I would like to take the time and send a sincere thank you to the donors who helped make my semester abroad possible by offering this scholarship opportunity. Your kind efforts help make students like me engage in an an incredible life experience that will have an impact on my future career and goals. I hope through my previous posts and this final reflection that these generous people can gain insight into my Australian journey.
Not to sound cliché, but I truly learned so much about myself this past semester in Sydney. I have realized that traveling and living in another country is something quite surreal that widened my global perspective and future life outlook. Now with two international experiences under my belt, there seems to be more opportunity for me down the road. As a rising senior (which I still haven’t come to grips with), the idea of living and working in another country after graduating has become a potential reality. Having formed new professional connections at my internship, just the thought of being able to turn those reflections into a potential career is intriguing.
Another major realization I had in Sydney was the importance of understanding the culture and social norms of the host country. I do not want to oversimplify this, but as Americans who live in such a huge place, it is normal to be confused and surprised by the way things work or the way people act in another country. Nonetheless I learned that part of culturally immersing oneself is being accepting and understanding of any sort of unexpected aspects like these. The last thing anyone would want to do is disrespect anyone in the host city–this will make you seem like a complete tourist, which is not ideal.
Of course the main reason why students go abroad is the destination, but keep in mind that the people you spend time with will be a major contribution to your experience. Having the chance to make new friends is always great, but you want to make sure that these new people benefit your time and not take away from it. I unfortunately had times when even though I enjoyed where I was traveling, certain people acted in ways that made it less enjoyable. This is another reason why I encourage future students to take the time to do some self-exploration. Moments when I took walks around Sydney or went down to the beach by myself were some of my most memorable. Sometimes it is nice to be in charge of the journey rather than relying on a group. It will also improve your navigation skills!
I have now been back in the States for a few days. While it is weird to be back home after some time, it has been nice to reacquaint with friends and family. Looking ahead to my final year at Pitt, I plan on using my abroad experience as a way to approach my future coursework and career. Additionally, I hope to share my international knowledge with other business students thinking about going abroad. If I can make this decision easier for someone else, that will make my time in Sydney even more worthwhile.
All in all, this was such a unique three plus months of my college career and life up to this point. Sydney, I cannot believe that just last week I was living it up in your beautiful city. Australia may be across the globe, but trust me, I am sure that this will not be my last time on your shores!