Sydney Expectations New & Old

One thing about my Sydney experience that has rung true from an academic, professional, and personal perspective is how heavily the expectations I had before I arrived where subverted. When people discuss studying abroad- you hear so much that expect something completely foreign to everything you know. However where the culture shock really comes from is in the little moments. For instance, instead of my boss asking “what are you doing right now” they’ll say “what’s on?”. Small changes in phrases and terms are just one of the many minor adjustments I’ve had to make while abroad. I was honestly ready to experience complete culture shock when studying abroad in Sydney. But what I didn’t expect is how these cultural differences represent themselves not in crashing waves of difference but in minor inconsistencies. This rings true both professionally and academically as well.
From a personal perspective I expected myself to find and experience new challenges and ideas. What I did not expect was just how much self-reflection goes on while studying abroad. Two years of studying in Pittsburgh gave me a certain pattern and consistency that I could follow. I never really had to question what I enjoyed or what really worked for me in terms of work or classroom setting. For instance, one expectation I did not have was just how small my classes (and my workplace) would be in terms of people. Two-thirds of my classes consist of less than ten people and I am the only employee at my internship. Pitt has always fostered a large community of diverse students and educators and more often than not those classes push students towards collaboration. I was expecting that I’d be working with people from different backgrounds, but in truth I was expecting these backgrounds to be primarily Australian. In reality most of my teamwork experience has come in the form of GNL projects. These are classroom assignments that have you working with other study abroad students at different locations around the globe. My newly established classroom settings and global projects have really pushed me to think about just exactly what works for me in terms of my own personal work process. For example, while I always enjoyed working in a group setting having to work with groups twelve time zones removed from me really helped me to understand that I enjoy working face-to-face with people where problems and ideas can easily be figured out and explained.
Along with this studying abroad has constantly challenged me to think about not only who I am as a person but what I want to gain and bring back with me from my time in Sydney.
My expectation was that studying abroad would help me expand my horizons in all aspects of my life- which it has. However, I did not expect it to also focus so heavily on professional, academic and personal reflection as well.