My time in Sydney was amazing and I would not trade it for anything. However, living and working in a new country is always going to present new challenges, no matter how similar the lifestyle there is to what we are used to.
One of the biggest challenges I faced during my time in Australia was learning how to balance my schedule on a daily basis. Every day is exciting when there is a new city to explore on a daily basis, but with a full course load of classes and an internship, it was definitely a challenge to learn how to balance my time. At Pitt, it seemed much easier to manage my time because we live where we go to school. I also have not yet had an internship or job on campus yet, so I was not used to such a schedule. But in Australia, there was always new places to explore and sights to see. Most weekends, my friends and I would attempt to travel around the city and visit different places like beaches, state parks and restaurants. However, during the week, my schedule was mostly comprised of classes, homework and my internship hours. I was able to manage my time by utilizing the calendar on my computer to keep track of all of my due dates and assignments as well as hours for work. This way, I would be alerted automatically a few days beforehand and I was able to better plan out my free time. Part of studying abroad is experiencing a new culture and exploring a global city such as Sydney, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that you are still there to study.
One of the greatest takeaways form my study abroad experience were the transferable skills I gained throughout my time there. As mentioned above, time management, both in terms of my personal schedule as well as within my internship is a skill that I have developed a much greater appreciation for. It is difficult to manage a schedule with an internship, classes and a desire to explore. But this skill is applicable to every career and is certainly a skill that I would share with a recruiter during an interview. Another skill I really took away from this experience was my ability to adapt to change. From the moment I arrived in Sydney, I had to adjust to a new way of life that includes subtle differences, like not being expected to tip at restaurants, to more obvious ones, like a more relaxed workplace environment. Gaining a greater understanding for how other countries and cultures differ from my own is a skill that not only applies to my professional career but provides me with a greater worldview as well. Adapting to change would be a tool that I would certainly reference to a recruiter because it would show that I can fill multiple roles and be a versatile asset for that organization.
Although my time was cut short in Sydney this semester, I hope I was able to provide you with a good idea of what my experience was like. If you are thinking about Pitt’s GBI in Sydney, Australia, go for it! I can guarantee you will not regret it.