FINNISH exchange student Kalle Jävelä has spent "the best school year of my life" on exchange to St John's College, Woodlawn.
"I've learned so much about Australia and what is Australian," said the 18-year-old who enrolled at the college in July last year.
"My host family, Mr and Mrs Page, their daughter Camille and son Alistair have been wonderful. They welcomed me into their lives and showed me many places in this beautiful country.
"Australia was my first choice - I've wanted to come here since I was about 10.
"The education systems are fundamentally different. Teaching here is a lot more conservative and we have no private schools, only state schools.
"Woodlawn is a big school with a real sense of community. The experience has been so refreshing, so different from home.
"When I arrived, I didn't know what to think, it was really difficult. But my fears were soon allayed and I believe I've matured because of it.
"In Finland, school is a mandatory thing, but here you look forward to going and being with friends."
The accomplished cellist played locally with a community orchestra, and at the school's 2014 end of year awards night, delighting an audience of more than 1000 people.
Kalle returns home in June and, after 10 weeks' holiday, begins his Year 12 studies.
He will compulsorily serve in the army for a year but may also do undergraduate studies in economics in England.
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