Year 10 Exchange students visit Sydney

30 November 2023

Year 10 St Andrew's College female students in Sydney.


With international travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic finally lifted, it has been wonderful to rekindle the Student Exchange programme at St Andrew’s, says Director of International Students and Exchanges, Palē Tauti.

“This year, we sent four of our Year 10 girls to Sydney for the traditional exchange with PLC Sydney. We decided to re-start the programme with an exchange close to home, so if anything urgent happened in regards to COVID-19, the students were only one flight away. The girls all had a fantastic time and ‘got on like a house on fire’ with their exchange sisters.”

Caitlin O’Donnell (Year 10) enjoyed an ‘incredible’ month long exchange to PLC, which resulted in many personal benefits. “I was a little unsure at the start, but as the month went on, got more comfortable with my host family, and the way they did things in their day-to-day life became mine too. I met new people, made new friends, engaged in sport and education in a different country, and experienced a new culture. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sydney. It made me a more independent person and has shaped me to be more grateful for opportunities like this.”

Also taking part in the PLC exchange were Sophia Goodwin, Milla Hooker and Cartier Barrett-Rawiri (all Year 10). Sophia says the first week in Sydney was at the end of the holidays, which was a great time to get to know her host family and the city before spending three weeks attending PLC alongside her exchange partner. Visiting famous landmarks, art galleries, zoos, and beaches were other highlights. “I would definitely recommend this exchange as you get to see other cultures and meet the most amazing people.”

Students exchanges are often transformative, providing students with cross-cultural experiences and personal enrichment opportunities, says Palē. “Exchange students are exposed to different cultures as they live with a new family in a new country and go to a whole new school. They learn to be independent, grow in confidence, and often realise they are more than capable of doing things they didn’t think they could do. The students’ time management, organisational skills, and social skills also tend to improve, especially their ability to meet and engage with new people outside their usual friendship group. It all is a huge confidence boost when they come home.”

With international travel opening up again for College trips, a more extensive Student Exchange programme is being planned for 2024, including some exciting new opportunities, says Palē. “We hope to have all our Scottish Years 12–13 exchanges up and running again, as well as a couple of new ones, hopefully in Singapore. We hope to restart our traditional exchange with Lakefield College School in Toronto again next year, and are looking at possibilities to extend the programme to schools in Japan, and possibly some other countries too.”

After her positive experience, Caitlin O’Donnell says she would definitely recommend the Student Exchange programme to others. “I am thankful for the chance and strongly encourage future students to grasp the opportunity and give it a go, because you never know what you might get out of it.”

Related Posts