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Studying Abroad Means New Food, New Hobbies & New Goals

Jan 9, 2017 1:30:00 PM / by Julie Ritz

A CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Rachael Bouley

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Meet Rachael Bouley, a broadcast journalism major at Arizona State University who studied abroad in Sydney during spring semester 2016. Below, she talks about how studying abroad opened her up to trying new food and hobbies, how her internship allowed her to explore non-traditional journalism, and how her Learning Through Internships course encouraged her to reflect on and alter her long term career plans.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
RACHAEL BOULEY: I was born and raised in Corcoran, Minnesota, a small town about 40 minutes west of Minneapolis. I moved to Arizona to attend my dream school, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University! I fulfilled another dream of mine when I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia with CAPA The Global Education Network. I am pursuing a career in broadcast journalism and I enjoy photography, reading, writing, outdoor activities and travel. I also love to cook and spend time with my family and friends!

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CW: Why did you choose the CAPA program and why Sydney specifically? What was your favorite part about the Australian culture?
RB: Study abroad has been a lifelong dream of mine. During my first semester at ASU, I visited the study abroad office to learn more about my options. I have always been captivated by Australia; all of my favorite bands and TV shows were Australian, so I began researching the country at a young age. In school, I always chose to complete my projects and assignments on Australia when I had the chance. When I made the decision to study abroad, I knew I wanted to follow my heart and go to Sydney. One of my two options through ASU was CAPA Sydney, and I was drawn to the program because of it’s internship component! I really wanted to complete my required internship credit while I was abroad and CAPA gave me the opportunity to do so.

It is so hard to choose my favorite part about Australian culture, because I loved it so much and felt like I really fit in there. I think what I most enjoyed was the laid-back, relaxed lifestyle. My family and friends will tell you that I am a workaholic, and I always take on too much responsibility, whether it be with my course load at school, my part-time jobs, or my journalism extracurricular credits. I suffer from anxiety and find it very difficult to relax or take time for myself; instead I am constantly consumed with school and work. Being in Sydney was a breath of fresh air. I knew my time there was limited and I felt so grateful to be there that I made sure to take the time to do everything I wanted to do. I expanded my horizons and adopted new hobbies and interests that I normally would not dedicate time to, such as surfing, hiking and baking! At our orientation, the CAPA staff said something that has always stuck with me, "Australians have eight hours of work, eight hours of play, and eight hours of sleep in every day". I definitely feel like I adopted a more healthy lifestyle while I was in Australia. I still succeeded at school and my internship, but I also got enough sleep and made time to travel, explore, and pursue my interests. I miss living that relaxed and laid back life. I was definitely very happy and healthy while I was there!

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CW: Talk about academics abroad: Which classes did you take in Sydney? How were you able to connect your experience of the city itself and your academics?
RB: While in Sydney, I took "Gender and Sexuality in Australia and New Zealand", "Writing the Global City: Sydney" and "Environmental Concerns in Australia and New Zealand". I also participated in the "Learning Through Internships" course.

It is tough for me to choose my favorite course, because I enjoyed them all for different reasons, but I would have to say my favorite was "Writing the Global City: Sydney". This course was taught by Richard Alan, an Australian poet and literature figure. Each week, we visited a different location in Sydney, and used our sightseeing as a springboard and inspiration for our writing. I enjoyed this because I got to visit some amazing local sites with my class and then reflect upon what I observed and learned in my weekly writing. We went to the Art Museum of New South Wales, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Redfern, the Elizabeth Bay House, the Opera House, and more. I enjoyed these outings so much and felt that it allowed me to make the most of my time abroad. I was in class, but outside of the classroom, connecting with local culture and history. I was able to take my observations and experiences in Sydney and apply them to my written reflections and stories, which I loved doing because writing is a passion of mine!

I am very thankful that there were field trips and outings in all my classes. I felt like I was really able to learn a lot about Australian culture and how it applied to my studies.

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CW: Tell us a bit about your internship that you completed while studying abroad. Why was this an important experience for you to have as part of your study abroad program?
RB: One of the first things I think of when I talk about my time abroad is my internship and how it helped me prepare for my future career. I interned with the National Parks Association of New South Wales as a communications intern. I worked directly with the Communications Manager, Tandi Spencer-Smith to complete a variety of tasks, including photography, videography, editing, writing, and organizing social media campaigns. This was an incredible internship experience, because I got to work with a team of dedicated environmentalists and employees who are passionate about their profession. Their passion inspired me in my own work, and I enjoyed the chance to complete a variety of projects and assignments that were relevant to my major and my career goals.

I feel like this was so important for me to have as part of my study abroad experience, because not only did I go to school in a foreign country, but I also interned abroad. I truly felt like a young professional making the most of my time in Australia, and I feel like I expanded my horizons. I was nervous on my first day, but I quickly settled in and felt like a valued member of the NPA team. I miss my routine of working there; every day was exciting and I was always helping with new projects!

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CW: What were some of your responsibilities and accomplishments at your internship? Explain a day in the life of a CAPA intern.
RB: My internship allowed me to try a variety of different things, but all my assignments and projects helped me improve my journalistic skills and abilities. I did a lot of work with the Dragons of Sydney Harbour project, which was a citizens science project that allowed locals to get involved in the research and conservation efforts for this beautiful, endangered species of dragons.

On a typical day, I would head to Sydney Harbour in the morning and catch the ferry to the Taronga Zoo, where I would head up to the starting point for the Dragons of Sydney Harbour event. I assisted with check-in and set up, and as the event went on I took photos and videos of the participants as they observed water dragons and measured scientific data. At the end of the event, I interviewed participants and Geetha Ortac, the citizen science officer, about the project. Then I went back to the office for a few hours to work on piecing the videos and photos together in a photo slideshow and video package for use on social media, the NPA website, and YouTube. I enjoyed this tremendously because it allowed me to be out on the field, interviewing people and taking photos. I loved getting the chance to interact with local Australians and interviewing them, and I was able to improve my editing skills as I put these projects together. My work on the Dragons of Sydney Harbour project is definitely one of my accomplishments and something I am very proud of.

I was able to properly reflect upon my time at my internship with the "Learning Through Internships" class. Every week, I was required to submit a reflection on my work at my internship, including what I was learning and how it could be applied to my future career. This helped me to get the most out of my internship experience and develop my professional skills. The class definitely helped me learn and reflect upon my experience, and I particularly enjoyed the Film Festival. I got to work with a group of friends on a video project, where we filmed ourselves at our internships and explained what we learned. We got to present our video at the CAPA Film Festival and it was a very fun experience!

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CW: Did you experience homesickness at all while you were abroad? What tips would you share with incoming students who are struggling to cope with the distance and the new environment?
RB: My lack of homesickness was something that surprised me. I am very close to my family and friends, and while I certainly missed them, I never wanted to leave Sydney; I wanted to fly them to me instead! I immediately felt at home in Sydney, in part because the people are so friendly and welcoming. I would suggest that incoming students who feel homesick do their best to get out and explore the city. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and students should take full advantage of it. I was way too busy with school, my internship and exploring to be homesick. I was having too much fun and I never thought about it. That’s the best way to cope with homesickness: staying busy and make amazing memories in Australia. I think it’s also important for students to remember that it is totally normally to miss your friends, family and home, but you don’t want to let those feelings overwhelm you and distract you from this incredible experience!

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CW: Let's talk about everyone's favorite topic - food! What did you try for the first time in Sydney? Anything you miss? How would you compare the food generally to what you find at home? Any restaurant recommendations?
RB: The food in Sydney was incredible and I definitely expanded my food horizons while abroad. I miss it every day and cannot wait to go back and have all my favorite meals again. I have many food allergies, which has led to me being pretty cautious when it comes to trying new food. However, I discovered many delicious meals that I crave all the time now that I am back in the US. Of course, I had to try Vegemite, and while I wasn’t particularly a fan of that, I quickly became obsessed with Australian breakfast food. The signature bacon and egg rolls were to die for!

My internship was in Newtown and every day I would go to the Newtown Cafe and order the same bacon and egg roll; it was mouthwatering and I couldn’t bear to order anything else. One of the neat things about Australia is that most of their cafes and restaurants are independent or family-owned. There aren’t many chain restaurants, whereas in the States, you can find Applebee’s and IHOP’s in any city. I really enjoyed this because as I was traveling I always had the chance to try something new and support a small business. I would definitely recommend La Coffee on George Street near Central Station and Newton Cafe in Newton for their bacon and egg rolls and coffee, and Glebe has some delicious cafes as well. Overall, there are so many great places to eat and I encourage incoming students to always try new restaurants and new food, maybe even some kangaroo! That one really surprised me, but I did try it and I did buy a pack of kangaroo jerky!

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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?
RB: After graduation, I want to pursue a career in broadcast journalism while continuing to work as a freelance writer and reporter. My dream job is to work as a TV anchor or news reporter. My experience abroad definitely shaped my career goals; now I really want to travel as part of my work. I am graduating early, and after spending a semester abroad, I am very open to wherever my career may take me, including visiting other countries or even living in other countries to further pursue my career. I hope to return to Sydney and work there at some point in time in my life. Overall, I am much more open to trying new things and exploring non-traditional journalism jobs! My time in Sydney inspired me to reach for the stars and go after my dreams, and I look forward to continuing to do that after graduation.

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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?
RB: One of the most special places to me in Sydney is Newtown. This is the area where I had my internship and I spent a lot of time there. Everyday on my lunch break, I would wander around with my bacon and egg roll until I found a nice quiet spot to eat and soak in the beautiful weather. Newtown is such a neat area, filled with art, unique cultural shops, and a diverse array of food options. There are not many tourists in Newtown, so I was able to meet a lot of locals while I was exploring that area.

Another place that was very special to me was Bradleys Head in the Sydney Harbour National Park. This was the place where I went for the Dragons of Sydney events for my internship, but I found myself so drawn to the stunning views and peaceful atmosphere there that I began coming after class and on weekends just to go for a nature walk and take in the sights. This place was so special to me, because I was able to see the entire city skyline and Sydney Harbour, and it truly felt like home. I was so content to visit this spot and just relax with a good book, taking in the boats and ferries in the Harbour and enjoying the sunshine and warm breeze. I think about this spot a lot and how much I would love to go back.

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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?
RB: I have noticed many positive changes in myself since I studied abroad and I know the experience had a profound impact on me. I have learned that I am capable of challenging myself and expanding my horizons, and I am much braver than I thought I was. I am passionate about traveling and having as many life experiences as possible, and I want to take advantage of all my opportunities to travel and explore. I am definitely much more confident and brave since I began my program. If I was able to thrive while thousands miles away from my home and my family, I feel like I can accomplish anything! Since my program, I am very determined to work hard enough to be able to travel and follow my dreams. Now, I always try to carve out some time to do something I want to do whether it be to go for a hike in the mountains or to try a new recipe. I hope to maintain this healthier lifestyle and always remember that it is okay to take time for myself. I have my study abroad experience in Australia to thank for that.

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Thanks, Rachael!

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Topics: Interviews, Sydney, Australia