How Studying Abroad in Sydney Taught Me to Embrace Life

Jan 31, 2018 11:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan


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 her last post, Hanna reflects on the challenges she's been through and how studying abroad opened doors for her to grow personally and professionally.


It took me a while to organize my thoughts and come back to the reality of campus life. Studying abroad definitely had a huge impact on me; not only do I notice it, but my friends and family notice it as well. Though, I have been studying abroad in the U.S. for almost 5 years already, participating in the CAPA study and intern abroad program represented a way for me to exit my comfort zone.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Fall2017_From Hanna Okhrimchuk - With Her Dog at Home.jpgBack home in Kyiv, Ukraine, with my dog!

Let me think about where I should begin. Australia has a pretty laid back and relaxed culture, and I think it affected me to the most positive extent. Ever since coming to the States and starting my education career here, I've felt tension and pressure to perform and act in a specific way. I don't know whether it was due to a cultural shock, an attempt to fit in, and/or other reasons. However, going to Australia helped me realize that there is so much more to this world and our lives…the stress and tension should not limit us in our actions and thoughts. Sometimes, we just need to relax, go with the flow, and enjoy good moments without overthinking and emotionally exhausting ourselves.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Fall2017_From Hanna Okhrimchuk - Central Perk.jpg

Of course, there were some challenges during my study abroad in Sydney. One of the biggest ones is facing people with different backgrounds. We see situations, interact with people, and make our judgments based on our understanding of the world. We rarely consider the case of no wrong or right action or thought. For the most part of cultural interaction, what we observe is not necessarily strange and weird; it is just different! It just gives us another opportunity to challenge our viewpoint.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Fall2017_From Hanna Okhrimchuk - Hanna and Friends on Her Birthday.jpgThis polaroid was taken in Sydney on my birthday. Every time I look at it, just lots and lots of memories come back!

In my program, I mainly interacted with Americans, with students coming from different states and universities. I made a lot of friends with whom I established many lifelong memories—of course, not without disagreements and conflicts. I thought that after living in the American culture and surrounding for so long that the chances of having cultural misunderstandings were very low. However, I realize there is much more to learn about cultures and personal relations. And this, in my opinion, is going to be very important in all aspects of our lives—especially since the world is so globalized.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Fall2017_From Hanna Okhrimchuk - Working on Campus at Starbucks.jpgI work as a barista on campus and talk a lot about Australia there!

Another huge impact studying and interning abroad had on me is probably on my career goals and exploration of the field. It was the probably the biggest impact I felt. Taking different classes, learning various majors, and being exposed to distinct areas: all these were useful, but being able to try yourself in the real world as a working professional was very critical. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to intern with the House of Brand Group and pushing myself in the world of marketing research. Moreover, the company helped me learn what to look for in a future employer, such as the kind of corporate culture I see myself fitting in. I had an exceptional chance to work in a fast-paced and growing business environment in a dynamic country. I met new long-distance friends and established meaningful global connections.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Fall2017_From Hanna Okhrimchuk - Christmas at Home.jpgHappy to spend Christmas break in Ukraine.

Overall, my study abroad experience in Sydney had a great impact on my personality and I hope every student has an opportunity to challenge their views and personalities, meet new friends, and establish connections. And I hope that life gives me another chance to visit the land Down Under.

For students who would like to study abroad in the future with CAPA in Sydney, here's my advice:

  • Stay open-minded.
  • Don't make quick judgments; instead, analyze what's going on. 
  • Do not miss an opportunity to challenge yourself, even if you are afraid to cope with the present. 
  • Think outside the box and do your best to remain unbiased. 
  • Be prepared to be homesick. 
  • Stay positive and be adventurous (but of course to a rational degree).

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Fall2017_From Hanna Okhrimchuk - At Home with Her Dog.jpgBest wishes from us on your study abroad journey!

Whether you are reading this because you are interested in enrolling for a CAPA program or you are already studying abroad, I hope you find this post useful. I wish you all best, as an amazing experience is waiting for you!

Your CAPA blogger from Sydney

Thanks Hanna!

See more of Hanna's journey in Sydney.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Tips, Reflection