Enjoying opportunities exchange has to offer

Leaving behind a scorching Canberra we relocated to North York, Toronto just in time for a big dump of snow and -15 degrees Celsius temperatures (with wind chill -20).

After a couple of days to get sorted, the children headed off to school, and I started teaching Science at St Elizabeth Catholic High School. There was no choice but to adapt to the extreme cold weather and embrace the beautiful snow.

With a sports mad partner, we began experiencing what Toronto has to offer in the way of sporting events, including Maple Leaves and Marlies hockey, Toronto Rock lacrosse and Toronto Raptors basketball. Blue Jays baseball is the next game on the list.

Despite living in a city of approximately six million people there is a feeling of living in suburbia, but our place was only half a kilometre away from Yonge Street, the world’s longest street, boasting many restaurants, shops, culture and a great subway system.

We have packed a lot into the two months we have been here, enjoying some great local hikes, the ski slope just around the corner, a visit to Niagara Falls, ParkRun in Ajax, a whole family run at the Toronto Zoo fundraiser for polar bears, and a week in New York for March break.

The Canadian League for Educational Exchange (CLEE) has organised some great events with fellow exchangees and their families. A highlight being the catch up in Ottowa shortly after our arrival, including ice skating on the famous Rideau Canal and snow shoeing in Gatineau Park (nature reserve), including dinner in a log cabin and a hike out by moonlight.

The Science Department at St Elizabeth Catholic High School has been superb and it has been professionally rewarding taking on the challenge of teaching in a different country, working with new colleagues and navigating the Canadian curriculum and school structure.

We have been welcomed warmly by our children’s school community, who have included us in many activities and dinners. A highlight was training with a local crew of runners in the snow and competing in the iconic Around the Bay 30km race. This was an enjoyable experience, particularly when we literally ran into other Australians on exchange on the course!

The weather is starting to turn which makes it much easier to spend extended periods outside and we look forward to upcoming travel, events, Australian visitors and enjoying all the opportunities that this international exchange has to offer.

Jennie Hitchen
Radford College Canberra