Year 12 student, Taine Lang, is a long-distance runner—possibly the most socially acceptable, solitary sporting pursuit a person could indulge during lockdown. While team-sport players suddenly found themselves deprived of their favourite mode of exercise and social interaction, runners just kept running.

“I was getting through my work quickly and was bored just sitting in one spot,” Taine says with a laugh. “So I’d go for a run.”

His desk was by a window overlooking a sun-drenched paddock where sheep spent their days quietly doing their thing. It took a few weeks before Taine adjusted to being so isolated and began to find the balance between his study and running.

Taine, who grew up in a family that loves camping and the outdoors, found the constraints of being inside “boring”. Now that restrictions are easing, he and his mates are relishing getting out on their bikes again and Taine is happy to be back at school.

“I like the routine,” he says. “Somehow, at home, there always seemed to be big gaps in my day—even when I’d completed all my work and been for a run.”

Come spring, Taine hopes we’ll see the end of coronavirus restrictions completely so he can return to the athletics track where he competes in half-marathons and 15,000 metre races.

If our early years help define us as adults, Taine’s connection to being outdoors might be explained by an incredible adventure his parents took just after he was born. They spent three years exploring Australia in a caravan, and the travel bug remains well and truly alive in Taine. He has been on numerous overseas trips and most recently participated in World Challenge in Malaysia.

“We did heaps of touristy things, including a very sweaty hike in the humid weather,” he remembers. “We also helped out at turtle conservation project.”

This year Taine is studying Biology, Chemistry, Specialist Maths, PE and English Language.

Fundamentally a ‘numbers man’, he nominates Chemistry as his favourite subject, partly because it has such a close relationship with maths. In contrast, English Language is proving his biggest challenge.

During lockdown Taine kept in regular contact with his teachers, but feels lockdown made him more willing and capable of independently seeking answers to problems—an essential skill for tertiary studies.

“In class it’s just so easy to just put your hand up and ask the teacher,” he says. “It was good to push myself to be more self-reliant.”

Taine particularly values the social side of being a student at BSSC, and is appreciating it even more after the isolation of remote learning. He believes the social aspects of college life actually contribute to learning.

“Of course, being with your mates makes the days more enjoyable” he says, “but without them classes and learning are more monotonous and learning does not come so easily.”

To compensate for these challenges, he and his classmates came up with some great ways to maximise the blending of learning and socialising despite their physical distance.

“A lot of my friends take the same subjects and are in the same classes, so we often followed our online class with another Google Meet where we continued to bounce ideas around and make sure we were all on top of what we’d just covered with our teacher.”

Taine came to BSSC from Weeroona College where he really enjoyed the structure of working in ‘Learning Communities’.

“Weeroona is small compared to BSSC,” he says, “and our Learning Communities generally used the same classroom areas with the same teachers… only moving around the college for specialty subjects.

“It made the move to BSSC quite daunting. There weren’t many friends from Weeroona who did the same subjects as me and moving classrooms so frequently on a campus as extensive as BSSC was a big change.”

The scariest moment for Taine came during Step Up when he walked into his Unit 3-4 Maths Methods class to find he was the only Year 11 and didn’t know any of the other students.

However, as many students experience, Bendigo Senior is a great place to ‘find your tribe’ and Taine has done just that—discovering amidst the crowds an almost completely new friendship group who share his interests and commitment to study.

“BSSC has set me up for the real world,” he says. “I wouldn’t change anything—even if I could.”

If Taine’s could share his transition experience with the next group of students leaving the security of their 7 to 10 college for BSSC, he would reassure them just how wonderful it is to find a group of like-minded people.

“I’d also tell them to believe in themselves,” Taine says. “Even when you’re really struggling, it’s important to keep going and give it your best. It’s not going to be the end of the world, even if it feels like it!”

Wanting a career that makes a positive contribution to other people, Taine is planning to study medicine, ideally through the rural medical pathway program offered in Bendigo.

While he has no clear plan about what he will specialise in, Taine is not going into this career with his eyes blinkered. His dad is a vet and Taine has been fortunate to observe some surgeries and is fascinated by how bodies work.

Prior to the lockdown, he worked part-time as both a tennis coach and lifeguard—two jobs he hopes to return to once the COVID-19 restrictions ease.

However, any plans for international travel over the next year or so are in limbo—despite his itchy feet.

Taine’s previous travel experiences have already given him a real insight into some of the big issues the world is facing—like global warming and pollution.

“When we were in Greece, all the rubbish tips had either closed or never existed and there was just rubbish everywhere,” he says.

“Australia is so clean compared to other places, but we can’t be complacent. We all need to do our bit to keep it this way—and to address global issues too.”

So who inspires Taine?

“My parents have been a big inspiration for me,” he says.

“They have always supported my sister and me, and shown us it’s important to work hard and do our best.

“But I also take little bits of inspiration from everyone and everything around me and I’m influenced by people who’ve drifted in and out of my life.”

And if he could offer a few words of advice to his 12-year-old self?

“I’d probably just to encourage myself to take more of the opportunities that come along,” Taine says. “The one’s I’ve taken have been really worthwhile, and I’ve missed others just by being hesitant.”