By Jillayne Adamyk
If you hang around Simmons long enough, you’ll hear the phrase “Simmons Bubble.” It can happen to any of us— getting wrapped up in the Simmons community and not reaching out beyond it. That’s why I was so excited that I had the opportunity to study abroad in Sydney, Australia through CAPA. I was getting too comfortable in my bubble and it was time to pop it.
It started off nerve-wracking but it was a hugely rewarding and exciting experience. Being away from everyone and everything I knew was hard, but starting an internship with an overly honest boss and living with six new roommates added to the intense semester.
The nerves started when I realized I had to start packing up a whole semester in one checked suitcase and a carry-on. I would be in Sydney in the change of seasons so I had to pack everything from jackets for the end of winter to swimsuits.
I tried to prepare by reading blogs about travelers who had gone to Sydney, and also by deeply researching the weather. After packing, debating, and repacking, I thought I was ready to go. I even packed an empty extra duffel bag in the anticipation of bringing a lot of souvenirs back.
The day of my flight quickly came. It felt surreal hugging my parents and going through security. I’ve traveled a lot with my family, but a full day of travel alone was intimidating. Fast forward two long flights, many movies and a lot of airplane food: I stepped off the plane down under.
The next couple weeks were filled with name memorization, acclimating to my internship, and public transport navigation. Since I could ramble on endlessly with stories, I will try to boil down my experience into a few things that I learned when I escaped my “Simmons Bubble.”
I learned that I am more extroverted than I thought. It was the first time since first-year orientation at Simmons that I truly with a whole new group of people. I loved making new connections and friends I know I’ll stay in touch with.
Even though Australia is an English-speaking country, it’s like an alternate universe where you don’t have to tip and everyone is quiet on public transportation. Subtle cultural differences took a while to get used to, and some words that are completely harmless in the U.S. turn out to be inappropriate in Australia…so being sensitive and paying attention in a new place is important.
The workplace is more relaxed. My coworkers were constantly joking, and the boss was often the instigator. Work was still taken seriously and they were professional, but coffee breaks were often for teasing one another.There was also much less paperwork at this office than a comparable one in the States would have. Even though it was relaxed, I was still expected to step it up and know what I was supposed to be doing. I learned to ask many clarifying questions.
Australia takes care of its workers. Even though the politics and the government can seem like a mess, like when the prime minister was ousted while we were there, I learned of some laws that I think are very important.
Most people get four weeks of paid vacation and expecting mothers receive a year of paid maternity leave. After ten years of work at a company, you get two months of paid leave. The workplace feels like a “work hard, play hard” culture, but really they work hard and then vacation hard. I think I would rather work in Australia than America for some of these reasons.
Finally, and somewhat cheesily, I learned that great things can happen if you step outside of your comfort zone. For example, one night some friends and I went to a salsa night, which is something that I have no experience with. I ended up learning a lot and having fun too. Chilling at home can be fun as well, but I think I grew the most in my confidence by exploring and experiencing new things both with my friends and solo.
I travelled to Melbourne, Thailand, and New Zealand and did things like riding elephants and bungee jumping, which I never thought I would do. I encourage anyone and everyone to escape the “Simmons Bubble” one way or another; studying abroad is a great way to expand your horizons and jump into something new.
I loved my experience so much that now I am an ambassador for the program I went through, CAPA, and want to help as many people as possible realize that they can intern and study abroad. I can be reached by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for any abroad questions.