© WEP 2017
Hello! My name is Lauren and almost three years ago I embarked on the most amazing journey of my life! When I jumped (out of excitement) off the plane in Ottawa, Canada, surrounded by snow and the crisp air, I knew it would be a life-changing experience. I lived in a little town known as Moose Creek (perfectly Canadian, eh?) for three months, with the most amazing host family ever. My host family, consisting of a Mum and Dad and three younger children has since become my second family whom I share a special bond with. It honestly couldn’t have been a better match! Looking back, it seems impossible to me to comprehend that three years ago I was meeting the people I now consider lifelong friends for the very first time. One of my favourite parts of exchange was attending school! I know it sounds crazy, but school is where I made some of my fondest memories. I attended a small country school, approximately a third of the size of my school here in Australia, so already a crazy new environment. It’s impossible for me to pinpoint my favourite experience from school, but I would have to say the time my friends and I ran like emus through the corridors would have been one of the best! Exchange isn’t an easy thing to do; it requires you to be open-minded and willing to adapt to new situations. However, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can vouch for it being worthwhile. Not only did I experience the most memorable experiences in Canada, like seeing Niagara Falls (still speechless), I also learned an incredible amount about myself and the world in which we live. I gained a lot of confidence and independence from my exchange which allowed me to return to Australia seeing the world as my oyster. I am forever thankful to my families in Australia and Canada, my friends and WEP, this experience would have never occurred had it not been for them. As for where I am now, I recently graduated high school and began attending university! I am studying a double degree in Law and Global Studies. I have since caught up with my host parents in New York, where they met my family from Australia and I recently returned from a trip back to Canada where I visited my host family once again and surprised all my friends from school. Whatever it was which encouraged me to take the leap and live overseas for three months, I will be forever grateful for. I wouldn’t trade my exchange experience for anything in the entire world and I hope if you are considering exchange, you take the leap and apply, I can guarantee you will have only the most amazing experience! If I had any piece of advice for future students, it would be go for as long as possible! My one and only regret is that I didn't go for longer!
Have you chosen your exchange bestie yet? WEP exchange students from Belgium, Denmark, France and Italy are arriving in Australia this July and we're looking for families, just like yours, to host them! Choose your student ASAP! Here are Sara and Georgia to tell you why it's the best thing you'll ever do! In 2015, Mt Beauty high school student, Georgia, set off to Italy on the student exchange journey of a lifetime! Within days of arriving, she was raving about her new home! "I'm having the most amazing experience! Rome was spectacular and I’m living in Malnate, the cutest little town, with beautiful views and houses! And, just to top it off, they have the best gelato shop only a walk away!" During her exchange Georgia made connections and memories for life and when she returned to Mt Beauty, there was only thing she wanted to do...HOST! She jumped onto this website and chose her student, Sara! Sara is from Italy and super into baking sweets (talk about the perfect host sister)! Sara wanted to go on exchange to challenge herself, to open her mind and to discover everything the world has to offer! "I started talking to Georgia before leaving Italy because I was so extremely excited to have a host sister, I always wanted to have an actual one! The fun thing is that me and Georgia actually knew each other before they decided to host me because we were already following each other on Instagram! When she told me she would be my host sister, I couldn’t believe it!" Said Sara. When Sara and Georgia met for real, their adventures together began!
"My host family have made my exchange and they have surely been one of the most important parts of it! We started getting on well from the very first moment and now I see them as my second family!"
For Georgia having a sister was amazing! In fact, she reckons Sara was the best part of the family!
"We would run down the hall to each other's rooms each night telling gossip we'd just heard, or talking about Pretty Little Liars because she got me hooked on the show! We were always in each other's rooms, stealing each other's clothes, using each other's perfumes and just hanging out. I saw her as like my twin, having a sister was the best experience I could ask for, I wish she lived here permanently!"
Although Sara has gone back to Italy and these exchange besties are now separated by oceans they have grand plans to visit each other again!
"We hope to travel to all sorts of different countries, in fact when we were together we made plans to go to Greece together and many other places on top of that! We still talk every single day, sending each other our homework/study, or pictures of what we're doing, or even the food we're eating because we always talk about food. But yes, we will 100% see each other again soon!"
Happy travels girls!
Are you dreaming of spending this Chrissy overseas? How about experiencing an American Halloween or exploring Paris, NYC or Rome with new friends from around the world? Application deadlines for WEP's super popular August-departure exchange programs have started to close! So, if you're ready for the adventure of a lifetime, click here and start your application ASAP! Don't miss out! So, why go on a semester exchange program to one of WEP's 25 incredible countries? Here are five super quick reasons: 1) Inclusions, inclusions, inclusions! From the USA to Germany, many WEP destinations offer amazing mini-tours, weekends away, sightseeing excursions, orientations and language and culture camps exclusively for August programs! 2) The festive season! You get to experience Xmas and New Years in the countries that do it best! Gumtrees and sand are great, but let's be honest, Christmas is all about the cold (Santa comes in a sleigh after all)! 3) Food! When do we eat the most? In December! Local food is on show during this time of year so, when better to experience it? Did you know the French celebrate Christmas by eating chocolate logs. Yes, a log...of chocolate. 4) School. You won't miss as much because, if you go for a semester, much of your exchange will occur over the Australian summer holidays and you'll return in time to start the new school year! 5) Bragging rights! Photos of you having the time of your life on a WEP student exchange are guaranteed to make your sweltering friends back at home super jealous! Plus, you'll return with memories, stories and skills for life!
Good news, WEP has published the deets of all our 2017 information sessions and there are stacks! If you're considering a student exchange program, you absolutely must attend an info session. If you don't live near a city we're visiting, don't panic, we can Skype you! At WEP info sessions we answer every question you've got about student exchange, we show you plenty of awesome photos to keep your eyes entertained and we pile #inspo all over you with stories of the many adventurers who have gone before! You'll also get to meet WEP's dazzling staff and returned students! In fact, there's not much that doesn't happen at a WEP info session, except interpretive dance (although if we struggle explaining how awesome WEP is, we might resort to a few shakes and shimmies). To RSVP for an info session near you, click here! Once you've done that, head to Facebook events and invite all your friends too, the more the merrier! See you there!
Happy New Year! How exciting is the prospect of a new year? Whether you're soldiering through your final year of high school, heading into year 9, 10, 11 or 12, starting university or planning a gap year, we've got a program to make 2017 your best year yet! Here's a snapshot of just what you can get up to with WEP Australia! With 25 countries to choose from and summer, semester and year programs, there's something for everyone! Are you dying to experience France, or itching to walk the iconic halls of an American high school? Apply now!
"The experiences that I've had here have been unforgettable! My host family is absolutely incredible and I fit in so well. My exchange has made me think about the world from a different standpoint and I've gained a wealth of knowledge from my time here! I never want it to end!" - Aleisha, Semester, USA
HostingWant to make friends from around the world? Host an exchange student! You get to choose the student that you want to host and we've already got profiles available for July 2017! Get in now and choose your student ASAP!
"My experience in Australia has been made great not only by the places I’ve visited and the experiences I’ve had, but also by the people I’ve met. My host family has definitely made my time here special!" - Rebecca from Italy in Berowra, NSW.
Volunteer AbroadAre you 18+? Boost your CV, travel, make friends from around the world and make a difference with projects in education, health, conservation and much more! Find out more on our website or email us firstname.lastname@example.org!
"I'm really enjoying it here! Everyone is really lovely and there are many other volunteers doing various projects! The program is well organised! The new volunteers had a naming ceremony and my Nepali name is Sapana." - Cecelia, Nepal.
Oh gosh! Christmas is just around the corner! So, to give you, our Australian adventurers, that warm and fuzzy festival feeling, we're bringing you an early Christmas present: our wonderful Christmas Special! If you're already dreaming of a chilly (maybe even white) Christmas in 2017, this one's for you! Apply for a semester or year exchange program to the USA, France, Canada or Italy before December 30 and save $250! That's $250 you can put towards your winter wardrobe! To apply (and to read the fine print) head over here! A full application includes a $400 deposit and the completion of a MYWEP application and supporting documentation.
It has been nine months since I stepped off the plane at noon on the first of February in Madrid. That feels like such a long time ago, however at the same time it doesn't! This has been what I can only describe as an amazing, life-changing experience. Throughout the course of this year I have developed a strong bond with my host family and met some amazing people. This experience has come with its own set of challenges: the language, making friends, settling in etc. I'm not going to lie, it isn't an easy thing to do, but trust me when I say it is more than worth it. Whether you are deciding if you are going to go on exchange, or you are already out there abroad, I encourage you to embrace the experience. It is a lot easier said than done. I was very timid and nervous when I arrived, I was very quiet in school and didn't say much. I partially blame that on my language skills but it was mostly because I was scared to put myself out there. For that reason I had a little trouble making friends and interacting with other people outside of my host family. What I really want to say is, DON'T BE SHY. If there is any useful advice I could give to any future or new exchange students, that would be it! Despite the fact that I was very reserved at the start of the year it was still an amazing experience. Not only is exchange an amazing opportunity to experience another culture, create strong bonds and amazing friendships with other people, but for me especially, it has been an amazing opportunity to build character and learn from all the challenges/opportunities exchange has to offer. This year so far has been amazing. It has kind of been like a really, really long roller coaster; it has its ups and it has its downs and it's pretty crazy and scary at some points. But don't close your eyes, because if you do you might get off and wish that you had kept them open, except you can't get back on this roller coaster, so live it to the fullest! All-in-all exchange is amazing. I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to spend 2016 in Spain and if you have the opportunity to travel abroad I totally recommend it.
"What? Only five?" you ask, "but there are so many more!" You're right! There are truckloads of reasons why you should attend a WEP info session. But, we didn't want to break the internet, so we thought five would be enough.
- Our info sessions are about ten thousand time more interesting than staying home and watching Goggle Box.
- WEP staff are really lovely people and might even give you a world map to take home and plan your journey.
- You'll get to play WEP Wally, a game invented by a guy in a stripey shirt called Wally and perfected by us.
- You'll get to ask returned WEP students all sorts of super useful questions i.e. "What's plane food like?", "Will I get to ride a moose to school in Canada?" and/or "Where can I buy vaguely fashionable snow boots?".
- You can bring your parents, your friends, your baby brother or your goldfish. We're pretty flexible with seating.
Three years later! It is absolutely mind-blowing to me that three years could have passed since my exchange. And yet, stepping off the plane in Milan and going home to my Italian dog, mum, dad, sister, brother, neighbours, grandparents and my very own bedroom, it always feels like I've never left. When WEP used whatever wonderful and whacky equation they use to place some girl from Australia with some family from Italy, I won the lottery, that’s for sure. In Italy I found my true second family. The fact that I can speak fluent Italian to the cute old Italian couple at my work here in Australia, and the fact that I have a second mum, a second dad, and extra siblings (one of which is my only sister and my actual favourite human on the planet), are all things so much a part of who I am now, it seems impossible that it all started just three years ago. The year after I left Italy my Italian family came over to Australia for a month and stayed with us and met some spiders and drank some really terrible coffee and had a ball. Then, the following year, I went back for a month over Christmas, just ‘cause we missed each other and needed to hang out a while. Now, eight months later, I just got back home after a whirlwind 10 day visit to Italy for my host brother’s wedding in Venice - which, despite the fact that I am a very, very poor university student, I just wouldn’t have missed for the world. I write this post more jet-lagged than ever (cheap flights are never kind on the stop overs), craving gelato, but with the fullest, most grateful heart because even though goodbyes are sad and plane tickets are expensive, I wouldn’t trade any of it in for the world. After every badly connected FaceTime call and care package received in the mail and two-hour-long hug in an airport arrivals gate I thank seventeen-year-old me for taking the leap and applying last-minute for a year abroad! So if you’re still deciding whether exchange will be worth it, what are you waiting for? -Maddie, Returnee, Italy What are you waiting for? Find out more about programs to Italy! You can also request to speak to a returned WEP student or check out our Italy WEPisode!
Good news for all you hamburger eaters, baseball watchers and all round fans of the USA! We've extended our application deadline for programs departing in January 2017! But be quick! To get your application to us by October 4, you'll need to start your application now! Here's a peek into the life of a WEP exchange student in the USA! Tiarna touched down a couple of weeks ago and in that time she's participated in WEP's NYC mini-tour, been to a rodeo and settled into her Oregon home. "I am having the time of my life over here! My host family are so much fun and I feel very welcomed. The New York trip was amazing and it was really great getting to know the other students. School has been fun and I have made a couple of friends through volleyball! The biggest difference I have found over here is how they say things like 'soda' instead of 'soft drink', 'restroom' instead of 'bathroom' and 'flip flops' instead of 'thongs'. I have also noticed how cheap food and drink is and the different portion sizes! I have been traveling quite a bit for volleyball games and rodeos so I have had quite a lot of take away and fast food which is making me miss fresh vegetables a bit but the school lunches are really good because they have a salad bar and if we are home my host mum makes really good dinners! Homecoming is coming up in a couple of weeks so I'm going shopping tomorrow for a dress and shoes. I'm very excited about it! My host dad has a really cool show car he said he can drop my sister and I off in which will be awesome. The weather has been really good, it has only rained once, which somehow managed to be on the day of school photos so my sister and I had to find jackets to wear so our hair wouldn't get wet and our makeup ruined. The teachers here are really nice and understanding when I don't understand something which is great and the students have been really welcoming and because I am on the volleyball team they have decorated my locker which I think is so sweet and on game days they always stick candy or chocolate on it! Next weekend my coordinater is taking the exchange students from the school on a camp up in the mountains at a hot springs which I'm looking forward to and I get to go to California soon to meet some more of my host family's family. I'm really loving it here and I can't wait to see what the next few months have to bring!"