Nolan's monthly reportImage

G’Day from Down Under!

                I have been tremendously busy lately with the gargantuan amount of activities that have been recently a part of my life here in Australia. Rotary has told us that the second half of your exchange is better than the first and that has rung true in almost every aspect. In December and January I was very discouraged with some of the prevailing circumstances I had before me and wanted to come home. I emailed a few people and the general answer I received was that regardless of the situation, it’s your exchange and no one else’s so you have to make the most of it. That struck a cord and now I am doing exactly that, making the most of my situation. When it shifted to the second half of my exchange there was another change, I started counting the amount of time that I have been here, to how much time I have left. It’s a weird feeling but I’ve come to realize that I now have two lives and I’m not entirely positive of which one I want to stay with, and when I come home it will be as if a whole part of me is now gone. Exchange though is great and I’m not regretting anything and everything is worth it.

                Speaking of coming home, my return date is set for the 26th of June. It’s funny because I leave on the 26th of June from Australia and Arrive in Buffalo at 10:35 pm on the 26th as well. When that day is over for me, I will have spent thirty eight hours on the 26th of June! On my way here I time traveled into the future and on my way home I will be going back into the past!

                I am right now on my fourth host family. My first one I moved out of and into my Rotary counselor’s house. I moved out of my counselor’s at the start of the summer holidays and into my mate’s house for the summer holidays and am now in my current host family where my host dad is my sponsoring club’s president. It’s a little hectic because I have five host siblings and live next to a small lake with crocodiles in it! My host family has been great towards me and they are wonderful for taking yet another kid into their house. I still live near the beach but my house is surrounded by some rain forest and next to some marshes that feed a creek to the ocean. It’s only in bloody Australia that you would find a place like this!

                My counselor’s name is Andrew Baker and he and his wife is a wonderful couple. I constantly find myself getting carried away when talking with them and I often run out of time when doing so. His wife Marcia is practically another counselor to me and they both do everything and then some to help me out with anything. I attend rotary meetings when I can and they are dinner meetings and they are always pleasant because it’s a small club and everyone is very friendly with each other.

                Some of the experiences I have had over the past couple months have been the best. After a night hanging out with friends and having a blast my host family and I went down to the Tully gorge. It is a river set in the middle of the rain forest with a sweeping rock wall on one side and a rocky beach on the other. There are some small rapids and we spent the day there and it was absolutely the best. Another experience that I can say very few people can ever have because this was something very unique set in the middle of nowhere in a beautiful country. Another long weekend I spent in the city Cairns with fellow exchange students. We went to a party together and hung around the city and saw movies and with everything that we did we all just had a great time. Being able to hang out with a bunch of people from around the world and experience things in a brand new world is the best thing I could ask for.

                I started school again in late January after the summer holidays and I’m now a senior here. It’s funny because back home I would still only be in 11th grade so having even more time as the top of the school is great. In my chemistry class my group is fermenting sugar cane to get the ethanol and its local sugar cane grown here. In biology we are doing a research project at the local creek near the high school and I we spend whole classes down in the creek. Over the past few weeks and over the next couple I have gone to classes to speak and give presentations about exchange and even after being here for seven months there were still many questions that I am glad I could answer. Just a few days ago my school had their swimming carnival which is where everyone in the school participates in a giant swim meet against the houses. It was a great and whole new experience! My house is Kirrama and we came in second that day but won the cheer champions award because we were the loudest and cheered and jeered the most the entire day! I volunteered to help out on the Barbie and it was sure bloody hot but was told I’m becoming a true Aussie because I can sure cook up a good feed. Another thing I have done through the school along with the local Lion’s club is an event called Lion’s Youth of the Year. It is where all students submit an application, go through an interview, and have to give a couple impromptus and a five minute speech. I couldn’t win and go through to the next round because I am not an Australian citizen, but I participated for the whole experience. Most of it I did with a breeze because it was similar to things I did with Rotary! Naturally my speech was on foreign exchange and it was great to have so many people come up to me after and commend me for the speech and show interest in exchange. I am giving full credit to Rotary back home for making me so great at things like this.

                The friends I have made are great. I have already had to say goodbye to a fair few because they left for university but I still have plenty of friends still at school. Enough that it’s hard to keep up with everyone! It’s almost every weekend now that I am doing things with friends ranging from playing playstation to bonfires on the beach to planning how to catch a crocodile and move him because he’s in the creek in my friend’s backyard! Only in Australia would I have friends keen to catch some crocs!

In a month I will be going on my cross-Australia safari with all of the other exchange students from my district along with another. I start off by meeting up with all of the other exchange students in Cairns, the gate to the Great Barrier Reef. We will be going snorkeling and diving out on the reef and it will be one of the most memorable times during the trip because we will be able to explore the reef, the most renowned in the world. After we are done in Cairns we will fly to Alice Springs which is in the absolute middle of the outback. There we will see Uluru which is the Australian equivalent of the Grand Canyon except that it goes above the ground not below it. We will also be seeing and meeting all of the Australian reptiles such as pythons, crocodiles, frilled neck lizards, and heaps of others native to Australia. After we are done around Alice Springs we will head south and visit an oasis, giant gorge, and even a town where the houses are dug into rock in the earth! We will continue south to Adelaide which is the capital of South Australia. We will then travel along the southern coast to visit shipwrecks, giant bat caves, and ghost hotels that we will stay in. After, we continue to Melbourne. Melbourne is the shopping capital of Australia and we will be able to spend the day exploring the city. Our next destination is Canberra, the capital of Australia. There we will visit the museums and various monuments and the mysterious lake George (why its mysterious I don't know!). Our next and final destination is Sydney, the largest city in Australia. We will visit the harbor, opera house, bridge, go on a speed boat in the harbor, visit Bondi Beach and we also get to explore the city. The last day we will go up the tallest building in Sydney, visit the zoo, and the IMAX theatre. It will be the experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go on that trip. A lot of the time instead of staying in hotels and hostels, we will be staying in campgrounds to make it even more of an experience!

                Lately it has been extremely hot here and sometimes I’m just sitting around and I’m sweating! Way different to a Western New York February! If I were to say I’m not enjoying the weather would be a bit of a lie though because it’s a good break from the monotonous weather that we have back home.

                I have four months a couple days left here in Australia and I can’t wait for all of the experiences to come, but I can wait for the time to fly by because that’s what it is going to do. I am enjoying every day and living life to the fullest like every exchange student should. When I get home and start school again I will start year twelve like I normally would. Since I’m still young I’d even love to go on another exchange J If only there weren’t other kids who would be as keen as me to see the world than maybe I could! But I will be sure to go on exchange again when I’m in university.

                Well I hope that this letter picks up the slack from the while that I haven’t sent a report! See all of you in four months time!

-Nolan Wells