Elise Williams, a Year 11 Arden Anglican School student, returned from Denmark in January 2017 after an exciting five month student exchange experience. Elise was the fortunate recipient of a Southern Cross Cultural Exchange (SCCE) Scholarship. The sister exchange organisation in Denmark, Explorius, found Elise a host family and school to attend in a small village named Tørring. “I learned that I can be independent from my family and rely on myself to make decisions,” is the way Elise Williams summarised her Denmark student exchange experience.
When asked what motivated her to apply for the scholarship, Elise said: “I was inspired by seeing other people go on student exchange in prior years and hearing about it. I thought it would help me to understand the world around me better by living in a different country. I had been overseas before on short trips and I wanted to see what it would be like to live in another country for a longer period of time, as it’s different from simply visiting another country.” Elise applied for the Creative Arts Scholarship which involved writing a 1,000 word essay. Her school also had to support her scholarship application and provide her grades and a reference to SCCE.
Highlights of the exchange included going on a three day school camp to Belgium, enjoying a four day holiday to Edinburgh, Scotland with her host family and discovering the old buildings and history in Europe. However, “the best part was making really good friends with other exchange students and local Danish people, I’m looking forward to going back in the future and travelling,” said Elise.
At school, Elise was placed in a senior class and studied Danish, English, History and three electives. She chose Mathematics, Art and Music. Elise said: “Year 10 is a great year to go on exchange, so you don’t have to catch up on any work when you come back and hit the books for Year 11 and 12. I chose Mathematics as an elective in Denmark so that I didn’t fall behind.”
When asked what was challenging about the experience, Elise commented: “Having to attend school from the first week in Danish and not having a clue what the teachers were saying! Over five months, I managed to pick up some Danish language. The only class I attended in English was the English class and my classmates enjoyed asking for my help with their English homework.”
Elise’s parents, Chelsi and David Williams said: “We would wholly recommend this experience for kids who independently express an interest and are very passionate about going on student exchange. The motivation has to come from within the student as they are the ones who will be travelling across the world to live in another country, with another family and to attend school in another language.”
“Growing independence, life skills, having to make decisions (some!) without your parents, learning about different cultures and customs, as well as learning about and meeting new people,” were the most valuable lessons learned from the experience.
Mr Simon Przydacz, Head of Senior School summarised the exchange opportunity well when he said: “Over the past 11 years, Arden has had a significant involvement in exchange programs with numerous inbound and outbound students. The benefits to our students and School of hosting exchange students are significant, broadening connections, cultures, language and much, much more. The benefits to our outbound students are also substantial: whether for language, cultural, self-confidence or a whole host of other reasons, our students certainly embrace a unique learning experience that encourages development of global citizenship.”