Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Higham

Vanessa undertook a twelve week internship at the Native Title Services NSW in Sydney. She graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Politics. Vanessa will be returning to Britain later on in 2014 to pursue a full time graduate job hopefully within the field of politics either within a non-governmental organization or a government institution.

female headshot

Why did you decide to intern abroad with Global Experiences?

Vanessa: Initially I had not researched many different internship programs before I found Global Experiences, however by the end of my first chat with an advisor at GE they had sold the program to me. Global Experiences doesn’t just find you an internship and send you to a foreign place by yourself, they also give you great advice and guidance to prepare you for every step of the internship.

The support given to you by the advisors at Global Experiences is great with any question you have being answered even if you think it may be stupid. Although I was a bit anxious before as my internship was only secured only a couple of weeks prior to my departure, I always had faith that the staff at Global Experiences would do whatever they could to the best of their ability to ensure that you get the most out of your experience.

Girls at the Blue Mountains

What did Global Experiences do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

Vanessa: Global Experiences provided us with a number of pre-departure preparation webinars that went through each stage of the process from the application, resume and cover letter writing to what to pack. These were particular informative and helpful to know exactly what to expect from the program. When we arrived in Sydney we were met by our location coordinator who had arranged all our accommodation and certain social activities held throughout the twelve weeks.

We were responsible for organising all our flights and visa documents along with much of our transport, including airport transfers and additional accommodation outside of the program. The program was great in allowing us to do a lot of things by ourselves during our free time and hang out with our friends.

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

Vanessa: As an avid chocolate-lover everybody had raved about Tim-Tams, an Australian chocolate biscuit. It consists of two biscuits sandwiched together with a light chocolate cream and then the whole thing is covered with more chocolate. In the UK we have something similar called a penguin, however this is somehow so much better.

They come in a variety of flavours from the traditional to caramel filled to Turkish delight. My favourite is definitely the white chocolate! A tradition in Australia is the Tim Tam slam where you bite off each end of the Tim Tam, suck out the filling and drink hot chocolate or milk through the middle, using the Tim Tam as a straw. I am yet to do this, however it is definitely on my to do list before I leave. It is a must!

girl feeding wallaby

Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

Vanessa: Personally I didn’t find much of a language barrier, as many of the words used in Australia are pretty much the same as what we use in the UK. Many of my fellow interns, as most of them came from the United States, found some difficulties getting to grips with some of the language used by Australians.

One instance that stood out to me was that when they ordered something the retailer would say ‘cheers’, meaning thank you, after they have given the product to them. Until they knew what this meant many of them found this very confusing. However one word I will never get the hang of is ‘thongs’ referring to flip-flops, they will always be flip-flops to me.

What is one piece of advice you'd give future Global Experiences students?

Vanessa: I would definitely say that you should take every opportunity given to you and don’t be afraid to ask to do certain things. In most cases the employer will do their best to accommodate for this to the best of their ability.

For example if you want to attend a certain meeting because it may be something that interests you, you should definitely make the first move otherwise your supervisor will never know that you are interested in attending. The worst they can say is no and if you don’t inquire in the first place you will never get the chance.