Kia Ora (Hello)!

Hi everyone! In this post, I will reflect on my first few weeks abroad, talk about some of my prior expectations for study abroad and give an update on what I have been up to since my last post.

Now that I am about halfway finished with my study abroad program, I often think back to the weeks leading up to my departure and first few days in country and marvel at how far I have come. Previously, before coming to Australia, I had expected a difficult time transitioning into a new culture and country. After all, this would be the longest time I was so far away from home.  However, Australian and American culture are so similar that I had no problem adjusting. Sure, there are a few differences here and there that took some time getting used to (the driving on the opposite side of the road still really throws me off) but overall I had a very smooth transition. The fact that English is the dominant language definitely makes my life a lot easier. Often times I actually forget that I am in a foreign country. To me, it seems like I am on vacation in Florida or somewhere similar. Now that I can confidently navigate the streets of Sydney without Google Maps open and use public transportation like a pro, I *almost* feel like a local.

In regards to my internship abroad, I have to admit in the beginning I was a little nervous about working in a foreign country. I was unsure if Australian business culture was the same as the United States. Some differences that I have noticed so far in Australian workplace culture is that cursing is very commonplace, small talk before meetings is a must do, professional and personal relationships often mix, happy hours every day are not uncommon, and lastly Australians are much more direct in the manner in which they speak. Despite all of these differences, I was able to adjust quickly with the help of my amazing mentor/boss and supportive colleagues.

Academically, I had expected that my classes would be extremely demanding and that I would have to spend a majority of my time studying. In fact, almost the opposite is true. Now with that being said, this is not to say that I do not spend time on school because I absolutely do- homework, weekly quizzes, and multiple group projects make sure of that! But each of my classes meets only once a week for 2.5 to 3.5 hours each time. This means there is more focus on in- class activities rather than at home work. We also take field trips in every one of my classes which is a pleasant surprise. This allows us to learn from doing and observing and provides more opportunities to explore Sydney.

Now moving on to the fun stuff! Today marks the last day of my week long spring break (I am currently writing this blog post during my layover at the airport). Two of my friends and I traveled to New Zealand and we did a tour of the South Island. If I had to sum up the entire trip in one word it would be breathtaking. The scenery is unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced before. We traveled through vast mountains and valleys that stretched all the way up past the clouds. We saw lakes and oceans full of water so clear I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. The towering mountains and vast oceans really drove the point that we, as humans, are such as small part of this world and it really gave me some new perspective. We went hiking, did a tour of Mt Cook and Milford Sound, went canyoning (so much fun!), luge riding down a mountain, and explored Christchurch and Queenstown. One thing that surprised me was how quaint New Zealand was. I was expecting it to be a big city but instead we encountered a small town nestled into the side of a mountain. I have included some pictures from my trip at the bottom of this post even though pictures don’t really do it justice.

Next weekend I will be traveling north of Sydney to Cairns for a weekend where I will be going scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. More exciting adventures to come!