There are not enough words to describe how grateful I am to CIS Abroad for providing me the opportunity to intern in Sydney, Australia for 8 weeks this summer. I am just in the middle of the program now, and I am having the time of my life. Being able to see firsthand how Australian business is run, getting hands-on experience that will directly impact my future career, and having weekends to explore one of the most amazing cities in the world is something I will never forget or take for granted.
Even though I have been here such a short time, I have already learned a lot. I believe my patience has grown ten-fold, and I already considered myself a patient person before I came here. I have been given tasks that seemed daunting at first, but I stayed confident and was able to tackle them and feel proud of the work I did. I have learned the best ways to communicate with my supervisor. I had some difficulties adjusting when I first arrived in Sydney and was forced to either bring them up to my supervisor and my CIS Abroad advisor or suffer and stay quiet. I chose the former, and I am so happy I did. I learned how to best deal with conflict resolution, which tends to be difficult when it is your own issue you need assistance with. In the end, things could not have been better. Everyone worked to make sure I was comfortable but still being pushed, which I am so grateful for.
On a non-work related topic, the friendships you get to make through this program are invaluable. I have made the most incredible relationships with the students that arrived in Sydney at the same time as me, as well as the other international students and interns living in my apartment building. We have gone on many adventures together in our short time here, and we have quite a few more planned! It has made the adjustment process so smooth and wonderful to have people to relate to and spend time with. They serve as a distraction from homesickness, adventure buddies, and true friends I honestly believe I will cherish forever. They are each so genuine and caring, and I can't imagine how different my experience would be without them.
One of the tough parts about getting to Sydney from the States was the time zone change. I would recommend staying up as LATE as possible on your first day and then sleeping at night; no naps when you first arrive. This helped me adjust to the new time so much quicker than others I know. I also had some difficulty with flight cancellations and delays on my way from the States to Australia, but if it happens to you, stay calm! Everything works itself out, and the CIS Abroad staff made me feel so relaxed and at ease and made sure that I was fully caught up on things I missed and totally taken care of when I arrived. My on-site director even bought me breakfast and snacks and had them waiting for me in my room when I arrived at the accommodation in case I would be hungry (which I was, so I greatly appreciated her generosity)!
Another tip for navigating the city is just to explore! The Sunday before our first day of work, each of the interns I live with went our separate ways to try to find the best route to take to our job sites. I got very lost, but Google Maps is a lifesaver! Buses and trains are everywhere, and even if you feel lost, chances are that you aren't too far away from either where you need to be, or modes of transportation that can help get you there fast! Just be wary of how much you are spending on your Opal card, which is what Australians use for public transportation. It can get quite expensive! However, if you ride a bus or a train more than 8 times in a week, every ride after that is half priced! Which is a great deal, especially since it doesn't take too long to hit 8 rides.
The best thing I purchased here so far has been my phone plan. I chose to go with Vodafone, which is one of Australia’s largest phone companies. I was nervous that I would not be able to talk to my family regularly, whether because of international plan limitations or the crazy time difference, but that hasn’t been the case at all! I purchased a monthly prepaid phone plan that gave me 24 GB of data for only $35, and unlimited calls and texts within the country. I’ve been using my data to FaceTime my parents and friends back home! Its been almost a month, and I have plenty of data left before I need to repurchase the plan. My commute in the morning is about an hour and a half, and when it is 8am in Australia and I am getting on a train, it is 6pm the day before at home, which is the perfect time to call and touch base with my family. I have made this my daily routine, and it starts my day off in the best way. Don’t be nervous you won’t be able to contact home! There are EASY ways to make it happen, even if you don’t choose to make it a daily thing. I was terrified to not have much communication, but my worries were for nothing. Like I said, everything works out!!
As I said, I have only been in Sydney about 3 weeks now. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy exploring every chance I get! My favourite travel-related memory has to be the day we went to Palm Beach Wharf to take a ferry to the Basin. This was about a two-hour bus ride from Sydney, but talking and laughing with my friends helped make it feel short. We got to feed and play with wild wallabies when we were there, and it was insane to see how close they came to us and how friendly they were. I never imagined I would see a wallaby so close and in person! Palm Beach is also incredibly beautiful. I would definitely recommend going there if you ever come to Sydney. Another thing I look forward to every day is coming home and hearing about my friends’ days. Each of us is doing an internship that is in a different field, so there are always unique stories to be heard, funny things that happened in the office or on their commute, and what they are working on.
I can’t wait to use what I am learning at my internship in my future career and life in general. Its only been three weeks, and I feel more prepared to be in a career field than I ever have been before. I chose to do a general business administration/event planning internship, as I do not yet know what I want to do for a career in the future. This has opened my eyes to what it looks like to run a business and plan large events. Even though I came at the end of planning, I was able to dive in headfirst to help finalize details and plan my internship’s huge annual Ball that hosts over 500 guests! It was a doozy to work on, but I learned so much in such a short amount of time regarding what it takes to pull together such an extravagant night. It came together so beautifully, and I was so proud to have had even a small part in making it the success that it was.
If you are considering a trip with CIS Abroad, to anywhere in the world, DO IT! Don’t wait! This is a life-changing experience I would encourage anyone to look into. I am learning more about myself and growing, both personally and professionally, than I ever believe I would. I attribute this growth and knowledge directly to CIS Abroad and my wonderful supervisor at my internship. I have never been a very shy person, but I feel as though I have emerged from a shell I didn’t even realize I had. I am not afraid of these new adventures and challenges, but I am embracing them with everything in me. I was terrified that I would be incredibly homesick and not want to finish the 8 weeks, but I have been able to contact my family daily, which gives me the courage and determination to do my very best here and not feel like I need to be home just yet.
CIS Abroad has completely changed my life, and I am so thankful for the program they have put together. If I am presented another opportunity in the future, I would love to take another trip with the company. Travel has always been something I have been incredibly passionate about, but getting to experience life down under has made the fire in me burn even brighter. I want to see everything the world has to offer. Thank you, CIS Abroad, for reminding me that there is so much out there for me to see and experience, and thank you for letting me have a little piece of that here in Sydney. I am forever grateful for this experience. If you’re on the fence...don’t be. Take the plunge. The risk is entirely worth it. You will be a million times better for it, and I guarantee you will thank me later. ;)