© WEP 2017
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!"
Hello! My name is Velvet and I'm a returned student from France. I wanted to tell you guys, other exchange students and students interested in taking on their own exciting program in the future, my student exchange story! Here goes! I lived in France for a semester from January to June of 2016. I lived in La Roche Sur Yon, a small but lovely town in western France. My host parents became my new family whilst living abroad, and I also made many lifelong friendships with French teenagers and with other foreign exchange students. I was lucky enough to have a six week holiday in Italy, France and Spain with my Australian family at the completion of the program. My program was full of crazy ups and downs, but it was the greatest experience of my life so far, and I have learnt so much about myself and about the world in which I live. Exchange completely changed my life, in more ways than I could have originally imagined. It was difficult at times, yes, but it taught me so much about resilience and the sense of adventure within me. I had the most amazing opportunities given to me by my host family, friends and school. I consider them as my second family now and still have regular contact with them. I miss my school friends, host family and the other exchange students that were with me more than I will ever be able to express. I was so lucky to have befriended them all on my program. Exchange has opened so many doors for me and my future that I never would have expected before. I have almost reinvented myself! I have overcome so much that I never would have been able to if it weren't for my exchange. I have now came back to regular Australian life and reality and have hopefully brought home everything I've learnt and would like to achieve in the future. I am more confident and I no longer need to set boundaries for myself. I feel like a more well-rounded person and I am so grateful that I, and the people I love around me worked so hard to make my exchange happen. It will continue to show up in everything I do in the future. Thank you so much to my beautiful host family, Australian family and to WEP, for opening up this opportunity of me to have taken on. If you are interested in going on exchange or participating in one of WEP's programs, I say, from an experienced point of view, absolutely go for it and don’t let anyone stop you! Some of my most influential and fondest memories were made by my exchange in France, and they will always be in my heart! -Velvet, returned WEP exchange student. If you would like more information on WEP's programs, request a student exchange info pack and/or RSVP to an info session! You can also request to speak to Velvet, or another returned student!
Did you know you can head off to amazing Latin America with WEP? We offer student exchange programs to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico! Hear how incredible this part of the world is as Jaela tells us what she's been getting up to on her Argentinian exchange!
"Everything is going amazing here in Argentina. I love it! Everybody here has been so friendly and welcoming towards me. My host family, especially my host sister, have been very helpful in assisting me in transitioning into the Argentinean lifestyle and making it as smooth as possible, which it definitely has been. I haven't faced any major cultural barriers and have found it very easy adapting to their way of life. Although it is different here I have found that going along with it and having friends and my host family have just made it amazing. In fact I hardly think about it anymore as a different place, just my home away from home.
The school is very student orientated and I love my class and the subjects I am taking. It is so fascinating to notice everything going on and the differences between school here and my school in Australia.
My host family have been better then I ever imagined and are always so generous and helpful, it amazes me. the food is also very delicious, especially the sweets, I can't help but have a churro every so often! My host sister's friends have also been really fun and nice to welcome me. It's pretty cool because one of her friends is hosting a girl from Italy so we can help each other out and share our experiences.
Thank you so much for making this happen! I am so glad I decided to come here. It has been amazing here so far, I wish I could stay here for longer then five months!
-Jaela, Cañada de Gómez, Argentina
The name Argentina comes from the Latin word for silver, argentum.
Basketball, polo, rugby, golf and hockey are very popular sports in Argentina.
Argentine beef is famous around the world and bbq is super popular.
Go on exchange to Argentina with WEP and you'll get a week-long orientation with 25 hours of Spanish lessons and a heap of excursions!
Research by Volunteering Australia has shown that volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than non-volunteers. To find out, we chatted to the Bacic family, one of WEP Australia's wonderful volunteer host families. According to host mum, Di, the experience has brought the Bacics closer as a family, “We tend to go out and do things that we love together. It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday, each doing our own thing, but when we’re hosting a student who is on ‘borrowed time’, we plan outings and get out and about together more often.” The effect the experience has had on the Bacic’s children, Morgan and Riley, has also been positive, “They love having siblings all around the world. It has made them more patient and understanding in their personal relationships. Hosting has opened up and inspired them both to travel and experience other cultures.” Says Di. And, as for the family’s shut eye, “We’re a happy bunch, rarely sick and don’t have any problems sleeping…except the night before our students arrive because we’re too excited!” The rewards are not just for the volunteers. Hear from Italian exchange student, Camilla, living in Warialda, NSW. "I'd really like to share a little bit of my amazing experience that I'm having here in Australia. I'm Camilla from Italy and I'm doing an exchange program in Warialda, NSW. This town is the smallest town that I have ever lived in and I think that it is one of the biggest changes that I have done. This was very scary at the beginning, but now I think that it is one of my fortunes. Living in Warialda has so many positives! I know everyone and this is very useful for my adaptation. When I walk in the street or I enter in a shop every single person asks me how I am and smiles at me. The school is small and cheerful and if I have a problem it is very simple to find a person that can help me. In small towns we celebrate more national days and memorials, even the little things are celebrated and your presence is very important, so I always feel welcomed. My host family is awesome, I can’t imagine a better family! They help me so much and I have become a member of this family. They are sharing everything of their life with me and I'm doing the same. The most beautiful thing is to cook for them (I'm becoming a chef here) and to share our different style of life and culture. For most of my successes here I have to thank them and I can not thank them enough. I can feel that they love me and I love them too, I am sure that our relationship will remain throughout life even if we will be on opposite sides of the world. This life is so different to Italian life and I really like it! Australia has a goergeous landscape! I'm trying new types of food including Thai food, which I have fallen in love with. I met a lot of new nice people and I'm living a very country Australian life! I'm doing old dancing twice at week and also I did bush dancing, it was one of my favourite things! I represented my high school during the march on Anzac Day and it was a great experience. Also, I'm trying a lot of new sports that I have never played before, like netball, rugby, cricket, touch football and I am also playing sports that I know very well too, like volleyball. I couldn’t believe I was selected for the North West Volleyball Team! I decided to become an exchange student to discover a country and culture that I don't know anything about. Grow and mature, stay far away from your family and your normal life could be very difficult but it is a very important thing to test yourself. You will be alone, without people that you know, but you will meet other amazing people that are here for you, to support you and to try to make the best experience for both of you. I find out a lot of fantastic things that only living here you can understand. Australia is a beautiful country and the best thing that I love about it is the relaxed lifestyle of the people and the mixture of cultures from around the world." Click here for more information on hosting a WEP exchange student in 2017.