Victoria Junior College offers a plethora of overseas exchange programs, such that we often see foreign students around in our school campus, accompanied by their local buddies, soaking in our school life and atmosphere. But how much do we truly know about them? The Victorian Press sat down with Klaus Grobner to find out more about him and his experience in VJC and Singapore in the past month.
It is often said that it’s the people who make up the school. In a population of 1600, the VJ spirit that comes from the students has become a familiar and indispensable facet of VJC. Having experienced this environment for a while, Klaus expressed that he “really [likes] the students here. The people here are very nice to me. And I really appreciate that”. VJ’s warm and homely atmosphere has never failed to appeal to students – and Klaus is no exception.
While this place still remains a tucked-away mystery to many students, the Igloo, a great hangout place for the few students who know about it has become Klaus’s favorite place in VJC. It was where he learnt to “play pool for the first time”, a game which he thoroughly enjoyed.
The Igloo appears to be underutilized by VJ students, although the purpose of the room, which is for students to destress and bond with each other should have made it one of the more popular places in our school. One would probably consider the library a more popular place, where most of us go to to clear our workload. This is probably why Klaus “[doesn’t think he could] live here and study here because it’s just too much for [him], despite the welcoming and accepting culture of VJC. He states that [it’s] too much work [which is] way too intense for [him].”, He explained further by outlining the differences between his school and ours. He commented, “In Davos I can do my homework on my bus ride to the school…in 20 minutes at most.”, a concept perhaps totally foreign to us. Not only that, Klaus doesn’t have lectures in his school. In fact, when asked what he thought of our lectures, he remarked (without any guilt) that he was not used to it and “slept through all of them”. This is probably something we all can empathize with, having been in his shoes after spending late nights dealing with our heavy workload.
Klaus’s sense of humor was evident in his presentation to the school and his answers in the interview. When asked for a word that encapsulated his personality, Klaus paused and weighed his options, ultimately defining himself as “lazy” with a sheepish smile. Isaac agreed, commenting that “that works”.
Moving beyond VJC, we asked Klaus about his journey in our red dot so far. One attraction he identified as a place to check off on his bucket list was our S.E.A Aquarium. Perhaps it wasn’t simply the tanked underwater creatures that drew him to it, but the air conditioned blast in the enclosed area. The perpetual heat in Singapore, with temperatures regularly skyrocketing off the charts is something we have all gotten used to. Complaining about the weather has become second nature for us. Consequently, many of us sleep without our blankets to gain some comfort at night, a pathetic and futile attempt in Singapore’s torrid weather. To Klaus, whose motherland is the polar opposite of Singapore, this idea of sleeping bereft of blankets, an instinctive action for us, is taken to be strange, and it was clear that he found our weather the hardest to adapt to in this trip.
When asked about his favourite food, Klaus told us that he couldn’t remember the name of the dish that he had thoroughly enjoyed, and proceeded to gesture and describe it instead, much to our amusement. He spoke of a wooden, hollow and round container filled with food, which we initially assumed to be claypot. As he continued to speak of how the container had soup and that steam came out from it, we started to think that he could be talking about dim sum instead, but our suspicions were only truly confirmed after Klaus spent time searching through his phone and found a picture of the delicious meal he had with some of his previous buddy’s friends.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable conversation with Klaus, and further insights were gained on what he thought of regarding the experiences this trip had offered him. His responses do show how foreign exchange programmes are indeed enriching and eye opening, and are indeed worth joining. Perhaps, it’s not the multiple friendships forged or proliferation of learning opportunities that make the trip fulfilling, but the ability to adapt and assimilate into the culture (and weather) of a foreign place that leads to personal growth and development beyond the boundaries of the classroom-which is the essence of venturing on overseas trips.