It is hard to believe that it’s almost three weeks since our Australian visitors left us on their way back to Sydney, via Berlin, to enjoy the rest of their summer holiday!
«We had a lot of great times together!»
Early on Saturday 4th December, four FGZ host families waited eagerly at Zürich Airport to finally meet their Australian exchange partners from Sydney Grammar School.
«We had been writing to another for over half a year and it was so exciting to finally meet the boy behind all the texts.»
The four boys and their German teacher, Chris Saurine, arrived safely, but tired after their grueling flight via Hong Kong.
An official welcome apéro took place on 7th December on the 6th floor at FGZ. This was attended by all students and their parents who contributed to a wonderful snack buffet, as well as two of our principals, Dr. Thomas Bernet and Dr. Hans-Peter Müller. Herr Rudolf Sprüngli gave a brief but very personal and thoughtful speech. The evening was complete when Mr Michael Fisher, a loyal supporter of the FGZ/SGS student exchange programme, joined us with a group of Sydney Grammar School alumni who happen to live in and around Zürich at the moment, an interesting exchange of stories and anecdotes followed.
Over the next two weeks our Australian visitors followed their partner students to their regular classes, eager to practice their German language skills. They also enjoyed various outings to Bern and Konstanz to mention a few, planned by their teacher. And from what I hear, our host families also provided wonderful entertainment, ensuring the boys could appreciate the diversity of Switzerland like visits to Geneva, Zurich’s museums, churches, Christmas markets, Technorama in Winterthur, as well as other parts of Switzerland.
«It was very interesting to live with a person from the other side of the world. I thought that the students wouldn't be that different than us, but I did notice some major differences.» «…and it was funny because they have so many Australian words and jokes. So when they talked to each other, we couldn't understand a lot of what they said!»
«It was very entertaining to observe the boys, at the yodelling competition. Yodelling is something really traditional and something they’ve never seen before so they probably won’t ever forget it!»
An annual highlight of the Exchange Programme is, of course our visit to the Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolateria. We would again like to kindly thank Herr Sprüngli, Frau Sara Tallner, as well as Master Chocolatier, Rolf Holenweger and his team for a memorable and very entertaining morning.
The school’s Christmas celebration in the Kirche Neumünster took place on 16th December and on the final day of school, the students attended talks on ‘Studying Abroad’ organized by Dr. Müller and Mrs Daphne Glättli, which included an impressive insight into life at Sydney Grammar School by Mr Saurine. Afterwards the four students headed off to enjoy the Christmas holiday with their host families. Despite the lack of snow, many enjoyed a few days in the mountains, skiing and ice skating.
«When I signed up for the exchange I had mixed feelings about Christmas and the festive days in general because normally it’s such a personal and stressful time of the year. So I was really surprised how well everything worked out, and it was one of the best Christmas’ I’ve ever experienced. Another nice thing that I like to look back on is when we visited George’s great aunt who lives really close to Zurich.»
All too soon, we all met again at Zürich airport early on the morning of Sunday 3rd January. After long, heartfelt goodbyes and some re-packing of suitcases, our Australian guests left for Berlin, where they would spend four days exploring the German capital, before heading home to warm Sydney.
«I really enjoyed having a ’brother‘ for four weeks!»
«I had never expected that there is such a strong connection between Switzerland and Australia and secondly, I never expected to make such good friends. Thanks to the exchange we, my family and I, have met new people and made new friends for life.»
Many thanks to Michelle, Aja and especially Lara for their contributions and insights.
Exchange Programme Co-Ordinator