Randwick, Australia is 9,150 miles away from Normal, but this is the place that junior, Grace Rich is calling home for the semester. Her father, an ISU professor of Accounting, is currently doing research at the University of New South Wales, so Grace got the opportunity of a lifetime to live in Australia for a semester with her family.
“A big part of the reason I came was so that I could experience life in another country,” Rich said. “So I definitely wanted to go to school here. I’m going to school at Randwick Girls High School, which is very different from U-High.”
Randwick is an inclusive girls high school which focuses on extensive educational opportunities that foster critical thinking, academic rigor, and creativity. Grace says that one of the biggest changes is the fact that she never talks to boys her age.
“Most of the girls here don’t have that many male friends, because there are not really opportunities to make them, which is a shame because some of my closest friends are boys at home.”
Rich then describes a very important test called the High School Certificate, that everyone takes at the end of their last semester and is their ticket into college. They spend the majority of their junior year preparing for the test, meaning that they don’t get grades for that period of time. Grace says, “(The test) is super stressful and intense and I’m so glad I don’t have to take it.”
However, school isn’t the only difference about life in Australia, “From the accents to the slang that I barely understand, there is a lot that makes it obvious that I’m not at home,” Rich said. “I also feel like the overall vibe and way of life is different than the U.S. It’s much more chill and laid back. Maybe it’s the ocean or being pretty much isolated as a country, but I’m pretty sure I like it better.”
It may seem like a daunting task to live in a foreign place, attend a foreign school, and get accustomed to a completely different way of life, however Grace says she thinks this may actually be doing her a lot of good.
“I think my favorite part about being here is what originally scared me the most about coming: that it’s not home. Don’t get me wrong, I love home. And I really do miss it a lot sometimes. But being away has given me perspective” Rich continued, “Being here is teaching me that being uncomfortable is good for me, and I think I even enjoy it. Just being in an entirely new world is honestly super fun.”
Having only been in Australia for a little over a month, Grace has already formed friendships that will last her a lifetime, and has had some amazing experiences exploring places like Japan, Singapore, and all over the world.
“One of the things that has struck me the most about being here is how kind and welcoming everyone is here. Everywhere I’ve been I have been so welcomed into the community. I have met so many amazing, kind people it honestly makes me sad I’m coming home so soon. I really wish I had more time to get to know them better.”