I obviously talk a lot about my time in London but that wasn’t actually the first time I was abroad for a couple of months.
When I was 16/17, I lived in Australia for six months.
Something quite a few people tend to do in Germany is take three, six, nine or 12 months of year 11 off and go to school abroad somewhere. Most go to America, a few to England, but I, to this date, haven’t heard of too many who go to Australia. I’m not so sure anymore what triggered my wish to go as far away from home as possible either.
I went with an agency called Southern Cross who, at the time, were specialised in bringing students abroad to Australia and New Zealand – I believe so anyway, they do America and Canada now, too. But at the time it was just Australia and NZ.
So I lived in Brisbane, Queensland, near the east coast. The school I went to was Indooroopilly State High School, which I originally wasn’t supposed to go to. I had chosen another school but due to a large group of Asian students who just wouldn’t leave, I had to choose a new one. My decision was based on their focus of subjects and how similar both schools were. Accidentally, I ended up with the only school in Queensland without a school uniform (which, in hindsight, I reckon to be quite sad!).
Since neither my subjects nor my grades counted for anything in Germany, I took Drama, Dance, Film & Television, Business & Technology in Society, English as a second language and another one which I can’t remember and can’t find on their website, either – sorry! However, it was super chilled and I loved every single one of it.
I stayed with a homestay, consisting of a 12-year-old boy, a 15-year-old-girl, their parents and a little dog (bare in mind that was 2007. They’re much older now). Unfortunately we didn’t get along as well as I had hoped we would, but I don’t really wish to go into too much detail about that – I hope you understand!
Nonetheless, my time in Brisbane was absolutely fantastic. I met so many amazing people who have stayed in my life for a long, long time – not all of them are still there but I reckon a lot happens between the age of 16 and 24 so that’s okay.
My best memories include weekend-trips to the Gold Coast which is about a 1,5 hour long train ride away. We used to get a super early train on Saturday or Sunday mornings, nap on the beach (probably still knackered from a party the night before) and then stay until late in the evening. To this date, these days were the most carefree days of my life. I didn’t have to worry about a single thing in my life – at least that what I felt like. It was awesome.
I also remember everyone being extremely content. It’s a cliché that Australians are chilled and happy all the time but I found it to be very true. I’m not sure if that’s because of the constant lovely weather or the general mentality but it was impossible to be unhappy there. Every weekend, there was something going on – a party, a get-together, a sleepover. I rarely spent weekends at home (also driven by the tensed atmosphere, I suppose) and I loved every second of it. It’s amazing being surrounded by so many positive vibes every single day.
Something else that I hadn’t experienced before is actually being proud of your school. Students loved representing their school, the commitment and engagement was incredible. They have captains for different departments as well as two for the whole school and the campaigning beforehand was intense! But even when it came to sports events, musical performances etc., everyone was willing to help and get involved. I loved it and I really wish it was the same in Germany.
On the other hand, the school took a lot more interest in their students, too, providing a really good range of subjects to choose from and supporting them in extracurricular activitiest wherever they could. Another point that I hadn’t experienced in Germany.
A couple of days before I went back home I went to Sydney with two of my German friends. The three of us were inseparable; and generally, the group (there were seven of us) were so easily accepted and welcomed by everyone. After about three days in, everybody at the school knew “the Germans” and our names. It was lovely and I especially bonded with two guys. So us three went to Sydney for a week to see something else apart from Brisbane and the Gold Coast and it was incredible! Sydney is a much cooler city than Brisbane, I reckon, although I don’t think I would’ve wanted to stay there for the six months (at the time, at least).
I hope this gave you an insight into my time Down Under. If you have any more questions, feel free to put them in the comments!