What You Learn from Studying Abroad Beyond Classes and Internships

Jun 25, 2019 11:22:00 AM / by Anderson Wray

The longer Anderson is in Sydney, the more he sees the value of his study abroad. He shares why there's nothing like experiencing this international academic and internship journey at this point in his life and how he's venturing out to understand Australian history, culture, and behavior. Over the past week, I’ve had to keep asking myself one question: What am I doing here? I have a literal answer. I am in Sydney to learn. Expand my horizons. Study abroad.

Double entendres aside, I have been learning thus far. This summer is my first time taking a marketing class. I am more than fortunate to be interning with BIS Oxford Economics. Both have been fantastic learning opportunities, if not reminders of just how much I don’t know. By conventional measurements, I am having a successful time in Sydney.

The longer I stay here, the true value of this whole experience becomes more apparent. Escaping one’s mother culture is not something many Americans dare to do. The median American lives 18 miles from their mother. Leaving—or in other cases, getting out of—one’s hometown is not exactly the standard. That alone makes a study abroad experience incredibly unique.

Sydney HarborOne thing Australia has been teaching me—how to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

When push comes to shove, I can’t expect anyone to hold my hand and walk me through a truly enriching experience. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have to take it upon myself to get my own holistic study abroad experience.

This weekend was quite literally a long one. All the Australian states and territories aside from Queensland and Western Australia observe the Queen’s Birthday on the second Monday of June. Coincidentally, I stumbled upon the Government House the Sunday before. Nestled in the central business district, this haven of history was oddly satisfying.

I found my visit there to be thought-provoking. Finished in 1845, the house served as the residence for the first Governor of New South Wales, George Gipps. This seemed reasonable enough. Later on in my walk through the house, one display noted that the development of transportation infrastructure did not boom until later on in the second half of the 19th century. What was the point of a castle-esque residence then? It was almost like a historically verifiable Ozymandias situation.

FountainThe Government House’s backyard defined serenity.

The opulence of it all was still a sight to see. Yet the question still stuck in my head—what were they doing here? I doubt the British Government had American tourists in its mind when planning it all out. At the time, this residence was the pinnacle of Australian architecture. Nowadays, it is dwarfed by the high-rises and some discreet opera house mere steps away. Perhaps it was to set the standard of excellence for this fledgling colony. Or maybe they had too much money to know how to spend it.

Maybe sometimes it takes an example to advance the greater populace. A symbol to set the new standard of life. Walking back from the Government house, I wandered through a pro-choice rally in front of the Parliament House. It struck me how privileged I am to not even have any awareness about the matter here in Australia. It may not have been large-scale, but it was authentic. Real. I have no say in the matter, but the unabated belief in this cause can set a standard for upcoming generations of leadership. Perhaps, the political rally is the dominant modern-day tool for advancement.

ProtestThe vision of politics in Australia is constantly changing.

I am not sure how I can apply what I’ve learned to my life back in America. That is okay. The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. All I can do is keep living, and do it on my own terms. That’s what I’m doing here.

(At least until it’s time to work for a Big 4 accounting firm.)

Ernst & YoungThe Ernst & Young building reminds me of what many other will see my experience as—a resume builder.

Thanks, Anderson!

Anderson Wray

Anderson Wray is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2019, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Accountancy major at Arizona State University, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Anderson's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Why Study Abroad