© WEP 2019
I embarked on my exchange experience wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at age 15 in November 2015. I was to spend three glorious and mind-boggling months in the snowy magnificence of eastern Canada. I had never travelled on a plane before, never been away from my family and never pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone. If I could say something to my younger self, it’d be “wise choice kiddo,” it is one of the proudest decisions of my life. Now, at age 18 and a new University student, I can’t imagine the person I would have become instead. The nostalgic fondness I possess is thanks to the gifts my exchange program snuck me under the table; independence, persistence, spontaneity, vision. I learnt to discard my introverted tendencies which held me back and to say yes to more. Passport documents, visas, forms galore, bring it on, I’ve seen it all now. I felt snow for the first time, I found comfort and happiness in a new home, I found out what it’s like to miss someone, what French sounds like. If I didn’t appreciate these things back then, I sure do now. My day-to-day in Canada included attending school, which played a massive role in making new friends and discovering what it’s like living as a Canadian teen. I was picked up by one of those big yellow school buses and loved every second of it, I even made friends with the bus driver, Ricki, as I was first on the route. My subjects included advanced science (I was a total klutz and asked to be moved to gym class). Ohhh good old gym class...when it was below freezing outside we ran laps in the corridors until we were trained enough to run 5km on the track outside. To be fair I’m not the most physically privileged but my suffering was worth the bragging rights. I attended the school semi-formal and had a blast listening to country music and learning how to line dance, which I never quite got the hang of honestly. Country music is still not my preferred genre but that’s one of the things I learnt to appreciate about the culture I was immersed in. The food, oh my gosh the food! Beaver tails make me salivate just thinking about them, pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, maple syrup frozen on snow, poutine! The list goes on and on and I was in food heaven. I had the opportunity to go skiing for the first time ever and I may or may not have taken a black diamond course and caused excruciating internal bruising on my knee, leaving me on crutches. Another life lesson: to know your limits and to be responsible. I could go on and on about my experiences but I feel they’re of greater value to my nostalgia than to potential exchange students. Hence, I’m giving advice to those who are considering becoming future exchange students, and maybe in particular those wanting to travel to the Great White North!
- Have a strong mental mindset. Travelling across the world on your own personal journey is not for the faint of heart, ask me, the 15 year old who broke down and cried in the middle of Vancouver Airport because she couldn’t find her ticket. Even if you’re timid and unsure, always know that if you reach out, someone will help you.
- Communication is key and you’ll find this is true in many aspects of life, being able to talk openly and freely with someone is quite cathartic and will most likely leave you feeling better. If you’re feeling isolated and alone, you’re only perpetuating it by wallowing in your sorrows, wishing you were somewhere else. Your host family has opened their arms to accept you like one of their own, take advantage of their kindness and talk to them!
- Push yourself! I cannot begin to express how worse off you’d be if you were too shy to introduce yourself to new people! Students at your school may be unaware of how to approach you too, so be that icebreaker! Australians have a cool aura about them that foreigners like, there’s something about being Australian that makes people think we’re mega cool, so take advantage of that too!
- Have photos of your home and memories in Australia to show your fellow classmates and host family. There’s nothing more interesting than learning about the new exchange kid from exotic Australia. I was asked if Australia was all beach, if we had Xbox here, are kangaroos just roaming the streets, do we have cities? The people around me were super intrigued to hear about me and my home. Also, bring some Australian money just to show too!
- Bring small gifts for your host family. It shows good etiquette to give your host family Australian gifts upon arrival. I didn’t buy much or go too out of my way, just simple novelties like an Aussie rules footy, a eucalyptus candle, Vegemite and other small souvenirs.
Ok, so you’re: Adventurous (we know because you’re reading about a WEP student exchange) Looking for the experience of a lifetime Ready to make 2019 a year to remember! So, what's next? Application deadlines for programs departing in August this year are closing VERY SOON, so start your application now by clicking here. August student exchange programs are fantastic because you get to participate in some wonderful included orientation programs! In Italy, there's a four-night orientation in gorgeous Rome, in France there's a three-night orientation in Paris (oui oui) and in the USA there's a three-night mini tour of #NYC (with a speedboat ride on the harbour, shopping on Fifth Avenue and so much more)! Don't miss out, start your application ASAP!
Considering becoming a host family in 2019? Great! Each February and July WEP welcomes students from all over the world to Australia. Welcoming a WEP student into your life is a hugely enriching experience and you'll find you've made a friend for life! Here are our top three reasons why you should host an exchange student:
- Travel from the comfort of your own home. Exchange students are eager to share their culture with you and learn all they can about Australia. Imagine trying Italian-made tiramisu or teaching your new family member how to do a Tim Tam slam!
- Create a life-long connection. You'll share memories and moments with your student and together you'll forge a connection that you'll never forget.
- You'll be our hero! You're doing an incredible thing by inviting someone into your heart and home. WEP exchange students and their host families form part of a large network, that through the sharing of experiences, languages and cultures creates a global community.
Save $500 on your WEP student exchange program with WEP's Early Bird Special! Apply now for your semester or year WEP student exchange program departing between July-September 2019 and you'll save $500 when you submit your full application by November 30 2018. Here’s the lowdown Who's eligible? Students currently in years 9-12 in QLD and 9-11 in VIC/NSW When's it for? Semester and year programs departing between July-September 2019 Which WEP countries are participating? Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, China, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Spain, Thailand or the USA. How can I apply? Submit your full application before 30 November 2018! You can start your application here. Got questions about our Early Bird Special? Submit an enquiry here. We can't wait to hear from you!
WEP is offering two lucky students a $1,000 discount on their semester or year WEP student exchange program departing between July and September 2019! This is available to all WEP’s countries. To enter our If Not Now, When Scholarship create a three to four-minute video showing us how you demonstrate three traits that are essential to stellar exchange students: open mindedness, enthusiasm and the desire to embrace every opportunity that comes your way! Please note, you can apply for the scholarship even if you haven’t started your student exchange application. This scholarship is open to students currently in years 9-11 in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. More more information and to apply, click here.
Everything here, in Norway, is great! I can't believe how fast this year is going and that I only have a month and a half left here. I had an amazing summer and did so many things, like a five day mountain hiking trip, a road trip around the south and west of Norway with my host family and I also visited an exchange friend in Germany for a week. In between all this I relaxed a lot! This year was the hottest summer Norway has had in years, so I did a lot of swimming in lakes and the fjord. I hung out with my friends and host family, played beach handball, explored a lot and also got to celebrate my first birthday in summer! Last weekend I met lots of new exchange students living around the Oslo area which was fun and I got to give them lots of advice. Recently I took part in a obstacle course race with my host sisters, which was challenging but so fun. This weekend I had a sleepover with five of my friends and had a great time. Now I've been back at school for four weeks and it's great to be back into the swing of things, even though I'm really busy with homework. It's so nice to be back at school and socialising everyday, I really love the Norwegian culture and the school system. Autumn is here and it's starting to get colder, but it's really nice and cosy to be inside with candles lit and watching movies with my host family. I absolutely love it here and feel so lucky to have this opportunity. This has been the best year of my life. Alyssa
Applications deadlines for January WEP student exchanges to the USA close on September 25. Don't delay, places are limited, start your application ASAP. Choose between a semester or year program and make 2019 a year filled with adventure and memories that will last a lifetime. Here are our top reasons why you should choose the USA for your WEP exchange: 1. The People It's true, everyday Americans have got to be amongst the most welcoming people on earth. Get ready to be embraced as the new Aussie celebrity in town! 2. The Food America gets a bad wrap with all those fast food chains. But remember, Americans pioneered salad as a meal and perfected 'soul food'! 3. The Traditions From school traditions like prom and homecoming to national holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, America throws a good celebration! 4. Its Diversity America is massively multicultural and you're bound to learn about cultures and histories you never thought you would! 5. The Scenery City skylines, a massive coastline, small towns, farmland, this gigantic nation offers every photo opp you could ever want! Remember, your FULL application needs to be submitted by the September 25 deadline, so get started ASAP. Follow WEP Australia on Instagram for a photo celebration of the USA!
Spots are limited, so don't delay, start your application ASAP by clicking here. ..................................
Bridie in ItalyHi WEP! It's three weeks today that I've been in this beautiful country, experiencing something new everyday. I think the main thing that's shocked me is how much my Italian has improved in such a short period of time but also how obvious it has become that I have so much further to go! These past few weeks have been intense, from walking through the beautiful streets of Rome to being thrown into life here in Malnate, north of Milano. My host family have been wonderful, giving me nothing but care and assistance whenever they can. I can already feel myself building a life here! Full of family, friends, activities, education and travel, the things I had back home but in such a different more exciting way! It has definitely been difficult at times, accepting the sudden reality of my new life, but it's been really thrilling too! I'm off to Milan this weekend with other exchange students, and I'm hoping to go on short trips to many other beautiful cities which I'm so lucky to have so close by. School is really interesting because it's so different from back home and the people are all really friendly and helpful, I was firstly so surprised by the amount of people! I'm at a science school so a lot of the time it's difficult to understand, but the teachers have been really helpful in arranging a special timetable for me. I feel really cared for and I'm excited to see what the future holds for me here and how my perspective on the world is going to change because of it. It’s like exchange is the difference between living in a fishbowl and swimming in the ocean, I have the comfort of life back home and experience of the wider world. I honestly just feel extremely grateful for all of this. Click here for more information and to apply for your own Italian adventure.
Find out more about a WEP student exchange at a free, public information session. RSVP and we'll save you a seat. So, you've requested your free information pack, you've read it from cover to cover and you're itching to find out more about your student exchange options! The next step is to RSVP to an info session! At a WEP info session you'll hear from WEP staff who will cover everything you (and your parents) need to know about exchange including eligibility, program choices, travel, insurance, fees, scholarships/specials and support. You'll also hear from returned WEP students who will provide insight into their own exchange experiences and answer questions. This August, WEP is holding info sessions around Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, so wherever you live, it's likely we'll be at a venue near you! And, if we're not, don't panic, let's Skype instead! You can RSVP to a Skype session here! So, RSVP ASAP and don't forget to invite your travel-obsesses friends along too, we've got a Bestie Discount! See you there!
Ciao! It's primavera or Spring in Italia! And, it's moments like riding bikes with my host sisters through the many fruit trees my host dad grows on his farm that has me continuously amazed by how beautiful Italy is! My name is Erin and I’ve now been here in the north of Italy for two months. I’ve loved my time here so far and it’s all thanks to my host family! I have four host sisters who are just amazing and have helped me settle in very nicely. They’ve been very helpful while I learn the language by giving me tests after dinner, writing some little lessons for me to do at school and talking very slowly so it’s easier for me to understand. I feel very lucky to have made such a special bond with my siblings already! My host mum is an amazing cook and my favourite part of the day is coming home from school at 12:45 in the afternoon and eating the best home cooked lunch! My host dad is a farmer and grows apples, peaches and kiwis so here we are always eating fruit which I love. School was hard at the beginning and it takes awhile to adapt to the differences but once you start to understand the language it’s a lot easier. The best thing for me has been watching movies in Italian during the classes I don’t understand - with permission of course! For Easter we went to my host family's beach house in Bordighera which is such a beautiful town and the sea is a very pretty blue. On the Sunday we travelled from Italy into France, then Monaco, to walk around the city of Monte Carlo. It’s very bizarre for me being able to drive into three different counties in one day and not need my passport! My Easter holidays were fantastic and I’m so excited for future adventures I will get up to with my family before leaving in December!