Mathilde bids farewell

Exchange student Mathilde Scholzen (middle) with host family members Ben and Jill Mitchell.
Exchange student Mathilde Scholzen (middle) with host family members Ben and Jill Mitchell. Kerri Burns-Taylor

IN JUST a few short months, Belgian teen Mathilde Scholzen has mastered a new language and more importantly, made friends she will hold dear for the rest of her life.

Even if it is from across the world.

Mathilde has spent the past nine months living in the Rose City as an exchange student but this Saturday her trip comes to an end and she will bid farewell to her new Aussie friends.

The 18-year-old has been taken into the Mitchell family home by Warwick couple Jill and Stewart and their sons, Ben and Rob.

During her time down under, Mathilde has been fortunate enough to tour much of the country, trekking from Melbourne to Alice Springs over an 11-day bus trip.

She has gotten up close with much of the country's native wildlife, with the elusive platypus the only Aussie icon she hasn't been able to catch a glimpse of.

When she first entered the country 11 months ago, the popular teen could barely speak a word of English and couldn't watch a movie on the Mitchells' couch without subtitles.

Mrs Mitchell said the subtitles were now gone and Mathilde is fluent in English - and a bit of native jargon.

"You should hear the Aussie slang she comes out with now it's fantastic," Mrs Mitchell said.

Mathilde said she had avoided becoming homesick during her trip, apart from the odd special occasion, but she would be terribly sad to leave Australia.

"I miss my friends at home but it is not the same because I knew I would see them after one year," she said. "I don't know when I will see my Australian friends again."

Mathilde said she was truly grateful to the Mitchells for their hospitality.

"I just want to thank them for everything they have done for me and I will be very sad to leave them," she said.

Mrs Mitchell said her family would be sad to lose its newest member but she promised it would not be the end of the relationship.

"It's going to be very different when she is gone but it's not like it is saying goodbye forever," she said.

"We will still have contact and there is always Facebook and Skype."



Mathilde is an exchange student from Belgium

Spent nine months in Warwick

Mastered English during her stay

Her journey ends on Saturday when she returns home

Topics:  alice springs exchange student language melbourne rose city travel warwick world

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