Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Perez

Vanessa Perez is a 23 year old hospitality student who travelled in 2014 all the way from Costa Rica in Central America, to the astonishingly lands of Australia, specifically Canberra, 8678 miles away.

female and koala

What made this intern abroad experience unique and special?

Vanessa: Definitely the place and people made this experience unique. Australia has so much more than meets the eye, at first you think of beaches, desserts and interesting animals, but it is so much more than that. You see unique landscapes you cannot see anywhere else in the world, for example the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne, it is amazing, the combination of the different tones of blue in the ocean, the mountains and the sky colors at sunset.

Also the Great Barrier Reef, which is the world’s largest coral reef and one of the largest United Nations World Heritage areas, is a gift to visit it, as well as the colors in the sky of the Aurora Australis in Tasmania. Also how Kangaroos approach to you at reserves to say hello and get pictures with you, you’ll get amazed at how friendly and welcoming they are! People are so welcoming too, I was impressed from the minute I landed to Sydney’s airport, which was my first stop in Australia, people where so helpful and approachable. No wonder Australia was nominated as the happiest industrialized nation earlier this year.

albine kangaroo

How has this experience impacted your future?

Vanessa: This internship has impacted my present and future in so many ways. It made me grow with integrity, knowing that this is when you make good and take the correct actions even if there’s nobody watching you. It made me more mature as I became independent, as I learned to do everything for myself, living alone, travelling on my own.

I also got to know myself better, what I like, what I do not like, what are my potentials and strengths, the things I need to work more for myself, my weaknesses. I met so many nice people, who taught me so much, who were a good example to me, who were supportive and marked my life by their friendship. I developed a sense of appreciation for others, for my life and the opportunities we get.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home:

Vanessa: An experience that really marked my journey was watching the ‘little penguins’ in Phillip Island (south-east of Melbourne) marching from the sea to their homes at shore as dusk falls. The penguin parents spend all day fishing at the sea, and they have to wait till dark falls to avoid the dangers of the shore (birds), so when it gets dark at around 8pm they march together in big groups to protect each other. It is so priceless to see how they wait for each other, when one is behind, how the bigger ones (33cm height) stay vigilant as the others march their way. It is a breathtaking experience.

surf team

What is one piece of advice you'd give future Australian Internships students?

Vanessa: As an advice I would say to interns to always no matter how are you feeling, keep a positive attitude and mind. Even if you do not like a task you are given, think you learn from everything, a real professional is the one that knows how to do everything on their field with responsibility and attitude, from the simplest tasks to the hardest. Also to live everyday to the fullest, use the money you earn to travel around Australia, to meet new places, to try new things, travelling is a key to learning and expanding your mind.

Do you think your program changed you as a person?

Vanessa: Yes, absolutely. I am a better person today. I always keep a smile on my face, I am more responsible with myself, I have learned the importance to motivate yourself and others, to make a difference in one’s day by simple things, to do everything giving the best of you. I am way more professional in my career. Australian Internships really compromise to place you at a high standard company, and they accomplish it.

‘To live life completely, one must be inspired by it. Feel its moments deeply. Pursue its essence fervently in the largest arenas and in the smallest parts of the day.’ (Unknown).