IEUA-QNT member reflects on exchange experience
"I always wanted to teach overseas; to continue exploring the world as I loved traveling, and to experience what education was like elsewhere.
I knew that student exchanges existed and it wasn’t until I was in New York for a week on my own, that I strongly considered the idea of doing a teacher exchange.
I simply googled the idea and within 6 months, I was planning my big move to Canada.
I arrived in Toronto to minus 32 degrees and the worst snow event they had seen in years.
Having come from Brisbane, where the sun was shining and the sweat was literally pouring down my face, it was a big shock to the system but I was lucky to have the support of my exchangee’s family who were there with coats and all the necessities I’d need to get started.
With anything that is new, it took time to adjust, not only to the cold but the craziness that a new city brings.
My first day of school saw me driving in a snow storm on a 7 lane highway, with everything being on the opposite side to Australia.
From that first day, I adopted the mentality that if I can survive day 1, I can do anything.
From then on, there were lots of funny moments of learning that no one could have prepared me for, I simply had to figure it out for myself.
From asking the students to get out a lead pencil and having them say they didn’t have one, later realising that a lead pencil meant something completely different to what I was thinking; to Australian English being as far from Canadian English as it were possible to be, where ordering a coffee correctly became a life goal.
People would often stop to tell me how brave I was for deciding to move half way around the world, to a place where I knew no one.
But this experience, above all others, was more about discovery and adventure than bravery.
In 2018, I saw more of the world than I ever knew were possible.
I’ve met so many incredible people and children, who have helped me see through fresh eyes.
I’ve learnt so much about the person I am and have only come to love my profession even more. I could not have done it all without this experience."
- Melissa, IEUA-QNT member