I’m here from Ontario

My name is Kristen Alderson and I’m a high school science teacher from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. I teach at Bear Creek Secondary School in Barrie and I am currently on exchange at Barker College in Hornsby. In Canada, I teach Grades 9 to 12, but at Barker, I am teaching Years 7, 8 and 10. I will be teaching at Barker from January 2020 to December 2020.

The biggest difference between teaching in Canada and Australia is that in Canada I teach at a publicly funded school and Barker is an independent school in New South Wales. The other major difference is that in Canada we teach on a semester system and at Barker I will be teaching the same classes for the entire year.

The main thing that I have learned so far and will take home with me is “don’t sweat the small stuff”. There are so many great opportunities that can come out of an exchange. It is not worth the time and effort stressing about things you can’t control. Just get out there and enjoy every opportunity, good and otherwise.

Being on exchange in Australia has been an amazing experience so far; my husband and I have taken advantage of our weekends and have explored around the Sydney area. We’re planning many other trips as well. I’ve also met so many wonderful people – my colleagues are incredibly helpful and friendly. I’ve met several people from Canada and the United States who are also here on exchange, so we’ve been able to share stories and do a bit of travelling together.

So far, the biggest challenge has been making sure to communicate with family and friends back in Canada because that is our real support system and it has been a huge part of keeping ourselves grounded.

Finally, I would highly recommend this experience to anyone considering an exchange. It was a lot of work to make this exchange happen, but the time spent was worth it. I have already grown professionally and personally through my interactions at Barker and through my travelling experiences. And the best part… The year has begun.

Kristen Alderson