A family from Orange is taking part in a life swap with a family from Canada as part of a year-long teacher exchange program.
St Mary's Catholic Primary School teacher Glenn Corben and his family have swapped places with Angela Smith and her family from Bracebridge, Ontario, about two hours north of Toronto.
As part of the program Mr Corben is teaching Mrs Smith's year 4/5 class at the Monsignor Michael O'Leary Catholic School in Canada and Mrs Smith is teaching his year 4 class at St Mary's.
As well as swapping jobs the families are living in each other's homes and in some cases experiencing each others hobbies.
Mr Corben, his wife Jennie and children Daisy, Will and Maggie arrived in Canada in the heart of winter and said the weather was the obvious difference.
"Monsignor Michael O'Leary Catholic School is about the same size as St Mary's Catholic Primary School, but caters for students from junior kindergarten to year 8," Mr Corben said.
"It has a large playground that is currently covered in snow. The students play outside every day during their recess breaks unless it is -25 degrees or colder.
"Winter classroom routines have to allow time for the students to change in and out of their snow clothing and boots - It can get a bit chaotic at times."
Mr Corben said sport in Canada mainly takes place in the gymnasium with the exception of snow shoeing activities.
The students play outside every day during their recess breaks unless it is -25 degrees or colder.Teacher, Glenn Corben
"My class has had several adventures on the hiking trails that surround the local school area," he said.
He said his own children have enjoyed the change in environment and not having to wear a uniform to school.
"We live in a really beautiful area that is surrounded by lakes and provincial parks," Mr Corben said.
"Currently the lakes look like large white fields of snow so we are looking forward to seeing the changes in the landscape that spring and summer will bring."
The family has also enjoyed a lot of activities including ice skating, sledding, snow shoeing, skiing and a few winter festivals.
"Driving on the right hand side of the road was tricky to start with and we had to have a crash course in how to navigate our way through the traffic lights," Mr Corben said.
"There was also an incident when we had trouble driving forward up a steep hill due to the slippery ice on the road - not a problem we have ever encountered in Orange."
Mrs Smith also had the challenge of learning to drive on the left hand side of the road but she and her husband Ryan, who is also teaching maths at Orange High School, have been getting plenty of practice by travelling in Australia as much as possible.
"We were able to go down to Phillip Island when we first got here," she said.
The family, including nine-year-old daughter Stella and 11-year-old son Doran, who are attending school at St Mary's arrived in January and will go home after Christmas, due to changes in the Canadian school term.
"We don't start in January, we start in September, [Mr Corben] came half-way through my year and he will start a new class in September," Mrs Smith said.
"When we first got here there was that one week end when it was 40 degrees, that was hot."
Mrs Smith has described the experience so far as "amazing".
"You miss some things from home, I miss family and my friends, at home my whole family lives in Bracebridge, my two sisters and mum and dad, my kids miss their cousins a lot," she said.
The family also missed skiing in winter and Doran missed being able to play ice hockey but had hoped to play rugby union with Orange City and Stella had planned to join Daisy's netball team.
Mrs Smith said aside from the weather and Australia having a more outdoor lifestyle there were a similarities between the two countries with minor differences.
"We notice some difference in different phrases, you know it's English language but the use of words are different," Mrs Smith said.
Because of the climate there's cultural differences here the kids [at St Mary's] eat outside, they have phys ed outside, at home we have a gym, you cannot eat outside because of the cold.Teacher, Angela Smith
She said they were initially concerned about the children understanding the Australian accent but they've been fine.
"Because of the climate there's cultural differences here the kids [at St Mary's] eat outside, they have phys ed outside, at home we have a gym, you cannot eat outside because of the cold," Mrs Smith said.
She said both countries use the metric system and use British style English, which also makes teaching easier.
"School's been good, it's a bit different from home," Mrs Smith said.
"The kids are similar, the behaviours are pretty much the same."
However, she said while the expectations of students were the same there were differences in the curriculums and how Australian and Canadian schools are structured.
Mrs Smith said children start school when they are four years old in Canada, they do two years of kindergarten, elementary school is for children up to year 8 and high school was for years 9 to 12.
"My son is in grade 6, here he's the oldest [year level] in the school," she said.
"The difference with Ryan is the high school starts in year 7, he hadn't taught year 7 and 8."
However, she said the differences were nothing compared to what she and Mr Smith experienced when they lived and taught in South Korea and in Orange they can recognise the food sold in supermarkets.
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