2017-02-09 Will Robertson – 2016 Exchange Student to Germany
Will began his talk by thanking the Rotary Club of Corowa for their sponsorship. He had a wonderful year, initially intending to go on a 6 week exchange, but rapidly changing his mind and going for a 12 month stay.
Host Club – his host Rotary Club was in Telgte, which is situated in NW Germany, 40 minutes from Dortmund and 1 hour from the Dutch border. He felt at home as the area was a farming community, similar to Howlong – although the countryside was much more green!!
Families - he was hosted by 4 families, and lived in three different cities – Osbevern, Telgte and Westbevern – but attended the one school, which was Maria-Sibylla Merian Gymnasium, Telgte. The school classrooms were furnished in a fairly spartan fashion – just desks, chairs and a chalk board. There were none of the electronic white boards which litter our Australian classrooms.
Exchange students – when he arrived, his fellow Exchange student in the Club – living in the same house as himself – was Jesus from Venezuela (see picture taken at a Club meeting). After a short time Jesus returned home, to be replaced by Belen from Paraguay. The picture taken with Belen was in Heidelberg – in front of the castle – while Will and Belen were on their Rotary Germany tour,
Friends – Will made many friends from many countries while on exchange. He has many Brazilian friends, and hopes to visit Brazil some time – after he has learnt a little Portuguese.
Travel – Many cities in Europe were on the itinerary of both the Rotary Euro Tour and the Germany Tour – Vienna, Prague, Pisa, Avignon, Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin. With his hosts Will went to Barcelona and with his parents he visited Paris among other places.
Food – the food was very different, especially the bread and beer. Will especially loved the German breakfasts of bread, meat, cheese and jams, and German cheesecake was a favourite.
Culture – he loved learning the language – indeed is still learning it. Unique events such as the rituals of the three days of Christmas and the Christmas markets were interesting. He feels he is now experiencing ‘reverse culture shock’!!
The future – Will is now enrolled in TAFE, doing his Tertiary Prep Course (TPC) as he did not want to go back to school where he would be in Year 11 with a much younger cohort. In the future he is interested in working in an animal vet nursery ..... OR .... personal training and personal fitness also has appeal! He would love to study overseas.
Jenny – Will’s mum Jenny felt he had really changed in the 12 months. She remarked she had put a boy on the plane and he came back a young man – a different person. The family dynamic has changed and he now loves to spend time with themselves and with his brother.
She is very proud of him and what he has been able to achieve. He took the opportunity to make the most of his year.
Rotarian Stephen thanked Will for his report, presented him with a Rotary pen and gave Jenny a bottle of the President’s muscat.
President Meredith endorsed Stephen’s thanks, and said she was pleased he had experienced such a wonderful year.
2016-11-10 Youth Exchange – Will’s Report from Germany
It has been a while since my last report and in between the reports a few things have happened.
First of all, I have sadly moved to my 4th and last family. My time with the Tullmyns was brief but still very much fun and I enjoyed having a host bro my age. My new family are call Wendeler, I have host parents and 1 host brother. My host dad Markus loves to have a joke and it makes the whole house fun. My host mum Gabi is a teacher and loves to know about Australia, so a normal table conversation is about Australia. My host brother is Till, he also was on exchange in Wisconsin, USA in 2015-16. He enjoys NFL so we tend to talk and watch it with each other. He also plays soccer so I enjoy going out to watch him and my friends play.
In early-mid September Rotex of my district had a welcome weekend for the June in-bonds (Newbies). It was a good chance for us January in-bounds (oldies) to meet, greet and become friends with our newbies. It was only a night but all exchange students in the district were there and got to know each other before having a 2-week tour with them 4 weeks later.
Four weeks after the welcome weekend we started our 2-week tour around Germany. We visited the cities: Heidelberg; Freiburg; Fuessen; Oberammergau; Muechen; Rothenburg; Dresden; Berlin; Hamburg. Over these two weeks, we were travelling by bus and stayed in hostels. We saw many historical cities and tourist attractions; like Dachau, a well-known labour concentration camp in south Germany. It was an eye-opening experience to hear and see what had happened within a camp and to stand and imagine what had really happened where we were standing, it was just a whole new and shocking experience. The mood from when arriving suddenly changed from dancing to Latino songs being very loud, to quiet and stillness, it was like everyone was stunned. It’s a very different experience and I suggest going to a concentration camp if your ever in Europe (if you haven't already).
We also visited sites like the castle (schloss) Neuschwanstein, which is very famous for Disney using it as the castle in the start of their films. We had a tour through it and for me and most of the males it was all fairy tale stuff, but the girls were a different story. It was still really cool, except the 20-30 minute walk up a hill in 5c weather.
We also visited many famous sites in Berlin like Brandenburg Gate, Berlin wall and the German parliament. Learning about how the German politics work in Germany confused me but I could maybe explain how it works in German not English. Throughout the 2nd week of the tour our rotary guide showed as pictures of the cities after world war II, and it was amazing to see how some cities were so badly damaged and how much of it they have repaired.
Overall my 2 week Deutschland Tour was amazing and I loved making friends with my newbies.
After the tour, I have been visiting many of my fellow oldies, as one leaves this Saturday (05/11) and another leaving on 20/11, so we have had some farewell gatherings and it is sad to say good bye
to people of my generation because I realise I am heading home in 67 days. I am excited to come home but I’m also loving it here.
Wir sehen uns in 67 Tagen (See you in 67 days)
P.S. A shout out to my newbie Ezra from New York, USA, for fixing my mistakes and translating the parts I couldn’t say in English.
2016-08-25 Youth Exchange - Will’s Report
It has been a couple of months since my last report and I have been fairly busy. The past six weeks was school holidays and I was lucky enough to go on some trips. I also had special visitors and had a family change.
So the start of the holidays was very chill, with sleep ins and times with friends and exchange students. One week into my holidays my host family, Merz, and I travelled to Barcelona, Spain for a week. The weather was just as good as it would be back there at home. My host brothers Max, who only recently return from a year exchange in Peru, Lenos, and I were always together. We visited popular and historic places like the Sagrada Familia, and market. We had a lot of the time at the beach, and one morning we even had a German breakfast there. The beach was really cool and the water was even better. There wasn't a day where it took 10 -15 minutes to find a spot. We stayed in a small apartment with 5 rooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen. The whole week was really enjoyable and a good way to finish my time with that host family.
Not long after I returned to Telgte, mum and dad arrived. Picking them up from Dortmund, I have never have seem Mum with a smile like that. We spent a few days in Germany going to Cologne and Muenster, the city I am always in. We then headed on a little self-driving Euro tour. It was really funny watching dad driving as fast as he could on the autobahn and mum being scared half to death. Our little tour started in Amsterdam where we visited the touristy spots. After a night in Amster we head to Brussels, one of my favourite cities on the tour I have done with Rotary.
I believe I didn't make a bad choice with Mum and Dad loving the whole time there. After an amazing night in Brussels we headed for the Australian War memorial in France. It was a really interesting place with the history and still the damage from the war in the buildings. That night we stayed in a Corowa sized city that was about an hour train drive from Paris. So the next day, as many of you would have heard, we had a stump on our tour, Mum had an accident in the Louvre that unfortunately left her in a "s**t" hospital for 4 nights.
This accident did put a damper on our little tour but Dad and I were determined to make mum enjoy the rest of the tour even if we didn't do it all. So after we left Paris we slowly made our way to Munich, stopping in Reims and Stuttgart for a night. When we finally made it Munich. The hotel we stayed at was really nice, but we had difficulties getting a wheelchair for mum so the first night mum had to stay in the hotel, but the next day Dad, an Australian friend on an exchange and I gave mum a day she needed, we saw the famous Glockenspiel, and the surfers in the river. Mum and Dad also had a small taste of Oktoberfest with a small beer fest going on in the Englisch Gardens with German food, music and 1L beers. Even with Mum’s broken leg we still did everything we wanted and we were impressed by Munich. We then made our way to Frankfurt where we just relaxed for the last couple of days before making our way back to Muenster.
The day before Mum and Dad left I changed my host families, it was sad to say goodbye to such a good family but I was excited to the next one. Mum and Dad had met them and my YEO Patrik Ploger, but this night the Tullmyn family hosted us. My new family is really nice, Lars my host-dad is very funny, Yvonne my host-mum is super sweet, Lea, my host-sister is very kind but has recently moved to Holland for college. My host-brother Luca is super cool and has just returned from a year exchange in California. This family is really cool and have taken me to some places like the Autostadt and family meetings which is good for my German.
This past few days I started school again, I went to school and had no time table so this week I have been making my class set. It was good to see some friends again and being able to speak German to them.
The past few months have been really fun, with my family change, returning to school, my trip to Barcelona and my trip with Mum and Dad. Although my trip with Mum and Dad didn't go to plan, with Mum being upset, I tried my hardest to make her happy and even if we didn't get to go all the place we first planned I didn't care because I was with Mum and Dad and that was the main thing for me.
I hope for a good recovery for 'Super' Mum and I wish you all a good next few months.
2016-06-30 Youth Exchange Report – Will Robertson
Guten Tag, Guten Tag,
So I am officially 6 months through my exchange and it feels crazy because it has just flown by and since my last report a lot has happened.
This past month and a bit has been very up and down, I went down to visit my euro tour friends, near Frankfurt. This was the last time I was going to see them in a long time but I know I will see them again. I have also said good bye to many of my friends from my District who have come to the end if their exchange. I recently said good bye to my oldie and best mate Jesus who has gone back home to Venezuela.
This past month also had two rotary events, a Rotex weekend and a District conference. The Rotex weekend or Adventure Wochende was a camping trip near the Netherland’s border. It was a really cool weekend where we could say good bye and get know each other more.
This coming month is very exciting with summer holidays starting soon. My current host family The Merz’ are taking me to Barcelona for a week which is very exciting. Not long after that Jenni (Mum) and Dad will make an appearance here in Europe. I can't wait to see them and to get them to meet my host family and to try the German customs.
Thank you / Vielen Dank
2016-04-21 Will’s Report from Germany
This Month has been the best so far; I had my birthday and was on Euro tour.
My Euro Tour stared the 16th of March in Heidelberg; we then went off to Luxembourg, Luxembourg. We were there for only a few hours before heading to Brussels, Belgium. This was one of my favorite cities because it looked really cool and the people were really nice. We spent 2 nights there and during our day there we went to the European Parliament which was pretty cool.
We left Brussels and arrived in Paris (another fav city), we spent 3 days and 2 nights there. We had a lot of free time which I spent adventuring the city and making stories with my newly founded friends. On the third day it was all free time after a tour we had. The tour took us through old Paris and by the end of it the old tour guide had better legs then us. At night we had three hours on the Eiffel Tower; I really enjoyed it and will do it again if I have the chance. I also meet 2 Aussies on the tower and had a good chat with them about Footy. Then we had to catch the bus and make our way to Avignon, France. After the many hours sleeping on the bus we arrived in the city and they gave us free time to explore. This city wasn't very interesting in my eyes. But I did get a haircut from an exchange student in the bath tub of our hotel, with 15 other exchange students cramping themselves in the tiny bathroom. It was a funny and weird experience.
The next day we left early and arrived in Monaco, we were there for only a very short time but I still saw some cool things. After that we went to Italy. The cities that we visited in Italy were Rome, Verona, Siena, Venice, Pisa. There is too much to talk about so I will only talk about Rome and Venice.
We were in Rome for 2 and a half days and 2 nights. I got to see the Colosseum which was a highlight of my tour. That day was also my friends 18th birthday so a friend and I bought him a dinosaur balloon as a little joke, but he went on board with it and took everywhere that day. We also had a tour of Rome which was twice as long as the Paris one and I nearly died but was really cool.
I was very lucky to be able to spend my birthday in Venice, and I had a memorable day. I rode a gondola, had a kilo of ice-cream with a friend and adventured the city. All in all, it was a really good birthday with my friends.
After Italy we headed to Wein, Austria. We spent 2 nights there. We got to experience an opera in this city, but it was in Italian and we were standing so my friends and I didn't last to the end. After Wein we went to Prague, another fav, we spent 2 nights there and pretty much only had free time. My friends and I hired paddle boats, did some more adventuring and experienced some Prague food. We left Prague and went to Munich for 2 days. Munich is a really cool place and I got to see the surfers in the English Gardens, the BMW museum and the really crazy soccer fans. We then came to the end of our tour; we drove to Frankfurt where I had to catch the train home. Saying good bye to my new friends was hard but I know I will see them again before they leave. I'm now settling down back into my German life, soon to be changing host families.
Vielen Dank, Tschuss
2016-03-17 Will’s on the Move.
Second Month down and it flew by, not much happened this month, but next month is my Euro Trip, I will explain soon. My Duetsch (German) is slowly coming along, but I still have a lot to learn. I'm still making friends, meeting new people and learning about life in Germany. It still a little cold here but is warming up, which is really nice, it’s around what it would be like in our (Aus) winter.
My Euro trip is 21 days long and we visit cities like Paris, Monaco, Florence, Rome, Prague and Munich. On my birthday 30/03 we will be in Venedig, Italy, never heard of the city but sounds and looks exciting. We start on Wednesday the 16th in
Heidelberg, and finish on Wednesday the 6th in Frankfurt. There will be many photos following this trip, and my next email will have tales of my trip.
Other than that, my last month hasn't had much, but my next month comes with a trip and also I swap families for the first time. I have met the second family and they seem very nice, I'm looking forward to see how they run and apparently the dad is a big soccer fan, so there's a chance I could go see a game.
Vielen Dank, Will In Luxemburg.
2016-02-18 Will’s Youth Exchange Report.
My first month has gone and flown by pretty fast, I am finally settled in and living my German life. So far I have only positive things to say. My family are really nice and good to be around. They let me do my own things when I want to and are helping me with my German skills a lot too. My school is very different, we start at 8 in the morning and some days I finish at 1:15 or 4:00 so I do have long days. I have 4 English courses, 2 math courses and 1Geography, History, Sports, and Biology course.
I have met many people at school and some of them are now my friends, I have also met the other exchange Students and have become good friends with some of them too. In my district there is 67 exchange students 14 newbies (only just got here, like me) and the rest are oldies (been here longer). The oldies are from any country that is not Australia, Brazil or Argentina. The Oldies started their exchange mid last year. Each newbie also gets an oldie to help them and show them how to get used to life in Germany. My Oldie, his name is Jesus (pronounced Hesus), and he is the funniest person ever. He comes from San Cristobal, Venezuela and is 17 years old. I also consider 6 other oldies as mine because they all argue that I'm theirs.
So far I haven't been to too many places, I have been to Muenster a lot and it is like my home as well. I have also been to Dusseldorf twice. I have also had an exchange student weekend and met a friend there. I also was lucky enough to go to the Netherlands with another exchange student and her family, we didn't do much sightseeing, more shopping because it was very cold.
I have taken some photos and I will post them on Facebook, and mum will share them so you can see them.
Vielen Dank Will
2016-01-14 Will’s Journey
Will has set off on his big journey, a year in Germany.
He is pictured here with all of the other exchange students, ready to say their final goodbyes to parents and friends, before boarding the plane.
2015-12-03 Will Robertson, Outgoing Exchange Student.
Our outbound Exchange student Will Robertson certainly gave us an interesting insight into his life. At 16 years of age, he is the third child of Peter and Jenny. A sports fanatic, Will excels in athletics, swimming and Australian rules football, having represented his school in all three. He also considers himself a family man, believing strongly in family values and mateship. His Mum Jenny works at the Albury Private Hospital and Dad Peter in the mines in the Pilbara, WA.
Having originally applied for a six-week exchange, Will changed his mind after the first orientation and opted for the 12 months. He will be going to Munster, with a population of 300,00 and attending the Maria Sibylla Merian Gymnasium. He is to be hosted by the Rotary Club of Telgate in District 1870. The Telgate Rotary Club meet on Tuesdays at 18.30 – 20.00 at a classically stylish hotel, Ringhotel Landhaus Eggert • the Haskenau 81 • 48157 Münster, Germany. It would have been interesting hearing Will make this speech in German as he had to do at Dookie. He did have the help of one of the German inbound students.
On returning to Australia, Will has plans of study to become a veterinary nurse and possibly work in a zoo.
At the finish of Will’s presentation, President John Law presented Will with his Australian Exchange Student Blazer.
2015-10-01 Outbound Exchange Student Will Robertson
It was great to meet our outbound Exchange Student, Will Robertson and his parents Peter and Jenny, at our dinner. I would like to congratulate Will for taking on the challenge of a 12 month exchange instead of the six week exchange. I am sure he will benefit much more in learning a new language and living in a different country with a different culture.