A Haasie Abroad

Hello readers! I hope everyone is settling into Fall nicely and gearing up for Patagucci season; I know I am. Today, I’d like to share my experience with studying abroad in Australia.

I have been particularly fascinated with Australia since I was a wee lad. I don’t know if it was Steve Irwin’s radical videos of Aussie wildlife or the fact that it’s the world’s largest island; I just can’t get enough. When the opportunity to study abroad through UCEAP (UC Education Abroad Program) arrived, I knew exactly where I wanted to go – the land down under!

“Are you silly? I’m still going to send it!”

I have three pieces of advice for those of you who are considering studying abroad:

  1. Do the application on time
  2. Choose your classes wisely
  3. Make time for travel and take lots of pics

Warning: The UCEAP application process is not nearly as hard as UC Berkeley applications, but don’t underestimate it. Despite all the research and planning I did, I missed the deadline by two weeks. When I told my dad, he tried to comfort me with a ‘maybe next semester.’ I told him, “Are you silly? I’m still going to send it!” Needless to say, I negotiated my late application into the pile waiting to be sent off for approval.

After my application was approved and I chose my host city of Melbourne, I had to decide what classes to take. My two favorite classes are Management Consulting and Managing Entrepreneurship. Yes, I am interested in consulting. And yes, I can handle the business side. Management Consulting requires 5 hours/week of fieldwork with a client solving an actual business problem. I love all my classes but unfortunately, they take up a lot of my free time. My advice to those thinking about studying abroad – take one or two hard, interesting classes and then sprinkle in a wine tasting class with a street art module.

Taking less time-demanding classes allows for more travel time. Making time for travel is essential to a well-rounded experience abroad, especially if you are planning on going to Europe or South America where taking a train is so easy and affordable! Australia, on the other hand, is less train friendly and can be a bit more expensive. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten around and taken lots of pictures to prove it! Here are some of my favorites so far:

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Australian Business Culture

It goes without saying that there are many cultural differences between Australia and the United States.

One of the more striking differences is that 99.8% of Australian businesses are SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises; <200 employees). It’s not that they don’t like big corporations, it’s just that they appreciate entrepreneurs and small business owners. For example, Melburnians LOVE their coffee and yet there is only one Starbucks in the whole city. There are, however, loads of independent, family-owned cafés that successfully capture market share in the growing industry.

Aussies have a unique sense of humor, and it reflects in their advertisements. I’ve seen some hilarious ads (a lot of them too inappropriate to share in America). Here’s one that is more subtle but still gives a sense of what I mean:

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Another impressive statistic is that Australia has experienced consistent economic growth for the past 26 years, and is set to keep on growing. It’s quite a hot topic and the discussion is very polarized. Some think that the housing bubble is bound to pop, while others see Chinese investment as a never-ending stream of money.

There are lots of reasons to love Australia, in fact, Melbourne was just listed as the world’s most livable city for the seventh year in a row!

Future Plans

I’m still considering moving to Melbourne and working here for a couple years after graduation, but I miss America. And the ozone! I almost forgot to mention that Australia literally has a hole in the ozone above it. They don’t even sell sunscreen below SPF50 because it’s that serious.

Travelling gives valuable perspective on life back home. It’s a challenging but rewarding experience, and I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and see the world. There is something about immersing yourself in another culture, another way of life, a new way of thinking, new friends and new languages; something that you can’t get from watching TV or reading about it online.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine
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