A handful of adventurous students at EDSS bid adieu to the true north strong and free this week as they jetted off on a three-month exchange to Europe.
Charly Bax will be doing her exchange in the south of France, about an hour from Toulouse. She said students usually end up going to their country of choice.
“You can pick your top three countries, but where in the country isn’t up to you,” Bax said.
Mhari Reid headed off to Brussels, Belgium this week. She said she’ll miss the easy communication the most, but regardless she’s excited for the experience.
“I’m going to Switzerland to ski, so that’s kind of cool,” Reid said.
Teacher Stathoula Paleshi said they’ve done some preparation in school to make up for the missed months.
“They met with the teachers whose classes they’ll be missing and they signed contracts to cover the work they’ll be missing or do alternate work,” Paleshi said. “So they’ll still get their credit, regardless, studying abroad.”
Bax said she’s been studying French a bit to prepare to go to France, and talking with her exchange partner. Five students will be attending EDSS from across the pond to get a taste of Canada while they’re off in Europe.
When it comes to what she’s looking to take away from the experience Bax said “being able to understand what it’s like being in a situation, like learning how to communicate, not necessarily with language, but learn the culture.”
She’s also excited about visiting the French Alps, which is part of her exchange.
“Making connections with different people around the world is important too,” Bax said.
Bryan Metzger left for Berlin, Germany on his exchange. The furthest he’s travelled before is Indiana. He joked he’s looking forward to being on his own, and getting away from his siblings for three months. When asked what he thinks he’ll miss from Canada, he was quick to pipe up.
“Mother’s cooking,” he said.
Kate Bartley’s trip takes her to Reims, France. She’s excited to experience a different culture and step outside of her comfort zone.
“I’m going to Amsterdam while I’m there so I’m excited to see the city,” Bartley said. “I like history so where I’m staying is right by the World War One trenches, so I really want to visit those and put what I learned in history class to what it’s actually like to be there.”
Paleshi says the benefits to the exchange program are multifold. The school benefits by having new students arrive, allowing local students to learn about different countries and customs.
“Also in classes like history, our Grade 10 history program is very Canada-centered, so it’s really neat to have someone from another country give their perspective on it,” Paleshi said. “It expands definitely our perspective. The students coming back, they’re able to offer a lot to the other classes because they will come back with a fresh, new view on things as well.”
As a language teacher, she says the students coming back enrich the language classes because of their firsthand experience with the language on home turf.
“They will have grown tremendously as people because they’re out on their own,” Paleshi said. “They’re nobody’s sister or friend or son or daughter. They’re standing on their own so there’s a lot of personal growth that happens, and of course the linguistic growth.”