In case you missed the news, Year 11 German Language student, Charlotte Dashwood, is particularly looking forward to the Christmas holidays this year.

She’s been selected to join around 30 Australian VCE students for a 10-week trip to Germany sponsored by Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange (SAGSE).

Encouraged to apply for the scholarship by her German teacher, Kristina, Charlotte thought, ‘well I’m not going at all if I don’t apply’.

It was a nail-biting process as she progressed through the interview and ‘culling’ stages of the selection.

“I leave on November 24 and return in early February,” she says. “I hope I can also reconnect with a German exchange student who stayed with my family in 2019. Our families have become close friends.”

Building such relationships is one of the aims of SAGSE.

Charlotte began studying German in primary school and decided to continue with it throughout her schooling.

“It just feels right to me—maybe because my Great Grandmother was German,” she reflects. “German also has the same alphabet as English and I enjoy the challenge of learning another language.”

Charlotte says it’s been great to have German teachers who are actually German.

BSSC has worked well for her in other ways too.

“I love the independence here and the freedom to organise myself,” she says. “The teachers make it feel very personalised and using their first names encourages less formality. It allows students to make a deeper connection.”

The support Charlotte receives from her teachers led to a moment where she realised that although Year 11 is a big step-up in the demands on students, she knew she’d be okay.

“It hit me that no matter how hard it gets, I won’t fail because there is so much support available,” she says. “I have already recommended the college to a number of Year 10 students I know.”

Charlotte’s subjects this year are English Language, German Language, Maths Methods, Biology, Psychology and Economics—all chosen because she enjoys them.

“I haven’t settled on what I want to do after I finish VCE,” she says. “I plan to keep selecting things I love and will see what turns up. Perhaps the German trip will clarify a few things.”            `

Asked for a ‘hot study tip’, Charlotte says using study periods to get as much done as possible is really important. She prefers a quiet space—especially when she’s studying German.

“If you keep up to date with your work at BSSC it means you do can continue to do things outside of school,” she says.

For Charlotte, Calisthenics is a big part of her world, both as a participant and a coach.

“My great grandmother, grandmother and mother were all involved,” she says, “and now my sister and I love it.”

Charlotte started Calisthenics when she was just three years old and thinks it’s probably the combination of sport and dance that makes it so appealing.

“You can include singing and musical theatre,” she says, “and a really fantastic side-benefit has been the sense of community among our teams.”

Charlotte, who has been coaching for around five years, has also seen some serious success—both personally and in her students.

“In 2019 my team won state titles and the Royal South Street Eisteddfod in Ballarat,” she says. “Just this last week, my team came second in the state and the girls I coach came third.”

Somehow Charlotte manages to fit in playing cricket with the Strathfieldsaye Jets. She describes herself as a ‘bit of an all-rounder’ but is working on increasing her consistency in bowling.

She also does three or four shifts at McDonalds each week and is doing Certificate III in retail with a view to extending into management with the well-known fast-food chain.

Family is vital to Charlotte. She names her parents and siblings as the people she’s most grateful to have in her life.

“I know they’ll back me so long as I give 110%,” she says.

If Charlotte could have a conversation with anyone in history she would choose her grandfather, ‘Pop’, who died a few years ago.

“There are so many amazing things I’ve done since then and I’d love to talk to him about them and hear what he thought about them,” she says.

“My grandmother often tells us what she imagines he’d say about what we’ve all been up to.”

If Charlotte could travel back in time and give some advice to her 12-year-old self, it would be about friendships.

“Cherish the friends you have,” I’d tell her, “but don’t be upset if these connections change—just let them go,”

Such insights allow Charlotte to see how much she has grown and developed over recent years.

“I have actually amazed myself with some of the things I have achieved and managed,” she admits. “It makes me proud of myself.”