Sydney – CAE students Finley and Carmelo on their experience at Lexis Manly – December 2023

Student spotlight: Finley and Carmelo share their experience at Lexis Manly. Find out more about their time with Lexis and useful tips.

Student Spotlight
Carmelo, Finley and the friends they made during their time at Lexis Manly out on a hike!

“I’m so proud of all the friendships that I’ve made and the level of English that I gained through my studies.”

– Carmelo, 25, from Italy

Every week we have new students arriving in Manly with individual goals, what unites them is the aim to improve their English and make memories for a lifetime. Today we want to hear about our student’s experience, proud moments, first days, friendships and challenges and acknowledge the amazing achievements of two very special students: Finley and Carmelo.

About me and why I chose Lexis Manly

Finley: Hi! My name is Finley and I am a nineteen-year-old student from the German speaking part of Switzerland. Last summer, I graduated from high school, but I wasn’t keen on starting my university studies straight away, instead I decided to take a gap year and improve my English skills. This was also important due to the fact that I need at least a C1 Cambridge diploma for my studies as an aspiring teacher. As much as I love my home, I couldn’t stand yet another cold, dark and grey winter and since I had the time to go travel, I chose to come to Australia, because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sydney is known to be iconic, I wanted to know what it’s like to live in close proximity to a huge city like this and on top of that, Lexis Manly’s location right by the beach was perfect for me. I heard that it’s less noisy and crowded than the city itself but still very lively and that the atmosphere was apparently lovely too – which I can all confirm after living here for over three months now.

Carmelo: I’m Carmelo, 25 years old, from Italy! I came to Sydney to study English in order to get the Cambridge Advanced certificate. What made me chose Lexis Manly was mainly its location, since it is on the shore of Manly beach – the best beach in Sydney! Additionally, the opportunity to study with people from all over the word helped me choose to study abroad. Since the preparation course is known to be very effective and Lexis Manly has a great reputation on preparing their students for the challenging Cambridge exam had contributed to choosing Lexis Manly.
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Insights on studying at Lexis Manly

Finley: I require at least a C1 certificate for my future studies, so I spent the last twelve weeks in the preparation class (CAE: Cambridge English Advanced). I really enjoyed that we both managed to get a lot of work done and that there was also room for joking around and bonding as a class. It was wonderful to meet new people and work on our English together. Moreover, our teacher Steve was great fun and always made sure to create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere so I definitely felt comfortable in my class. My goal for when I go home soon is to take the CPE exam, which is the C2 Cambridge Certificate.

Carmelo: I’m also in the CAE class, with the aim of getting the qualification I need. I wasn’t expecting to find myself in such a beautiful environment in class, I really met amazing people and it will be difficult to say goodbye when the course will end. I already feel well prepared for the final exam, due to our great teacher, who made studying fun yet educational.

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Social life at Lexis Manly

Finley: I managed to connect well with a lot of people in quite a short amount of time, which is rather uncharacteristic for me. I was fortunate enough to be put in a class with a lot of lovely people, so it wasn’t difficult to make good friends at all. Besides them though, I also made a lot of friends from other classes and it has been incredibly interesting to learn about their home countries and cultures. While a lot of my close friends here are Swiss like me, I have also managed to connect with a large number of Japanese people, some French people, a brilliant German person and of course, my Italian friend Carmelo, who’s featured in this blog alongside myself.

In my spare time I have been doing loads of walking, along the shore of one of the numerous beaches in Sydney, by the stunning Manly Dam, in the Blue Mountains or in the Royal National Park. Naturally, I have also done a lot of swimming, some surfing and I have spent many days hanging out with my friends at the beach. Exploring the city has also been very enjoyable and it has been very pleasant to realise how quickly I managed to find my way around the city. This certainly came in handy in the times where I had to get to the bus stop early in the morning after a night out in Sydney city.

Carmelo: For me making friends was one priority since I first arrived here – to be honest I was a little be worried about how difficult it would be to establish friendships with people from different countries, but as soon as I stepped into the homestay where I was placed by the school, I quickly started meeting people, who unexpectedly within only a few days turned into the best company I could ever dream of! What surprised me most is how deep the friendships that my friends and I had established are now. I mostly made friends with Swiss people but also a few Japanese and French people (what a joke, an Italian who agrees with French people) and we really like to spend time together when I’m not working. We like to hang out at the beach, going for walks on the Manly Corso, having lunch together, doing excursions to visit and discover all the hidden spots of Sydney. So far, we have been in The Royal National Park in the south of Sydney, to the blue mountains, on Bondi Beach and a lot more.14 1 E1701919717477

The Australian culture and more

Finley: As a result of making heaps of friends from all over the word, I got an insight into my friends’ cultures and they told me about their traditions and about how their life is back at home, which has been interesting. Since my host sister Miina is Japanese, I also got a taste of her country’s cuisine as she cooked some of the traditional foods – such as Takoyaki (the vegetarian version for me) – for me and my host family to try.

The fact that everyone is so open to our differences is very cool and besides learning and improving English, it’s always great fun to teach each other about our own languages as well. I definitely didn’t expect to learn some Japanese when travelling to Australia but fortunately, this is what happened.

Carmelo: Even if our background is different, we always find ways to communicate and express to each other in the proper way. What I like the most about being friends with international students is that we have the opportunity to learn about the traditions and the culture not only of Aussie people but also from each of our countries. However, what I loved the most is the fact that my host cooked meals from all over the world that previous student had shown her – my favorite so far was the night when my host sister Miina cooked Takoyaki for us, which are famous Japanese octopus balls.

A normal day in my life in Sydney

Finley: After trying to make it to school on time and slowly being woken up by the stunning view of the beach in the morning, I went to class for the whole morning and we worked on the different language skills. Normally, I would then go get lunch with my classmates and sit on the beach whilst trying to keep the seagulls from stealing our food (sadly, I wasn’t always successful, but it made for some funny stories).

Later we often went swimming or to explore the coast, on the days where the weather wasn’t playing its part in outdoor activities, we sometimes went to the city or to see a movie. Taking surf lessons was something we did as a group from time to time as well. However, when I didn’t feel like being around people, I would often just go home or sit outside, enjoy the stunning nature of the Northern Beaches and lose myself in a good book.

In the evenings, I have dinner with my host parents and my two host siblings, Miina and Carmelo. Once we had finished eating, we often went on to play games like Monopoly, watched a movie together. just sat at the table to talk while drinking tea or some nights we all went into our rooms to have some time to recharge.

Carmelo: I usually start my day with a run around the area of my homestay or on the beach, as there’s nothing that can charge me more than some active outdoor activities, after breakfast I get ready to go school with my other two friends Finley and Miina, who also live with me in the host family. After school, when I don’t have to work in the afternoon, I always spent time with my friends, we have lunch and spending time on the beach or around Manly. Then it is time for me to go back home in order to do my homework for the next day at school. Later in the evening, I have dinner with my host family and before going to bed I usually like to spend some time with Fin and Miina and our host family, we watch movies, do some karaoke, play monopoly or just talk about life. We had some great quality time together where we learned a lot about each other lives back in our home country and our future dreams.
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Top tips for new students:

Finley: Definitely don’t shy away from putting yourself out there and talk to your fellow students so that you can make friends because it is a very unique experience. Having said that, don’t forget to look after yourself and stick to some familiar routines if that is something which helps you and again: it is okay to set boundaries and stay home sometimes! You will still be able to make a lot of amazing memories and you will have a good time especially when you don’t exhaust yourself.

Lastly, I would also recommend you try to be open and spontaneous as it can make for the best memories and if you have the financial means for it; plan some trips!

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Great memories I will never forget:

Finley: Establishing simple every-day routines here has probably been my favourite thing, as it’s what made me feel at home in a place so far away from home. Examples for that would be having lunch with my dear friend Ina at the beach every day, running to the bus with my host siblings every morning or coming home from school and cuddling the chicks my host family has. However, it’s difficult to name just one memory as I was fortunate enough to make countless memories with the most amazing people, which I am infinitely grateful for!!!

Carmelo: I couldn’t be happier about how the situation turned out to be, I’m so proud of all the friendships that I’ve made and the level of English that I gained through my studies.

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Thank you Finley and Carmelo for sharing some insights on your time at Lexis Manly!


How to become a Lexis English homestay host

To be approved as a Lexis English homestay host, the college will arrange a time to inspect your property. Requirements are:

  • Each student must have a clean room of their own.
  • Preference is given to homes that are on a direct bus route to the college – no more than a 50 minute commute.
  • Hosts must provide breakfast and an evening meal Mon-Sun. On weekends – a packed lunch is required.
  • Hosts who provide accommodation to students under the age of 18 need a current Working With Children Permit. All adults living in the household must have this. Permits for Lexis Sydney can be applied for here.

Families or individuals who are interested in becoming a Lexis Sydney Homestay Host should complete this online form.
Alternatively, email [email protected] to arrange a call back.

About Lexis Manly

Lexis English delivers academic excellence in General English, IELTS Preparation, Cambridge FCE and CAE. Download the 2023 Lexis English Brochure here or get in touch to enquire.

Lexis Training delivers professional training in Business, Marketing & Communication, Leadership & Management, Project Management, Beauty and English Language Teacher Training. You must have Upper Intermediate English language skills to enrol. Enquire online.

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