Swiss adventure for Rotary student

Rotary exchange student Stephanie Davis prepares for cold winter weather as she packs to spend 12 months in Switzerland.
Rotary exchange student Stephanie Davis prepares for cold winter weather as she packs to spend 12 months in Switzerland. Peter Holt

SKIING, snow and Swiss chocolate aren't on everyone's list this summer but Rotary International exchange student Stephanie Davis will enjoy all that and more in coming months.

Having completed Year 12 at Holy Spirit College last year Ms Davis will board a flight for Switzerland on Friday. Sponsored by Mackay North Rotary Club, she will spend a year in Switzerland, starting in the small town of Monchaltorf, about 30 minutes out of Zurich.

Ms Davis said she was excited about the year ahead, which would be a big learning experience.

“I've pretty much been in Mackay my whole life,” she said.

“I'm looking forward to the climate change, I've never experienced anything under 18 degrees before.

“I'll go to a language camp for two weeks when I arrive and then I will go skiing for two weeks with my host family, which is great.”

Ms Davis said she had wanted to travel to Switzerland since her family hosted a Swiss exchange student when she was 13.

“He told me about what Switzerland was like and I now want to go as an ambassador and experience it for myself,” she said.

And although she said she would miss her Vegemite, Ms Davis is optimistic about local Swiss fare.

“The exchange student we hosted has sent back chocolate for Christmas since and it's the greatest chocolate,” she said.

Mackay North Rotary youth exchange director Allan Binkes said Rotary sponsored many students on a year of learning overseas.

“The program is designed to help extend and strengthen ties between countries and cultures,” he said.

“The students typically go in a gap year (after Year 12). They attend school in the foreign country, learn the language and live with host families arranged by a partnering Rotary Club over there.

“It's a great opportunity and teaches students independence and many life skills. They come back greatly matured.

“My own daughters went to Thailand and Hungary and it opens young people up to a different way of life and helps them become more understanding,” he said.

He said students interested in travelling overseas with Rotary needed to apply in February or March the year before they wanted to travel. For more information contact your local Rotary Club.

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