Update on our Rotary Exchange Students

News from Cate Lindeman – on exchange to the Czech Republic

Ahoj everyone! It’s getting a lot warmer here now, and it usually gets up to 15 degrees in the afternoon, which is great. The time has definitely flown by.

I met a few Americans that live in my town, they told me they run a choir that only sings American songs and invited me to join. I decided it would be a good way to meet new people and I have been going there for the past few weeks. I have also very recently started playing floorball, which is a lot like field hockey which I played in Australia. It was pretty easy to learn the rules and has been a lot of fun.

My counsellor here in the Czech Republic has decided he wants to meet with me once a week and take me to places in Písek. He has taken me to see an old castle, church, and bridge and told me the history of each site. I am slowly learning more about the history of the beautiful town I am living in. I also changed host families last month. My new family is very sweet, and their house is beautiful. My host mum owns a candle store and is really into gardening, so they have a lot of candles and plants everywhere. I even have my own balcony with some flowers growing on it. They also have a daughter my age which has been a nice change as my last family had two sons in their 20s. They have been playing UNO a lot with me and making me say the number and colour when I put down a card to help improve my Czech; it has definitely helped as I didn’t know how to say any colours before.

On the second day my host dad took me skiing in a mountain about 50 minutes away. It was really fun and had a very pretty view. It also gave me a chance to learn more about my new family. My host dad tried to teach me a few Czech words and phrases each time we were on the lift. The next weekend he took me bike riding. We rode to a small village called Putim, it was a good experience to see a different and much less modern side of Czech Republic.

To finish this month off, my Rotary club organised a trip up the tallest tower in my town. When we reached the top of the tower, we could see the whole town which was lit up by old street lights. This was great but the best experience I’ve had this month is by far visiting a cat café for the first time. I only figured out recently that I live very close to one called KočKavárna (Kočka means cat and kavárna means café). I will definitely be going there a lot during my exchange.

News from Olivia Jogever – on exchange to Finland

From March 2 to 10 it was the school week-long winter break also known as “Hiihtoloma” so I started off March with some skiing, relaxing, and a weekend trip to Alavus (which is a small town of about 10,000 people) to visit my host families cousins. We chatted and it was really nice to get to know them all and hang out with their kids. In Alavus we went to the largest shopping centre in Finland called “Veljekset Keskinen” it was so strange as it was so large and the town which it was in is so small. The centre was originally just one small shop and each year it just keeps getting larger and won‟t stop growing. So basically, imagine a very small town and this random huge shop in the middle of nowhere.

Later we went walking across Alavus lake and used these machines called “rattikelkka” which was heaps of fun. Then the next day we went skiing in Alavus through the nature which was so gorgeous, and I skied 5.5km through this beautiful nature and went up and down hills, it was tricky to get up the hills, but I feel like I‟m sort of improving.

On another weekend, my host family and I went to Kokkola as Kerttu had a biathlon race, and we were also going to visit one of my host mum’s best friends. I had a lovely weekend and caught up with Molly, who is another Australian exchange student who I met on the plane over here. I went ice swimming about three times that evening and each time for a few seconds longer, and eventually after a few attempts it isn’t even that bad anymore. Overall it was a great weekend, and I really enjoyed spending time with everyone and seeing the different ways of Finnish living.

Later in the month, I visited the Oulu art gallery which was really nice to see, and I really enjoyed having a look at the art in this part of the world. A few days later I met my next two host families—one being a married couple, and the other a middle-aged woman living alone. Both families seemed very nice, and I hope all goes smoothly with them. It’ll be really interesting and so different than what I’m used to now as I currently have four siblings in my family and live one hour from the city Oulu. In about a months time I’ll be living near the city.

Russian Tour

I still can’t believe how quick this trip has come! Well first off, the weather was so different here! Close to no snow and today the sun was shining all day and it just put everyone in such a good mood. We had a buffet for breakfast and then headed off through the beautiful city and into the famous “Hermitage museum” which was just mind blowing. It was MASSIVE and contained so much magic, art and culture and it’s no surprise that this museum is one of the most famous museums in the world. Truly everything around was so lavish and there were so many famous artists works on show such as Leonardo da Vinci. It was just amazing to walk around and there was so much to see and I am just so grateful for that once in a lifetime experience. I learnt a little bit about the history of Russia and “Peter the Great” which was nice. In the evening, we all dressed up and went to watch a traditional Russian “folk dancing” show. This was so well done, with the amazing costumes, acting and their voices were also spectacular.

Day 3 of the tour was our last full day and so we went sightseeing to places like the “Blood Church”, stopped off for photos at each place, then afterwards we had free time to just walk around the city with each other which was so nice. We visited this gorgeous shop which had live music playing, a traditional and stunning interior, and sold all types of food and delicious delicacies. To summarise, this trip in three words it would have to be spectacular, unique, and special.

It’s so crazy to think only a few months ago I had just arrived and there was so much snow, and now the snow has mostly melted and I can finally see the grass and sometimes even birds. Each day is feeling so much warmer and no longer in the minuses, and to finish off the month I finally completed this Northern Lights water colour painting which I started last month so I’m pretty happy about that.

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