The Joy of Exploring Your Host City Alone (Sometimes)

Mar 7, 2016 1:30:00 PM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Jillayne Adamyk

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Meet Jillayne, a Simmons College student and CAPA Sydney alumna. Below, she talks about the joy of sometimes exploring alone (and some of the coolest events worth attending), how her internship abroad helped her shape her post-graduation plans and what was most important to her while choosing a study abroad program as a senior. 

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CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself. 
JILLAYNE ADAMYK: I am from Groton, Massachusetts and I am a senior at Simmons College in Boston. I study Exercise Science and Psychology. I love living in Boston, going out to eat and working in the busy city! I studied abroad in Sydney in Fall 2015.

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CW: Why did you decide to study abroad in Sydney? Also, how did you choose a program? What was most important to you?
JA: As a senior, the most important thing to me was choosing a program with an internship applicable to my major to help me after graduation, as well as count towards the senior independent learning requirement that Simmons has. CAPA was the only program with a guaranteed internship, so that really impacted my decision since I wanted to have the best internship experience possible. I talked a lot with my CAPA advisor about which program locations had the best connections with healthcare and science companies. Sydney turned out to be the best fit! My good friend was also going to Sydney but in the summer, and she made me excited about the program. I originally wanted to go to London, but the more I researched Sydney the more I was excited about it.

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CW: What were your first impressions of Sydney? What are your best tips for learning your way around and discovering new things when you arrive? What was your first favorite discovery?
JA: Sydney is a very diverse and large city, but I didn’t find it intimidating. I like cities and being around people a lot! I was shocked how quiet it was at night; we were in apartments by large universities, but it was much quieter than Boston (but I live by the hospitals).

The first time I was nervous in the city was getting to my internship alone. My internship was in Five Dock, which was about a half hour bus ride. What I discovered is that the scheduled bus time is not necessarily the time the bus shows up, and that the bus does not announce stops as it goes. I ended up setting into routine where I would be at the bus stop 15 minutes early to ensure I would be on time. Outside of going to my internship, it was easy to get around and explore on the trains and ferries.

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One of the first things I did was go through the Sydney guide book I had and make a bucket list from it. This way whenever I was wondering what to do, I could pull out the list and pick something on it. Sometimes my roommates would come along, but I also liked exploring independently to take it all in and go at my own pace. I went to the Botanic Gardens and Sculpture by the Sea alone with my camera, and got to go really slowly, wander around, and work on my photography skills.

My first favorite discovery might have to be the Glebe markets, where there is really cheap secondhand clothing and also great artisan stalls. I became obsessed with markets!

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CW: Tell us a bit about your internship that you completed while studying abroad, your duties and accomplishments. 
JA: My internship was at Five Dock Physio, a physical therapy office. I did three to four days a week. The practice was small: three physiotherapists, two receptionists, and three interns including myself. I got to help out at the front desk and answer phone calls, make appointments, and take payments when the receptionist was busy or out. I shadowed the physiotherapists, asking them questions and taking notes for the patient’s files. I also got to stretch patients and sometimes massage them. Since the other two interns were about to graduate physiotherapy school, they were more hands on with patients and I learned a lot from watching them. We worked together to keep the supplies room and kitchen tidy. My favorite thing at the office was the espresso maker. I really miss having coffee all day!

For the Learning through Internships class, we would journal weekly about different aspects of the organization and reflect upon our experiences. I liked reading other students' posts and hearing how their internships were going. Comparatively, I think I had a lower stress internship because I did not have any large projects or assignments, but rather helping out with the day to day.

The biggest learning experience I had was teaching a Pilates class the second day of internship. The Pilates teacher couldn’t make Tuesdays but some patients wanted to come on Tuesdays for class, so they put me in charge of teaching! I was really nervous but I took the class on Monday and replicated it on Tuesday. I tried to say the same things and go at the same pace. I discovered that I really liked teaching and now I think it is something that I might pursue.

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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?
JA: Right now I am going to continue at my current retail job for the summer, helping out while the owner goes on maternity leave, and then explore career options or travelling. My experience abroad actually helped me reinforce not pursuing physical therapy graduate school right away. I am not ready to jump into a career that I don’t love, and I want to have more time to explore my interests. I am very grateful that I realized before I jumped into grad school immediately. I am going to slow down and try to find what my passion is (other than travelling!). I think once I find that passion, I will want to work abroad in some way. I appreciated the work culture I experienced in Australia where work doesn’t take over all of your time, and you get four paid weeks of vacation time! 

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CW: How was your experience with academics abroad? How were you able to connect the way you came to understand the city itself and your academics?
JA: Other than the course that accompanied my internship, "Learning through Internships", I took "Advertising & Promotions" and "Exploring the Global City: Sydney". Both were interesting classes that I took because they sounded intriguing to me.

In "Advertising" we looked at many ads and dissected every element. It made me look at advertising in a new light and how much effort goes into every print ad and commercial. It was interesting to have discussions with our professor about differences between American and Australian brands and advertising approaches because of the cultural differences.

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"Exploring the Global City" was a fun class and also informative, since we got to take field trips and learn about how Sydney came to be and how it has grown and evolved over time. I wanted to learn about Aboriginal history, so the topic that I chose for my final paper was reflecting upon the relationship between Aboriginals and the City of Sydney, in the time of colonization compared to today. I found lots of interesting information and it helped me understand the city and its beginnings.

Both classes had a My Global Education component, where we would go to My Global Education events independently and then look at them alongside the course content. For instance, I went to the Night Noodle Markets and then wrote for my advertising class all of the ways it was advertised and promoted in Sydney. Those assignments were fun since we had to explore, but also tie the course content into our learning in tangible ways.

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CW: Talk a bit about your accommodation in Sydney, your relationship with your roommates and the local neighborhood that was home for the semester. If a prospective study abroader asked you what it was like to live in Sydney generally, day to day, what would you say?
JA: I consider myself very lucky for the apartment and roommates that I had. We all lived pretty well together since we were well matched. The apartment was four bedrooms and four bathrooms, with a long hallway ending in the kitchen and living room space. We would all hang out after our internships and cook together and watch TV. It was the first real apartment that I have lived in with friends, so we had some of the classic struggles of keeping the kitchen clean sometimes, but overall we worked well together to have the best time abroad possible.

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The neighborhood was great because we were walking distance from Broadway shopping center with multiple grocery stores and restaurants. My favorite was the coffee shops nearby to get the perfect flat white. (A flat white is like a latte but the milk/foam ratio is different). We were also close to Central train station, which is a hub for train and bus routes. You could go to Central and get anywhere in and around Sydney.

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Day to day, you could walk a lot in Sydney because everything is decently close together, but public transportation can also get you anywhere. I would describe Sydney as a large multi-cultural city, but with small unique neighborhoods. Living in Sydney, you could do something different every day, probably for years. Three months flew by and there is so much more that I would like to see in Sydney and around Australia.

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CW: Tell us about some of the events that happened while you were in Sydney and any advice you have for future students who may be interested in attending similar happenings. 
JA: While in Sydney, I really took to heart my guidebook and the weekly update emails from the CAPA team. They gave great advice on what was happening at the time.

Some of my favorite events were Sculpture by the Sea, The Food Truck Jam, and Surry Hills Festival - things that come once a year. Sculpture by the Sea is a very popular event that is along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. I actually went on a day where the weather wasn’t great, which turned out to be in my favor since it was a lot less crowded so I could stop and take my time taking pictures.

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The Food Truck Jam was in early October and was the first time that many food trucks and food vendors came together in one spot. It was SO busy. I would recommend eating something before going, or go as early as possible! Also bring friends because the lines were so long at least you’ll have someone to talk to.

Finally, the Surry Hills Festival was a great time trying food, shopping around, hearing local artists, and doing some crafts. It’s outside all day so definitely dress for the ever-changing Sydney weather (wear layers!) and bring sunscreen and water.

Timeout Sydney was also a helpful website for current events. My favorite thing to bring on a day out was a small backpack so I could fit my wallet, water, umbrella, sweatshirt, and still have room for purchases!

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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?
JA: When I think of places that are “my Sydney”, I think of sitting at coffee shops enjoying conversation with friends, maybe doing a little homework, and people watching. Sydney has some amazing coffee and I definitely recommend trying different cafes and making a coffee budget! My favorite place to relax was Tamarama Beach. It was easy to get to, just one bus, and it was quieter than the other big beaches. I liked going there alone on my day off for a few hours to read and enjoy the sand and surf. Sometimes studying and interning abroad with a group of all new people was overwhelming, and I really learned to value relaxing alone for a few hours to clear my head. My favorite weekend activity by far was the markets. There is one in almost every neighborhood, and I tried to visit as many as I could. Some of the vendors are repeats, but I sought out the original crafters, artists, and clothing sellers. You could get clothing very cheaply and find interesting souvenirs as well. I liked Glebe, the Rocks, and Bondi markets.

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CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? If so, how so? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
JA: 
I know it may sound cliché, but I became more comfortable in my own skin. Escaping the bubble at my school and taking the leap to travel very far away alone made me more confident in myself and my ability to adapt to new situations. I learned that I can lead others and am a good planner and coordinator. I also grew professionally, and learned the value of asking clarifying questions and being engaged every day. I think that you can be all the way across the world and find something that makes you feel completely at home, and something else that makes you feel like an outsider. It took a little time to feel comfortable and not miss my family and friends, but I caught myself calling the apartment home and my friends my family.

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Thanks Jillayne!

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Topics: Interviews, Sydney, Australia