Before departing for Sydney, I had so many exciting expectations. I was ready to fully immerse myself in a new culture through exploration of the city, learning in my sports marketing class, and interning with the New South Wales Blue Sox. I expected to meet many new friends, including both other college students and locals, while also improving my global competency.
While I have met so many other college students and have made many new friends, I have not met as many locals as I expected. My classes are filled with other American students and my friends and I typically frequent touristy attractions and run into other foreigners, not as much locals. My goal for the upcoming weeks is to find hidden gems that all the locals visit to meet more.
Another aspect of my experience that I did not expect is the amount of time I would spend interning, learning in class, and doing homework. I knew that the workload would be dense, but I do not have much free time during the week as I expected. I spend 20 hours interning, 8.5 hours learning in class, and about 6 hours each week commuting to work. On top of all that I must complete research papers, group projects, journals, and discussion posts for homework, but I appreciate it all because I am learning so much.
My three biggest takeaways from my first few weeks abroad in Sydney are that once you figure out the transportation system, it is easy to navigate the city, the Australian workplace is much more laid back than it is in America, and it is important to budget your money. CAPA gave all students an Opal card, which allows us to get anywhere in the city through public transportation. I have taken buses, trains and subways all throughout the city and am proud to say I only got lost once; it made me realize that the transportation system here is very useful and can aid me in exploring this vast city. I also came to realize that in Australia the workplace is not as formal. For my first day of work I wore a nice blouse with business pants and dress shoes only to see everyone else in the office dressed in blue jeans, sweatshirts and sneakers. My next work outfit was much more laid back. Lastly, I learned the importance of budgeting my money. The first week here, I did not budget and spent more than I was planning, so I decided to create a budget to make sure I would not run out of money. Since establishing a weekly budget, I have been more cautious of my spending habits.
The transition to my internship, aside from my dress code misunderstanding, has been very smooth. Both my boss and supervisor have been super nice and helpful. Whenever I am assigned a task, they ensure that I am given all the information I need and are always very responsive whenever I have a question. The only obstacle I have faced is to remember that since the Australian workplace is very laid back, swearing is common, so I should not be alarmed whenever I hear my boss casually drop the f bomb.
The only advice I have for others working in a foreign country is to remember that it is important to be aware of cultural differences. You want to make sure that you are always respectful and not doing anything that may be acceptable in America but would be offensive to another culture.