Before I answer the questions for our last blog post of the semester, I wanted to look back at these last two months. This has been, by far, the best experience of my life, and I feel it has matured me more than I could have imagined. The perspective that this trip has given me is probably the most important life lesson I’ve ever received. Not once did I have culture shock, and since the day I landed there I felt at home. In fact, after being home for five days, I have had more culture shock and separation anxiety than any other time in my life. Which I feel gives me a great reason to go back, and I’m sure this will not be the last time I come to Sydney.
Looking back I can’t really think of any major challenges that I faced while in Sydney. If I had to pick one though I would say that, at least to this extent, this was the first time I was an adult. I had the responsibilities of a 21+ year-old, and unlike in Pittsburgh, I had no safety net. No family I could call if I was in a tough situation, no prior knowledge of the city or the culture. I was completely accountable for every action I took. Thankfully I’ve always been an independent person, so the transition wasn’t that difficult. Although I definitely learned a better sence of time management, learned how to cook more complex meals, and most importantly I learned how to budget my money better.
I feel like there is so much I wish I would have known prior to studying abroad, so I am going to make this its own paragraph. While I wouldn’t change a thing about these last two months, exept us being able to complete our time in Sydney, there are things that the next set of students studying abroad should know. For one, and I know everyone you ask is gonna say this, do not over pack. You will be surprised at how much money spend and the amount of things you will want to bring back, so try to keep at least one suitcase half empty to account for this. Another thing I would say is to practice cooking for yourself before you get there, and have at least five to ten set recipes you can always fall back on if you need a last minute meal. Lastly I would say don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Spend as much time as you can outside of your apartment, and really your neighborhood. Make it appoint to go to at least one new area in your city a week. The most important piece of advice I can give though is to have fun, and make the most of it. It’s easy to let the days pass you by, especially once you get in a routine, but make sure you spend every day happy. Oh and when you buy Tim Tams just get the family pack becuase trust me they’ll go by pretty quickly.
Prior to reading this question I feel like I actually answered it in the first few paragraphs. Every time people ask me about Sydney one of the first things I say is that it gave me perspective. Yeah the beach was nice, but I feel I came here for a larger reason. Studying abroad made me grow up, and already felt I was more mature than my age would suggest before coming. The example I like to use is that my priorities are a lot different. I used to think about getting a new pair of shoes, or going to a Steelers game, things like that. Now though, I realize I’m focused on getting an apartment, and buying myself a car. Speaking on perspective though, I feel that my standards are much higher. While I have been out the country before, I have never been this far and for this long. In doing so, I realize how underwhelming the United States really are to me. So if an interviewer were to ask me what I learned, it would be that I want so much more than what the America can give me, and now I have the motivation to achieve it.