After almost a year in Corowa, it’s time for the Rotary Club of Corowa to say goodbye to its latest exchange student Emma Jepsen from Denmark.
Emma arrived in July last year and spent the year attending school at Corowa High, in between seeing Australia, of which she has probably seen more of it than most Australians.
Emma was hosted by four families throughout the year, with all being different and providing different experiences.
The host families and school friends Emma has made have led to her going to places like King Island, where she really enjoyed the cheese and beef as well as the fairy penguins.
No trip to Australia is complete without a trip to the footy where she became a Roos supporter, much to the displeasure of her host father Gary Poidevin, who is a Blues supporter.
Through Rotary Emma got to experience Mittagundi, in the Victorian High Country, with the other inbound exchange students.
Roughing it, with no mobile phones or watches, having to hike three days to the camp site.
A highlight of Emma’s year was the Rock to Reef Safari, an exciting three weeks travelling with students from two districts around Australia, to Adelaide then on to Coober Pedy, Ularu and Alice Springs.
It was here in ‘the Alice’ that Emma had her first real experience with a snake.
The huge Python that was only supposed to go around the group on their shoulders, decided to wrap itself around Emma and get tangled in her hair.
Her favorite place was the Kings Canyon, a beautiful spot in the Northern Territory, that shows the ‘Red Centre’ of Australia at its best.
In Queensland , around Cairns was another great experience, to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. Emma took a 15-minute introductry dive and enjoyed that so much that she took another 45-minute dive.
Sea sickness was just a small problem, with lots of other things to take it off her mind.
Due to Cyclone Debbie, the exchange students had an extra two days at Cairns as they were not able to call into Airlie Beach.
At Byron Bay it was also very wet, like camping in water tents and everyone having trouble getting their clothes dry.
Next stop was Sydney and they arrived on Good Friday, with everything closed, so this was a good chance to catch up with the many Danes on the bus, but unfortunately they all had difficulty speaking Danish as they had become so comfortable speaking English.
For Emma, Christmas was the hardest time, Christmas in summer just doesn’t seem right.
But when Emma gets home the family will have Chrismas in July and then she will also get to meet her new nephew, what a lovely Chistmas present he will be.
Emma has a piece of advice for any budding exchange students when a Rotarian or friend of a host family asks you if you would like to go somewhere, say yes as you don’t know what it will lead to.
One last dream for Emma is, at a later date, to be able to bring her family to Australa to meet the new friends and host parents, so they too may thank the Rotary Club for this wonderful year.
For her future, Emma is considering Legal Studies, something that wasn’t on her horizon before coming to Australia, but something she has really enjoyed studying here.
And for a final highlight, Emma made her debut at the St. John’s Presentation Ball on Friday night, June 30.
This is not a custom of Denmark, but was a lovely way for her to finish her year with her friends here in Australia.
As a farewell gift, Rotarians Robyn Rhodes and Margaret Brown presented Emma with a hand quilted wall hanging and runner.
Emma has been a great exchange student and the Rotary Club and friends she has made here will miss her a lot.