Prior to Arrival
As I pressed the submit button to confirm my spot in the Summer 2014 trip abroad to Australia, unanswered questions flew through my head at the speed of light. What do they even eat there? Will my roommates be serial killers? Will I be that exotic girl that everyone makes say Harry Potter? Okay, I recognize that these are all admittedly a stretch, but if you know me slippery slopes are my kryptonite. I began to second-guess the decision I had made and reconsidered what my mom wanted me to do all along: stay home and work.
Less than a minute later, I came to the realization that in less than three months I would be living across the world and pursuing my dreams. Why would I give up such a great experience to sit in suburbia just to be comfortable? I love comfort as much as the next person, but I have never been a person that wants to stay in the United States. Why not start now?
Keep up with me and my adventures through the wonderful country/continent of Australia. It’s going to be a journey we will never forget!
Allie, the soon to be Aussie
Although I would not say that I am an expert on the American business system, I would say that I need a change of both scenery and pace. Americans are so focused on getting in, to the point, and getting out, that they miss the relationships that could be fostered and the lessons that could be learned. I would love to experience the business culture of another country because it would add to my inter-cultural understandings and give me a better scope of how to do business internationally.
It is virtually impossible now to not deal with other countries in business and this experience will give me the opportunity to contribute to my future company in more ways than otherwise. I have always wanted to do international business and hopefully live abroad for a period of time and this would be a great set of connections as well as a jump-start toward my goals. In addition to my actual job and performance, I will be able to network with a larger pool and learn things about myself in the process. I have many goals for my internship experience including, but not limited to: personal development, networking, detail-orientation, and development of skills.
Living in a foreign country with no parents will do wonders for my personal growth. By the end of the eight weeks, I will be able to be much more self-sufficient and know deeply about my strengths and weaknesses. I will be thrust into a city with minimal knowledge; this is a great opportunity to learn how to swim instead of sink. I have always had the comfort of my friends, family, and familiar places to surround me and I am excited to see how far I can reach without them by my side.
In addition to comfort, starting conversations with people has always been something I have struggled with personally because I am not quite comfortable putting myself out there like that. This opportunity will push me to go out of my way to meet people because there is no way to survive if I do not. Everyone will be in the same boat as me when it comes to people my age, and my elders have much to teach me.
I have always been a person who likes both the big picture and the small, but I would like to be more inquisitive and do more research hands on. I am known to be able to take someone’s word for it if I trust them, but in this situation, I will have to learn to check the facts myself and know them inside and out. A beautiful PowerPoint is easy, but the United States is one of the few countries that will be satisfied with just that. Other countries require more of you and I am excited about the challenge.
I cannot describe the number of skills that I anticipate acquiring or even getting a surface-level knowledge of. The different software that I will encounter as well as cultural differences and social interactions will be large changes, but I know that this experience will help me to grow into a better businessperson and member of society. Apart from looking good on a resume, I will have great experiences to talk about and more knowledge about the growing world than most. This job will most likely directly correlate with my future career and will help me attain the skills necessary in a unique setting.
- Be able to navigate the city on my own
- Gain the ability to start up conversations easier with strangers
- Focus on becoming more detail-oriented with my work and understand thoroughly where each detail comes from
- Develop more confidence in asking questions
- Develop more confidence to ask for feedback from my peers and superiors
- Be able to put my knowledge and skills gained in college into action at my job in Australia
- Gain real-world experience
- Not be afraid to try new things or to fail
*Can you tell that these journal entries are for course credit? ;)*
It’s official. I have a job, a plane ticket, and a visa. The only thing stopping me from running rampant with the kangaroos is five finals and three group project. Fun, right?
Starting to talk to people about what I need to do while in Australia, I have created a Google Doc with the aggregate of suggestions. Things include Hillsong Church, the Art Gallery of New South Whales, and the Royal Gardens. It seems as if the Australians know how to name things well; all of their locations have exotic names that scream luxury. What also screams luxury is the prices! Researching how much things cost is overwhelming… $8 for Starbucks!! It’s a good thing I’m ready for an adventure.
Australia is all you could imagine and more.
Here is a list of the Top 10 things I’ve learned during my first week:
- Living in a house with twenty different people is both challenging and rewarding. Having sweet roomies for when your day doesn’t go just as planned are crucial for success in a foreign setting. So are salt and vinegar chips.
- Cuddles fix everything, enough said.
- French people have no idea what squirrels are (they also like to learn our national anthem, scream, “USA” when NSW scores during rugby, and tweet from your Twitter in French). On that note, there are no squirrels on this continent. It’s peculiar.
- The candy here is so good! Tim Tams and fancy Kit Kats are terrific.
- “Arvo” means afternoon. Used in a sentence, it reads, “Yesterday arvo, we went to the zoo.” You can also say, “disarvo,” meaning “this afternoon.” The quicker you learn this, the less you have to ask, “what?”
- Working at a manufacturing plant has its perks, such as mandatory closed-toed shoes and no heels allowed. I’m also the only American and thus an expert on the entire country (and the English language).
- Lemonade doesn’t exist here. If you order it, they give you Sprite. It sure makes for some confusion at the store and with cocktails.
- Minimum wage is $15! Sounds good to me.
- Wallabies bite, but they like to take selfies.*see my tagged photos on Facebook*
- “State of Origin” (a large rugby game between New South Wales and Queensland) is not the same thing as “State of the Union.” People will stare at you if you call it that.
The list goes on and on, but we have had a great time learning slang, getting lost, and becoming fast friends along the way. I was someone’s first American to meet (ever) and I’ve been told by a grown man that if I decide to get rid of my riding boots that he would take them. I’ve walked past a Maserati/Ferrari dealership on the way to work every day. I’ve had to convert temperature from C to F and back every day to figure out what to wear. We’ve survived without Netflix and WiFi (apart from my house and the occasional restaurant). But most importantly, I’ve learned about myself, my best friends, and this amazing country I get to call home for seven more weeks.
More Than Halfway
Update from Australia: I miss my cat (but I’m sure every one of my best friends here could tell you that).
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in these last few weeks:
- People wink a lot here. It is normal for them, but I still cringe on the inside each time my co-workers do it… (No Allison, your boss is not flirting with you.)
- I take for granted how often I type the letters e, c, x, l, and m. My keyboard at work’s keys are a bit sticky and it usually ends in gibberish. On the bright side, my critical thinking and spelling skills have increased tremendously trying to figure out how to spell whatever I was trying to say.
- Watching scary movies is much more terrifying in a house without central heating. There is something about a house that is 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) to make you feel at one with the Blair Witch or women spelunking in a cavern.
- Lorde is SO much better in concert. Go see her whenever she comes to a city near you because you won’t regret it. But you and one of your friends will regret wearing big sweaters and you will turn into the ultimate 90’s girl with two sweaters tied around your waist (you’re welcome).
- God has a fabulous sense of humor, but apparently, my friends don’t appreciate mine (I’m talking to you Court, Harry, Ev, and D).
- Kangaroo is really tasty, especially when eaten while discussing literature with CEOs.
- Being in an office with no windows gets really depressing really quickly.
- Trying to figure out computer systems created before you entered middle school is a challenge, especially when someone years ago lost the CD housing all of the data, and you are expected to call Germany and get them to send it to you for free.
- Watching and helping a friend get asked to be the maid of honor for her sister’s wedding is a beautiful thing, especially when you can still hear her screeching two hours later when she lives two doors down in the house.
- Apparently, it is super weird how many raw foods I eat. My whole office comments regularly on how many veggies I eat. I, however, find it to be both lazy and yummy.
Less than a week until I leave for the Great Barrier Reef and less than a month until I leave for Texas again. It’s going to be sad leaving, but (on a sappy note) I’m glad that five of my best friends will be with me this year and the rest is just a road trip away.
Sun Tans in Cairns
To those of you who desperately wanted that title to rhyme, don’t worry! It does!
Aussies do this thing where they don’t pronounce the letter “R” that often, so the city famous for the Great Barrier Reef is named after one of the things causing so much damage to it (“Cans”).
Growing up I had a lot of assumptions about the Reef and Australian Rainforest (and you probably do too), so here is a list of a few of the things I learned this past weekend on my adventure with Delaney and Courtney (and her parents) in the marvelous beach-town of Cairns, Queensland.
- Assumption #1: Cairns, the home of the biggest destination for the Great Barrier Reef, would have a beach. I was wrong. There isn’t a true beach within 100 kilometers from Cairns. The city has a huge port from which ships take people out to the Reef
- Assumption #2: “I can walk off the beach (*see above*) and head out to the coral offshore!” Wrong, again. It takes over 2 hours to reach the Reef by boat. I always assumed that when people said that the coral was dying from people walking on it that you could literally walk to it. I did learn the hard way how difficult it is to not hit the coral when you are fighting the waves.
- Assumption #3: Hostels are scary and dirty and straight out of a horror flick. I was at least wrong in an Australian hostel; I can’t speak for the rest of the world’ hostels. Our room was much warmer than our icebox of a home in Sydney and our showers were much larger (but sadly I can’t work a shower so I burned my scalp and ended up washing my hair in the sink). There were tons of couches and a pool, and we were right in the heart of Cairns.
- Assumption #4: Jumping into a net off of a boat will cause me no bodily harm. Sadly, I was wrong again (I’m super bad at this). Jumping off a boat onto a huge net may or may not dislocate your pinky toe and cause your whole foot to swell and bruise. Luckily by the second and third day it hurts less and less and you can freak out your housemates who want to rush you to the ER. The funniest part was that the crew wrapped my toe to the next one using electrical tape because they were out of medical tape.
- Assumption #5: I can climb up on top of a rock without sliding back 20 feet into the freezing water and taking out a Canadian girl on her 18th birthday. Please just imagine this. I’m pretty bruised up, but we had a good laugh after I apologized profusely.
- Assumption #6: Australian gelato is pretty good. Soooooooo wrong. I had Mars Bar (which is a Milky Way here) gelato down the street from my hostel and I’m still considering a flight back to get some more. Thankfully Gelato Messina (another fabulous gelato place) has two locations in Sydney. I really need to find a good one back in the states (any suggestions?) because it’s so good it rivals Blue Bell in deliciousness (heresy, I know).
- Assumption #7: Hearing a sub-par country-pop band play at a pub on a Saturday night will be downright depressing. No matter how bad the band was, Delaney, Courtney, and I jammed out to the songs and knew every word. It was a great reminder of home to see everyone singing and dancing along to the music (although no one two-stepped or did any swing dancing).
- Assumption #8: Finishing a good book right before a fancy Italian meal is a good idea. No. Bad. I was a complete wreck for about 10 minutes before Mrs. Street knocked over her beer on the table and we began to laugh uncontrollably. (Read We Were Liars right now. It’s so good and you won’t regret it.)
- Assumption #9: Hostel roommates will be creepy serial killers. We actually lived with two sweet (and gorgeous) girls that had just graduated from Uni in Manchester, England. However, hostel next door neighbors might wake you and your roommates up at 4:00 AM having a bit too much fun (if you know what I’m saying). This creates heaps of laughter the next day, once everyone can fall back asleep.
- Assumption #10: Sitting in the middle seat both ways will be dreadful. Luckily, the couple on the way back begged me for the middle seat. Who could say no to that?
Overall, it was a great weekend full of walking, snorkeling, climbing, swimming, eating, and enjoying the beautiful Great Barrier Reef as well as the rainforest. Sadly, scientists believe that by the time I will be back to visit the Reef again it will probably be gone! We were lucky to experience the reef and the rainforests of Australia while the still exist and we have so fabulous memories to look back on! Check out my pictures on Facebook of this awesome experience!
The Last Week Blues
If you’re anything like me, Monday brings a solid case of something I can only call a “case of the Mondays.” I figured I would try to get out of the rut of needing four cups of tea within my eight hours of work and reminisce a little bit on my time in Australia.
People keep asking me what I’m going to miss most about Australia as well as what I miss most about home, so here they are:
What I miss most about home:
- Driving, or even just the ability to get to places incredibly quickly. Having to take a bus or a train everywhere is convenient, but takes a long time. Our commute to downtown is 30 minutes on a good night (over an hour for rush hour) and makes me rethink my grocery needs daily because it is such a hassle to carry groceries on the bus. Sorry stomach, you are just going to have to wait.
- Bacon. The Aussies think they have bacon, but they are wrong.
- Warmth. Living in another season of winter is a bit depressing, especially when the water is generally too cold to spend quality time with the beach. Our house, however, is MUCH colder than outside. We literally live in the tundra and I’m not a fan. You know your house is cold when you’re walking outside to 50 degrees and everyone talking about how much warmer it is.
- Baking. Nothing here tastes the same and it is virtually impossible to find any kind of pre-made baking supplies like cake mix or cookie dough. What we can find tastes like cardboard. Yum.
- Mexican food. Being a Texas girl is so hard in a place that can’t feed your craving for sour cream chicken enchiladas.
- My bed, couch, and rest of my closet. This twin sized bed is just a little bit too small for my liking. I’m excited to sit on a couch where the cushions don’t slide everywhere and I don’t need to bring my comforter. Wearing the same outfits for eight weeks has gotten a bit boring.
- Things being much cheaper. I really don’t want to pay $22 for a drugstore mascara.
- My cat. (And honestly pets in general. They aren’t as common here, sadly).
- Being able to text or do anything without searching for sparse free WiFi.
- Having access to Netflix and Hulu for those nights in.
What I’m going to miss about Australia:
- People thinking I’m weird for eating so much peanut butter. Sorry to break it to you, but apples and peanut butter is a completely reasonable combination. I’m also going to miss my peanut butter only having five ingredients.
- Being able to go to the beach whenever I want and it’s just a bus away.
- Australian desserts. Thankfully I can (apparently) find Tim Tams at Target in the states and make Fairy Bread at home (get excited, roommates and family).
- Flat whites. What a beautiful combination of a cappuccino and a latte.
- The “no worries” attitude. I reckon I’m going to miss it heaps.
- Amazing gelato on every corner. Get on it, America.
- People singing “American Woman” to me, or asking if my life is like the show Dallas.
- Super cheap produce at Asian markets.
- People telling me that my accent makes me sound “classy.”
- Laughing at the 15 year-olds at a bar on a weeknight at the bar down the street using their fake IDs.
Just a few more days until I’ll be home and ready to start the next journey called Junior Year!