A Bittersweet Goodbye to The Land Down Under

GBI: Sydney Summer 2023 coming to an end is extremely bittersweet. In the past 6 weeks, I have met more people than expected, felt every single emotion, lived through experiences I believed only happened in movies, and tried a ton of new foods. I know I have lived through some of my best days and the highest of highs. Living in Australia has taught me the value of work/life balance and the importance of spending quality time with everyone in your life – coworkers, neighbors, friends, family, etc. Additionally, Australians speak English but heavily use slang that may take a minute to catch onto. Having said that, Aussies can easily pick up on an American accent and will most likely come up to you. Unfortunately, I was not able to venture out of Sydney but this city never sleeps. Whether its 5am, 2pm, or 1am, there are people filling the streets and businesses. My favorite memory was a day trip to Royal National Park. A group of 11 of us set out for a 6-mile hike thinking we would find ourselves at a café along the way. We ended up completing a 15-mile hike with no food at all, waiting 75 minutes for a train home afterwards, wandering onto a nature retreat site, and cooked kangaroo steaks on our rooftop upon coming home. What surprised me the most was that Aussie Winters are warmer than the American Spring, yet you will see everyone wearing puffer coats, mittens, and beanies.

The side of study abroad that no one talks about is the bittersweet goodbyes. The people in my program (from Pitt or otherwise), CAPA staff, random people met at clubs, other students in our apartment building (shoutout the Purdue gang) and beyond got me teary-eyed at the end. The long nights, unexpected run-ins, and new shared experiences were what they were because of the shared memories and laughs.

I have grown personally by understanding that you are defined by what you love. Whether it’s a job or hobby, you will find someone to bond with as it is so important to have a passion. My love for running has led me to unforgettable sights and shared advice by other runners on Darling Harbour. Academically, I was taught that reflection is key to learning. It is the key to learning because by questioning what you did, why, and how, you can grow from the experience and review your skills. Professionally, I was able to learn from the broad and diverseness of all the people in my workplace. Every individual was from a different country, spoke a different native language, and came from wildly different experiences.  

I will return to Pitt Business with exposure to a new culture that most people have not experienced and a unique management style. Most prominently, being treated with respect as a young business professional built my confidence in the workplace and revealed my value to a community.

A piece of advice I have is to focus on time management and prioritization of what you NEED to get done versus what you WANT to get done. Between your internship, commute times, attendance of class, schoolwork, socialization, excursions, and self-care (chores, working out, and eating healthy), there is a lot on your plate that can become overwhelming. I recommend planning out as much of your week as possible on a Sunday by first prioritizing mandatory obligations- attending work and your internship. Then, factor in time to get work/school things done. Then focus on self-care and what that means to you- whether it’s trying new foods, working out, alone time, etc. By doing so, you can ensure that you meet your deliverables, as well as have time for fun things. After all, you are in Sydney, Australia to explore, as well. 

Another piece of advice is to seize every opportunity that comes along with interning. By saying yes to work trips, attending optional meetings, picking up extra tasks, or coffee outings when invited, you never know who will meet and network with, what new skills you may learn, or what new door is opened for you.

Studying abroad in Australia was the best decision I have ever made. It makes me emotional just thinking about my time here, and this is so far from a goodbye! I will be back soon to The Land Down Under!

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