about Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School was learning how to surf, as part of the school aquatics program. Every Monday, the class would take a bus to a nearby beach and surf for the first two periods of the day. The only part about surfing that I didn’t like was when I lost my glasses when I got dumped by a wave. When I lost my glasses, I started freaking out while some students helped me look for them, but the amazing staff at BCGS were able to help me pick out a new pair of frames within hours losing them, all at no cost. If anyone has the opportunity to travel to BCGS I would highly recommend it as the staff and students are wonderful and I would love to go back.
During my exchange trip, I learned a lot about myself and how my mind works. I learned that I often overestimate how difficult tasks are going to be, and worry too much about them, and the only solution is just to keep trying new things and taking challenges head on, piece by piece. This approach has been proven to work for me again and again while I was in Australia, and I am glad I now know this about myself as I plan to use this tactic in the future.
Overall the experience is something that I will treasure for the years to come. I’ve made many new friends and had the time of my life. If anyone is considering going to Australia I would highly recommend it. The change was very big, however it is much easier to adapt than you might think.