By Olivia Cantelon '22
On January 6, 2020, I arrived in South Africa. The trip to get there was such a whirlwind, but I felt so proud that I had navigated the journey from Toronto to Cape Town all by myself. As I walked out of the gate to meet my new family I was quite nervous, but I really had no reason to be because little did I know that the Bolds, Toni and Lotus were soon to become my second family. I still can’t believe that I am actually here. There is honestly no other way to describe it, it has truly been an experience of a lifetime for which I am so grateful.
I live in a beautiful part of Cape Town called Hout Bay, which is right in the mountains, while on the other side is the beach. The landscape is such an amazing sight and picture-perfect. Since Bridge House, my host school, is in a little town called Franschhoek, which is about a one and a half-hour drive from Hout Bay, Lotus (my exchange partner) and I are boarders at school during the week. I was so excited to be living in boarding since I am a day student at Lakefield. It is very different from LCS, which took me some time to get used to, but being in boarding has given me the chance to bond with the girls in the house and to make life-long friends with everyone I’ve met.
Recently I was able to go to Lotus’ Grannie’s game reserve in Limpopo, which is about a six-hour drive from Johannesburg. It was the most incredible experience as I got to see four out of the “Big Five” game animals – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo – and stood beside three cheetahs that were two meters away from me. Elephants surrounded our car and put their trunks in my face, and there was a baby elephant that was by far the cutest thing I have ever seen! I have also been able to experience two of my host school’s house events; there was an athletics day and a swimming gala, in which with all of the students in the houses (which are like our paper houses) gathered and screamed our hearts out, with our cheers urging on our teammates to try and win the Spirit Cup. It was such a fun experience to make new friends and to bond together as a school.
I’ve also been able to enjoy lots of sightseeing and to experience many new adventures, such as learning how to surf on Muisenburg Beach, going to cute, little local markets, taking in the sights from the top of Table Mountain, many beach days, and just immersing myself in their culture. From meeting new people and making friends for life, my exchange visit to South Africa has been an experience that I will never forget. I’ve made so many memories which is why I highly recommend that other students take the plunge and try to go on exchange. It’s a scary thing going to a new country and meeting so many new people, but it gets you out of your comfort zone and is truly an opportunity you will never regret! Lakefield College School’s membership in Round Square makes it possible for our Grade 10 students to participate in – typically 6 to 10 weeks - exchanges with students from more than 180 Round Square (and a few non-Round Square) schools around the world. Learn more about our student exchange programs.