My first few weeks in Sydney were a wild ride. The three biggest takeaways from my study abroad experience are:
- Sunblock is important. I did not realize how intense the sun actually is here in Australia. I am the type of person who gets burnt very easily, so I made sure to pack both 70 SPF and a 100 SPF for this trip. I have been so diligent with putting on sun screen here that I have to the beach three times so far and still haven’t gotten burnt, which is very impressive for me!
- Everyone is not laid-back. Before coming to this country, I was under the impression that Australians, especially in the workplace, are very laid-back and relaxed compared to Americans. This is not totally true. Australians work just as hard, if not harder, than we do in the States. Australians work to live, not live to work like we are used to. I realized this while working at my internship. The people are very casual in the sense where there is little to no hierarchy. It is a really cool experience.
- The culture here is quite similar to the culture I have in the States. I haven’t experienced much culture shock because things here operate similarly to the things at home. I still haven’t had the “oh my gosh I am halfway around the world!” shock just yet (I am sure it will come soon). The city here reminds me of a very clean Pittsburgh. Everything is close together, but not too crowded. The major difference is that it only takes about an hour to get to the beach!
My commute to class is very similar to the commute I had at Pitt. The building that holds all of our classes is a three minute walk from our apartment complex, which is basically how much I had to walk at Pitt. To get to my internship, it is a five minute walk to the bus station, and then a 25 minute bus ride to my work. The bus system is very timely which is nice because it makes it reliable. the one thing I dislike about the buses is that they don’t tell you what stop they are at, so you definitely need to pay close attention! One thing at I would advise to future Sydney study abroad students is to keep your Opal card handy! The Opal card is basically your transportation card and gives you access to all the buses and trains in the area. Just don’t forget to tap on and tap off!
Through an academic perspective, I expected to have everything relate to an Australian business view. The books we needed to get tend to have more American type examples. I hope that in the future, I get to learn more about the Asia Pacific and Australian business styles, workplaces, and business practices.
Through an internship perspective, I knew that the work environment would be different than what I have experienced in the States. When communicating with each other, everyone is very causal, even in the way they dress. I work for a start up company, so there are not many employees, so I hope that I can help out in multiple facets of the business!
Before departing, I expected to be a lot closer to the beaches than we are currently. I thought I would be able to do a quick half-day at Bondi and then shower and go class. The closest beach is about an hour away, which makes getting there a little bit more difficult. I think that once I get my class and work schedule down, I will be able to manage my time better and be able to go on fun little excursions throughout the week!