FROM the white snow of Canada to the white sand of Canunda, Morgan Loder bid farewell last week to the South East – a place he has called home for the past year.
Last July, the 16-year-old Rotary youth exchange student was not sure what to expect when he left 1500 peers at his Oakville Ontario high school to join the 100 plus enrolments at Kangaroo Inn Area School (KIAS).
Morgan was billeted out to a number of local families in Robe, Beachport, Claywells, Millicent and Wattle Range throughout his time in Australia and described his experience as “really different”.
“I am from a suburb really close to Toronto,” he said.
“Population wise it has been really different and there has also been cultural differences like the different ways people act.
“The main cultural difference is Australians seem to tell it how it is and it is probably better that way, back home we do not – people sort of blend in and here they stand out.”
Morgan added that weather was another huge, and perhaps obvious, difference he noticed between Canada and Australia.
“Australian summer is really, really hot,” he said.
“In our summer the temperature reaches 25 degrees, here it can get up to like 40 or something degrees, which was not too much fun.
“I also had to buy a fly swatter in the summer and carry it with me everywhere I went.
“In saying that, I missed winter back home.
“Here it is cold and everyone gets depressed and goes inside, in Canada it opens a whole world of opportunities, like skiing.”
During his time in the South East, Morgan settled well into the Australian lifestyle and was exposed to marine and rural activity and culture contrasting with the urban density of his Canadian home.
His exchange offered him numerous opportunities to travel to Adelaide and interstate, as he attended the agricultural
show and education visits in Adelaide, a three-week safari through north and eastern Australia and a Melbourne Bell Shakespeare Company performance visit.
However, he said the main highlight was snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.
“It is almost alien,” he said.
“It kind of feels like you go underwater and you’re on a different planet, it’s just kind of crazy.”
Morgan was one of 14 incoming international students in Rotary District 9780 (South East of South Australia and Western Victoria) and flew home from Melbourne on Friday.
Before his departure, he said he would encourage anyone considering a Rotary youth exchange to apply.
“There are lots of reasons I would recommend an international exchange,” he said.
“It is completely altering, you will discover so much about yourself and the world through the people you meet and you gain a unique perspective on everyday things.
“I have definitely matured, the experience has brought me into my horizons and I am much more of a risk taker.
“I have also created deep connections with people from all over the world.
“It is strange when I think about going home because in a way I feel like I already am home here in Australia.”
Morgan thanked his host families for their generosity and said he “would definitely” return to visit in the future.