Oh boy, where do I start. This has absolutely been the best 7 week experience of my life. From the relationships I made, to the unique experiences I encountered, there was never a dull moment during this trip. It is amazing how fast the entire program went by. It feels like I was just leaving from the Pittsburgh airport last week. That is always the sign of having a good time. Not only did I get to explore Sydney to it’s near fullest, I got to see the northern and southern areas of Cairns and Tasmania, as well as nearly the entire country of New Zealand. These will remain core memories throughout my life, stories I will tell to my future kids and friends. It is tough to pick just one place as my favorite. That being said, I think the best part of the trip was the relationships and friendships I made along the way. I came into the program only knowing 1 person, but left feeling as though everyone was a lifelong friend. I bonded so closely with most of the other students in the program over the time here. Luckily, most of them go to Pitt as well, so we will only be a step away once back on campus! I owe a lot to these friends for making the trip the most amazing time that it was.
There was so much I learned during my time abroad. The cultural difference was the biggest shock to me. Australia honestly isn’t too different from American culture, but the differences are noticeable. The entire time here I felt submerged in a new environment, finding a way to navigate it all. This helped me grow so much over the short span of 7 weeks. This all contributed to one thing – stepping out of my comfort zone. There were many times throughout the trip that I tried and experienced something new. Whether it be foods, cliff jumping, or bungee jumping, I became fearless when it came to new things. I have always been an adventurous person, but I think this trip abroad opened my eyes to the new possibilities and encounters. I’m proud to say this has made me a more confident person. The can also be attributed to my classes and internship. There were many times that I had to ‘step outside of the box’ when working for my classes and internship. We had presentations and mock interviews in class that greatly helped develop this confidence. At my internship, I had one of the best teams that I have ever worked on. Everyone was always so supportive of me and helped me achieve my goals. This always put a smile on my face, as well as reassurance in my own skills.
There are so many skills and takeaways that I hope to bring back to Pitt, but the biggest one of them all is just being positive. I noticed that everyone I met here always had a smile on their face. Everyone was very pleasant to talk to and friendly. I’m not saying that people I meet in the US aren’t nice, but it stood out to me more than ever how much other people appreciated you. I want to bring this back to Pitt, as something as simple as a smile can change everyone’s day.
I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. This trip abroad has easily been one of the best decisions of my life and has transformed me not only as a student and professional, but as an individual. I would recommend this trip 100 times and do it all over again if I could. Thank you to everyone that has helped me and made the experience better along the way.