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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moving, Halloween and everything in between.

The countdown is now officially begining, my time left in this amazing country is limited! And as scary as this thought is, I now have something incredibly exciting to look forward - only 8 months until Nicole is going to come and visit me! So that is very, very, very cool. I am now starting to think of all the things we can do in New Zealand with her, so I welcome any suggestions! After being away for so long, I am drawing some blanks. But, I know it will be amazing fun!

So, since I last wrote, quite a lot has happened. After thanksgiving I changed homes, and moved in with my fourth and final family, the Sobolewskis. They are all really lovely, and so far my time here has been Fantastic. To tell the truth however, it really doesn't seem like I have spent much time here recently, with Rotary events, going out with friends, ect. And then, my week long trip to Tampa Bay, Florida!

Florida was a lot of fun. I went down there with my first home mom, Laurie, and we stayed in a house she has down there. We flew out of Buffalo on Wednesday morning, at about 7am and made it to Tampa for just after lunch. We had a very relaxing week, and spent our time at the beach or the shopping mall. I loved being at the beach, because this was the first time I had swum in the ocean since I came to Canada, while  no big deal for Canadians, it's a pretty scary thought for me.
I also got to spend a weekend with my family who live down there, Kelley and George, and my cousins Sarah and Sam. It was great to see them, and we had a lot of fun. It actually made me the most homesick I have been all year, because they all reminded me of my family back home.

I got home early Friday morning, and then that weekend was Halloween! On Saturday I went to a Halloween thing with Mark, (the aussie exchange student) and his host sister, which was awesome! Then, on Sunday I went to Wonderland, the local theme park, where they were hosting 'Fear Fest' - the park is open till midnight, and it is decorated halloween theme, with haunted houses and creepy things all spread out. I went there with Kenzie (rebound), Blair (rebound), Mark, Philipp (Austrian Exchange Student), Marks host sister Ashlynn, her boyfriend Josh, and two of his roommates, Digger and Martin. The later few had all been there on Saturday.


So, now it's back into school routine, impossible tests and crazy teachers making an appearance as per usual. Today it is exactly 2 months till I come home...
Lots of love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving and Autumn

It's Autumn here, and it is absolutely beautiful. The trees here, are truly magnificent. Everywhere you look, the radient greens, yellows, oranges and reds almost seem to glow - these are colours that would make Mrs Irwin proud. I have taken these photographs over the last weekend, but they really don't do the beauty justice, because no matter how hard I try, a camera just can't capture this...

It was thanksgiving this weekend!
A quintessential North American holiday, it is somewhat reminiscent of our christmas (only minus the presents), an excuse to see the family, get a few days off work/school, and to eat a lot. And, it seems that Canadians take advantage of all three.
Thanksgiving is a very big deal here, and while it is very commercialised, I know it gave me a chance to think about what I'm thankful for, by no means is this a short list!

(This is only a tiny part of the massive pile of pumpkins in the supermarket car park - it took up about 8 parks!)

The school board gave us Friday off as well as the statutory Monday, so all the kids got a four day weekend! On Sunday we drove about 1 and a half hours north, to visit Julie's sister and their family. It was a lovely day, and we had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner - Turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and Pumpkin Pie, which is a new favourite of mine!!!
I went for a walk with Monica ( my host sister, in one of the pictures), Fab (my host dad), Brian ('Host Uncle) and Kobe, the thirteen week old puppy! Most of the pictures above were taken on the walk, and it was amazing. Only a 5 minute walk from their house, in a developed area, there was a forest, which was filled with tree's., the evidence is, evident. But, trees aren't all we saw...

BEAVERS! At the start of the walk we heard some rustling in the bushes, and turned to see the trees moving. Brian said they had a bit of a bear problem over the last few weeks, so he was rather worried, until we realised the trees weren't just moving, one huge branch was being dragged down to the river... Beavers!
We snuck down to the edge of the creek, and sure enough, floating around in the water were two beavers. A lot bigger than I expected, they were swimming up and down, and didn't seem particularly phased by us. About 40minutes later when we headed back we had another look, and they were still there, so I managed to get a few good photos.
They certainly made my day, and now I can cross another iconic Canadian animal off my list! 

Beaver teeth marks...

See him there?

So, I have had a fantastic weekend, and eaten my fair share of pumpkin pie and pumpkin loaf! Surprisingly, no-one here has heard of Pumpkin Soup! Nicole's brother told me that it doesn't even exist, I must be lying. But seriously, not a single person has been able to confirm the existence of one of the most amazing foods ever.

So, what am I thankful for?
Amongst other things, I am so, so lucky to have..
- My wonderful family in New Zealand.
- My amazing families here in Canada.
- The friends I have, in Canada and New Zealand.
-Exchange Students! They are friends, but quite unlike any one else I know.
-Rotary, for the experience of a lifetime.

Monday, October 4, 2010


So, this weekend after much anticipation, we met the new inbound students!
On saturday morning we drove about 40minutes north to a town called Brampton, where we were set to meet everyone for the first time.
I know for me  it was very peculiar, going on a rotary weekend without the others - I think in the back of my mind I was still expecting to see them there.
This year there are only 9 new kids! So including me, Mark and Riley, there are 12 of us, which makes for a lot smaller group than last year. (19)

Mark - Australia
Riley - Australia
Sabrina - Denmark
Javier - Ecuador
Bruna - Brazil
Philipp - Austria
Isabella - Switzerland
Nann - Thailand
Jose - Chile
Kyohei - Japan
Heloise - France
and Me!

We did some group activities, and a whole lot of presentations about what to expect from our year (in my case, only 3 months...), the rules, and the itinerary for this year.
After all the formal stuff was over we went into the gym, and just mucked around playing basketball and frisbee. There are some pretty good basketballers in the group, and we all had fun playing. Sadly my team lost...
Riley also picked up some sweet frisbee skills - he figured out how to skim it like a stone!

The rotarians keep saying that this group is already a lot better behaved than us last year, and I can definitely see that. I am sure we weren't easy to handle, but we did have a lot of fun. Dinner time was scarily quiet, but I am sure as everyone gets more comfortable around each other and their English improves, we will get louder. Haha, the only people talking were us Oceanians, which is peculiar considering I am normally the quiet one...

We were billeted saturday night - please tell me you know what that means! Everyone I talk to has to interupt me, as they don't know what I mean by 'billeted'. I stayed at Mari-Ann Tate's house, a rotarian who has been with us all year. I was there with Nann and Sabrina, so we stayed up talking and watching movies.

Sunday morning - It was a fairly early start, and we all met at Cora's for breakfast at 8.30. There is fantastic food there, but the portions are huge. I had a Ham and Cheese Omlette, and I struggled to even eat half. Mark got the 'Banana Beast' - I have had that before with Emi, and it sure is beastly!!

So, summer is defnintely over now...
It was down to about 3 degrees this morning, and yesterday I wished that I had had gloves on! The leaves are starting to change colour, and it looks absolutely stunnning. I will have to get out and take some pictures before it is too late.

Au Reviour!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today is Monday, September 27th, and I write this sitting in the Corpus Christi Library, at 9.01am.

School started back in the first week of September, and this semester is actually a lot of fun!
My schedule is a lot easier (and more enjoyable) than last semester:
Period One –Spare
Period Two –Challenge and Change
Period Three –Advanced Functions
Period Four –Writers Craft.

Having a spare in Period One, is pretty good.Even though my Challenge and Change Class doesn’t start until 9.40 I still have to be at school by 8.45, because Julie (my host mom) drops me off on her way to work. I generally use this time to write emails, or blogs, and finish any work I hadn’t completed. Wow, this makes me sound incredibly diligent. Really, I use a lot of this time walking to Tim Hortons down the road, going up and and down the stairs to my locker or reading. Right now I am reading ‘The girl who played with fire’ by Steig Larsson. It’s a great book!

My Period Two class starts at 9.40 and finishes at 11. That is one thing I really find noticeable about the schooling here – the classes are very, very long. Each one runs for 1hour and 20minutes. Challenge and Change is a Social Studies class, looking at basic aspects of Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology. We are in a tiny classroom, and there we have to work on tables, as there aren’t enough desks in the school!

Period Three: Advanced Functions. This, my friends, is Maths. Or as they say in Canada – Math. It’s a second level math class, looking at algebra, graphs, geometry : functions. I really enjoy it! Its quite difficult, as I obviously didn’t take the first level course, so there are a few basic things that I don’t understand, but on a whole I am getting the hang of it (I hope). Like most of the classes in this school, they use blackboards. This bugs me, because the sound of chalk freaks me out a bit (a lot). It’s peculiar, about 80% of the classrooms here use blackboards, and the other 20% use smartboards! I don’t know what happened to the whiteboards…

Then, I have lunch. Lunch goes from 12.20 to 1pm. I sit with a similar group of friends to lasts semester, but it has expanded. Lunch times here are very different to lunchtimes at Howick College. The most noticeable difference is that we all eat in the cafeteria. They have a legitimate cafeteria, filled with tables, where most of the school sits and eats lunch. You can choose to bring your lunch, as I do most days, or buy it – where you can buy meals such as curry, stirfry, tortillas… it varies on a day to day basis. And then there are the standard burgers, sandwhiches, cookies, etc. No Pies :O It is impossible to buy a meat pie here.

But obviously the entire school is not going to fit into this cafeteria… which brings me to my second major difference (It now sounds like I am writing a debating speech!) – There are three lunch times.

This, I do not like. You can either have Lunch A, Lunch B, or Lunch C. Thankfully I have Lunch C, because that is from 12.20 -1. Lunch A, starts at 11, which I would find far too early! Because of these separated lunch times however, it means the chance of you getting to sit with all of your friends is slim, and this semester there are a few of my friends with different lunch times.

Also – we have no morning tea time! Whenever I mention it, it is a guarantee that at least two people will laugh, and say “do you actually drink tea?!”. At which point I sound stupid trying to explain that no, we don’t drink tea. “Then it’s just like recess, that we had when we were five?”. Yeaah, I guess so. But it’s better, cause you get it all your life!

Writers Craft, Period Four, is probably my favourite class. I sit next to Kenzie Bender, a rebound who just got back from an Exchange in Australia, so we talk a lot more than we actually do work. But, the work we do do is fun! We get to write all sorts of different pieces, and then we get to edit each others. I wish Howick College offered a class like this, because it is a lot of fun. This one class where I don’t notice the time, in fact the 1 hour and 20minutes seems to fly by every day!

Well, it is now 9.26am, and in 14minutes I have to head down to the first floor for my challenge and change class. My locker is on the third floor, and my classes are on the first, third and second floor, which makes for a lot of going up and down stairs. But surely that’s good for my legs, right?

Lots of Love,


P.S – As terrified as I am by this thought, I thought I should let you know that I have 3 months and 10 days left…

Friday, August 13, 2010


Hi Everybody!

I am sorry for the lapse in communication, it is summer over here, and I have been out and about a lot, saying goodbye to the Northern Hemisphere exchange students who have finished their year, catching up with school friends, and of course travelling across Canada on my month long trip!
So, while I do have a lot to talk about, I really wanted to tell you guys about the CCT (Cross Canada Tour) that I did last month – which really was one of the best months of my life. There were 3 Chaperones and 44 exchange students on the trip, from all around the world. About 15 of them were from my Rotary District over here, 7080, so it was great having some close friends on the trip with me, but there were also a lot of people I had never met, and I have definitely made some new friendships that will last a lifetime!

We started the tour in Moncton, New Brunswick, North East of where I am living. We spent about a week up in this area, and saw some amazing things. One of my favourites was the Hopewell Rocks, in the Bay of Fundy. This is where there are huge tides, up to 7m tall! I don’t know how much you know about this area, but because of the large tides, the rocks there have eroded away, and are left in some incredible formations – they are also known as the flowerpot rocks, as they look a bit like flowerpots, with a large bulbous part on top where the water hasn’t washed away the rock.

We spent a day on Prince Edward Island, which was a lot of fun – we swam in a river, went lobster fishing, and dressed up as Anne of Green Gables (as PEI is her hometown), yes, even the boys donned the green gown and plaited wigs!

From there we travelled to Quebec on the train, which was an overnight train ride… lets just say I don’t think much sleep was had, and when we arrived in Quebec City at 6am the next morning, we were a very tired bunch. But, we made the most of our time in the city and started off with a scavenger hunt around town (yes, at 6am!), which ended in us finding our way to the hostel. What none of us knew at the time, was that the day before had been St-Jean Baptiste Day, which is the provincial holiday of Quebec, and is basically an excuse for a large party. In Quebec we watched some of the FIFA football matches (there was great international rivalry!), and explored the city. I must say, it was definitely my favourite city on the Tour, and all the exchange students said it reminded them of Europe – looks like I will have to plan a trip there in the future!

We moved onto Montreal, which was another fun city, and we had another scavenger hunt to complete – I am now very familiar with the subway system in Montreal, this tour led us all over the place. We saw the Basilica, and some amazing cathedrals – Montreal really is a beautiful city.
By July 29th we were in Toronto, very close to home for me. We did all of the touristy things there, including a trip up the CN Tower, and a visit to the Niagara Falls, which really are spectacular. We did a jet boat ride up the Niagara River, which was awesome, and we visited the Hockey Hall of fame, and of course, there was some great shopping in Toronto.

We caught another early morning train on July 1st, this time Ottawa – Canada’s capital. This was an incredible experience, because July 1st is Canada day, and the major celebrations are held in Ottawa, even the queen was there – as you can see from my photos, everyone went overboard with the red and white decoration, but it was a lot of fun!

After that though, we had what has to have been the longest train ride of my life – 3 nights and days onboard without stopping. We didn’t have sleeper carriages or anything, so we slept in regular train seats, which only recline about 2 degrees, or so it felt like! Despite the lack off actual sleep and the cramped conditions, we all loved the train ride, as it gave us all a great chance to get to know each other even better, I think some of the best friendships were made during that time (and we learnt a lot of new card games).

Finally we stopped in Edmonton, and went straight to the West Edmonton Mall – the biggest mall in North America! And boy, it was big. Inside the mall there was a movie theatre, and theme park, and a water park! It was crazy how big it was. An Edmonton Rotary club had sponsored us all tickets into the water park, which was fantastic, especially since none of us had showered for three days! So we played in the water park, and looked around the mall and had a chance just to relax and hang our together.

We travelled to Jasper National park that evening and settled into our hostel there. We all kept our eyes peeled for bears and moose, but sadly none were to be found.

We travelled to the Columbia Ice fields, which are one of the largest glacier areas in the world, and we took a tour up to the actual ice fields themselves. We had a lot of travelling to get through, so we moved straight up to Banff where we stayed for the next few days.
Banff was an amazing area –
 we visited hot springs, went white water rafting and explored the town, which was quaint, but lovely. We also visited Lake Louise, which was nearby, and was absolutely stunning. A few of us took a hike up a nearby mountain to get a better view of the lake, and I am so glad I did it, I was amazing. It took us a good 5 hours to get up though, and part of it was almost rock-climbing, we had to scramble up a steep hill covered in shale and gravel.

We moved on again, this time to Calgary, where we saw the Calgary Stampede! That was awesome, and we explored the fairgrounds and watched some of the shows, including the rodeo. That was awesome to see, I had never seen anything like it, and we got to watch all kinds of events, involving horses, bulls, calves, and the chuck wagons!

July 11th, we visited the dinosaur museum, and we also watched the FIFA final – by this point the trip had been divided into supporting sides, Netherlands vs. Spain. Let’s just say there were about 20 very happy people that day!

We spent a bit more time in Edmonton, where we were billeted by families, and we got to see some more of the city. We also got to have a home cooked meal, and get some laundry done, which was awesome. My family took me and Johanna (Swedish girl I was billeted with) out to a fondue place for dinner, which was so cool! I have never had a fondue meal, so that was very exciting, and the food was amazing.

Then of course we made it out all the way to British Columbia, first stop Vancouver.
That was another amazing city, there was so much to see and do there, and we barely scratched the surface. We explored Stanley Park, biked around the city, saw an outdoor theatre production, visited the Aquarium and saw Beluga whales, and I saw my first racoon and skunk!
Salt Spring Island was our next stop, and that was beautiful. Half of us were billeted, the other half stayed in a motel. I was part of the group in a motel, which was good fun. Salt Spring reminded me a lot of Waiheke Island actually. The beaches were amazing, and there were some very fancy houses on the island. There was also a market every Saturday, which we were lucky enough to see, and we all spent a fair bit of money there, on souvenirs and little trinkets.

Last but not least, we caught the ferry to Victoria, Vancouver Island. Victoria was another of my favourite cities. We went to China Town, had fish and chips on the water front and just spent time with our friends, getting our flags signed and preparing to say goodbye.

Sadly, the trip did end there, and there were many tears when we parted. I for one cried my eyes out at the airport; it was unbelievable how close we had all become spending just a month together.
When I started writing this, I intended to keep it short; I was aiming for just a summary, maybe a paragraph or two… apparently that didn’t happen! And this is only half of what we did, there are a lot more things that happened on our trip and places that we saw to tell you, but if I include everything, this will be about 5 pages longer! But I am sure you will hear all about it when I get back, and I have a lot of photographs to share with you all! I am sorry it has taken me this long to get this to you, and I will work on keeping you better informed on my adventures in the upcoming months. This year really has been absolutely fantastic for me so far – and believe it or not, I am past the halfway point! That certainly is daunting, though I am excited to return home and see everyone again!
Love Sarah

P.S More CCT photos, and other news to come!! :)


Hi Guys!
Wow, I just looked at my last blog entry - I had no idea it had been that long since I last posted!
I have been super busy in the last two months, so I will tell you a bit about May and June in this post, and then I will write again this week, telling you about the Cross Canada Tour, which honestly was the most amazing trip of my life! So, no suspense whatso ever...

When I last wrote, I was preparing to move to my second family. Now, I am preparing to move out of my second family, and into my third! My time spent here with Kathy, Pat, Krystine, Greg, Vanessa, Kyle and Jonathan, was absoulutely a blast! Because of the CCT I was only really here for one month, but even then, I really really enjoyed it. It was a very different experience indeed, having 5 kids in the house, and it was certainly always busy. They also have two dogs -Taz and Nikki, a cat - Cuddles, and a turtle - Mr T, along with multiple fish!

I also spoke about a rotary weekend, where we kinda 'initiated' the 7080 Outbound students. That weekend held at the Missisauga University (refered to as Erindale) was so much fun! The first thing we did was a scavenger hunt around the campus. I was paired with Kricia, my amazing Brazilian girl, and we had a fantastic time. We also placed second, thanks to the stranger we met, who helped us name 49 states of America, and Kricia's valiant muesli-bar juggling attempt.

I helped out at Lobster Fest, which is a Rotary Lobster dinner, hosted by my club in May. There were a lot of people there, and all the exchange students from Burlington, (inbounds outbounds and rebounds) helped out by selling 50/50 tickets. I was with Mille (Denmark) which was hilarious, she is a fantastic sales person ;)
I also got to eat lobster, which was cool! There was a lot left over, so we could have as much as we wanted, and while I only ate one, some people had 2,3, even 4!

Another Burlington event I attendedwas Sound of Music - a huge free music festival held in June, down by the lakeshore. That was a lot of fun, and I wasn't needed to help out there, so I just enjoyed it. I spent the first night there with Emi (outbound, France-bound on August 25th :S ) and we saw the canadian bands Mariana's Trench, and Faber Drive! I also went another night with Nicole, Eric, Jeff, Zack, and some other people from school, which was a lot of fun! We explored the rest of the grounds that night, and went on some of the rides.

And then I left on my CCT the next morning! And that, was amazing. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G

Love you all,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just a quick update:

Hi Everybody!

I have spent this afternoon packing up my clothes (which seem to have greatly multiplied) and preparing to move to my second family on Monday.
While I know I am going to miss Laurie and Terry, who I am with now, I am also very excited because my next family has 5 children! That will definitely be an experience.

This weekend I will be going to another Rotary Camp, this time along with the soon-to-be outbound students. This weekend will be more of an information session so that we can tell the Canadian students a bit about what they will be experiencing this time next year. There will be a girl from this district going to the Auckland 9920 District in August, so I am very excited for her.

Over the past month I have caught the train  into Toronto twice, with different groups of exchange students, and I have had a lot of fun. The train trip in is around an hour, so we have found all sorts of ways to entertain ourselves, and I have learnt to say some rather 'interesting' things in German and Danish.

While the weather was really beautiful last week it seems to have taken a turn for the worst this week, and the temperatures have been all single digits with a lot of rain. Apparently this is normal spring weather though, and the sunshine earlier was too good to be true. But, not long until Summer...

In summer I will be taking a Rotary trip across Canada, leaving Burlington on the 20th of June, and not returning until the 20th of July. A lot of the students from my district will be going, as will many students from other districts, so I cannot wait to meet them. I was posted the itinerary a few days ago, and it looks very full on. Some of the many exciting things we will be doing include seeing the Calgary Stampede, and being in Ottawa for Canada Day!

Thanks so much,