The school bids farewell to some new friends this week as four Grade 11 students from Collège Sainte-Anne in Montréal finish a four-week exchange at SMUS.
SMUS students Graeme Wheeler, Liam Maclure, Ella Hyashi and Orla Glen − who kicked off the exchange at Collège Sainte-Anne earlier this year − played host to CSE students Andrei, Anne-Sophie, Veronica and Gabrielle. During their time in Victoria, the Quebec students visited Whistler, went to Wildplay for ziplining, and spent a day whale watching and checking out some of the local attractions. The final adventure was a trip up-island, where they saw the murals in Chemainus, visited the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center, saw the 800-year-old tree at Cathedral Grove, looked for goats at Coombs, and then went swimming at the Nanaimo Aquatic Center.
Although they loved the weather in Victoria, the students did get to experience a snowfall in Victoria, and were amazed when it shut down the school for a snow day. Snow days in Montréal are very rare occurrences.
Director of Education Extension Dawn Wilson, who manages school exchange programs, took the opportunity this week to ask our visitors about their experiences.
DW: What was the highlight of your trip?
Gabrielle: Whistler − it is such a big mountain and it’s where the Olympics were held.
Anne-Sophie: It has the best snow ever! I have snowboarded a lot around Montréal, bu the snow is never like this.
DW: Did you find it very different here from your school or where you live?
Andrei: It’s nice to see how much a school can be different. At SMUS, there is a high level of athletic competition. All the students support the athletes. Everyone goes out to watch the games and cheer.
Veronica: SMUS is smaller. Everyone is friends with everyone else, even students in different grades. At CSA, there are 1800 students, so you don’t even know all of the students in your own grade. At CSA, there are 10 different groups per grade, so there are 9 classes in each grade going on at any one time. The average class size is 32-36 students.
Andrei: There are also many difference between provinces. The culture is different, how people live in houses. The houses are a lot bigger. Everyone lives much closer to the school. Everyone is so polite! Everyone is very nice. Total strangers wave to you. Here people yell “thank you” even from the back of the bus, when they are getting off.
General comment: The weather here is better.
Veronica: I’ve had enough of winter!
Anne-Sophie: I like going to school without boots. For the last 2 months in Montreal, we all had to wear sweats under our skirts because it was so cold. I have to walk 10 minute to the bus stop + a 45 minute bus ride. Here everything is so close. In Montreal, 40 minutes away is close.
Gabrielle: Here, not only is there no snow − there are palm trees!