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STUDENT EXCHANGE STORIES AND NEWS

COVID-19 and 2021 STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMS

As we are sure you can imagine, the impact of COVID-19 on student exchange programs worldwide has been enormous, with many students having to cut their programs short, and many others having to cancel or defer their 2020 departures.  It has been a difficult time, and we are very thankful for our families, partners and staff who have navigated these unchartered territories together.   

Although Australia’s and New Zealand’s borders currently remain closed, we are very optimistic that our programs will be going ahead in the near future.  In very exciting news, European and American students started travelling again in August 2020, still experiencing their world even during this global pandemic.  Host Families are still opening their doors and welcoming these students into their homes and into their hearts.  It has been wonderful to see so many people sharing one another’s cultures once again. 

SCCE is still providing and organising 2021 programs for both students who want to travel overseas, and for students who want to come to Australia and New Zealand and live with a host family here on our shores.   

When our students apply, we request that they come into the program with a Plan B in mind.  We are operating with our steadfast optimism that the borders will open, but we will also be prepared should the program need to be changed or deferred.  Please find an FAQ list below that will hopefully answer any questions you may have about our course of action should the latter be the case.  You can also contact our office should you like to discuss anything further. 

We sincerely hope that the government offers a clear plan of action that will allow us to make more concrete plans for our exchange programs.   As we all know, one of the toughest aspects of this global pandemic is that the worldwide environment is continually changing.  We will continue to monitor those changes and keep in touch with our applicants throughout. 

Thank you very much for your interest in student exchange.  We sincerely hope that we are very close to providing the opportunity for students to safely travel the world once again, experiencing new cultures, and ultimately becoming wonderful empathetic global citizens. 

Take care, 

Patricia Grimsley 
National Director 

IN THE EVENT THAT YOUR 2021 PROGRAM IS DELAYED, THERE WILL BE FOUR OPTIONS TO CONSIDER*:  

  • Option 1: Delay your departure to the next available similar program (Eg: January 2021 Semester program is delayed to an August 2021 Semester program) 
  • Option 2:  Delay your departure to a different duration that will suit your schedule (Eg: January 2021 Semester program is delayed to a 3-month October 2022 departure) 
  • Option 3:  In the event that our borders are open but those of your destination are not, consider transferring to a destination that is available 
  • Option 4:  Receive a voucher which can be redeemed within 180 days or can be transferred to a sibling or friend 

*Please note, when you apply to go on exchange with SCCE you are assigned Program Manager that is a specialist on your destination. In all situations, check with your Program Manager for the next available departure dates for your destination country of choice. 

PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FAQs: 

If I choose to go on a shorter program, will my fees be reduced accordingly? 

Yes, your fees will be adjusted to reflect the difference in pricing structure between programs and you will not be charged a change fee. 

If I choose to delay my departure will my program be shortened? 

No, we will work with our partners around the world to make sure that your program duration is not shortened.  

I would like to go on a shorter program, but this is not currently offered by the host country – what are my options? 

Speak to your program manager as many partners are willing to offer shorter programs during the year to suit your needs. You may also consider an alternative host country or an alternative program. 

Will I have to gain permission from my Australian school to change my program? 

SCCE advises that you contact your school to discuss the proposed change in program. 

What if the school does not support the change? 

The Student Exchange Program is an independent program.  SCCE advises that you liaise with your school to address any concerns they may have. Our program managers may be able to assist you in this regard by contacting the school directly. 

What if my new flight is cancelled? 

Flight cancellations are the nature of international travel.  If your flight is cancelled, normal airline procedures will take place and you will be booked on the next alternative flight. 

Can I pause my payments until the program departure is confirmed? 

Payments should be made in line with the Term and Conditions.  Changes to the payment plan may compromise the program processing timeline.  Please contact your program manager to discuss variation to your payment plan if your circumstances require. 

I am no longer comfortable to go to the country I originally chose – can I change programs and destinations? 

You may have the opportunity to change your host country depending on the stage of your current application. Please contact your program manager to discuss what options are available to you. 

If my program is deferred could the program price increase? 

No, the program price will stay the same unless flight prices increase considerably in the future, which could mean a flight surcharge will be applied. 

I can’t make up my mind – Can I choose the Voucher for monies paid to be used at a later date? 

Yes, if you do not wish to select an option at this point in time then you will receive a Voucher which can be redeemed within 180 days of the program deferral date. If your Voucher is not redeemed within 18 months, then you can apply to receive a cash refund as outlined in our refund policy. The amount received will be determined based on the date you received your Voucher. 

Can I transfer my voucher to a sibling or friend? 

Yes, if your child no longer wishes to go on exchange the voucher can be transferred to a sibling or friend. 

If the program will not go ahead as scheduled and I am unable to select an alternative program, will I receive a refund? 

Yes, you will receive a Voucher which can be redeemed within 180 days (or which can be transferred to a sibling or friend).  SCCE is following the travel law principles issued by the ACCC.  Consumer Rights information can be found at: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers#travel-cancellations-and-changes 

When will I receive the Voucher? 

You will receive the Voucher within 10 working days of informing SCCE. 

What happens if SCCE cancels the program? 

If the cancellation is due to ‘Force Majeure’ or due to government restrictions, we will provide you with a voucher as stated above. For further information on your consumer rights contact: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers 

What will my insurance cover? 

Students are provided with personal accident and medical coverage, as well as travel, baggage, cancellation and public liability insurance while participating in the program. Natural parents/guardians should review the policy to ensure the cover is adequate for the student. Some exclusion for special or pre-existing conditions apply.  

Will my insurance cover COVID-19 related claims? 

Your AIG insurance will cover you for medical costs relating to COVID-19. In regards to travel cancellation insurance, if you were accepted onto your program and paid your 1st instalment prior to 2nd March 2020 then each claim will be considered on its merits taking into account the individual circumstances of COVID-19, please contact the insurer

AIG: 1800 017 682 or traveladmin@aig.com.  

If you were accepted onto your program and paid your 1st instalment on or after 2nd March 2020 you will not be covered for any travel insurance claim in connection with COVID-19. 

Please contact SCCE should you like to discuss anything here: 

AU: 03 9775 4711 or scceaust@scce.com.au 
NZ: 0800 285 887 or info@sccenz.com 

TRAVEL UPDATE ON OUR STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMS: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

SCCE has remained steadfastly optimistic throughout the ongoing ordeal presented by this global pandemic in believing that our exchange programs will go ahead as originally planned.  Please understand that the reason we remain optimistic and the reason why we continue to plan our programs is because our global partners are still very excited to receive students from both Australia & New Zealand.

We are a dedicated and passionate team of staff who work towards a positive future where people can continue to experience different cultures, obtain international connections, and become understanding, empathetic global citizens. 

We also know how exciting it is to look forward to departing on an exchange program, especially once our applicants have been formally accepted. Going on a student exchange program is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are doing everything we can to ensure our applicants can still fulfil their dream of departing in the future.

At this point in time, we feel the wisest thing to do is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Clearly, the worst-case-scenario is that our programs will have to be deferred, and the best-case-scenario is that all travel goes ahead as originally planned.  

I would like to assure you that our applicants will be able to travel but we may have to delay their departure once the borders open and the program can be provided in its entirety safely in their selected destination country.

Below we have put together some FAQs that will hopefully answer any questions you may have. You can of course contact our staff should you like to discuss anything further.

We sincerely hope that the government offers a clear plan of action that will allow us to make more concrete plans for our exchange programs.   As we all know, one of the toughest aspects of this global pandemic is that the worldwide environment is continually changing.  We will continue to monitor those changes and keep in touch with our applicants throughout.

Yours sincerely,

Patricia Grimsley
National Director

ALTERNATIVES TO CONSIDER SHOULD YOUR 2020 PROGRAM BE DELAYED*: 

  • Option 1: Delay your year or semester July-September departure to January 2021
  • Option 2:  Delay your year or semester July-September departure to August 2021
  • Option 3:  If you are unable to delay your July-September departure to a date in 2021, change to a shorter 2 or 3-month program departing in October or November 2020
  • Option 4: If you are unable to commit to a semester or year program departing in 2021, and you do not want to travel in 2020, change to a shorter program in 2021
  • Option 5:  Receive a voucher which can be redeemed within 18 months or can be transferred to a sibling or friend

*Please note that in all cases, check with your Program Manager for the next available departure dates for your destination country of choice.

PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FAQs:

  • If I choose to go on a shorter program, will my fees be reduced accordingly?

A: Yes, your fees will be adjusted to reflect the difference in pricing structure between programs and you will not be charged a change fee.

  • If I choose to delay my departure will my program be shortened?

A: No, we will work with our partners around the world to make sure that your program duration is not shortened.

  • I would like to go on a shorter program, but this is not currently offered by the host country – what are my options?

A: Speak to your program manager as many partners are willing to offer shorter programs during the year to suit your needs. You may also consider an alternative host country or an alternative program.

  • I can’t make up my mind – Can I choose the Voucher for monies paid to be used at a later date?

A: Yes, if you do not wish to select an option at this point in time then you will receive a Voucher which can be redeemed within 18 months of the program deferral date. If your Voucher is not redeemed within 18 months, then you can apply to receive a cash refund as outlined in our refund policy. The amount received will be determined based on the date you received your Voucher.

  • Can I transfer my voucher to a sibling or friend?

A: Yes, if your child no longer wishes to go on exchange the voucher can be transferred to a sibling or friend.

  • If the program will not go ahead as scheduled and I am unable to select an alternative program, will I receive a refund?

A: Yes, you will receive a Voucher which can be redeemed within 18 months (or which can be transferred to a sibling or friend).  SCCE is following the travel law principles issued by the ACCC.  Consumer Rights information can be found at: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers#travel-cancellations-and-changes

  • When will I receive the Voucher?

A: You will receive the Voucher within 10 working days of informing SCCE.

  • Will I have to gain permission from my Australian school to change my program?

A: SCCE advises that you contact your school to discuss the proposed change in program.

  • What if the school does not support the change?

A: The Student Exchange Program is an independent program.  SCCE advises that you liaise with your school to address any concerns they may have. Our program managers may be able to assist you in this regard by contacting the school directly.

  • What if my new flight is cancelled?

A: Flight cancellations are the nature of international travel.  If your flight is cancelled, normal airline procedures will take place and you will be booked on the next alternative flight.

  • What if all 2020 International travel is cancelled?

A: If current travel restrictions do not permit international travel for the remainder of 2020 the next program departures will take place once the restriction is lifted.

  • Can I pause my payments until the program departure is confirmed?

A: Payments should be made in line with the Term and Conditions.  Changes to the payment plan may compromise the program processing timeline.  Please contact your program manager to discuss variation to your payment plan if your circumstances require.

  • I am no longer comfortable to go to the country I originally chose – can I change programs and destinations?

A. You may have the opportunity to change your host country depending on the stage of your current application. Please contact your program manager to discuss what options are available to you.

  • If my program is deferred to 2021 could the program price increase?

A: No, the program price will stay the same unless flight prices increase considerably in the future, which could mean a flight surcharge will be applied.

  • What happens if SCCE cancels the program?

A: If the cancellation is due to ‘Force Majeure’ or due to government restrictions, we will provide you with a voucher as stated above. For further information on your consumer rights contact: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/covid-19-coronavirus-information-for-consumers

  • What will my insurance cover?

A: Students are provided with personal accident and medical coverage, as well as travel, baggage, cancellation and public liability insurance while participating in the program. Natural parents/guardians should review the policy to ensure the cover is adequate for the student. Some exclusion for special or pre-existing conditions apply.

  • Will my insurance cover COVID-19 related claims?

A: Your AIG insurance will cover you for medical costs relating to COVID-19. In regards to travel cancellation insurance, if you were accepted onto your program and paid your 1st instalment prior to 2nd March 2020 then each claim will be considered on its merits taking into account the individual circumstances of COVID-19, please contact the insurer AIG: 1800 017 682 or traveladmin@aig.com

If you were accepted onto your program and paid your 1st instalment on or after 2nd March 2020 you will not be covered for any travel insurance claim in connection with COVID-19.

Please contact SCCE should you like to discuss anything here:

AU: 03 9775 4711 or scceaust@scce.com.au
NZ: 0800 285 887 or info@sccenz.com

IMPROVING YOUR ATAR THROUGH STUDENT EXCHANGE

“I am studying ATAR Japanese and after coming back from my 2 month student exchange program I am topping my class, averaging 94%. Compare that to last year prior to my exchange when I was in Year 11, where I finished with an average of about 75%!! My 2 months abroad has significantly improved my Japanese”.

Lloyd went on a student exchange program to Japan for 2 months, departing at the end of November and returning mid-January. Although SCCE strongly recommends longer programs for language acquisition and getting the most out of the experience, there is still PLENTY to gain from our shorter alternatives! Lloyd’s story is a terrific read for anyone considering a shorter exchange that results in very little time missed at your own Australian or New Zealand school!!!

Lloyd at Mt Fuji with his host family.

Why did you decide to become an exchange student in Year 11?

“I decided to become an exchange student because I have hosted many students in the past and so naturally I have always wanted to be on the other side of the experience. Also, I have been studying Japanese since Year 3 and I currently do ATAR Japanese so I knew that going on exchange would take my Japanese to the next level”.

How did you feel when you first found out who your host family would be?

“When I first found out who my host family would be I sent them an email introducing myself and saying how excited I am to meet them. After a few emails (in Japanese) back and forth I learnt a lot about my host family and felt as if I already knew them”.

What was it like to travel from your home here to your new host family in Japan?

“I flew from Perth to Sydney where I waited with other SCCE students for our flight to Tokyo. When we landed at Haneda Airport, we went through immigration together and then Elma from DiBec (an SCCE partner in Japan) was waiting for Daria, Ceri and myself. We went to the DiBec office to send our luggage directly to our host family as we would be spending the next 2 days doing an orientation at the Toyko Olympic Centre (a place for team building and meeting other like-minded exchange students). The orientation was awesome mainly because there were 30 other exchange students who were all Japanese and preparing to go abroad to English speaking countries. After the nerve racking 自己紹介 (self-introduction) we played a range of games that involved us communicating in Japanese to the Japanese students and them speaking to us in English.  A lot of the Japanese students from the Olympic Centre I actually got to meet up with later in Tokyo, and I am still friends with most of them today”.

Lloyd at DiBec, one of SCCEs partners in Japan.

What was your first week like? What was your first day at school like? “Before I started my first day at school I went in with my host family to meet Mr. Kobayashi who is an English teacher there, and Mr. Takahashi, head of the school’s international program. We went through my timetable and they showed me around the school. I was a part of Class 1-D and my homeroom teacher was Mr. Shimano, who I also met that same day. On my first day my host mother came in with me to make sure I wouldn’t get lost as my daily commute contained 4 different trains!! Once I got to school, I went to the teacher’s room to introduce myself to all the teachers then I introduced myself over the loudspeaker to the whole school. Mr. Kobayashi then took me to my class where I had to introduce myself again to my class. There were a lot of introductions, and a lot of nerves, but in the end it all turned out fine. All my classmates were very welcoming and friendly towards me, so I settled in rather quickly and made many new friends.”

Lloyd with his friends Kenshin Watanabe and Shinta Abe at a sushi train.

What was different about school there compared to school here? “Japanese school is extremely different to school in Australia in numerous ways. One way being that Japanese schools are rather traditional and don’t have much technology. They still even use blackboards! The students have their own desks and sit one-by-one while the teacher talks for most of the lesson.

The school I went to required students to attend school on Saturday as well, plus club activities are a big part of high school life in Japan so I was able to join the basketball club. We had practice 5 days a week, one of which was a Sunday morning, so I was coming to school every day”.

Lloyd on a school skiing trip with other exchange students in his school from Norway, Germany and France!

How did you first overcome the language barrier?

“I have been studying Japanese for a while now and have built up a decent vocabulary. I had learnt a wide variety of sentence structures and grammar patterns but, all of that completely goes out the window when you are in conversation with a Japanese person!!!! When I first got to Japan my ears weren’t really tuned to Japanese and when I was asked something in Japanese I couldn’t really answer straight away. But, after a while I got more used to the language and as I was using it all the time it became easier to answer and reply straight away. I studied a bit when I was in Japan, but it was more about activating the grammar and words that I have built up over the years, and actually using them in conversation” 

Did you notice a point where the language was much easier to understand?

“I definitely noticed my Japanese was improving, as when I first got to Japan everything sounded so unclear and fast but after a while everything felt slower and clearer and I could actually process what people were saying to me”.

Did you get homesick?

“I didn’t really get homesick at all to be honest. I called my family and friends every now and then, but because I was just having such a good time I didn’t really get homesick. As a matter of fact, in the end I didn’t want to leave at all!”

Do you have any tips for living with another family?

“Just try and get involved and go in with an open mind. You never know what your exchange has in store for you so just go in with an open mind and give it your best go”.

Lloyd with his family and extended family on New Years Eve.

What do you miss the most about your second home and second family?

“My host family were amazing and everyday we always found something to laugh and smile at. But for me, I just miss sitting down with my host family at dinner and talking about my day and just spending time with them”.

What are your biggest tips for future students?

“Just go for it. Do not leave anything in the tank. It will be the best however many months of your life so just enjoy it and stay positive”.

What was your favourite thing about exchange?

“Meeting new people”.  

Lloyd meeting up with fellow Aussie exchange students at a cat café.

What is your favourite memory from your program?

The day I went to Mt. Fuji with my host family. We walked up to a lookout point and the view was just amazing. Then we went on the roller coasters at Fuji-Q Highland. It was just a great day with my host family.

And finally – have you found that your 2 months has given you the edge for your ATAR that you wanted?

That’s a great question! I currently study ATAR Japanese and after coming back from my 2 month exchange I am now topping my class, averaging 94%. Compare that to last year prior to my exchange when I was in Year 11, where I finished with an average of about 75%. My 2 months abroad has significantly improved my Japanese.

If you are interested in going on a high school student exchange program with SCCE, visit our website on the following link and let us know where you dream of going!

GOING ON EXCHANGE IN NORWAY

Jemima went on her SCCE student exchange program to Norway for 3 months in October of 2019.   Her story gives a wonderful idea of the adventures and emotions you can expect on your own student exchange journey!  Enjoy. 

 
ARRIVING IN A NEW COUNTRY TO A NEW FAMILY… 

Getting off the airplane in Norway for my student exchange program was so nerve-wracking! I had a bad flight that was delayed, and I felt guilty for making my new host family wait.  Once I got through immigration and baggage claim I had to stand for a few minutes to collect myself and try to be calm. I had butterflies in my stomach, but I just walked out dragging my extremely overweight bag behind me and heard a little voice yell ‘Jemima’. I turned around and my family were waiting for me, massive smiles on their faces and we headed for the car. They were so welcoming and cheerful despite the fact they had already been at the airport for hours. We all had so much to learn about each other and talked all the way home.   

SEEING YOUR NEW HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME… 

We lived in a suburb with about 1000 people called Slevik. When I pulled into the driveway it was a literal dream, a wooden house overlooking snowy fields and other cute houses!!  We had lots of surrounding land but also neighbors close by that had kids very similar age to my host siblings (who were 8 and under). It was about a 15-minute drive to the city centre where I went to school.  Fredrikstad has a population of about 80,000.  I was so fortunate to be placed where I was. 

TOURING THE AREA… 

My family were so eager to show me around the amazing country. On my second day I got a tour of the local area, even of my school that I would go to the next day.  We did a few trips to Oslo to visit the most famous sites and got some absolutely spectacular photos.  Even experiencing small things like their favorite hiking tracks and restaurants added to the feeling of being ‘home’. 

ONE OF THE FAMILY… 

My host family and I did EVERYTHING together! I don’t even know how, but my family made me feel like I was one of them from the second I met them. From little things like having a responsibility to do things, but also trust to do other things made me feel like I truly was at home. We made lots of gingerbread! We made some cookies for us to take to school for recess, some for snacks at home and some for other members of the family.  We even made a kangaroo! We also made a house for a Christmas party and the house was the same shape and layout as my one in Sydney!! 

TRY SOMETHING NEW AND MEET SOMEONE NEW… 

Hockey, as my host dad and I liked to say, was ‘interesting’.  I couldn’t ice skate to save my life, but I had to learn some day!  My class had chosen to do ice skating/hockey for P.E. when I arrived, so I borrowed my family skates and helmet and gave it my best shot!  This was actually where I became close to my two best friends.  We went to a frozen rink in the middle of the town to play. 

SPECIAL ADVENTURES IN YOUR NEW HOME… 

This photo was taken in the capital Oslo, which was about 1.5 hours away from Fredrikstad where I lived.  It was such great lighting and called “golden hour” from the top of Oslo Opera house, looking straight down Oslofjord.  My friends and I would often travel to the big city because they had lots to do and so many shops! 

THE THINGS THAT BECOME YOUR NORMAL DAILY LIFE… 

I was placed in the South of Oslo near the ocean, so it was quite ‘warm’ (Norwegian warm that is!).  We went to the cabin in Trysil (a mountainous region in the east of Norway) to go alpine skiing at the Christmas break. When it did snow enough, we were able to go cross country skiing in the backyard after school and in the surrounding streets as well.  We would walk to the end of the road, clip into our skis and off we went!!  Our expeditions ranged from 200 m to about 5 kms and it would never get boring. Whilst we were at the winter cabin, we skied for hours each day, normally from around midday to late at night. My host brother and I would swap between Cadbury Freddo frogs and Norwegians famous Kvikk Lunsj as our chocolate bar treat for halfway. We were the best skiing buddies! 

REALITY CHECK! 

I have skied before but compared to the Norwegians I really wasn’t that great. Considering I was 16 and had been skiing for quite a few years, I did consider myself ‘good’, but this was before I went to Norway!!  It was very humbling because seeing my host sister who was 4 skiing almost better than me blew me away and my 8-year-old brother was doing tricks and skiing better than most adult Australians! Nevertheless, I can definitely say I came back to Australia a much more competent skier and have my host family to thank for that. 

ADVENTURES WITH OTHER EXCHANGE STUDENTS… 

I was able to meet up with my fellow Aussies in Abisko while I was there:  Sam who was in Denmark and Yanick who was in Sweden!!!  We went on an exchange student trip organised by SCCE’s partner association in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.  We no joke had the best time!! We went a few days after NYE to see the northern lights, which we saw every night we were there! It was so amazing being able to see something not many 16-year-olds can say they have seen, standing with some of your best friends! 

CHRISTMAS IN ANOTHER COUNTRY… 

My host dad and all of us kids wanted to surprise my host mum with a Christmas tree, so we went and chopped down one ourselves!!  We went for a short walk into the forest, found a perfect one, and my host brother chopped it down.  With help from me, we carried it back home. The girls cut down some smaller ones to place at the front door. 

Norwegians along with many Europeans celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve. We had a day of skiing, cooking and relaxing. Then at nighttime, we had a huge feast, with tons of traditional food prepared by my host dad’s parents.  The celebrations went on well into the hours of the next day. Santa came to visit the kids and handed out lots of presents to everyone. 

It was a bit strange to be away from home for Christmas, but you really don’t have a lot of time to dwell on it.  Although I missed my family, I knew that what I was experiencing with my new family was so special. I felt literally apart of the family, and I’m not just saying it.  I got a Norweigan teddy bear and some socks and a ski band and I used all of it. The teddy bear is now on a shelf in my bedroom! Everyone thought it was pretty cool that Santa could do an Australian accent, and I found it hilarious!  Both of my host parents treated me as one of their own children, I laughed, cried, talked and made just as many memories as I do with my own family. 

Pictured above is my host mum’s side of the family and some very close family friends. It is tradition to wear either a red or green sweater, so we all look so cute together! My host grandmother even knitted me my own Santa hat so that I fit in with the rest of my host siblings! 

A CHRISTMAS MOMENT TO REMEMBER… 

This was taken when I returned home from my Christmas Day ski.  I took a head torch out of the drawer, layered up and off I went.  I had some music on, and it was a great time to reflect on my day and burn off some of the Christmas food! 

A FINAL NIGHT TOGETHER… 

 I had to be at Oslo Airport in the early hours of the morning for my flight to Doha, so the night before we drove to my Host dad’s parent’s house in Oslo to stay the night. It was a bit frantic but the night before we left for Oslo was very special. We had a bonfire in the backyard (something we frequently did) and had hot dogs and drinks together and went back inside to watch a movie and get ready for school the next day. It wasn’t that extravagant, but the fact that it was my last routine and ‘normal’ night made me really appreciate everything about my new day to day life.  It was so strange to say goodbye. My oldest host brother (8) sort of knew what was happening but the other 2 young girls thought I was coming back in a few days. It was quite sad, especially knowing that I couldn’t really explain what was happening, but I gave them some sentimental things and then they hopped off to bed. 

BACK AT HOME AGAIN… 

Overall, I cannot thank SCCE enough. After being home for nearly 3 months I am so lucky to have the most vivid memories of my time on exchange. I truly won’t ever be the same again, and I can’t thank my friends and host family enough for this! I cannot recommend student exchange enough.  It truly is one of the best experiences I believe anyone can have and Norway is literally the most perfect place to go!  

JEMIMA’S FINAL WORDS…
“Go out and live the other life that is waiting for you!”

Thank you so much for sharing your adventures Jemima.
Enjoy a lifetime of special times with your new Norwegian family.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR STUDENT EXCHANGE OPTIONS WITH SCCE.

Top Ten tips for Exchange Students

Foo went on a 3-month exchange program with SCCE to France in November 2018. Here she shares her Top Ten tips for future students based on her student exchange experiences. Enjoy!

The snowy streets of France

Have you ever thought about travelling to a new destination, to live and fit into their culture? If you have then student exchange is the best for you.

I did student exchange myself, 3 months in the gorges Reims, France in 2018. It was such an AMAZING experience and it still feels like I only just got back from this phenomenal time. I would like to thank Southern Cross Cultural Exchange for organising my exchange program and being super supportive along the way.

Now let’s get into “10 TIPS & ADVICE TO KNOW BEFORE GOING ON A STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAM!”

  1. DON’T STRESS IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE LANGUAGE

So I’ll admit, I definitely knew no French before going on my student exchange program, the last time I took French classes were 3 years before I went. Learning the language is so much easier WHEN YOU’RE THERE! This is because you’re surrounded in this new culture and consistently hearing the language. You start picking it up real quick. Don’t stress too much if you are scared about not knowing how to communicate, however I still stress you learning as much as you can (especially on that 23 hour plane trip). Some awesome ways you can learn a new language is by trying out language apps such as Duolingo. This is amazing. It teaches you the basics that you need on a daily basis, all for free. You can also try changing the language on your Netflix We all LOVE movies and I suggest picking your favourite movie and watching it in a new language, or simply turn on English subtitles to get a better understanding and the flow of the language. There are plenty of pocket sized travel booklets at travel agencies. I carried these around and it really helped me so much in France. The booklet pretty much contains most commonly asked questions and phrases you may need.

2. YOU ARE NEVER ALONE

Going to a new country is scary, especially if it is your first time traveling. It is 100% normal to be nervous. But, you shouldn’t feel alone. Whatever student exchange company you go with will help you to feel comfortable, you will be given badges for the airport, LOTS of different contacts if something happens and you may even be travelling in a small group of exchange students. There are so many people who will support you through this journey, so don’t be afraid.

3. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO? HOW LONG IS BEST?

There are set months for travelling depending on the country you choose and the duration of your student exchange program. This is because the point of the program is to experience school life, so the dates coordinate with their school dates. Look at all the options available. The length of your program is obviously your choice, but I recommend 3 months or longer. NOW! I say this because it takes a few weeks for you to fully adjust to the new routine, and by the time you just got the flow of learning the language and adjusting to the new lifestyle the time is over. I think 3 months is too short. Student exchange is your chance to push the boundaries of your abilities, you will 100% enjoy every moment there. I say the best time to go is year 10, this is because years 11/12 are a stressful time for all of us and I don’t recommend missing out on those years. Year 10 you are still young and ready to learn and explore, and going into years 11 /12 with the new knowledge you have gained is so amazing.

4. IT IS BETTER TO UNDER PACK

Now, let me tell you something. You will return home with 70% of your luggage being filled with presents and souvenirs. I had to leave stuff behind in France because they didn’t fit into the two bags of luggage I brought with me. Only pack the ESSENTIALS: the absolute must-haves, so yes, leave the curling iron at home. A lot of things you can purchase over there anyways.

Some subjects can be learnt in any language!

5. SCHOOL ISN’T SCARY

I must admit I didn’t understand anything they were doing in class, but school was somehow so enjoyable. Everyone wants to know you, they will always ask you questions and you’re never alone. You make so many friends and it’s such an amazing experience. Plus, experiencing different school environments, classes and routines is so much fun. It makes you appreciate the 7 hours of school we do in Australia because French schools go for 10 HOURS!! I say take this time to practice your French as much as you can, the other students will help you as much as they can.

6. DO RESEARCH

I mean this is an obvious one, do your research beforehand. Learn habits about the culture so it doesn’t overwhelm you too much when you head over there. Learn the history of tourist attractions and I swear it makes your experience that much better. Research the food, if you have a dietary requirement do your research, learn what you can eat and what you can’t. I’m a vegetarian and lactose intolerant and I truly wished I did some research on food because vegetarianism is very uncommon in France. So it was hard for my host family and me to figure out what I can consume.

7. YOUR HOST FAMILY ARE TRYING

The language barrier will be hard between you and your host family, but know they are doing everything for you to enjoy your stay and be comfortable. These people are volunteers, they do not get money for taking us in. We have to show our appreciation as much as possible because they are adding another member into their lives trying to show us their lives and culture whilst juggling work. I suggest on your last day take them out for dinner to say thank you and celebrate your time together. Or occasionally buying flowers for the house. Anything to show your appreciation.

There is so much to see and experience

8. EXCHANGE PROGRAM TEAM/ORGANISERS HELP YOU ALL THE WAY

Before your departure, your organisation will do all the paper work. They organise plane tickets, your host family, help with your student visa, etc. You just need to provide as much information as possible, and they will do an interview with you as well, to get to know you better. They hold many student exchange information webinars online and in person, and I advise you go to as many of these as possible because there is great information given out, booklet exercises, plus past students who have done student exchange are often there to answer your questions. Take in as much as you can because everything helps.

9. DON’T SET SUPER HIGH EXPECTATIONS

This program is for you to understand and adapt to a new culture and to attend school. You are NOT there for a holiday. Your host family are normal families who have to work, so they won’t always have the time to take you everywhere, but they are trying to show you as much as they can. But trust me, just seeing the super market will get you so excited because how often do you see a cheese deli? Or eggs where you have to package them yourselves in stores? Appreciate all the time you have because time flies by SO SO quick and before you know it, your program is over.

You are one of the family.

10. Enjoy your time

Time flies by when you’re having fun. Every memory you make there is everlasting. You will remember every small detail, the faces, the streets you walk on… take all the time whilst you can. I can guarantee you any worries and doubts you had will disappear because you are consumed in all of the excitement and absorbing all this new information. Exchange learning with your host family! Bake them Anzac cookies, teach them English, teach them the correct way of eating Vegemite.. it’s a learning experience for all.

#experienceyourworld
#studentexchange
#thisisscce

Thank you Fooau!

CLICK HERE to enquire about your own student exchange program!

COVID-19 & STUDENT EXCHANGE UPDATE

Coronavirus and Future Student Exchange Programs

March 19, 2020

As we all know, COVID-19 is currently dominating our world and having an effect on everything around us.  Student exchange is most definitely included, and we are currently very busy working with our students, families, host families, local coordinators, the government, our regulatory bodies and our affiliate partners all around the world to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in our student exchange family at this present time.

If there is one thing COVID-19 has shown us, it’s that it is causing our worldwide situation to change on a very regular basis, and again, this is the same for our programs.  Current students who are on exchange here or around the world are facing the reality of coming or going home in the immediate future.

With that being said, we are still hopeful for tomorrow and while we deal with the sad and unfortunate reality of today, we continue to plan for a happy and healthy future.  At this point in time we are still very hopeful that all programs will go ahead later in the year as planned.  Our next departures are in August through to December, and we continue to look towards those dates with positivity.  Moving forward, please know that should you or your child apply to go on exchange and SCCE is advised by government officials that travel is to be cancelled due to COVID-19, you will be fully refunded.

The safety of your child is paramount to us, so please be rest assured that we are monitoring and evaluating the situation in real time.  If you have already applied and have any concerns regarding your upcoming program, please do not hesitate to contact your designated program manager. 

Yours sincerely,

Patricia Grimsley
National Director

Vale Betty Lane

In 1983, Southern Cross Cultural Exchange (SCCE) was incorporated as a national company by our founder, Betty Lane, historically becoming the first exchange organisation to operate in Australia. For over 30 years Betty was a pioneer of student exchange, with a reputation so strong and respected her name is still continually mentioned today. It is with great sadness that we are now advising everyone in our student exchange family about Betty’s recent passing.

Betty was a true entrepreneur. Her first employment after University was with a student exchange organisation based in New York in the 1950’s when the students travelled by boat to Europe for their summer break. Betty’s daughter Sue fondly shared of her mother’s history, “What to do with the 10-14 days journey? Invent “Cultural Orientation” of course!”

Betty’s marriage later moved her to Australia where, in SCCE’s first year, she organised the student exchange programs for 17 Australians to experience life in the USA. France and Germany followed soon after. Today, Southern Cross Cultural Exchange sends both Australian and New Zealand students to 20 destinations all over the world, and organises the host families and schools for International students to visit in return. This could not be possible without the early vision, hard work and determination of Betty Lane.

Jenny Hanson, SA SCCE Regional Manager and long-time friend of Betty Lane’s shared, “Betty taught me that you need to work hard and long to gain true success and belief in what you do. If you only count the hours you work rather than a love for your job and the reason you are doing it, you are probably in the wrong job”. Betty set this standard by example, and we all count ourselves very lucky to work in such a wonderful industry.

Betty’s dream was always to advance international understanding between Australian communities and the rest of the world, helping to create future generations of strong, understanding global citizens, something she has achieved on an incredible scale.  She has changed Australia and the world regarding student exchange, and has influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands Australians to have an international understanding and experience.  Betty is a true role model worldwide, and we are all very proud to be continuing her legacy.  We will remember her always and acknowledge her with the utmost respect.

 

Warm regards and condolences are being sent by everyone to Betty’s family and friends.
She truly was the most amazing woman.

SCCE INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT

SCCE is proud to announce that, after undertaking an exceptionally lengthy and comprehensive audit by Best Practice Certification, we have received ISO 9001 certification, an internationally recognised quality standard that verifies businesses which have effective quality and risk management processes and procedures in place.  Quite simply, ISO 9001 recognises SCCE’s commitment to the safety and quality of the exchange experience students, parents and host families can expect when joining our international exchange family. 

 

SCCE, as Australia’s largest and oldest student exchange organisation, has been facilitating student exchange programs since 1983 and we have seen rapid growth over the years.  Thousands and thousands of students have been sent from across Australia and, more recently, New Zealand, to 20 destinations around the world including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada the USA and more, for durations ranging from 6 weeks to a full year, while programs for International students who want to come and live with volunteer host families while studying here in Australia are organised as well.

 

SCCE sought out ISO 9001 certification willingly to optimise our operations while organising exchanges.  Kevin James of Best Practice Certification handed over the official certification to Patricia (Pat) Grimsley, SCCE’s National Director in late November (pictured above).  Pat shared, “Being the recipient of ISO 9001 Certification is evidenced in the complete overhaul of our policies, procedures and Quality Management System.  It’s a real testament to our staff’s ongoing commitment to continual improvement and industry best practices”.

 

Kobi Simmat, CEO of Best Practice Certification stated, “This organisation is one to watch.  I’m excited to see this milestone achieved.  SCCE is set to see great benefits from the grown planning and performance-monitoring processes they’ve put in place.  Everyone in this organisation is set to benefit from this great initiative in the coming months if they are not seeing the benefits themselves already”.

 

In gaining ISO 9001, SCCE has committed to regular internal and external audits, meaning that customers can be assured that SCCE’s services meet the stringent requirements necessary to uphold the certification.  Pat concluded, “The SCCE team is delighted to receive ISO 9001 Quality Management System Certification.  This really recognises our ongoing commitment to deliver high-quality programs with a strong focus on customer service”.

 

A Story of Multiple Exchanges

Jasmine absolutely loves to experience her world!

In Year 7 she continually expressed a desire to do a student exchange.  In Year 8 she applied.  In Year 9, at the age of 14 years and 3 months, Jasmine got on a plane for a year in Italy where she lived with 2 separate families.  Jasmine spent just a few weeks back at home in Australia before jetting off once again for her Year 10 in Germany, where she currently resides.  Prior to leaving, she even inquired about the possibility of doing Years 11 and 12 in England and Canada before going to University to become a lawyer.  Her story is incredible and inspiring.

Jasmine says, “Travelling is everything.  It’s all I’ve wanted to do.  I love meeting new people, learning new things, experiencing life in other places”, and with wisdom beyond her years, “You should see the world while you’re not working and while you have time.  See it now because you can always come back home when you’re done”.

Jasmine has always had a “curious mind” according to her mother, Fiona.  She has never seen different cultures as a barrier, if anything, she sees differences as an opportunity to learn more.  “Student exchange has made me so much wiser about the world.  I’ve engaged with all sorts of people and I’ve seen the good side and bad side of so many.  It’s a great way to learn about the world and understand different people and their way of thinking”.

While Jasmine lived overseas, Fiona and Ben hosted an International exchange student in their home on the Mornington Peninsula, and they have learned that hosting truly generates a network of extended family all over the world.  “When Jasmine finished her year in Italy we flew over to travel the country together.  Her host family took such good care of us and even held a huge birthday party for our son, really welcoming all of us as a part of their family.  The grandparents couldn’t speak a word of English but Jasmine translated for us the entire time.  While travelling we even caught up with our exchange student and her family, which was just a wonderful experience”.

Jasmine had no experience with the Italian language when she left, but studied for 2 months before leaving and took it upon herself to learn it quickly when she arrived, “I would watch a Netflix show in Italian with the subtitles on.  I’d watch it again without the subtitles, and then a week later I would watch it again without the subtitles.  I also had a tutor and listened to a lot of music sung in Italian, and over time the language got easier and easier”.  She plans on doing the same in Germany.

When asked what she looks forward to the most in Germany, her answer is wonderfully simple, “I can’t wait to just experience their life.  Go to school.  Go to the local bakery.  See what they get up to on the weekends.  I just want to see what it’s like to live a daily life in Germany”.

Good on you Jasmine.
You are an inspiration.

#thisisscce

AN AUSTRALIAN EXCHANGE

“One thing that has fascinated me very much in Australia and that I will always carry with me is the memory of losing me in admiring the sky”…

When you choose to host an exchange student, you are opening your doors to another family member.  It can be very amazing to see your country and lifestyle through another person’s eyes.  It is even more wonderful to hear back from them about their experiences and take pride in the fact that you’ve helped them to grow and learn about the world.

Italian student, Lorenzo, recently spent a  year in Mildura.  He wrote a reflection piece upon his return to his home country, which has been roughly translated below.  It is a very special share and we’ve kept the translation as is, as it helps to imagine these words coming straight from Lorenzo himself.

Both going on exchange and hosting an exchange student comes with its challenges.  If you push through these challenges, the personal growth can be very rewarding.

Take a moment to read Lorenzo’s story.  It is wonderful.
And THANK YOU to everyone who made Lorenzo’s life experiences so incredible.

 

Lorenzo’s Exchange:

“My name is Lorenzo.  I’m 17 years old and I attend scientific high school at the institute of my city.

For my year of exchange, I chose to leave for Australia, and I lived my experience in a town in the desert:  Mildura, about 6 hours of car from Adelaide.

I left not without some fear; I had no idea what my life would be like over there, but now I can count myself very lucky and proud for being able to bring to termire this company.

During my experience I lived in two different families. The first one, lived in full campaign on a ranch and there I learned that everything can be achieved with hard work. My homework was to look after chickens, 8 sheep and sometimes even to the two house dogs, plus I helped cook because “I’m Italian” and during the weekend I helped my father in all sorts of work. But I did it with pleasure and during this time spent with him we met better. I used to cut wood with him, help him fix the tools, accompany him in deliveries that sometimes lasted a whole day. In the car we were talking about so many things and actually those days I miss a lot, even now that I’ve come home to my life ever.

I had a way of living these early months appreciating loneliness too, yes, apart from the hours that I went to school, I didn’t have many human contacts, the ranch was very isolated and there was no way to reach the city.  To go to school my mother accompanied me.. at this time I managed to fortify my character very much and I learned to know myself better. I am sure that this experience I have experienced will also serve me to address the future challenges that life will hold me.

In my first family Bored. With my mother I found a very good understanding and with her I made a very good report. My Dad was always at work and he was spending the weekend with us. My school was one of the most prestigious in Australia. My tutor immediately told me it was a very strict school and teachers were more demanding than those of my exchange friends school living in town.  My school was called ” Mildura Senior College ” but everyone called her ” Senior “. Australian school treats her students as extremely mature people, to understand it is very close to our university system.  At School I met my closest friends and my best German friend Felix also he exchange like me. The first period of holiday I spent almost full of it at the river that along the city, it was a great way to counter Australian summer afosissima; it was there that with my friends spend almost every afternoon.. in the fiune you could Wet, luckily it was a safe place without crocodiles and piranha.

First of January I changed family and moved to town. Unlike the first family here I only had mom, a brother of my age and a Swedish exchange that they’ve been hosting for 5 months. In this family I was taught teamwork; in the house together all but it was very little to compare the work I did at the ranch. I can say that during my experience in Australia I had no problem of adaptation…. I also learned that sacrifice pays off, and life at the ranch has made me appreciate a lot more aspects of my experience. With This I do not want to suggest that I was forced to work hard… it was I who wanted to cooperate especially to make my life more varied and intense without having a chance to bore me.

Australia, even in the middle of the desert is a fascinating land and rich in a thousand things to do and to see. This experience has taught me to make myself feel more responsible and more conscious of my abilities and also of my limits. I feel very grown up and much more mature and independent than when I left.

One thing that has fascinated me very much in Australia and that I will always carry with me is the memory of losing me in admiring the sky; the sky that I mean can only be found in the middle of the desert and in such a little contaminated country. I loved sitting at night but also morning at dawn watching the colors of the sky changing, and in the evening watching the stars. It was a always different show and sitting there with this show over my head made me feel good.

If I had to decide now to leave for my exchange of exchange, I would choose Australia again; it was not a walk and sometimes I was put to hard test by the various difficulties they presented but it was enough patience and the Reward was richer than I could imagine”.

#thisisscce