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Wroclaw to Tamworth: A Journey of Growth and Adventure for Rotary Exchange Student at Calrossy.

From the streets of Wroclaw, Poland, to the Country Music Capital, Tamworth an 18-year-old Rotary Youth Exchange has spent the past 12 months embracing new experiences and building lifelong memories at Calrossy Anglican School. Arriving in July 2023, Maciej Wolanski describes his time here as transformative, both culturally and personally.

"Before arriving, my idea of Australia was full of spiders, snakes, and sharks everywhere," he shared with a laugh. "What surprised me the most was how friendly, open, and helpful Australians are. Tamworth, especially, has a vibrant social life I never expected in a country town. The Country Music Festival was a highlight, proving how amazing country life can be,” said Maciej, affectionately referred to as Magic by his Calrossy mates.

Reflecting on his first day at Calrossy, he admits it was daunting.

"A new place and new people were terrifying, but Calrossy provided immense support. Waking up for school became something I looked forward to, which was a first for me. I enjoyed each class and loved hanging out with friends during lunch breaks."

His time in Australia was filled with extensive travel and unforgettable experiences.

"I've travelled from Tamworth to country towns around it, visited Newcastle, Forster, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, and even Singapore. The best memory has to be my trip to Uluru and Alice Springs. Waking up at 4 am to hike and watch the sunrise, sleeping under the stars in swags, and spending time with friends made it the best two weeks of my life."

One of his fondest memories at Calrossy was participating in rugby.

"Rugby nights and trainings opened my eyes to different sports. I loved watching the boys play on Friday nights and joining the preparations."

He also shared humorous moments adjusting to “Australian English”.

"I thought I could speak English, but the speed and slang here proved me wrong. It was challenging but funny. Another funny moment was landing in Tamworth and realising how different it is from my big city back home."

His home, Wroclaw, is Poland’s third largest city with a greater population of around 1.25 million.

Maciej’s advice to those considering an exchange program is simple: "Don't be scared. Exchange programs create unforgettable memories and international friendships. They require leaving everything familiar behind, but the unknown and scary things make life better. Just do it."

As his exchange draws to a close, he looks to the future with clear goals. He is exiting Year 12 at Calrossy and will now have to finish his final years of schooling in Poland.

"I want to study medicine and become a doctor. Although studying in Australia is too far and expensive, I plan to return after my degree. Australia has become my new home."

The Calrossy community will miss him, but his journey here has left an indelible mark on countless others as well as his own heart, forever shaping his path forward.