​​​​​​​​​​​Maggy Zacherl (Austria, 2020)

Even though my time in Australia and thus at Benowa State High School was shortened by COVID-19, I still got the most out of my stay. I had a wonderful time and I’m so grateful that I got to experience Australia the way that I did – with a lot of friends, excellent international counsellors and a lot of fun. First of all, I had a great host family, which made the start of such an adventure much easier and enjoyable. As well as the school I chose for myself, Benowa, which was obviously a great choice, explicitly because the people there made me feel welcome the second, I walked through the doors.

The time that I didn't spend at school, I either spent at the beaches in the sun or out and about in PacFair or Surfers Paradise with the friends I made in that short time. Together with them I also explored Coolangatta, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and even Sydney. Particularly the trip to Sydney was very special to me because the two international counsellors we have at Benowa, Judi and Tania, organized it for all the international students to have a getaway and see a different part of Australia. We stayed there for the weekend and got to explore the city and surroundings.

Another very important mention are TimTams because one can say that I practically lived off of them. They’re officially my favorite sweets now ;) I wish I could do it all over again – Australia has my heart.💕

Ana Mendes (Brazil, 2020)

Hey! I’m Ana, an international student from Brazil. In 2020 (yes, the crazy year for everyone on the globe) I went for a semester abroad at Benowa SHS and I assure you: that was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. When I look back to my days in Australia I cannot feel another way but grateful. I’ve learnt so many important lessons, have met wonderful people (who showed that friendship and family goes beyond any country borders or blood), have lived so many great stories that I’ll, for sure, cherish forever, have been to beautiful places, such as Sydney, Brisbane, Moreton Island, Byron Bay and, of course, the paradise, Gold Coast... Amazing summer days, trying hard to stand up on a surfboard, living the time of my life on the other side of the planet, having some TimTams on the beach with incredible people from all over the world... it’s a broken record in my memory and still one of my favorites. Australia changed the way I see life and, besides all the tough days that might cross your way, the only thing I can assure is that everything is more than worth it.

Miss you so so much! 💕

Inger Melbye-Larsen (Norway, 2019/20)

I had the most amazing time in Australia!! I met so many great people and now have a huge network around the world and many places to visit!! My first summer after Australia I travelled in my country to see a good friend that I made during my stay, and we are also regularly planning to meet up as we live in different cities.

As for Australia in general I couldn't imagine anything better, the weather, people, beaches and trips all made my stay amazing. Through my 9 months stay I've been with Benowa on trips to Melbourne (a trip with the internationals) and to north-west island in Great Barrier Reef (a trip with marine science) as well as Fraser Island with EQI. I would strongly recommend the trips and all other possibilities being an international student at Benowa brings!

The area around Benowa is close to the wonderful beaches of Surfers Paradise and located in Gold Coast, which is an amazing place. The host families are great and I am extremely lucky to have connected with mine in the way I did. Living with a family is also a great experience!!

Me and Johanne are already planning a trip to see you all when it's possible.❤️

Johanne Krogstad (Norway, 2019)

Australia was such a wonderful experience! I learned so much about myself and the Australian culture, which I love!! I'm so thankful for the experience and I can't wait to come back again! Benowa was such a nice school and the international coordinators are so nice and thoughtful💕 We went on a few trips with them to Sydney and Melbourne. So nice to be able to see more of Australia! I also went on some trips with my friends to for example Byron Bay, Tamborine Mountain and Brisbane! I really love Australia, and Benowa really wants you to experience the most of it! My host family was really the best!💕 They really took me in and I felt like a part of their family! They were so nice and I still keep in touch with them💕 My experience was so nice and it was the best year of my life! Can't wait to come back to the beautiful country, my second family and the school!💕

Isabelle Lehr (Germany, 2019) Isabelle-Lehr1.jpg

My exchange year at Benowa SHS was the best thing I have experienced in my life.  It is like a dream that came true.  The year is so memorable, everyone at the Benowa SHS is so warm-hearted and wants the best for you, especially the Coordinators Judi and Tania.  It was super easy to find friends there because the people are kind and open for international friends.

Australia has so many places to visit and you even get the chance to travel with all the international students from Benowa to Melbourne and Sydney.  But you can also just travel along the coast because the Gold Coast has so many beautiful places you should see like Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, Burleigh Heads or Movie World. 😊


​Shione Ishida (Japan, 2019) Shione-award.jpg

Hello, everyone!

I am Shione who was at Benowa High School for a year in 2019 as an international student. The most exciting thing during my study abroad was to make many new friends. Honestly, at the beginning of the year, my English skill was not enough to have a fun conversation with friends, and I didn’t have the confidence to talk to people in English. However, after I joined the volleyball team at Benowa and the regional team I could make many friends and built amazing relationships with my teammates and coaches. Afterward, I’ve got the confidence to talk to people in English, and I really enjoyed talking to people. I left Australia on December 2019, and I really miss all the time that I was spending in Australia. All of the experience of volleyball made my Australian life much more amazing.​

volleyball1.jpg Volleyball 2
​ ​​ ​

Niccolo Bertello (Italy, 2018)​​

Almost two years later, I’m still happy that I chose Benowa SHS for my experience abroad. When I first arrived in Australia I was scared and not sure that leaving my country at such a young age had been a good choice. But the school environment and, especially, the people there made me change my mind. At Benowa SHS the exchange students are helped throughout their stay so that they can enjoy to the fullest their experience and mature.

Michelle Schlinter (Austria, 2018)

Hi my name is Michelle and I‘m from Austria. I chose Benowa for my exchange, because I knew I could do dance there and it was an important part of my life back home. But Benowa also offered so much more! I  got my boat license in Marine studies, went on trips to Sydney and Melbourne with the other international students and made amazing friends not only from Australia but all over the world. Benowa chose the perfect host family for me and I felt so loved during my stay with them. It definitely the best time of my life!

Mark Wolter (Germany, 2016)

Being an exchange student in Australia is wonderful and unique experience. During my time I enjoyed integrating into the daily life of my host family and visiting Benowa State High School. Australian high school offers a very wide range of different classes that you can attend. I personally enjoyed the different teaching experience, like having physical education at the beach, learning something about Surf Life Saving or hands-on experience in classes like engineering and marine studies.

But the school experience doesn't just stop there you can also enjoy one of the trips to Melbourne or Sydney with the International Coordinators, where you get to see those two iconic cities and even explore them a bit by yourself.

During my free time after school I just loved to go to the beaches near Surfers Paradise visiting surfing lessons, playing volleyball or just hanging out with my mates. Also visiting one of the local surfing competitions in Coolangatta is a must.
All in all it's great to get a feel for the Aussie way of life in person and most importantly have fun.

Sayaka Yamamoto (Japan, 2016)

My experience in Benowa state High school in 2016. I spent 1 year in Australia to improve my English language and while in Australia I experienced Australian culture. At my last assembly in Benowa high school, I wanted to do something big and memorable, so I made a presentation about the differences between Japanese and Australian sushi. There were a lot of students and all of my teachers. After the presentation, many friends came to say “Your presentation was amazing!”
It was my biggest challenge I ever done in my life, but it was my best memory during my stay in Australia.

Last year, my host mother and brother came to my home country to see me. It is good that we still keep in touch with my lovely host family and international coordinators and I really hope I could see them again! I had a really great time in Australia. Thank you!

Last reviewed 28 September 2022
Last updated 28 September 2022