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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!"
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.