There are many great personal rewards for pupils who participate in this truly global experience: learning a foreign language, experiencing a new and enriching culture, mixed with a sense of adventure and greater personal maturity are just some of the direct benefits.
Upper School pupils may participate in exchange programmes every year with other Round Square schools around the world. Markham pupils attend classes and participate in everyday school life while living with their exchange partner’s family, or in the school’s boarding facilities. Exchanges are usually arranged for a period of one to two months, January to March. Markham exchange pupils are expected to host a foreign pupil for one bimester as part of this reciprocal exchange.
Exchanges that have taken place include the following countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA and Thailand.
Sebastian - France
I was not sure what to expect about spending two months on my own in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A week after my arrival to the country, I already loved the place. Students and teachers were very kind and always wanted you to have a great time. Making friends was not hard because students often find foreigners interesting and enjoy discussing with you. The first days were also positive because I already had enough knowledge of the city to use the metro on my own so I often went after school with other international students to walk around the city and visit the most famous landmarks in Paris.
Samantha – United Kingdom
Going on exchange is an experience that terrifies many, including me. I mean if leaving your hometown for two months to go to a country where you don’t know anybody does not terrify you, I don’t know what does. However, looking back to the moment I jumped on the plane, I don’t regret it at all.
Going on exchange gave me the opportunity to experience life as a boarder. This is totally different than going to a day school like Markham.. Milton Abbey located in Dorset, England had a remote location which is one of the reasons why I chose it. On Sundays, we were allowed to walk around the forest, which surrounded the school completely, to a farm shop where we could buy the best lemonade. I was also part of the running club where we ran Tuesdays and Thursdays 5 kilometres around a lake and into the forest. For me, this was one of the highlights of my exchange as the fresh air and runs in the pouring rain contrasted from all the loud noises that living in a capital like Lima involves.
Going on exchange taught me many things like the value of friendship. In my year group we were only nine girls. I never imagined that by the end of February these 9 girls weren’t only going to be my roommates, classmates, or girls with who I did activities, but they were also going to become my sisters regardless of the relative small amount of time I spent with them. This is when I realized that people can have a huge impact on your life even though you could have possibly just met them. I happily say that I am still in contact with them and am awaiting their visit next year.
When you go on exchange you learn things that are impossible to learn in a classroom. So don´t let fear intervene what could be and will be the experience of a lifetime.
Triana – United Kingdom
In the summer of 2016 I decided to do something different than what I was used to doing. This turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
I went on an international exchange to Abbotsholme School, in England, because I wanted to experience life in a society, which is culturally, socially and economically different to ours. I also wanted to expand Peruvian culture and bring back some of the British culture with me. These aims were achieved immediately as people where so curious about Peru and our traditions, as it’s a very exotic country for them and they knew almost nothing about it. Another thing that made my exchange unforgettable were the amazing people I met and befriended during this month, with whom I still keep in touch even though this was more than a year ago.
When applying for the Round Square exchange programme, the first thing you need to ask yourself before picking the country you want to go to, is what do YOU want from this trip. Whether you want to go somewhere exotic or maybe to just your favourite country, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to picking your country. Many people tend to choose what their friends or parents tell them to choose, and they don’t make the best out of this opportunity. This is a personal experience, so my advice is to put your preferences over the rest.
Vasco – United Kingdom
Last year I had the opportunity to go on an exchange to Windermere School in England. Since Windermere School is an international school, it allowed me to meet not only British students but also students from Asia, Spain and Australia. Another positive aspect for going on the exchange is that you become more independent. For example, most of British families do not have a maid. I had to do my own washing, tidying up, etc.
Besides the culture, going to another school meant studying different subjects and doing other activities. I chose ´Service´ and had to help in a Nursing Home, do the gardening in the School, teach Primary School children, among other things. I had the chance to visit a Nursing Home and spent time with elderly people. I also spoke several times to the Primary students and taught them many interesting things about Peru and South America which coincided with their topic of study for the bimester I was there.
After my exchange in England it was my time to be the host. Being a host, in my opinion, is the most difficult part of the exchange programme because you need to make sure your guest is happy, adapts to your culture and language. This is a very important part for Markham when they evaluate which students will go on an exchange because they need to be sure that Markham hosts will be entertaining and engaged with the programme. For example, as a host they will not leave their exchange student at home while they are going to a party. Being a host is really difficult, but if you think of it from a human viewpoint, it helps you and your family relationship to be stronger by working together.
Paula - India
Happiness in Simplicity
The day I decided I was embarking on an exchange trip to India, I did not really know what I was getting myself into. I was mostly looking for an adventure miles away from home; to explore a bizarrely different reality than mine; to get away for a while. And I hoped to find this in India. My exchange trip to India surpassed every expectation I could have ever had thought.
The second I arrived to Daly College, this unknown place, and started meeting the students, I immediately felt this was going to be an experience of a lifetime. It was all new to me, but still I forced myself not be afraid to meet all of these unfamiliar faces and places, or even to try the spiciest food ever! I had to accept everything coming my way in order to learn and grow from these cultural differences I was facing on a daily basis. I would take every chance I had to leave the boarding school without hesitation, and this allowed me to attend a Hindu wedding which was definitely amazing!
Another experience from my trip, which surpassed my initial expectations, was the day our Hindi teacher took us to fly kites. I imagined this as a big festival full of people flying kites, so I got very excited because I hadn’t been able to fly one since I was a little child. However, this was no big festival as I had pictured it to be. The teacher took us to his house in the city centre and we flew the kites on the rooftop. I had never expected something so simple, to be at the same time; something so wonderful. I was even able to re-discover my talent for flying kites and to reflect on what is truly happiness, and I reached the conclusion that it is primarily found in the most simple and unexpected things of life.
My exchange trip to India surely surpassed my initial selfish and mainstream expectations of going east in the hopes of coming back as a “new” person, but it definitely went further. Experiencing this adventure by myself certainly made me a more independent and confident person, and allowed me to learn lessons I would have unlikely had acquired had I stayed in Lima during the summer break. This experience helped me to discover the power of conversation and connecting with other people regardless of their culture, ethnicity or background, as well as realizing how happiness can be most easily be found in simplicity rather than materialistic and shallow purposes. Therefore, I would undoubtedly recommend and encourage everyone to take the risk, open their minds and venture into an unknown journey that will never be forgotten.
Arianna - USA
In the lapse of two years, 2015 to 2016, I had the opportunity of both hosting an exchange student and becoming an exchange student. I am an only child, so the idea of having another girl live with me for two months was both exciting and uncomfortable. I hosted a girl named Isabella Nuñez (Izzy), coming from “Fountain Valley” School in Colorado. At first, as I think usually happens, it is indeed an awkward situation. But when you go past the small-talk you start to get close to this new person, and this is when the hosting experience becomes amazing. Taking Izzy to see different places in Peru (Museums in Barranco, Huaca Pucllana, or even paragliding in Cuzco, which was quite an experience for both of us) also helped me to experience things I had not experienced before, even living here. You get to show this new person, who has probably never visited Peru before, show them why your country is so special, and you receive a new close friend by the end of the hosting experience.
For my own exchange I decided to go to “Deerfield Academy” in Boston, Massachusetts. I went for a month and met the most amazing, talented, open-minded people I could have met on an exchange. Despite the first-day struggle of “I don’t know anyone, I’ll just stay in my room for the whole month”, being in a boarding school means that it wouldn’t be long until someone popped up in my room asking for food. So after only a few days, I had already settled in my dormitory and was comfortable with a large group of friends. Plus, as we actually had to live together, we bonded more than I expected we would. However, Deerfield wasn’t only about bonding. Deerfield’s pride is in their academics, the way in which every single person at Deerfield deserves to be studying there. Classes were filled with passionate discussion amongst different people from completely different cultures, and I was welcomed into that too.
Rosangel - USA
Going on exchange has been one of the best life experiences I’ve had. I was so lucky to go to Fountain Valley School (FVS) in Colorado, USA and from the second I arrived to Colorado Springs, I felt welcomed by everyone I met. At the beginning it was quite hard to remember everyone’s names, especially when students would introduce themselves in a group, all I could hear was a list of names. However, after my first week at FVS I knew most of the students at the school, since it is a much smaller school than Markham. Even though I was a day student, I always felt welcomed by the boarding students and I got to hang out with them in their boarding houses, which was a completely new experience for me. Teachers and students were really nice but the people I was most grateful for meeting were my host family and the other Round Square students from Australia, South Africa and Argentina. They really made it easier to adapt to a new school and also we had so much fun together. Moreover, there were many classes to choose from and really fun ones. Also, everyone had 1 or 2 free periods a day so we would hang out in the campus centre and just have a great time between classes.
Hosting Jazmin, my exchange guest, and meeting her for the first time at the airport was a different and exciting experience for me. I really think hosting someone for a month isn’t as easy as it sounds but Jazmin was just great. She got along with my friends and family straight away and when exams began I wasn’t able to spend as much with her but she understood. I was so fortunate to host her as she taught me lots of things about Mexico (where her parents are from) and the USA. It was interesting to hear about school life in California, as it was quite different to the one in Colorado. Finally, I really enjoyed watching her try Peruvian dishes like cuy and anticucho but what made me even happier was to know she liked them all.
Murat - USA
Entering a new school in another part of the world sounds terrifying; you don’t know anyone, you may not speak the local language, you may not even like the weather. These are the common thoughts, rather excuses, for not going in an international exchange program.
I went on exchange to Cate School (a boarding school), which is located in the town of Carpinteria, in California. I must say the first week at Cate School was the most intense of the trip because you start to experience lots of different emotions; happiness, excitement, nervousness, etc. As soon as I reached there I was given my room and people from the dorm came to welcome me, which was truly amazing to feel all that hospitality. The next day I was introduced to my classes and in the school assembly, where everybody clapped when the Headmaster said my name (which is a common situation for me). The classes were enjoyable and engaging, having “Global Systems” as my favourite course. Besides academics, sports were big in school, where I chose to take part in the surf team where we went surfing every day after school. I made two good friends there which then introduced me to their other friends from school. So making friends is not really a problem if you are worried about that when going on exchange.
I also met all the workers around the school which were great people, and some great teachers and trainers from many different backgrounds with interesting stories to share with me. But I became very close with a couple from Arequipa, which were really funny creating huge smiles all around school.
After my experience, I suggest you just push those thoughts back inside that want to hold you back from going out of your comfort zone, and start deciding where your next destination will be.
Paula - Canada
Imagine you are at a school alone, surrounded by unrecognisable faces. You are captured by the unknown but completely nurtured by it somehow, as you embrace this new culture you have come to live in for a few weeks. Going on exchange is an unforgettable experience because it teaches you what cannot be taught in a normal class at Markham College: it is valuable because each student experiences the adventure differently.
The idea of leaving your home for 6 weeks or more frightened me at first. It is not an easy job to arrive at one of the biggest airports in the world and not knowing where to go, lacking WiFi or cell phone signal and having no clue what you got yourself into. It is like throwing yourself into the ocean without knowing how to swim and I loved it. I took the decision to apply for an international school in the middle of nowhere, about two hours from Toronto in Canada. I had the ease of knowing the main language English but in an international school you meet people from all over the world and this makes your exchange experience more valuable because you get different cultures mixed up in a school to create a multicultural environment. I also stayed in a boarding school, which meant I was sleeping in a dorm and sometimes it was very difficult to get out and go to town. However, it allowed me to make friends quickly with the girls in my House and soon with more people in the school. I did not know my roommate before but we instantly became friends and she introduced me to all the activities available including skiing, snowboarding, outdoor education survival, football, theatre, music and many more completely different to what Markham could offer.
Valeria - Australia
I had always heard people treasuring their exchange experiences but although I was very keen on having mine, I could never capture its integrity until I lived it. This summer, I went on exchange to Adelaide Australia for 6 life-changing weeks. Coming from a very united family with protective parents, it was a challenge for me to be far away and on my own, yet a unique opportunity to test myself and exit my comfort zone.
Troubling situations popped into my way even before I got there. A thunderstorm and an unexpected stop to refuel the plane in my second flight delayed my arrival, for which I had to spend the night in a hotel and culminate my journey the next morning. The adventure continued in road trips, getting lost when hiking, camping around the Great Ocean Road, surfing, snorkelling, fly-boarding and jetty jumping. Scenarios like these were at first frightening, but fun and inside enriching.
Beyond that, I also met unfamiliar settings in a daily basis. I went to Westminster School where I made new friends and tried different subjects such as Agriculture. I was hosted by a Chinese family which spoke a foreign language, ate different foods and at home, each person had a duty for which they were responsible. In addition, I encountered longer days, a largely relaxed and free mind-set along with an active outdoors and sports life. School started later, after which we often walked to the beach, and we mostly moved around on foot or by bus.
This journey also provided me with a rich multicultural experience in which I met people from different parts of the world. I was lucky to be there to celebrate both Australia Day and the Chinese New Year, where we went to festivals, parades and learned how to cook traditional Chinese dishes. I was also glad to represent Peru and Markham and to share my culture both home and school.
Alonso - Australia
In a trip that can only be called as a once in a lifetime experience, I had the most amazing time of my life. Last summer, I went in an exchange program, part of the Round Square program, for 6 weeks to Perth, Western Australia. I stayed there with a family which eventually became my new family for the 6 weeks I was there and I experienced the lifestyle of people in Australia.
The school I attended is called Scotch College, which is an all-boy private school. The school life there was amazing as I got to experience all the different activities the school could offer me, playing for the basketball team for example, and at the end of the day, I felt part of the school as the teachers and the students helped me transition into their everyday life as smooth as possible
The stay in another country and the Round Square exchange experience is surreal in many ways. It gets you out of your comfort zone, challenges you in many ways and also makes you a more independent person. Then, when you host someone, you learn how to live with someone you don't know and get to trust them quickly, creating friendship bonds which usually last forever.
Joaquin - Australia
Going on the Round Square exchange program was easily one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences that I have ever had but if I had to describe it in one word it would be: gambling. This whole ordeal was all about taking risks and getting me out of my comfort zone, I had never been away from home for that long. But in all honestly, I had a hell of a time.
As far as gambling goes I might just have won the lottery because thanks to the wonderful work of Mr Kvietok and the Billanook College RS co-ordinator Robyn Green, the 6 weeks I spent in Melbourne, Australia were the best of my life. I was assigned to the Sporles who took me in as one of their own with lots of love and care that I cannot thank them enough for. I was made to feel at home in Melbourne and developed bonds and friendships I will cherish forever. Perhaps one of the best aspects of going on exchange is the people you will get to meet and the friends you will remember for a lifetime.
Upon my return from Melbourne I was greeted at the airport by my parents and Niklas Thiessen as, unfortunately, my exchange brother Cody Sporle was not able to come to Perú. However, I bonded with Niklas immediately and cemented one of the best friendships I have ever had. Again, I won the lottery. We have so many memories of him getting to experience Peruvian culture alongside me and my family because I wanted to make sure he had a time as enriching and amazing as I had in Melbourne. So much so that he returned recently to Peru after almost a year since the last time we saw each other to relive all those wonderful moments I had the honour to share with him.
Rafaella - Australia
During January-February 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to give my usual beach-summer holidays a twist, and experience a Round Square Exchange to Australia. It was a mind-blowing experience. By staying with a host family for half of my time there and attending a boarding house for the rest of the time I became much more independent.
Not only did I meet some of the most amazing people from Australia, Denmark, Colombia, Canada, South Africa and Scotland, but also I learnt about a whole new culture, and experienced a completely different lifestyle. I got an insight of what it could be living abroad to attend university later on and started to appreciate more everything I had back home.
Going on exchange was certainly an experience I’ll cherish forever. It opened my eyes to a whole new view of my future and what I want it to be like from now on. I recommend every student to apply for an exchange because it’s something you just can’t miss. You’ll never regret it and will surely make life-long friends. One of mine is even coming this summer to visit Peru!
Gilles – New Zealand
In the summer of 2016, I took part in a Round Square international exchange to King’s College in Auckland, New Zealand. My two-month experience at Kings College gave me everything I was looking for and much more than I was expecting. I was hosted by a very kind family, the Sewells, which became my family during my visit. They focused on making my stay in Auckland extremely comfortable and adventurous. One trip that was very interesting was when Daniel and a couple of friends took me to Rotorua, a volcanic area at the center of the north island in New Zealand. Right when you hopped out of the 5-hour bus drive you could smell the sulfur and see boiling water in some areas of the main lakes and orange and yellow stripes on the mountains. There is a village called Whakarewarewa, where only descendants from the ancient Maori population of this village are allowed to live in its commodities. These families usually eat what they call the ‘Hangi’ meal which is a meal of different vegetables and meat cooked in geothermal water and vents. I could also could watch a whole ‘Haka’ performance (ancient Maori war dance) performed by some villagers of the place.
Coming back to life in Auckland, we started school on February 2nd (a bit earlier than in Markham). We hopped on the train every morning with about 200 other students going to school in their Anglican Church uniforms. I felt a bit strange being the only one with the Markham summer uniform but through time I noticed it was also a way for people not to ignore me by thinking that I’m another one like them. Lots of people seemed to be interested in who was and where I came from and most were really amazed when I told them I was from Peru and that I had to hop on a 23-hour trip to be at school again.