Caterina W., 16 years
Type of holiday: School exchange (year abroad)
Destination: Sydney (Australia)
Population: 4.63 million
Duration: 6 months

Caterina, what attracted you to Australia? Why did you choose such a distant destination?
Caterina: I wanted to go to Australia because my older cousin told me how unbelievably friendly the Australians are. It counts as the country in which the people are happiest. Also it has (almost) always good weather.

What's it like being so far away from home for so long?
Caterina: Before, I was really excited and frankly a little scared. At that time I had a boyfriend and I really did not want to be so far away from him for so long. In retrospect, I am so glad that I went. It worked out great with my friend and I am proud of myself that I managed to be alone so far away from home.

How did you get along with your host family? What was it like living there?
Caterina: I had my own room with a bed, wardrobe and writing desk. I shared the bathroom with my two host brothers (15 and 17). The family was very nice and at the beginning showed me all over town. Later, after I had made some friends, I did not do so much together with the family. But that was OK for all of us.

What's the difference between Australia and Germany?
Caterina: Australians are super friendly and open-minded. It's quite the same with Germans, but you get the feeling that Australians are cheerful and good-humoured day and night. It must have something to do with the many hours of sunshine. They just enjoy everyday life. Many come in the classroom with a surfboard under their arms.

What do you learn in school in Australia?
Caterina: Funnily enough, you only have 6 subjects. There are many more choices. I especially liked "Textiles and Design". We designed our own T shirts and clothes and later sewed them. What I also found very good was the various levels for teaching mathematics. There were beginners, intermediate and advanced. So everyone kept up well in the classroom.

What did the long journey give you personally?
Caterina: I have become open to the world, more sociable and above all independent.