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From Professor to Student: Study Abroad and Career Building Advice

Nov 17, 2017 3:30:00 PM / by Irene Kanthan

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Hanna is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing, Finance, and International Business major at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, Carlson School of Management, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

In this week's post, Hanna interviews CAPA Professor Andy West on how students can make the most of their experiences studying abroad in Sydney.

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I cannot believe we are about done! A week ago, we all had our last days in our classes and at our internships. As we were trying to wrap up all the assignments and exams, we were all also hectically trying to pack. Now, looking back at the program I feel that it was a great time—one to be grateful for.

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Many of us, especially back in the U.S., are concerned about academics and education systems these days. I was glad that the professors and CAPA staff in Australia were very easy to approach and communicate with. During my final week, I decided to talk to one of my professors to reflect on the experience with CAPA from a different perspective. Andy West, a CAPA Sydney professor, leads the International Economics and the Global Internship course. I really enjoyed both his classes and felt like I had a lot of opportunity to get to know my professor and the Australian culture better, as well as also engaging in interesting conversations on various topics. Thus, I decided to conduct a small quick interview and ask him a couple of questions. Read on for his responses and see what advice he has to share.

HANNA OKHRIMCHUK: What is your best part about interacting with international students? Do you feel like you can learn something from them as well?
ANDY WEST: I truly enjoy getting to know a little about every student in the class. With the small classes comes an opportunity to get to know the names of each student and about their internship placement. With the workshop format of the weekly classes this helps in having a discussion. I am always interested in the student’s world view.

HO: What are the top 3 things students must do and see around Sydney?
AW: 1. Do the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, best at dawn to see the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.
2. Catch the ferry across Sydney Harbour to Manly beach, then swim at Manly surf beach or walk to the south end of Manly to the national maritime park where you can snorkel or scuba dive with the sea life.
3. Go to the Sydney Opera House Café to see the sunset over Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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HO: As the study abroad program progresses, do you notice changes in student perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors?
AW: Some students, but not all discuss this. This is written about during the Internship Seminar as students reflect on their internship and personal experiences during their stay in Australia. For many, this is their first time out of the USA for an extended period of time.

HO: There are so many students with different interests and majors participating in CAPA programs, however there is only a limited list of classes we can take. How do you advise students on how to remain motivated and challenge themselves when taking classes outside their major?
AW: This is a challenge for students. Part of a student’s time in Australia is to develop knowledge, but also personal or professional skills, as well as positive behaviors. This may require approaching or reframing an individual’s view on what they aim to get out of a particular subject. Choose the subjects that may be of interest to broaden your worldly knowledge. Within the study of a subject that may be outside your major, reflect on if there are other skills and behaviors that are being developed. This may include researching and writing about a field you may not have done before, a different form of assessment such as video, journal, or presentation. This can be added to the student’s portfolio of work for future careers. What a student should look for is to develop transferable knowledge, skills, and behaviors that will assist the student in the future and also to document this as you go to be used in future. Studying across other areas of study often allow this growth and overcome challenges.

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HO: Last, but not least, what are some things that students and program coordinators can improve about their study abroad experiences?
AW: For the student I see room for improvement in time management. Enjoy your time in Australia, plan well, and prioritize well. Make sure your studies get done, but also enjoy yourself. For the program coordinators, integrate Australian experience in the curriculum as much as possible, also give clear expectations and clear feedback along the way.

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I hope you all will find this post as interesting and useful to read as I do. Looking back, I realize how many things have happened in the past three months; we were all affected by many of the new people we met, new places we visited, and new activities we did. However, talking to Professor West helped me reflect on my experience from a different perspective. Additionally, I was able to note things I would not consider otherwise and keep in mind for my future reference, whether it will be for traveling, studying, or working.

Thanks Hanna!

Hanna's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Practical Study Abroad Advice, Sydney Interviews