Griffith teacher Alex Gilbert has described her experience as an exchange teacher on the other side of the world halfway into her epic adventure.
The Griffith East Public School teacher swapped lives and careers with a American teacher Colby Knifong, moving to Enterprise, Oregon, USA for one year.
Speaking with The Area News from a line at the famous Zion National Park in Utah while enjoying her spring break, she said flying straight out of the heat of an Australian summer into a balmy minus 21 degrees, wasn’t even her biggest shock on arriving.
“There was snow everywhere and it looked like a magical white wonderland,” she said.
“But I have to say driving on the opposite side of the road in snow was an adventure.”
To get to her final destination of Enterprise Miss Gilbert had to take three separate flights, then hitting the road for a two hour drive to her isolated new home in the mountains.
But every part of that trip was worth it when she woke up her first morning in America and looked out the window.
“The first morning I woke up to deer in my front yard and coyotes in the backyard,” she said.
“I had to pinch myself every time I saw the mountains as I couldn’t believe I was living in this amazingly beautiful place.”
With Enterprise’s population clocking in at just 1884 it is not surprising that the community was well aware of Miss Gilbert’s impending arrival.
“Everyone knew the ‘Aussie’ was coming and I think people wanted to say hi just to hear me speak,” she laughed.
“The community was so friendly and welcoming.”
Professionally, Miss Gilbert said she had already learned a lot from teaching in the American school system, making her journey worth the hassle of all the organisation.
“School has been a blast,” she said.
“I’ve loved the challenge of living in this teaching a different curriculum in a different environment.”
“It is just like in the movies. We have a huge gym where the kids do PE and support the local basketball team where I played donkey basketball for charity. Our school lunchroom, cafeteria, has delicious lunch and I have eaten from there everyday.
The ever active teacher has certainly made the most of her time abroad, with her descriptions of how she is spending her free time reading like an adrenaline junkie’s to do list.
“I’ve been on many adventures like floating on the river, learning to fly fish, squirrel and turkey hunting, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, flying over the mountains in a two seat plane and cattle branding,” she said.