Being a Kiwi for 10 Weeks: Great, awesome, eventful, adventurous…

Doing an exchange was definitely one of the best decisions of my life. I was scared and very excited and before applying - I nearly quit because I just couldn’t imagine being in a strange country without my parents for such a long time and additionally with strange people. But my mother always encouraged me and I finally applied for Australia or New Zealand. Vienna to Dubai, Dubai to Sydney and finally Sydney to Auckland; I have never been on a plane for such a long time and additionally on my own but everything went well! My host family gave me a warm and cordial welcome - my first impressions of New Zealand: unbelievable, stunning view and sheepJ! I fortunately had a weekend before school started, because you definitely feel 10 hours time difference: on my first morning I woke up at 1pm in the afternoon and that gave me a strange feeling. In fact it took me about a week to overcome my jetlag.

Baradene School of the Sacred Heart is an all-girls school. It actually looks like a castle and more than 1000 students attend Baradene. The girls have to wear a strict uniform; when I was there in winter they wore their winter uniform which includes a knee long skirt, black stockings, a long sleeve white blouse, a red cardigan, a black blazer and black shoes. Baradene has got great offers and I feel proud to say that I was able to join a netball social team, a sport which is mostly played in the Commonwealth of Nations - so fun! And I also experienced taking totally new subjects such as Technology, where I was able to design my own jumper; and Social Awareness, which can be compared to our Compassion project! I really enjoyed being taught in English and all the teachers were very nice. I definitely learned a lot! The first school weeks I wore my Vienna uniform so that everybody had the chance to get to know me and notice that I am not from NZ. When I finally swapped to the Baradene uniform it was very easy to fit into the Baradene community and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to be a New Zealand student and an Auckland citizen. The beautiful masses made me thank Madeleine Sophie Barat for founding the Sacred Heart community and letting me be a member.

Students at Baradene are lovely. They immediately welcomed me and I found good friends very quickly. A lot of students who were interested in where I come from and what language I speak started to chat with me and made my stay even better.

Even though it was school I was still able to see quite a lot of Auckland and the suburbs. We were busy every single weekend and my host family really made an effort in showing me as much as possible! At that point I would like to thank my lovely host family for such an unforgettable stay. They treated me as if I was their own child and I felt comfortable in their family environment.
I still cannot believe what opportunities were given to me: I saw some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, went on an island called Waiheke, learned how to do kayaking, sailing and boogie boarding and went for the most beautiful walks in my life beyond amazing fields, forests and villages. I even got to be a member of an Auckland rangers group through Girl Guiding New Zealand. It was really fun and it made me think a lot about our environment and our health; collecting badges was very exciting. One weekend we went to Rotorua, which is in the middle of the North Island. I found out a lot about the Maori people, the Natives of New Zealand. Visiting beaches was always great, as we do not have beaches in Austria and at some points I felt like I was in paradise: clear blue water, green islands, blue sky, the sun shining and me in the middle of the adventure; one of the greatest activities was probably swimming with wild dolphins which was just stunningly awesome!
I recommend everybody who wants to do an exchange to apply and encourage those who are too scared! Exchange is something you will definitely never forget and my exchange was stunning and amazing. Thank you for everybody who has made this exchange possible!
Theresa Sövegjarto, 6A