CAPA Fall 2019 Diversity Advocates scholar Maria Do highlights 3 new cultural encounters she had during her semester abroad in Sydney. She also emphasizes why the unfamiliar is so appealing and necessary for growth.
CAPA took us to an excursion to the Blue Mountains and Featherdale Wildlife Park!
I’ve been in Australia for two months now. Any culture shock? I’ve traveled outside of the United States before, but this is my first time traveling alone. I’ve experienced everything from the vast diversity, transportation, laid back culture, etc. Here are three new cultural experiences I have had so far.
1. Sports Culture
My friend and I attended the first Sydney Kings home game at Qudos Bank Arena in Olympic Park.
The sports culture is huge in Sydney, Australia. This was exciting for me because I work with college athletics back home at Augustana College as an athletics photographer. For my internship, I work with Sports NSW (New South Wales). I participate in networking and sporting events. With this, I also volunteer with Dulwich Newtown Basketball from time to time. Here, I discovered Australian sports like rugby, cricket, etc. The Australia Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) are big here. During game days, you can see crowds of people on the trains and streets decked out in fan merchandise. Die hard fans from different backgrounds will come together to celebrate a sport they love. I also got to experience the Melbourne Cup Day with my coworkers. My love for sports came from basketball, so watching a Sydney Kings game was exciting for me!
2. Coffee Culture
Right across the CAPA Center is a café called Fork & Grind. A lot of us go there for their coffee, banana bread, and sandwiches!
The coffee culture is huge here. Back in the States, I would only drink coffee during exam week. With coffee shops around every corner, it is tempting to grab a quick coffee. Walking around the streets, you see students and adults holding coffee cups. Get used to ordering different kinds of coffee drinks. For example, my normal order is an iced macchiato back home. Here, a macchiato is completely different (unless you order it at Starbucks). When in Sydney, try to explore cafes other than Starbucks!
Using public transportation can be scary. Other than Google Maps, I highly recommend using an app called “TripView Lite”!
Back home, I would drive everywhere I go. Coming to Sydney, it was my first time using public transportation especially the trains. It was absolutely confusing trying to figure out what stations and platforms to go to. For example, I was late on my first day at my internship. Why? I still was not familiar with the trains at all. For my internship, it is almost an hour trip traveling from Breakfree on George to Olympic Park. Because of this, I had to manage my time to travel to my internship three to four days a week.
Another Sydney Kings home game!
These are just three of few new culture experiences I’ve faced. Going to a different country can be scary and stressful. Culture shock can also be frustrating. There may be times where we experience homesickness. However, it is important to adjust to a new culture. We can observe patterns whether it is verbally or non-verbally. Embrace the differences. When studying abroad, it is important to face challenges. I learn from my mistakes, and I open myself to changes. Exploring Sydney can be difficult at times, but in the end, the experience is rewarding!
Maria Do is a senior majoring in International Business at Augustana College. She studied abroad with CAPA in Sydney, Australia in the Fall of 2019 and was a Diversity Advocates Scholar.
At CAPA, we seek to foster increased student diversity and to provide all participants with the opportunity to explore, challenge and redefine their identities in distinct ways. Launched in Spring 2017, the Diversity Advocates Program (DAP) is an extension of this philosophy and provides resources for advocates to pursue diversity initiatives of their own within their global cities.