Sitting on the porch watching the sunset at my lodging in Cairns reminiscing on a weekend full of adventures at the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree, it started to hit me just how much of a dream this trip has been so far and how lucky I am to be here. My internship supervisor had been kind enough to let me switch around my schedule to allow for an extra long weekend that gave me four days in “Tropical North Queensland.”
Has the trip had its ups and downs so far? For sure.
To start, the internship has been quite the emotional rollercoaster. My placement was one that I thought had amazing potential and I imagined it would be the perfect first step in my trend towards a more data analytics related career. That has not panned out as expected. While I had a very easy time adjusting to the Aussie workplace culture and, as far as I know, am fairly well-liked, I had to deal with a rather difficult transitional period between two supervisors since the first one started to experience unexpected health problems. I’m trying to not let this get me down since time is so limited and because I’ve kept a positive perspective, I’m happy to say my soft skills have seen significant development.
I’m also finally working on a project in my area of interest, but for confidentiality reasons I can’t say that much about it. Overall, despite not aligning with my expectations, I think I’m growing more because of the flexibility and adaptability skills I’m gaining as a result of working through everything.
In terms of personal goals for the trip, entering the trip, I hoped to develop increased confidence and self-awareness and increase my adaptability to new situations. I also hoped to overcome a fear of spiders but I can’t comment on that because the prevalence of these creatures is over hyped in the US and I have yet to see one here. Aside from that, my expectations have remained on track although taking on a different shape than I anticipated.
I’ve developed the adaptability factor from my internship as previously mentioned. My confidence has grown in an unfortunate way through my own stupidity. After the initial adjustment period, where I mostly hung out with other students from the program, I decided to stop conforming to the norm and create the experience I really want.
Sometimes this has meant breaking off from the basic tourist track and doing things that interest me by myself. Surprisingly, this has actually helped me engage with the culture and meet Aussies more than before. My favorite way to meet Aussies is to go pet their dogs and just start a conversation. I’ve met so many really cool people like this.
On the flip side, it’s also resulted in my having to hitchhike (which is legal in New South Wales) at night from a national park to the train station. Certainly not an ideal situation but I attribute that to my own lack of planning and I learned my lesson. All that matters is that I’m here now and I’m all safe.
Running into unexpected situations like these and having to take charge and rely on myself, I’ve really begun to notice how comfortable and confident I am in my daily life. I feel like there’s nothing that I can’t find a way to solve and I’m really happy that I’ve gotten to this point.
Academically, I expected the class that I’m taking, Analyzing the Global City, to be an intense course given the condensed time. I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far about the way the class is structured. The class sessions are shorter than a normal summer class and the extra time is made up by preparatory readings and short online discussion posts that I can do from anywhere. I’ve also had the opportunity during field classes to see some museums and memorials that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen which has helped me learn about and appreciate Australian culture. Considering I didn’t have high expectations for the course and it’s a gen-ed that I didn’t have much interest in, this has been a pleasant surprise.
I’m living my best life right now and I can’t wait to see what adventures I have still coming my way. Until next time, cheers!
(Note: Photos in this post were taken from my day trips to Brisbane Waters National Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, both about an hour and a half train ride away from our Sydney accommodations.)