Farewell from Exchange Students

Six students from Australia and South Africa have spent the last six weeks at Athenian on exchange through Round Square. They wrote down some thoughts about their time here before departing for home.

Mumina Tunne – St. Philips School in Australia

IMG_1496♥ My Exchange ♥ – Exchange, to say the least, was an incredible experience.  Leaving Australia all by myself, to meet people I have never met, was very frightening, but my fears quickly diminished when I was met by the warm embrace of Linda and Lauren Glenn.  Being able to share my life for six weeks and envelope myself into their way of being has been a wonderful experience. Never would I have thought that I might have made friends so quickly and friendships so close.  It’s physically hard to leave them behind.  During exchange I experienced things I never did before (e.g. Mexican food, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Pop Tarts, s’mores, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Arnold Palmers, Panda Express, and a one-night sea kayaking trip organized by the Athenian Adventure Club.)

Being on exchange has helped me grow as a person.  I never knew how much my thoughts and actions are affected by my close family, but being on exchange has taught me to be independent and explore myself more.

It has been all these incredibly unique experiences that have made my exchange such an amazing and unique one, and that I’m forever grateful for.

Megan de Vos – Bridge House School in South Africa

My exchange experience has become so much more meaningful to me than I could have ever imagined—and hearing from previous friends who had the time of their lives, I had high expectations.  And it has exceeded them exponentially!  Athenian has, without the shadow of a doubt, become one of the most important places to me and it will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.

IMG_3200Throughout my experience, I have met some of the most passionate and open-minded people I have ever, and probably will ever, meet in my life.  Something about the overall underlying vibe of this community makes you think twice about everything and ask questions.  Everyone was so welcoming and exciting—which is contradictory to what you expect from a tight-knit school community.  I have bonded with people from all walks of life and my eyes have definitely been opened to the world around me, all thanks to Athenian.

I have truly been spoiled with regards to experiences—from touring the Bay Area endlessly (San Francisco, etc.) to going to Los Angeles.  I have Jim Sternberg, Kathleen Huntington and Tessa Sternberg to thank for being the best host family I could have ever even wished for.  I have truly gotten an incredible American experience.

My time at Athenian will be time I will look back on and cherish forever.  All I can say is THANK YOU for absolutely every moment I got the privilege of spending amongst Athenian students. This is definitely not the last time you will see of me.  I promise to be back and visit soon.

Khanya Nkambule – Stanford Lake College in South Africa

IMG_4766This exchange experience has been something I’d been anticipating for almost a year.  Before arriving, your mind is often filled with questions, wondering about ‘what kind of people you’ll meet,’ ‘whether people will like you or not’ and ‘if you’ll fit in,’ to name just a few.  Coming close to the end of my experience, it’s hard to believe how quickly it’s gone by.  There’s still so much to do, so much to say, but I will have to leave content with what I did do and say.

I’ve loved exchange and it will definitely be hard leaving these surroundings and the friends I’ve made.  The Athenian School has helped me discover new things about myself.  I will forever acknowledge its staff and ethos.  My host family was absolutely lovely and they made me feel very welcome.  I enjoyed visiting Mount Diablo, Sacramento, Berkeley and San Francisco.  Most of all, I have loved making new friends and will always keep them in my heart.

Reneilwe Komape – Stanford Lake College in South Africa

malcolm (15 of 16)The first day of school at Athenian was the worst day ever.  I felt out-of-place and I was so convinced that I wouldn’t go to school the next day!  I eventually adapted to the environment and I actually ended up loving school!  It was because of the people and their smiles. Besides the first day, there has never been a day when I didn’t smile or laugh at Athenian.

One of the things I wanted to do when I was on exchange was to get out of my comfort zone and take on something I thought I’d never be able to do.  So I decided to join cross-country at Athenian!  I was so scared because I heard people say that it was so hard and I won’t survive.  At first I believed them, but then, as crazy as I am, I took on the challenge and I have surely survived and enjoyed every moment of it.  I have courage and stretched myself beyond the ordinary.  This is one of my home school values that I put into practice when I was on exchange.

Athenian really opened my eyes and changed my view on some things.  The work load at Athenian is way more compared to my school!  And the way the students take school way serious motivated me to want to do better than I did before I came on exchange!

Amy Bower – Westminster School in Australia

Coming to Athenian was an overall amazing experience.  As Athenian is so different from my school back in Australia, it was great to experience your school and how you do things.  Everybody at Athenian has been so welcoming and have all been super friendly towards all of the exchanges.

My favorite part of being on exchange has been visiting downtown San Francisco and making friends that I know I will keep in touch with for a long time to come and hopefully see again someday.  It has been interesting to learn new ‘American’ words and teach other people our ‘Australian’ words. There has been a few embarrassing misunderstandings along the way that I know I will forever remember.

My time here has made me a more independent person, after traveling through LAX and Miami airport alone. 

I have also opened my eyes to the less fortunate people living on the streets and have become a more compassionate person after visiting Glide and Saint Anthony’s for community service.  I loved visiting both facilities and feel like I have a better understanding of what it is like to be a homeless person living on the streets of San Francisco.

Nick Harris – Westminster School in Australia

My favorite thing about doing this Round Square exchange with the Athenian School has been the life-long friendships I have made with many amazing Athenian students over the 7 weeks I have been here.

The main differences have been having to start school an hour earlier, the way the classes are run, and how everything is upside down or opposite (e.g. the light switches are upside down and the steering wheels and cars are on the “wrong” side of the road). 

I have learned that no matter where you go in the world, as long as the people around you are fun and caring, you will have an amazing experience. 

The Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco are all amazing.

I will be back that is for sure …