The impact study abroad has had on me

After arriving at the Pittsburgh International Airport, it really set in…it was over. My 3 months studying abroad had come to an end and I’d have to readjust to the American lifestyle. When I walked off of the plane, I got this feeling of relief that I was back in my home country, yet I also felt displaced. I had called Sydney my home for such a long time that I felt like an outsider in my own country.  Not to mention, the combination of jetlag and the lack of sleep had been a contributor to that feeling of confusion and displacement. I understood that I would be feeling this way for maybe the next week.

After being back for about a week now, I’ve noticed that I’ve had to adjust the way I speak to people. Ironically, I noticed this when I first arrived in Australia. My American accent stuck out and people would look at me like I was out a movie. So, instead of “no worries”, it was “no problem” or instead of “how are you going?” it was “hi, how are ya?”. These minor differences were the ones that hit me the most, I think. Coming back, I was more self-conscious about what I was saying and how I was delivering a message to someone. My communicating skills were something I was hoping to improve upon before I left and I think it has allowed me to become more self-aware.

I never would have imagined I’d travel as much as I did during my three months abroad. Besides Sydney, I was fortunate enough to have visited New Zealand, Bali, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef. I’m beyond grateful that I was able to witness so much of the world in such a small span of time. I’ve definitely come out of this experience with a more global, ethnographic perspective on the world we call home.

Regarding my academics and professional goals, I enjoyed learning in a new setting other than Sennott Square and working for my internship placement company in the Sydney Startup Hub. The change of location allowed me to break out of my complacent thoughts and comfortable feelings that I had previously felt. I started to explore other potential career paths and try things I never would have thought I’d be doing. Through networking, I made a lot of connections that could be good references for later job opportunities. A co-worker of mine introduced me to a search query data visualization tool which ended up being useful in my internship. Also, working for a real estate tech startup made me realize how competitive the Australian startup community is.

I think studying abroad, no matter how long the program length is, is something every student should consider during there time in college. The memories will stay with me forever and the experience is like none other.