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Hop to it: How Interning Abroad Prepared Me for My Future

Jul 24, 2017 8:30:00 AM / by Julie Ritz

A CAPA Alumna Interview: Anna Van Veldhuizen

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Meet Anna, a Graphic Design major from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities who studied abroad in Sydney during spring 2017. Below, she talks about why completing an internship abroad was important to her, how what she learned abroad will help her in her future career, and why study abroad made her more outgoing.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
ANNA VAN VELDHUIZEN: Hello! My name is Anna. I am originally from Iowa, but I am about to start my last year of school as a major in Graphic Design at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. I ultimately chose to study abroad in Australia because the program allowed me to do an internship while taking classes. Missing the cold Minnesota winter didn’t hurt, either! When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with friends/family, reading, creating different arts and crafts, and binge watching Netflix. Studying abroad also hasn’t helped my travel bug.

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CW: Talk about your pre-departure experience. How did you finally make the decision to go abroad? How long before you left did you start preparing? What was the process you went through? What were your worries?
AVV: I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but I was unsure as to where I wanted to go. A year before I left I started talking to my academic advisor and our university's study abroad program. They helped me find Study and Intern in Sydney. I was very excited for this program because it allowed me to travel and complete an internship. Once I was accepted in the program, I just worked to check the items off my pre-departure checklist. My main worry was the different large bugs that live in Australia. Since we lived in the city, this actually turned out not to be a problem.

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CW: There are a lot of ways to get around the city. What was your daily commute like? How easy was the transportation to use?
AVV: Public transportation was actually fairly easy to use. I lived close to the central train station and several bus stops. CAPA also paid for our Opal (transit) cards which helped a lot when trying to explore the city. My commute to class was easy. I just had to walk couple blocks. I always took a bus to work since so many buses are available in the morning, and I enjoyed taking a train back home.

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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?
AVV: I loved the food in Sydney. There were some similarities to American food, but there was more Asian food and seafood. I enjoyed going to a restaurant called Philosophy during our lunch hour at work. They had the best chips (fries). I got to try some new, different, and authentic Asian food at Spice Alley. It was delicious! Overall, I enjoyed the gelato the most. My favorite was Anita’s.

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CW: Tell us a bit about your internship that you completed while studying abroad, your duties and accomplishments. How will this experience help you in your future career?
AVV: I had the privilege of interning at The Distillery, a local letterpress company. It was an amazing opportunity and allowed me to work with some great people. My main duty was to help the production team which meant that every day was new. I am happy to announce I was able to complete the intern chart. I learned how to QC (quality check) and package with ease by the end of my time. I can duplex and (pre- and post-) cut. I learned how to mix inks, create plates, and clean the press. Now, I understand the basics of edge coloring. The most important thing I learned was plug-in initiative. This initiative is very important to employers and will help me further my career.

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CW: Explain a day (or week) in the life of a CAPA intern.
AVV: Since each day was so different at The Distillery, I can give an overview of a typical week for me. Monday and Wednesday I spent my day at The Distillery. On Tuesday, I would be there for a half day, so I could go to my Art Down Under class. Thursday morning I explored the local mall and did some homework. During the evening, I'd go to my Australian Film class. Friday was spent at the CAPA center watching my film homework and spending time with friends. Saturday was spent exploring Sydney, and Sunday we all headed to the different beaches.

My LTI class was very helpful in processing my internship abroad. Each week we got to learn new things about teamwork and collaboration. Then we would apply what we learned to our real life internship. The class helped me figure out the kind of organizational structure The Distillery used. I also enjoyed talking to our professor about how my internship was going. There was a great support team for our classes and internship.

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CW: Have you traveled outside of your host city? Where did you go? How did your new environment compare with your host city environment? What new challenges did you encounter while outside of your host city and how did you overcome them?
AVV: I was able to travel a couple weekends. I went to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef, where I loved the laid back beach feel. My weekend in Melbourne was also a fun time. My friends and I were able to see some comedy shows. Every city has its own unique feel. While I had a great time traveling, I loved Sydney the most. One of the main challenges we faced was navigating a new city. I was comfortable navigating Sydney and could use my Opal card with ease. New cities had different transportation, so we did a lot of walking.

During Spring Break, my friends and I spent the week touring the North Island of New Zealand. New Zealand was beautiful. The bus tour kept us busy, but we were able to see a lot. The highlights for me were Hot Spring Beach where we dug our own hot tub on the beach, black water rafting in the Glow Worm caves, and seeing a kiwi (the bird; not the fruit).

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CW: In what ways did you balance the academic side of studying abroad versus exploring your host city and wanting to make opportunities to travel?
AVV: CAPA staff made sure we knew that academics would come first. However, they also made sure we had time to explore. The classes only met once a week and homework usually was not too extensive. One of my classes was mostly online which allowed me to do my work when it worked for me. Many of the classes also took field trips during class.

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CW: Is there anything you wish you would have done while you were studying abroad that you didn’t manage to fit in? Is there anything you did that you didn't expect to do but particularly enjoyed?
AVV: I would have loved to travel more. Australia is so much bigger than I thought it was. Everyone said the west coast is beautiful. I would have also loved to visit Tasmania and the Outback. I was able to go snorkeling at the Barrier Reef. It was an amazing experience that I would love to do again. I would love to go back to Australia and go on more adventures.

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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? Has it highlighted any particular global issues in a different way?
AVV: This might sound cliche, but my study abroad made me more outgoing. Now, I like to take chances and try new things. I am even more outgoing with meeting people. The most important thing I learned was it’s okay to make mistakes. The coworkers were always talking about how they learned from their mistakes. In Australia,  I felt more relaxed and that it was okay to make a few mistakes along the way.

Thanks, Anna!

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Topics: Interviews, Sydney, Australia, Sydney Interviews