CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Jacquelyn Keville

Mar 30, 2015 9:30:00 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Jacquelyn Keville, a UMass Amherst student, studied abroad in Sydney during Spring semester 2014. Below, she talks about her rewarding internship at OzHarvest, some of the places she went to explore Sydney with her classes and what she's up to now that she's back at home in Boston.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
JACQUELYN KEVILLE: Hi everyone! I am Jacquelyn Keville. I am from Boston, MA, and I attend UMass Amherst studying as an accounting major.

I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, last Spring which was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I highly recommend everyone who can to take advantage of it while they have the opportunity. You get to experience so many amazing things and fall in love with a new place.

Since my return from studying abroad I have been working, going to school, and planning a new trip to Aruba! After Australia, I would like to travel as much as I can and see more of the world.
CW: Why did you choose to study abroad with CAPA? What was interesting about the program?
JK: The CAPA program stood out to me because of the internship opportunities it offers for students. When choosing CAPA I wanted to make sure that the internship I had would allow me to gain experience in my major (accounting), and also allow me to connect with my host city. The internship that I had at a nonprofit organization in Sydney went above and beyond my expectations.  

An interesting thing about CAPA is that it wants to show you some of the many attractions in your host city. To do this, CAPA offers “MyEducation” events to show you activities and events you may not have known about on your own. They help you to explore the city in a fun and interactive way.
CW: Talk about your pre-departure experience. What was the process you went through? What were your worries?
JK: I have always been interested in studying abroad, so making the decision to go was an easy one for me, as well as selecting CAPA because of the internship offer. The hardest part for me was deciding where to go. CAPA has locations all over the world, so it was truly hard to pick.I chose Australia because it was a place that I never thought I would get to see in my lifetime. With the help of CAPA, I was given the experience of a lifetime and wouldn’t change it for anything.

The preparation part varies in how long it takes, but CAPA is very good about giving you deadlines of when you need to have specific tasks completed such as getting your passport and visa. Preparing what I was going to pack was probably my hardest task. Check with your airline and make sure you know the weight requirement and how many bags you can check. I recommend bringing two, but not fully packing them. You will probably end up buying a lot of things while there, so you want to make sure you have room to bring it all back.

One of my worries before going abroad was personal safety. The CAPA team in your host country gives you emergency numbers and health care is also included. They make sure that the location where you’re staying is safe for you to be living in.
CW: Which classes did you take with CAPA? Give us a few examples of ways in which you were able to use the city itself as a classroom that gave you a better understanding of your academic material.
JK: I took three classes in Sydney: "Australian Government and Politics in Pacific Rim Context", "Australian History", and "International Marketing". The professors of these courses were awesome and did a great job of bringing the assignments to life.

For "Australian Government and Politics", our professor took us on a field trip to the Australian Parliament House in Sydney to show us how the system worked. In "Australian History", we went on many trips to see the historical sites we were learning about such as the Hyde Park Barracks and Susannah Place Museum. 
"International Marketing" showed us stores such as IKEA and how it is similar and different based on its cultural environment.

The professors for these classes were great in showing us how these sites were reflected in our classroom learning. I enjoyed being able to see the actual locations and visuals of what I was learning.
CW: Any planning tips for incoming students thinking about their class schedule? How do you find a balance between staying motivated academically and exploring your new city?
JK: Plan your class schedule based on what genuinely interests you. Also, be sure to make time for your internship if you are taking one because you have to work a certain number of hours per week. I personally worked 2.5 days a week, and took classes on 2 days. Your professors definitely keep you interested in the material you’re covering and it is not hard to stay on top of things.
CW: You wrote about your wonderful internship experience in a previous post on CAPA World. How does an internship make a difference to a study abroad experience? Did your experience abroad influence your career goals and aspirations in any way?
JK: I absolutely loved my internship. I worked at OzHarvest, a food rescue organization in Sydney that collects excess food from local grocery stores and restaurants and delivers it to local homeless shelters.

My internship allowed me to see a side of Sydney I would have never had been exposed to if it weren’t for my internship. It showed me how rewarding it truly is to give back to your community, and I am glad that I got to be a part of it. A good internship can truly make your study abroad experience, so go into it with an open mind and you never know what you could learn.

Since coming home from Australia, I have been to many interviews and have been able to relate my internship to many different situations (international experience / non profit experience / meaningful experience). In doing so, I landed an internship last summer and am now starting to work full time this Fall. I encourage everyone to make the most of their internship; you never know how it might change you.
CW: Tell us about your local neighborhood in Sydney.
JK: We all lived in an apartment complex in Waterloo, Sydney, called the Meriton, which many of us referred to as home. The area around it had local restaurants, coffee shops, stores and more. Our actual apartments were very nicely furnished with a fully equipped kitchen for cooking, two bedrooms and bathrooms and a balcony.

Students can easily take advantage of the area. The bus routes to downtown Sydney, the train station, and the beaches are literally right down the street so you can explore wherever your heart desires. 
CW: Where were the places you carved out as "Your Sydney" - the places you found outside of the tourist sites, the places that were most meaningful for you? What was special about them?
JK: If you do the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk in Sydney (which I highly recommend) you will find a bunch of little inlet beaches. They are such awesome places to go and hang out. The walk also has one of the most gorgeous views in Sydney. You get to see so many great views and take a ton of scenic pics!
CW: Did you travel outside of Sydney while you were abroad? What tips do you have for students who want to travel on a budget?
JK: Make a list of the places you really want to go. I recommend seeing the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns while there (so beautiful). You can travel on a budget. Use Expedia to compare flight prices, stay in hostels, and know that you do not have to eat out every meal. There is so much to see in Australia, so try and budget to see as much as you possibly can.
CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
JK: I have become so much more independent since studying abroad. I now feel as though I can go anywhere and see anything. There is so much out there in this world that people have no idea about. My advice to study abroad students is to see it all. The experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am so happy I took advantage of it.

Thanks Jackie!

Read more study abroad interviews!

Topics: CAPA Alumni, Interviews, Sydney, Australia