Exchange programs are a popular trend in Germany and Jannis Zoll had been thinking about it for a long time. He wanted to make the experience as interesting as possible by going as far away as he could to somewhere very different and exciting.

As a consequence he has spent the last six months studying at BSSC, in a country most Germans associate with all the creatures that can kill you!

In fact, a visit to Bondi Beach, awash with stinging bluebottles, cured Jannis from taking a dip in the ocean. Though he has found most of the creatures he’s encountered captivating.

“I’ve really liked seeing kangaroos, wallabies, emus, wombats, sulphur-crested cockatoos and other animals,” he says. “I wanted to see a quokka but discovered they only live in one place off the West Australian coast.”

Jannis has also enjoyed the weather, our food, the lifestyle and people.

“Australians really stand out for their openness,” he says. “Complete strangers chat to each other—even the lady sitting next to me on the plane down from Sydney.

“In Germany people are very polite, but they rarely get into conversations with strangers.”

Coming to Australia also meant Jannis was consolidating his English language skills.

“I think English is the most useful second language to have because so many people speak it,” he says.

Jannis has noticed big difference in the way education is delivered in Australia.

“In Germany, students choose one of three streams—each having a set group of subjects plus a small range of electives,” he says. “I chose the ‘health’ option which includes Maths and Physics… and I selected PE as my optional subject.”

Jannis has also experienced a big difference in teaching methods.

“In Maths, for example, we learn lots of different tactics for approaching a problem,” he explains. “There are fewer subjects, but they are taught more intensely.”

Jannis has enjoyed being in a much smaller city than his native Hamburg.

“Hamburg is very busy and crowded,” he says. Bendigo is much quieter and calmer.

“My host family has been great. There are some similarities to my own family and we all get along really well.”

Jannis flies home in two weeks and will return to school once the summer break is over. He has not decided on a long-term plan yet but has already completed internships with a dentist, a doctor, a graphic designer and a modelling agency.

“Internships are a popular way German students explore potential careers,” he says. “It’s a great way to find out what you’re really passionate about.”