Max returns from Canada

By Daniel Hughes

Berrigan teenager Max Cameron has just returned last week from a "trip of a life time" having completed a five month exchange program in Canada.

Max, 17, left for Canada on August 27, 2019 and returned just last week to a warm welcome from friends and family.

While he was overseas he lived with a small family in Thunder Bay, in Ontario which has a population of over 110,000 people.

“It was a big step up from where I live in Berrigan, but I loved being in and around the bigger town,” he said.

Max spent the majority of his time attending the local school, St Patrick's High School.

He said the unique differences between Australian and foreign school environments was overwhelming at first.

“I went there to learn about their culture, have a taste of their curriculum and their culture,” he said.

“I just did one semester so it wasn't very heavy stuff. The biggest difference was the school itself.

“The school had about 11,000 students, which isn't that big but was big for me given Finley High School only has about 300.

“There's a lot of kids and the school hallways were just like in the movies, filled with heaps of people which was cool.

“The classrooms had single desks as opposed to group length ones.

“The curriculum itself was actually pretty similar to here, so I actually picked up from what we were learning here and was able to step right in over there.”

Having never been away from his family for any extended period of time, Max said the first month in Canada was particularly challenging.

He said the routine of attending school helped him settle into the lifestyle in Canada, allowing him to fully submerge himself in the culture.

“My host family was very different compared to my family,” he said.

“All their kids were home schooled and a bit older than me, so the first month was really hard; probably the hardest.

“The host family lived more than half an hour out of town, so they were not able to give me a lift in very often. But after I made some friends it was great, I had so much fun.

“I would go snowboarding every weekend so that was really good, and I played a lot of ice hockey which was different. It was about a 20 minute drive to the snow so it was almost in my back yard.

“I've never skated before so it was a good experience, a learning experience for me.”

Max said his fellow students were particularly intrigued by his accent, and would try to mimic him.

“I got a fair bit of attention, but it was alright,” he said.

Max was back home in Berrigan in time for the start of the new school term last week.

He said he was glad for the experiences he's had as part of the exchange program.

“My favourite thing would probably have been experiencing a new school, hanging out with completely new people and just living in another country,” he siad.

“It was the experience of a lifetime so I'm glad I took it.

“I'd definitely recommend going to Canada to anyone, it's a great country.”