BDC student Nitish Gulgulia's domestic exchange in Cairns

Tuesday, 23 Aug 2022

I have always associated the Round Square exchange program with a Year 10 overseas exchange, which lasts for a whole term. However last year, due to our good friend COVID, this was modified to a domestic exchange and Year 8 and 9 students were now able to participate. 

Hello, my name is Nitish Gulgulia and I recently participated in the two-week Round Square exchange. 27 years ago, my father participated in this program, and I took a leap of faith to follow in his footsteps. I was challenged, however, this opportunity was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

The Family

On the 5th of June, I landed in Cairns after my two-hour flight and was greeted by the familiar faces of the Lauclan family. The initial nervousness I experienced faded after meeting them. The Lauchlan Family had four people, Mel (Max’s Mum), Andrew (Max’s Dad), and Poppy (Max’s sister). All of them made me feel at home, however, they also treated me as if I was their child as well. I can still remember Mel’s voice telling me to tuck in my shirt. Over the short two weeks, I felt a real connection to the family, all of us connecting in various and different ways. 

Andrew and I would connect on music, as both of us are the AUX hogs of the family. The car would blast Kendrick Lamar during our car rides to school. He would also help me edit my English project. Sorry Mrs Caldwell. Poppy and I would always go to the shop across from the school, talking about the drama in her year and Max’s year. I taught Mel how to make butter chicken, the one dish I know how to make off by heart. My friendship with Max will last a lifetime. Max and I used to have “sleepovers”, where Max would essentially sneak into my room and we would talk through the night. We would also go to Max’s shed, where we played pool, and sting pong and would laugh till we cried.

The School

Trinity Anglican School was an amazing school for the two weeks I attended, and is highly focused on science and sports such as swimming. I was so scared, and I mean literally petrified. The red BDC uniform could be spotted from a mile away and every couple of steps there would be a little glance. The campus of TAS was similar to a maze, every corner looking the same, and it would take me almost the full span of the two weeks not to get lost, however, I had lots of people who would help me thankfully. 

I was fascinated by one key feature of Trinity: the STEM block. The futuristic-looking STEM block looked as if it was straight out of an architecture sketch, the metal bars creating a spiral sort of pattern. It was also right next to the Year 9 area and in front of the oval where we would play “touch”, which really means tackle unless a teacher walked past. 

The Activities 

In both Coffs and Cairns, Max and I had many little adventures of our own after school. I still vividly remember us riding through the pitch black night, coming back from Moonee Markets. Dejavu, almost exactly a year later we were doing the same thing. Riding our bikes through the dark. Our night adventures also stretched to Walsh's Pyramid, a mountain close to Max’s house. We made it around five hundred metres up, starting in daylight, coming down in the darkness, with a stop in between to watch the sunset. 

Being in Cairns, we obviously went to the Great Barrier Reef. The sun shimmered on the bright blue water of the Franklin Islands, after our boat ride we were keen to head out. The Franklin islands are less popular if you compare them to other islands in Cairns, as around only 100 people could come at a time however it was just amazing. We went snorkeling, went on a glass-bottomed boat, and explored the island. Mel stayed on shore as in her words, she “didn't want to drown” while Poppy, Andrew, Max, and I went out. 


Overall nothing could have prepared me for the adventure that was the Round Square experience. A leap of faith is sometimes all it takes. This program has exposed me to differences in lifestyles, which has been particularly interesting as the differences exist despite us living in the same country. I feel honoured and privileged to be able to represent Bishop Druitt College in this program and hope to do so again internationally. 

Written by Nitish Gulgulia
Year 9 
Bishop Druitt College