Over the last few months we have had an exchange student living with us. She is a lovely young woman from Germany, and it has been a treat to have her in our home. It has also reinforced how interacting with someone from a completely background can be truly enriching. Her name is Gesa.
Before she arrived I was trying to think of what we could do with her, and where we might take her to give her an experience of Australia.......and to make her stay with us a little unique from the (3) other homes in which she had stayed, in her year in Hervey Bay.
She had already travelled to much of the eastern states of Australia and time(and money) probably wouldn't have allowed us to take her to the west, so I wondered what we could do in that regard. We decided we would give her a "local" experience....and in so doing rediscovered what delights our own "doorstep" had to offer.
She is a vegetarian, but told us she didn't need any special efforts to be made on her part and was very happy just to eat the "non-meat part of any meal" we cooked. But I decided I would like to open up my vegetarian recipe books more than I had been, and both she and us have had some wonderful cooking (and eating) experiences together.
Early on in her time with us she noticed the fishing rods in the garage and asked if we might take her fishing sometime. We had a wonderful time, firstly pumping some yabbies for bait then picnicing while waiting for the right tide to go fishing. Living nowhere near the ocean she had never pumped yabbies or thrown a fishing line into the water, and that day we were lucky enough to catch (10) very good sized fish! It was as much a delight for us to enjoy this part of our local area again, as it was to show it Gesa and see how much she enjoyed it.
She is an avid nature photographer and this combined beautifully with my bird watching hobby, I have taken her to some very special bird habitat areas and we've spent many hours appreciating them. She and Trevor spend a lot of time talking about "special effects" photography. One evening we spent several hours at the beach "painting "with torches and created some amazing photo effects.
And of course it has been really interesting to hear about her family life in Germany- similarities and differences to our own. We've discovered that her family are fans of the long breakfast- by this I mean a late start on a Saturday with pancakes and tea on the back deck..........with lots of conversation and sharing of experiences.
Gesa has enjoyed walking with me for a bit of exercise, and learned to do pilates with us, and she plays touch football with a school team.
We now have plans to visit Germany that would have been much further into the future had she not talked about how accessible most of Europe is to english-speaking people. She, and her fellow German peers, learn English from Grade 3.
As well as now having the opportunity to travel to her home, Gesa's stay with us has highlighted our appreciation for the beauty of our own. Kind of a "silver lining" to her visit.