Like many other students studying abroad this spring, my semester in Sydney, Australia was tragically cut short due to the harsh effects of COVID-19. I had just woken up to attend my internship like any other Thursday morning when I received a flood of text messages and emails from peers and officials from the university informing me that my GBI program had been cancelled. Although I am heartbroken to be back in the United States three weeks prior to my official end date in Australia, I am grateful for the time I had in Sydney and the life experiences and friendships I gained.
Now more than ever I can say I understand the importance of remaining adaptabile during uncontrollable and unforeseen circumstances. From the moment I learned I would have to leave Australia, I had four days to pack up my things, say goodbye to my friends, and book a new flight back home to Pittsburgh. This was certainly overwhelming and required a great deal of flexibility and composure on my part. Although this was an extremely stressful few days, it certainly improved my ability to adapt in chaotic situations. This will help me in future internships and jobs to not only maintain a relaxed attitude during hectic situations but also to make critical decisions in times of great uncertainty.
My study abroad opportunity also taught me to be more of an understanding and empathetic person. Living in such a global city with people and cultural influences from around the world exposed me to a host of different experiences that I might not otherwise have encountered in Pittsburgh or even America. By learning about Australia’s Aboriginal culture in my Communications course, picking up French slang words in my internship, and celebrating Australia’s LGBTQ+ community during Sydney’s Mardi Gras Festival, I redefined what I previously considered cultural diversity. These experiences helped me to create connections with others who have different backgrounds, native cultures, and life situations than me. Overall, studying in Australia will help me to become more of a compassionate coworker in future positions and improve my emotional intelligence as both an employee and person.
This isn’t goodbye Sydney, it’s see you later.