I have always been a student who spends a large portion of time on schoolwork. Before I arrived in Sydney, I knew that it would be tough to stay on top of my academics while exploring a new city. I knew that I would l place a lot of effort on schoolwork because of my strong work ethic, but I was unsure how well I would juggle personal life with my academics. However, one of the biggest lessons I learned while abroad, is that you are constantly learning whether you are in a classroom or not. Some of the most important skills I acquired were time management, patience, and adaptability. I did not learn these skills while I was sitting in my International Marketing class, I learned these skills by exploring different city suburbs, flying to new destinations, and learning to understand the Australian culture. For me, my biggest challenge was accepting that this semester abroad was going to be unlike any other semester I experienced at Pitt. I had to change the way I thought, change how I solved problems, and change my daily routine. This semester taught me how to be more independent.
Over the two months that I got to spend in Sydney, meeting new friends, trying amazing food, and seeing natural wonders of the Earth, I learned how to develop as a person. I began to understand how important it was to balance planning situations and naturally going with the flow. Some of the best experiences that I had were a result of not planning and seeing where the day would take me. Sometimes it was crucial to plan, like when I had to uber to the airport after class to make my flight to the Gold Coast which allowed me only 10 minutes to grab my suitcase in my apartment. I learned to be patient when traveling with a group. I realized how important it was to listen to everyone’s advice when learning how to navigate a new city. There are so many things I was able to gain an understanding of before my program was cancelled. When reality hit and I knew I had to move back home, I was able to accept my time in Australia for all the stunning sites I was able to see and the lessons I learned. This is when I realized how crucial it was to be adaptable to any situation. I remember hearing how important it was to be willing to change and expect the unexpected when going abroad. However, no one prepares you for a pandemic. It is almost unreal writing this knowing that from now on, the world will be different. My advice to those who hope to study abroad in the future is to never stop wanting to learn and see more of the world.
Adapting to this ‘new normal’ way of life has been a challenge. The biggest shock to me was how the situation was so unexpected. Some of the most important transferable skills that I developed while abroad were personal development, adaptability, and problem solving. Learning to be grateful for every individual moment I experienced abroad was my first step to accepting that my program was cut short. I was able to develop a strong sense of self-reflection and I fully understood how my personal problems were so small compared to what was going on in the world. This humbled me in a way. I was able to cherish the moments I had in Sydney and realize that nothing is guaranteed in life. I learned how to be a better problem solver. This allowed me to be a quick thinker and to not hesitate when making time-sensitive decisions. As I said before, adapting to change has been my biggest takeaway. I always considered myself to be decent at handling change, then I went abroad and realized how much more there was to learn in regard to accepting uncontrollable events. Now, I fully understand the vast amount of skills and lessons I will still learn in my lifetime. Traveling across the world and seeing how much opportunity you are faced with leaves you with a feeling of excitement. In the future, I will always solve my personal problems in a different way, because I know that even with unwanted change, I will always learn something new about myself.