Longest Saturday Ever

I’m writing this final blog somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, somewhere in between time zones.  I (unsuccessfully) attempted to spend my last night in Sydney awake so I could sleep at least some of these 13.5 hours on the plane, but now so far no luck. Instead, I’ve spent a while just thinking about all that I’ve done in my six weeks out of the country.

It may be my lack of sleep talking, but it’s already beginning to feel like a dream. I am truly so fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I had a Sports Marketing class I genuinely enjoyed, did so much at my internship, and explored the country with some great people!

Of course being in a whole new place was exciting and new and challenging, but also so was a six-week class. I’ve never taken one in such a short amount of time before. And the class itself was longer than any Pitt class I’ve ever had – 3 and a half hours two days in a row. That being said, no singular class was ever too terrible to sit through. Andy was probably the best professor I’ve ever had; he was so knowledgeable but also so approachable and laid back. Just an all-around great guy. Though the material was mainly repetitive – all things I’ve learned in my Pitt Business classes – some of it I feel like I was just learning because he made it make sense. And the best part of our class was the break he allowed some time in the middle. The entire class would head across the street to Fork and Grind, an awesome little breakfast spot with great food.  Per usual, I found one food I liked and ordered it every time: bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll – so good!

I’ve already talked about my internship with the Blue Sox, but again it was a really great experience. There is very few staff with the team so I really got to dive in and do everything. Some days were slow on workload but it also was super cool to be able to spend the downtime talking with some locals who were actually my age! Through this job I gained insight not only about the work environment and happenings of the sports industry, but also about this country and its culture. This job also motivated me to try all the weird (but mostly good) food that Aussies love! I did end up making it to the timed “Mystery Challenge” – a super dry cereal grain bar – but finished in an underwhelming second-to-last place. One of my least favorites of the food we tried.

Though I can’t say I met too many local Aussies, it was also pretty cool to spend time with this group of Americans. Before coming here, I had only really known people from the east coast of the US, but now I know people from all over! Just like the cultural differences between Australia and America, it’s cool to see what’s different between just different states. I met some great people and made what I hope to be some truly lasting friendships. I am so lucky that all the kids in this program were really so cool. With such a large group, we still had a surprisingly few number of problems and of that I am thankful. I am also lucky that the majority of the program is from Pitt. I am so excited to stay friends with these people when we return to Pittsburgh in the fall!

Though not even close to everything the city has to offer, in the past six weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten to do a whole lot. With my classmates and friends I explored all different sections of the city. I visited six beaches and, true to the Sydney Sports Business abroad program, five professional sporting events. We learned about Australian history in an Aboriginal culture workshop and the Australian sense of humor at a comedy club. We left the city for some nature with a hike through the Blue Mountains and a visit to the Featherdale Wildlife Reserve. I also got to meet some distant relatives in the Italian section for a great lunch. While all of this was awesome, my absolute favorite thing we did was stay overnight in the Taronga Zoo. This was quite the experience. We did a nighttime tour in the dark, and then slept in tents right next to the tiger exhibit. In the morning we did some behind the scenes touring and saw some amazing animals right up close. It was the coolest experience, and I’m so glad I had the chance to do it!

Now, I’m not entirely sure what time I’m in or what time it is in either end of my flight. This trip definitely has enlightened me on how fake time really is. I’m arriving in San Francisco 3 hours earlier on Saturday July 7th than it was when I left Sydney. And yet, this is the longest day I’ve ever had not because it will be literally over 24 hours but because I’ve left one of my favorite places and best experiences to date.

Cheers, Australia