Meet the Australian Exchange Students!


Hear more about our Australian Exchange students from St. Hilda's School and Christ Church Grammar School–  the coolest story about winning a reward from an astronomy book publisher, cultural differences between Australia and the U.S., and whether Australians actually eat Vegemite for breakfast!

What is the most notable difference you have noticed between a high school in Australia and in the United States (or at least, between St. Mark’s and your own school)? 

Korch Cowan: “The most obvious difference I have noticed is that the St. Mark’s is a community significantly smaller than my school in Australia, and therefore, the majority of the students and teachers seem to know each other well.”

Hugo Gibbs: “Some of the biggest differences would be that St. Mark’s has seated meals, advisory system, and deep relationships between faculty and students.”

Will Ranger: “I think that the most notable difference between SM and my school back home is the range of dress code. Here, I can wear almost whatever I want and have my hair however I like. Back home in Australia, our dress code is much stricter, we are required to wear a tie, coat, and a very formal hairstyle to school every day.” 

Jeff Shenton: “It was surprising to find out that many people here have strong, or at least, clear stances on current issues around the world of politics. Many of you seem to be always engaged with news and taking part in movements, which is quite contrary to the norm I experienced back home.”

Give us the weirdest or the most random fact about yourself that you can think of! 

Korch Cowan: “ I have an extreme phobia toward tomato sauce (ketchup).”

Hugo Gibbs: “When I was about five years old, I was a big fan of astronomy and read many books about different planets of the universe. In one of these books, I noticed that two of the planets were mixed up. I let my parents know, while they did not believe me. But I kept persisting that it was wrong until my grandpa reported it to the book’s publication. It turned out I was right, and the publication rewarded me a free copy of one of their books as well as an edited copy of the previously mistaken book. Followingly, an article was published about me in a local newspaper!”

Will Ranger: “I don't really have any weird or random facts I broke my right index finger 3 times while playing the Australian-styled football, but nothing much.”

Jeff Shenton: “As it turns out, I am 6’8’’ (or 204 cm) tall.”

What is your favorite class, place, or norm (school trend) at St. Mark's? Why? 

Korch Cowan: “The cookies here are definitely the highlight of my trip.”

Hugo Gibbs: “My favorite norms at St. Mark’s are having ‘free periods’ and very lenient dress codes! Although this is outside SM, my favorite place in the United States so far is Six Flags.”

Will Ranger: “I would probably say that my favorite class is Psychology since I have never been exposed to anything like this before and everything comes as new to me. My favorite places are the football locker room and the football field because there, you can see how much support the players have for each other, and it is nothing like what we have back home.”

Jeff Shenton: “I love the color block system! I think it is a very fun and helpful way to sort out classes.”

How is American food? Also... do you actually eat Vegemite (a popular, savory food spread in Australia that is infamous for its absurd taste) for breakfast?

Korch Cowan: “American food is so good compared to anything I’ve had in Australia. I do not eat Vegemite, but I would be classified as a minority back home.”

Hugo Gibbs: “I love that American food is generally fast-food like and is served in large quantities. I do not eat Vegemite for breakfast, and in fact, I am not even a fan of the spread at all.”

Will Ranger: “While I did not have a chance to try many other American foods outside the dining hall at St. Mark’s, what I have noticed so far is that the portion sizes are bigger here than in Australia. And yes, I actually eat Vegemite for breakfast but only on toast.”

Jeff Shenton: “American food has a lot more salt and sugar in it than Australian food does. I also noticed that turkey meat is very commonly eaten in the U.S.  Vegemite is very much an acquired taste, so it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.”

- What is something you miss the most from Australia at the moment? Is there anything you think you will miss from St. Mark's or the United States when you get back home? 

Korch Cowan: “At the moment, I miss being on holidays, sleeping, and going to the beach. I will definitely miss all the people I met here and the cookies.”

Hugo Gibbs: “ I am missing my friends and my bed from home. I will probably miss all the people here at St. Mark’s once I leave.”

Will Ranger: “One thing I miss from home is being a day student and the freedom to do whatever I want to do after school. Although I have enjoyed the whole experience of being a boarder, it definitely is nothing like what I have experienced before. From St. Mark’s, I will definitely miss the school schedule and class layout, especially the two 80-minute free periods I had every week!”

Jeff Shenton: “I miss my Army Cadets Unit back in Australia. It feels great to be in camouflage and run around the bush with my friends. I will miss the strong sense of community here at St. Mark’s, you folks do truly have something special.”

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