My experience abroad in Sydney this past semester was incredible. I lived in the Pyrmont area directly next to the central business district. This location provided me with a short commute to classes at the CAPA center, and my work at H&R Block. I was able to travel around the city visiting historical buildings, famous beaches, and incredible national parks. During my exploration of the city I was also able to learn about the history of many of the neighborhoods in Sydney, and understand the cultural influences on each area. Outside of Sydney I was able to travel to the south island of New Zealand, and the city of Cairns. In New Zealand I visited the Fiordland a beautiful mountainous region and Milford Sound. In Cairns I was able to see the great barrier reef and visit a tropical island. This experience was incredible and I am so glad I was able to travel to the places I did.
Through this experience I have grown personally, professionally, and academically. Academically I have learned about the history of Sydney and Australia as a whole, and international finance. I now know far more about Australia, one of the largest economies in the world, and their relevance regarding international finances. Professionally I have grown my knowledge of tax, and communication skills with clients. Working with two separate tax systems at the H&R block US expat division I was able to learn about IRS filing requirements regarding especially complex situations. Personally I grew in my knowledge of Australian and Asian customs. Sydney being so close to Asia has a very strong economic and cultural connection to Asia. I grew through my exposure to a level of diversity I had previously never known. I also grew having been given the opportunity to experience life outside of the US. Australia has a much more relaxed work system emphasizing the importance of vacation time, and retirement savings.
My final takeaways from the program were the importance of time management and friendship. Completing all of my work for classes and scheduling trips ahead of time saved time and money and allowed me to maximize my benefit from that work and save money when traveling. At Pitt business I will certainly bring back this skill to enhance my ability to participate in the opportunities offered. Friendship is also very important as living with a 10 hour time difference away from all family is very taxing. The great friendships I have made through the program will be brought back to pitt business along with the communication skills developed with them.