Last month, two groups of exchange students, one from Quebec and one from Australia, returned home after a month-long exchange at our school. Four students came to us from Goulburn Valley Grammar School in Shepparton, 180 kilometres north of Melbourne, and three girls came to us from Le College Ste. Anne de Lachine in Montreal. All our visitors stayed with fellow students and their families for the month while they attended SMUS.
Our Canadian visitors, Raphaelle, Pascale and Marie, found SMUS quite different from their own school. With 1600 students and class sizes running at about 40 students per class, in the biggest difference they noticed were our smaller classes around 20 students and the space afforded by our larger campus. The girls also adjusted to a new climate, with rain instead of snow, and of course the biggest challenge for them was language.
“It was hard learning in English when we’re basically French speakers,” says Pascale.
During their stay, the girls attended choir, Japanese, Spanish and Modern Studies, among other classes. They also attended school events, such as the Small Ensembles concert and the school’s production of After Juliet, and went on field trips, such as the visit to Goldstream Park to see the salmon run. The girls also enjoyed Victoria’s Royal British Columbia Museum and Butchart Gardens, and enjoyed a one-day trip around Vancouver Island with one of the host families.
“To see the ocean was beautiful,” says Marie. Raphaelle says that the experience also helped them develop their autonomy, as they were away from their parents. All of the girls say they enjoyed their time at SMUS and in the city of Victoria, and that they would definitely come back to visit.
Two of our students departed this week for month-long exchanges with our Montreal visitors, and 11 students will be travelling to Australia throughout the year.