Australian Exchange Accounts by TY’s

Australian Exchange

Ryan Johnston

The Australian exchange between Glenstal and St. Augustine’s College Sydney has been going on for eight years now. The exchange programme provides an excellent opportunity to share both Australian and Irish cultural differences, to make new friends and to encounter new experiences (as well as a bit of a holiday).

This year the Australian boys from St. Augustine’s arrived in Ireland mid-august 2012. They were collected by their exchange families and spent two weeks of the last of our summer holidays doing various activities such as watching Riverdance, to braving swimming in the Irish seas. This was followed by two weeks in Glenstal living the boarding school life, taking part in school activities and going to classes much different to their classes at home before the long flight home.

The 5 Glenstal boys departed Dublin airport early January to arrive into the peak of the southern hemi-sphere summer. 42 degrees on our first day. We were collected by our Australian families in Sydney airport. Most of the group headed straight to the beach to get stuck into the Aussie lifestyle. We spent three weeks of their summer holidays doing many different activities from surfing to going an Australian play and lots of surfing and swimming. And then two weeks of school much different to our own with many new subjects to experience.

We enjoyed all of our time in Australia and the hospitality of everyone to us was incredible. Special thanks to the Watkins family who took myself and Neilus and who took such great care of us. The Australians and the Irish certainly know how to get on with each other.


Outings in Australia

Stephen Brooks

As you may be aware, recently five Transition Year students from Glenstal Abbey School took part in a cultural exchange with St. Augustine’s College, Sydney in Australia.

My fellow school mate, Will McGann and I were staying with the extremely generous and hospitable McCredie family. After touching down in Sydney and a good night sleep, the McCredie’s took us north…

Our destination was Diamond Beach, a small but beautiful seaside village about three hundred kilometres north of Sydney. We stayed in a quaint resort, about one hundred metres from the beach. We stayed there with a few other families, who were family friends of the McCredie’s. Our days usually consisted of going to the beach, relaxing by the pool or eating in the local restaurant. Both Will and I had an amazing time.

Two weeks later, we prepared for our first day of school… Though we did not despair as the next day, we were going camping. We left on a mild drizzly morning (very unlike the Australian summer) but headed south this time. By the time we were out of metropolitan Sydney, the rain was pouring down and it was beginning to look like we might have had to turn back. Luckily by the time we reached the campsite, deep in the Blue Mountains it had stopped raining. As we arrived at the campsite, we were unsure had we come to the right place. A family of kangaroos were occupying our living area and the old owner of the campsite was anything but friendly. Over the course of the two days, we spent our time kayaking, fishing, playing board games and walking around. At the end of our trip, we had really enjoyed ourselves but we were glad to get back to civilisation.

After a week, we had settled in to St. Augustine’s. The news then came to us that Br. Denis had landed in Australia. On Friday, the second week of school, Br. Denis decided he would bring us to Bondi Beach for the day. We met at Manly Wharf at 8.45, to get the ferry in to Sydney. At 9.15, we boarded our vessel and travelled across the beautiful Sydney Harbour to Circular Quay and the magnificent Sydney Opera House.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived in Sydney. We took a bus to Bondi and by about 11 o clock, we were on the beach. The beach itself was very nice, though the waves weren’t great. After our swim and pictures of the world famous lifeguard hut, we decided that it was time to go. For lunch, we decided to indulge ourselves and go for an “All you can eat” Pizza Hut buffet. After consuming our own body weights in pizza and ice cream, we decided to call it a day. We got the ferry back to Manly and headed home.

Our last outing was the flight itself, which was not almost as enjoyable as the other activities. We said a sad goodbye to the McCredie’s and all our Australian friends and left Sydney on Friday afternoon not arriving back in Ireland for about thirty hours.

I think I speak for all my exchange partners when I say that it was a trip of lifetime and I have no doubt that some of us will be back in Australia again.


Our Australian Families

Peter Prendergast

The Families we stayed will while we were on the St Augustine’s exchange, took us into their homes and cared for us, worried over us and befriended us. They have given us the experience of a lifetime and in many ways became our families from down under.

We were very fond of our Australian families who went out of their way to help us settle in. We went to all sorts of places from the beach, to catch some waves, to a play, to Sydney City, to the Zoo, to a golf course or just to the mall to mess around. I even got to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge with Robert Blake and Br. Denis.

If there was one thing as good as the weather for us it was the fact we never felt out of place. Our St. Augustine’s families made us feel like we were one of their own and the one thing we take back with us is the memories of their kindness and hospitality. We thank them all.


Australian Exchange : CCGS

David Kenny

There has been a long-standing connection between Glenstal and Central Coast Grammar School. CCGS is situated in Terrigal which is a feeder town an hour north of Sydney. Glenstal played CCGS on all the rugby tours to Australia, the first game being played in 1996. Since then as well as exchanging students  both schools have taken GAP students from each other. Rob Blake and I went there in January and February for our exchange.

CCGS is quite a large school at over 1000 pupils as it is all 12 years of school from junior infants to 6th year. The school has great facilities for education and sporting activities.

Going on exchange to CCGS was a great experience for myself and Rob because not only was it in Australia, it was a co-ed, day  and a day-school , something we had never experienced before. Our host families were extremely kind and I would particularly like to thank the Brooks family who welcomed me into their home and made me feel like one of their family.

in our time in CCGS we took part in classes that are not available to us in Glenstal , such as wood/metal work, sociology and drama .

While I was there I took part in their pre-season rugby training. This was also a great experience as I had never trained in 30 C+ degrees before. Also it was good to play a bit of southern hemisphere rugby .

Rob and I enjoyed ourselves greatly and I would highly recommend this exchange to the younger years as it was an experience of a lifetime and we will never forget it.


Australian Exchange -Cultural Difference

Neilus Mulvihill

One of the big differences between Irish and Australian culture is that Australia seems to be a much more culturally diverse country. Walking along the busy beaches of Australia you can easily spot the non-Australian people as they are either covered in sunburn or else completely covered up in clothes. Much of Australia’s foreign population are Asians and Pacific Islanders, many of whom settled in Australia decades ago and now consider themselves Australian. Many of the Australian schools encourage non-Australians to come and attend their schools on scholarships such as Music or Sports scholarships.

The area in which we were staying, Sydney’s northern suburbs, has a huge number of tourists constantly visiting the area mostly because of the beautiful beaches that are spread around the area. The beaches we spent most of our time on were beside Manly. This area had very good facilities for tourists like us. These included, a surf school, restaurants, shops, a very good public transport system, mostly the buses and the ferry that goes directly to Circular Quay and the beautiful Sydney Opera House. The area around the Manly wharf has thrived on the tourist market and is kept very clean and tidy in order to keep tourists interested in the area.

Many of the students in St. Augustine’s are involved in after-school activates whether it be playing sports or volunteering at local places. This shows a culture of community as most of the students get involved with the local community in many ways that aren’t really seen in Ireland. The Duke of Edinburgh Programme provides motivation for the students as they receive bonus points on their H.S.E. for participating in volunteering activities. All of the Australians we encountered were extremely welcoming and almost every single one claimed to have some distant connection to Ireland in their blood.

Everybody in St. Augustine’s was very welcoming to us and included us in everything. There is definitely a connection between the Irish and the Australians. We seem to understand each other.

Many thanks to everyone who made this exchange possible for us. It was the trip of a lifetime and I hope to return to Australia soon.


Saint Augustine’s College

Will McGann

To go to Saint Augustine’s College for two weeks was a great experience in the exchange program with Glenstal Abbey School. In many ways the two schools are alike and other ways they are not.

Saint Augustine’s College is a very welcoming school, students and staff make you feel like your back in your own school. The students are easy to talk like you have known them for a while. Staff are very helpful when you get lost or when asking questions.

One huge difference is that the school is a day school. It was great to go somewhere after school, instead of having to stay in school all the time like in Glenstal. Also the uniform it wouldn’t be my favourite but it was part of school life so you get used to it.

The school was an enjoyable part of the exchange, meeting new people and a change in school life. It is a great school and a pleasure to go to the school.










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