Two weeks after finishing at Bradfield in the summer of 2019 I hopped on a plane to move to Melbourne to start my gap year job at Trinity Grammar, a boys’ independent day school in Kew.

I was well and truly thrown into the Australian way of life very quickly; arriving mid-winter in July and not thinking to bring a coat was a bit of a shock to the system, more so than being introduced to the horrors of Vegemite. I acclimatised quickly afterwards and began work at the school. Day to day my job was to help teach PE to boys of all ages.

This meant I got to spend most of the summer in the pool helping four-year-olds to learn to swim for the first time, which the other staff were rather envious of in 40-degree heat, as well as working with the older boys on their swimming technique. When not in the pool I spent most of my time outside either on the athletics track, hockey pitch or ‘footy’ oval. The Australian education system puts a large emphasis on basic motor skills, so I spent a lot of time working with the pupils on their kicking and throwing techniques before moving on to competitive games.

I was also lucky enough to have my own cricket team for the season and the boys were a bit surprised to have a female coach for the first time. This provided me with the opportunity to travel all across rural Victoria every weekend to play matches, though I found the boys didn’t appreciate the 6am departures!

When not in the PE Department I had the chance to be a part of hiking and canoeing trips to the ‘bush’ with boys on their annual camps. One of the best was spending a week cross country skiing through the Victorian Alps; it proved to be a bit chilly sleeping on snow but it was a memorable trip.

One of the benefits of working in a school was the long holidays where I made the most of the time to travel as much as I could.

In October I managed to spend nearly a month travelling around Northern India which completely opened my eyes to the kindness of people after getting welcomed into schools, homes and temples as everyone wanted to not only share their own story but also learn about yours too.

Over the Christmas holidays I spent six weeks driving 4,000 miles up Australia’s East Coast in a beaten-up campervan. It was during this time that bush fires began ripping through Victoria and New South Wales and the scale of the disaster was unlike anything I had witnessed with 3000 homes destroyed and one in three koalas dying that summer.

When I look back on my year abroad the biggest thing I have taken away was the kindness and generosity of strangers.

Having arrived in a country where I knew no one at all to being welcomed in to live with complete strangers and become part of their family was one of the most special experiences as well as making some of the greatest life-long friends.

I must thank the Bradfield Society and the Hicks family for their very generous award. Their support and generosity made getting to Australia possible and I would also like to thank fellow Old Bradfieldian Amy Knowles (M 12-17) for giving me an insight into the job and letting me try and fill her boots.