Before I started my program, I was expecting the whole experience to go by smoothly, but the second I stepped on my flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, I was filled with anxiety. I was not worried about enjoying my program and growing as a person, but I was scared that I was not going to be there for the people who I cared about that were in the States. I was also slightly anxious because I received my internship placement only a few days before leaving. I was placed with an Australian Rules Football (AFL) team called the Greater Western Sydney Giants, and I did not know a thing about AFL. I tried to put off thinking about studying abroad and did all my packing and preparation last minute, but the fact that I was leaving really hit me on my flight.
My first week in Sydney went by quickly. I moved into my living accommodations, got acquainted with my neighborhood, became familiar with the Sydney train system, learned about the CAPA center and how to make my way there, and I got to explore the city. I even made a practice run of my commute to my internship site. I was incredibly impressed when I finally got to see my office, and everything seemed to go right during my first week.
During my second week is when things started picking up. I started my internship, which required me to wake up incredibly early to commute. However, I had a great first day and that left me incredibly excited for the rest of my internship. My classes left me with a slightly different impression after the first week. A lot of the material in my sports marketing class was very similar to material I had already learned at Pitt, however, my teacher, was incredibly nice and very approachable. My internship supplement class was not as favorable. The class was incredibly bland and most of the material was not very applicable to my life. By the end of the week, I created a schedule that I was very comfortable with.
Weeks three through five went by in a blur. My internship environment and coworkers were great, but the work itself was not what I thought it would be. I learned many valuable lessons, but my internship really showed me that I do not want to pursue a career as a salesman or as a customer relations representative. I enjoyed my sports marketing class, but I felt like it was missing something. I do not think six weeks was enough to cover the material. The class only scratched the surface of a topic that I find very interesting.
Throughout my program, I fell into a routine and the time just seemed to go by. I distracted myself with my internship and my schoolwork and did not really take the time to look around me. In the last week, it dawned on me that I was not being honest with myself, and I did not communicate with people back home the way I should have. Throughout the program, I never took the time to think about how I felt and if I was really enjoying myself. I thought that if I kept my nose to the grindstone that I would make it through my program. In the end, I was exhausted, but I learned a great deal about myself.
Studying abroad was not what I thought it would be, but I am glad that I did it. It made me realize a lot about myself and what I want in life. I thought growing as a person would be easy while abroad, but it was not. Growing as a person requires not only getting out of your comfort zone but realizing that you are out of your comfort zone. I also realized that I have a lot to learn when it comes to communication. If you want to be honest with others, you have to be honest to yourself first. There is also a big difference between listening and actively listening. The ability to actively listen and understand is essential to communicating.
Studying abroad helped me realize what I want in a career. I have always known that I want to do what makes me happy and that is what is most important to me in my career, but I have never truly been able to express this. I now know that I need to spend more time thinking about what really makes me happy and being able to express it to those around me.
After studying in Sydney, I feel a new sense of drive to keep exploring careers and professions that spark a passion in me. I want to do what makes me happy in life. My biggest takeaway from study abroad is that the best way to show people you care about them is to show them that you are listening to them and that you genuinely care about what they are saying.