What surprised me the most about my study abroad trip was how easily I adjusted. The culture in Sydney, Australia is heavily influenced by the UK and the US. I was surrounded by a variety of resources, including my friends and CEA CAPA staff. In addition, since everything is in English, everything was very straightforward. The city is very clean and easy to navigate, calming my worries as someone who is almost always lost. If you would have asked me a year ago about a 30 minute commute via walking, I would say I would just drive. Now the idea of walking by foot to and from work does not phase me anymore. If possible back in Pittsburgh, I would walk. If I had to give advice to someone considering this program, I would say, do it and do not worry about being there by yourself. It is a very rewarding experience and comes with a smaller learning curve than other countries. The city is very safe and people are more than happy to help you if you ask. On a less serious side, bring your own plastic or metal straws if you do not like the paper ones! Overall this program has altered my global perspective and has opened my mind to potential opportunities out of college. For example, I could see myself taking a few years and living in Australia. I’ve done the daily commute, hung my clothes to air dry, used only wooden utensils, used public transportation, etc.
I’ve grown professionally not only by learning common practices, but I learned more about consulting and the tourism/attraction sector I worked in. I’m proud to say I’ve maintained a hectic schedule so I always had time to be spontaneous and explore. Although I do not see myself studying abroad again while in college, I will never stop raving about my experience or encouraging others to go. Although I did not have any specific goals other than completing the program and having a good time, I have sharpened many skills. Some of my biggest takeaways from this experience include just taking a deep breath. Although everything is so fast paced between traveling, commuting to work, working, classes, homework, social activities, etc, I found it important to just be in the moment. By taking a minute to take a deep breath and appreciate where I am, I am able to appreciate my surroundings, the value of the experience, and it leaves me in an overall better mood.
In addition to continuing to value a balance, there are some other skills I plan on bringing back with me. As I return to Pitt Business, I now have the ability to be a working adult in another country and leverage that knowledge. In addition, when doing future projects with a global perspective, I can now speak to other countries’ cultures even if they are halfway around the world. While I am excited to get back and get into a summer routine, I will never stop reflecting and bringing up my time in Sydney. Definitely a trip of a lifetime!