Cobar High School is currently hosting three exchange students from France, Germany and Italy and, while they all come from very different backgrounds, they all agree that Australia is a wonderful place and Vegemite is an acquired taste!
The students are here on an AFS Intercultural Program short term exchange that aims to immerse students in the culture of the country they are visiting. They are here for 10 weeks during their summer school holidays and have been billeted out with local families.
The students are required to attend high school, complete any homework, assignments and tests set by their teachers.
All three speak very good English but say at times they are a bit stumped as Australians tend to talk very fast.
Sixteen year old Beatrice Villata from Northern Italy said while she has English for a subject at her school they mainly only study English grammar rather than conversational English and she doesn’t get much of a chance to practice speaking English.
Felix Bertin, also 16, from the Burgundy region in France is finding his Year 10 school work in Australia to be much easier than it was back in his school of 7,000 students.
In France his school day starts at 8am and finishes at 6pm.
Sometimes his school day finishes at 8pm and it is all theory work.
At Cobar High he was able to try practical subjects such as woodwork and cooking which are not offered at his school.
Tanja Hörnig from Southern Germany (who said it is taking a bit of getting used to cars driving on the wrong side of the road) has enjoyed living in Cobar and the trips to Dubbo, Sydney and Newcastle that her host family has taken her on to experience a variety of Australian culture.
Felix said the AFS exchange program teaches students that it’s important to open your mind to other ways of life, other cultures, to not judge others, and also prepares students to accept other ways of life.
Acting deputy principal John Carswell said the school has found the program to be very worthwhile.
“They’ve settled in well and have made our school better for being here,” he said.