MORTLAKE has welcomed two new exchange students to the town for the next 10 months.
Manami Furusawa from Japan and Hanna Kahlcke from Germany have left their cities of over one million people to settle in the small community.
Manami said she had noticed the difference in classroom etiquette between her homeland and Australia, since helping with work experience at St Colman’s Primary School and her time at Mercy Regional College.
“There are many differences between Australia and Japan,” she said.
“Everyone here is good at using iPads and in Japan we don’t use them.
“We only listen to the teacher, we don’t raise hands.
“After class, we ask the teacher (if we have a question).”
While most students might take two food breaks for granted, Japanese students do not have the same luxury.
“We don’t have recess, we just have lunch,” Manami said.
“We also do club activities after school in Japan, I do Badminton.”
Manami has only just begun her Australian stay, but has already picked up some vital skills, such as lawn bowls.
To her surprise, cows and sheep live in close proximity to the town and at night she can see stars, something she has not been able to do in Japan.
Manami said her experiences in the small town were positive.
“In Mortlake I can meet people, talk to people and the people are friendly,” she said.
“I would like to return to Australia one day.”
Hanna has made the exchange from Hamburg, Germany, with Mortlake’s population of 1000 a vast difference compared to Hamburg’s 1.7 million.
“I came to Australia to learn more about the culture and to learn English,” she said.
“In Germany, they don’t use iPads either so it’s a pretty similar situation to Manami.”
With the smaller population, Hanna has enjoyed getting to know the locals.
“Everyone here knows each other and you know your neighbours,” she said.
“In Hamburg, we don’t know our neighbours.
“When we go down to the shops, we just speak to our friends.”
Hanna has already visited Camperdown, Geelong, Warrnambool and Torquay, while having experienced Mercy Regional College’s presentation ball.
Exchange parent Norma Parker said she always enjoyed taking in students from other cultures, with Manami and Hanna making 42 across the past 20 years.
“Without us putting our hands up, they don’t get this experience,” she said.
“They call us ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ so they feel part of the family.
“I think the thing we’ve learned is that teenagers the world over – they are all the same.”