By Sasha W.
This year, five SEM sophomores were given the opportunity to travel on a six-week exchange to Melbourne, Australia. Jo, Anna, Myleigh, Nadia, and Aubrey participated in this experience this past spring with St. Catharine’s School, a day and boarding school for girls. Students from Australia came to SEM in the fall and stayed with a host family, and in the spring the SEM students traveled to Australia to exchange with those that stayed with them. This exchange allowed students to immerse themselves in a completely different environment and, in return, learn so much about different cultures.
Traveling to Australia, the students were able to do and learn so much. The students got to meet so many new people and make once-in-a-lifetime connections. They had the opportunity to visit Sydney, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, go to the Great Barrier Reef, and more. They learned so much about Australia’s history and culture.
The students were also able to learn more about themselves. Being away from home for so long in a completely different country was hard, but they overcame it. They learned how to be more adventurous and open when it comes to experiencing new things, and how to embrace being uncomfortable. They also learned how to deal with a different educational setting, and how to be more independent while away from home in a place with a completely different timezone, which made it hard to communicate with people in Buffalo.
For anyone else thinking about doing an exchange, here are some pieces of advice that they had: Jo said: “People will probably ask you questions that sound strange, so try not to be offended by them; a lot of people have never talked to someone from the US so they have lots of questions to ask.” “Try to have a positive attitude the whole trip even though sometimes you’ll feel homesick or miss the U.S. Make sure to bond with your host and get involved in the school because it makes the experience more fulfilling,” said Anna. Myleigh advised to “make the most of your experience because eight weeks seems like a long time but it goes by fast. Make the most out of every moment you have while you’re there. Even the little things matter because you are always making a memory even though you may not realize it.”