Former CAPA Sydney student George shares 5 things to keep in mind before you go abroad—whether you’re still deciding to study abroad or if you're preparing to go on a CAPA program.
1) Save Money Ahead of Time and Keep an Eye on Your Spending
How did I finance my time abroad? Most of my expenses were covered by scholarships and loans that I already had processed through my university from the beginning. But, when it came to personal expenses, I knew rather early into my sophomore year that I wanted to study abroad so budgeting what money I could was of the utmost priority. Saving about $1000 before my parents helped to finance the trip was extremely helpful and gave me a lot more leeway while abroad to try new things. Whether this was rather expensive food or traveling to New Zealand, these activities could not have happened if I did not plan. So, my best advice is to be proactive in budgeting money for your upcoming trip abroad.
Take advantage of the included excursions like this one to the Blue Mountains.
Then, when you get there, even though the dollar can be more powerful overseas (1 USD = ~1.5 AUD) I would recommend keeping a close eye on your bank account and your spending. Get an idea of what is cheap and expensive in the foreign currency and local context, rather than always doing the mental math back to dollars. Also - even though things do not sound as expensive at first, the cheap activities add up in a short time become very expensive.
2) You’ll Learn More than You Think at Your Internship
My internship was with Freedom Hub, a non-profit organization that fights modern slavery in Australia. I learned many things from this experience, one of which is that modern slavery is still a much bigger problem than many believe. The reason for this is modern slavery is hidden from the public eye because it is inherently hard to detect. But I was able to see and experience what the modern legal system can do which is make corporations have an ever-vigilant eye on their supply chains. So, from these experiences, I learned many things at my internship which I believe that I will be able to leverage in an interview for future employment.
3) Be Prepared for People to Have Preconceived Ideas about Americans
One of my takeaways is, being from America everyone you meet will have an opinion, good or bad, about your culture and your nation. My best advice is always to be cordial and prioritize having a nice friendly conversation. Show them your best and little by little we will be able to chip away at stereotypes.
4) Make Sure You Have a Lot of Free Phone Storage
Before you go on your trip, make sure you have plenty of available storage on your phone for pictures. It is always hard making quick decisions on what to keep and get rid of, so planning ahead of time and cleaning out your phone is the best course of action to take so you can take as many photos as you want while you’re there.
5) You Should Definitely Do It
I really do recommend studying abroad it widens your horizons and allows you to see the world differently. It gives you a taste of how another culture sees and acts within the world. It allows you to build a strong resume that stands out to employers and it is something that can be leveraged in different interviews. What better way is there to spend a summer overseas in Sydney? You’re getting college credits to do and see things that you would never have seen otherwise. But, above all else, it allows you as a human to experience this beautiful blue planet and all the mysteries it has waiting in store for you and anyone else that wants to see.
George Muirhead is a CAPA Peer Advisor at the University of Pittsburgh. A junior studying political science, George studied abroad with CAPA Sydney during the Summer of 2019.