CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Allie Bettenhausen
Sports enthusiast Allie Bettenhausen couldn't have asked for a better internship placement during her semester abroad in Sydney. The Blue Sox baseball team became part of her everyday life as she spent her days with the media and marketing department and weekends helping out at games. As she talks about below, this experience helped her prepare for her future career in the the sports industry and shape her goals even more precisely. She also shares her favorite place to eat sushi in Newtown, talks about how she overcame one of her biggest challenges in Australia and the way her mindset has changed generally now that she's back in the US.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
ALLIE BETTENHAUSEN: I am originally from a small town just south of Chicago, Illinois called Mokena but I attend Augustana College which is located in Rock Island, IL. I studied abroad during Spring semester 2016 in Sydney, Australia.
I am a multi-media journalism and mass communications double major with a focus in sports. I grew up in a family of all boy cousins and all so sports were in my blood; I absolutely love them and that’s how I got my passion for wanting to work in sports. My favorite sport teams are the Chicago Cubs (Go Cubs Go), the Chicago Bears and The Chicago Blackhawks. Been a die-hard fan since I was a kid.
In my free-time, I love to read, ride bikes and nap. I am a very outgoing person with an awesome personality, always talking and wanting to meet new people! I love the outdoors and really just enjoy hanging out with my friends and family.
CW: Why did you choose the CAPA program and why Sydney specifically?
AB: When I began thinking about study abroad I had no idea where I really wanted to go but I did know it had to be warm with beaches, beautiful, and have sports available. When I found out Augie (what we call Augustana) had an abroad trip to Australia, my mind was set. I’ve always had a dream to visit Australia and I believed my dream was going to come true. Sure enough, it did. I spent two of the most amazing months living and interning in Sydney, Australia.
CW: Talk about academics abroad: Which classes did you take in Sydney? Which was your favorite and why? How were you able to connect your experience of the city itself and your academics?
AB: My abroad was a little bit different than time abroad normally is. Rather than taking classes while in Sydney, I did an internship with the Sydney Blue Sox. While I was there, I did take a class but it was more of an online class. I had to do weekly assignments and turn them in online. Then at the end of my internship, I had to write a long paper about my internship, what was good, what was bad, what I learned and how I would do it differently next time, etc.
My internship was 100% my favorite part about my time in Sydney. I connected with Sydney as a city more through my internship than I think I would have if I was only taking classes instead, because I was able to experience the different cultures, the baseball fans, and how the players adapted to playing different countries and different cultures as well.
CW: Tell us a bit more about your internship, your duties and accomplishments. How will this experience help you in your future career?
AB: My internship for the Blue Sox was everything I could have asked for and more. I learned more about the sports industry that I ever thought I could and enjoyed every minute I was there.
For the Blue Sox, I interned in the media and marketing department of the team but helped out with tasks for all departments. I was there every day form 9am-5pm and then I showed up to help out many weekends for game days as well. During the weekdays, I prepared for the weekend’s games, planning on field promotions, theme nights for the fans and organization with the media to ensure that everything ran smoothly on game day. Our venue hosted the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, media events and Little League Championships while I was there interning. My favorite part was planning the pre-game entertainment for the World Baseball Classic Qualifier.
The experiences I received from my internship with the Blue Sox will greatly influence my future career because I learned so much about the sports industry and it also shows my ability to try new things, go to a place I’ve never been and step outside of my comfort zone. My time with the Blue Sox has greatly helped me while looking for future jobs or internships. Since the Blue Sox experience, I have had multiple interviews and job offers from many sports teams - one being the Chicago Bears. I can thank my experiences and time with the Blue Sox for many other opportunities I have been given since.
CW: What was the food like in Sydney? Did you find any favorite dishes or restaurants? Did you try anything new or unusual that you've never had before?
AB: I loved the food in Sydney. To me, there wasn’t much of a difference from the American food that I normally eat. I was always willing to try something new and try things that I may not like. One night out, we went to the Sydney Australia Hotel where I ate kangaroo, emu, and crocodile on pizza. I was extremely nervous to try this pizza but when was I ever going to try it again? And it ended up being so good! One of my favorite dishes I found while in Australia was the Sushi! I was a big sushi fan before arriving in Australia, but the sushi is incomparable to America. It was so fresh and so tasty, I almost ate it every night (or, at least I could have eaten it every night). Sushi was definitely my favorite food I ate there.
CW: As a multimedia journalism and mass communications studies major specifically, what would you recommend as must-see or do experiences for other students in Sydney who have similar professional interests?
AB: I would just say do everything you can, experience everything Sydney has to offer. There are so many places to see and so many things to do you are never bored. My major really fit into my internship because its exactly what I want to do. Really work with CAPA to find you the perfect fit for you so you can get the real full experience of Sydney through your internship. Like me, you will still have fun, but you are also learning and furthering your education.
CW: Tell us about a moment in Sydney when you faced a particular challenge and how you were able to turn that into a learning experience. What can future students take away from your experience so they are better able to cope in a similar situation?
AB: A time when I faced an extremely hard and scary challenge was getting used to the public transportation. Before Sydney, I had never used public transportation before and I was scared. I was in a city I didn’t know, where I had no idea where I was going and around people I didn’t know. During my first few times getting to my internship, I was scared and it was a struggle for me to find out where to go, make sure I hopped on the right train and then hopped on the right bus. After my first week of going there every day, I became a little more comfortable. I was able to ask people if I needed help and was able to sit comfortably on a train and not be scared because I learned that people won’t bother you unless you bother them.
This was a learning experience for me because I was new to something and by the end of my internship, I could say I was an expert on public transportation and got it down completely. I learned not to be afraid but just to ask, so I knew I made the right choice and just to talked to people. I quickly figured out that people in Australia are not like people in Chicago. I didn’t have a reason to be scared and people were insanely friendly. Any advice I could give you from my experience and the challenges I faced would be not to feel scared or feel alone. ASK QUESTIONS and learn from other people who know what they are doing and know their way around. Be brave and take that leap out of your comfort zone. It sure worked out great for me.
CW: What do you see yourself doing when you graduate? Did your experience abroad in any way shape your career goals and aspirations? If so, how so?
AB: When I graduate, I see myself working in international sports. I want to travel the world and work with different sports teams from all over the globe. I want to experience sports in other cultures and find out what locals like to do and how they participate. I’m hoping to one day go back to Sydney to work with the Blue Sox to help them to continue to grow.
My time abroad in Sydney shaped my career more than I can imagine. It solidified that the career path I want to take is sports media, management and marketing. I know now from my internship with the Blue Sox that I want to further my career in the sports industry and hope to manage a professional sports team one day.
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?
AB: The place that meant the most to me out of all the places I saw while in Sydney would have to be Blacktown International Sportspark. I would say I spent majority of my time here because it was the home to the Blue Sox. Another place that created my own vision of “My Sydney” would have been this place in Newtown called Sushi Train. My group of friends went at least 2-3 times a week and it was so good. Because we went so often, every time I think of food in Australia, I think of sushi train and how pleasant the workers were, how cute it was and how amazing the food was. It was one of my favorite places to go weekly and I really miss going there. Lastly, "My Sydney" included the beaches. I went to as many beaches as I could while I was in Sydney and spent as long as I could there. My happy place is on a beach in the sand with a body of water to go in. I love everything about that atmosphere and it felt like home to me while I was there!
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?
AB: Now, after almost six full months since I’ve been in Australia, I’ve seen a side of me that loves to explore. I am more open to exploring the world around me in my own neighborhood where before I just thought it was so boring. I find myself going on long runs or long bike rides and just relaxing at parks to see the beautiful world that I live in. Mokena and Rock Island might not be as pretty as Sydney, but its where I live and I am beginning to appreciate it more. I have also been more open to experiencing different places and different cultures, going out on my own and feeling more dependent on myself rather than on my parents or my friends. Being abroad and away from everyone who is close to you is a hard idea to grasp. I was so nervous leaving everyone because I consider myself a homebody, but while abroad not once did I feel homesick or nervous or want to go home. I could have stayed in Australia for six more months and so on.
My time abroad was the best thing that has ever happened to me thus far in my life. Sydney, Australia completely stole my heart and I am so grateful for everyone I was able to meet and work with during my internship. I'm thankful for the Blue Sox staff, Australian Baseball League and especially CAPA for all their help with finding my internship and helping ensure my time abroad was as comfortable and amazing as it was.