As a child, it was my dream to travel the world just as much as my grandparents did. I had my heart set on visiting Italy and Australia, and they were the top of my wish list. I begged my parents to let me go on the Europe and Australia trips that my high school offered, but didn’t quite convince them. Once I got to college, I was determined to convince them that studying abroad in one of these locations would be a great educational experience and the opportunity for me to branch out and travel on my own. (The furthest they had ever let me travel alone was from Milwaukee to Indianapolis on a plane for a weekend…)
I attended the study abroad fair as a scared freshman at my university (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh), and felt overwhelmed by all of the tables filled with information and people I was too shy to talk to. I filled my bag with information pamphlets and left the ballroom without asking any questions. Eventually, I just went to the university’s study abroad website and explored the programs instead.
I spoke with my parents about the various options and was quite unsure on whether I should go to Italy or Australia for a semester. My mom eventually convinced me to go to Italy, because she had been there before and traveling around Europe to visit other countries would be easily accessible (she also had never been to Australia).
Boy oh boy, I had no idea what I was getting myself into (neither did my parents). As cliché as it sounds, my semester in Florence, Italy, literally changed my life and who I am today. I learned so much about different cultures (including culture shock), true independence, to think on my feet, practice different languages, the importance of budgeting, and so much more.
I traveled all around Italy and to six other countries during my semester abroad, and I have 110% become addicted to travel.
The following year, I heard about another great study abroad opportunity in Germany. I jumped immediately, and somehow convinced my parents yet again, to let me travel far away from home to attend a sustainability seminar. This program was much shorter (9 days), business focused (I studied marketing), and led by faculty from the university. It was a great hands on experience for me to learn about business outside of the classroom and working with a new culture.
I became very passionate about the study abroad/international education field. Upon my return from Germany, I began my first internship. I was so grateful to have found an exciting internship with the study abroad office on campus, where I was responsible for planning our entire study abroad fair. I loved this internship so much, and became even more excited about this field.
Jumping ahead to about a year later, I spent a solid 6 months applying and interviewing for jobs before and after graduation. I was extremely particular in the type of jobs I was applying for and did not want to just settle for any job. I also did not want to stay in Wisconsin.
After my lease ended in Oshkosh, I quit my marketing internship with a construction company and moved back in with my parents…The exact thing I did NOT want to do. I felt like a failure because I still didn’t have a full time job, and I had applied for SO many jobs. My parents tried to convince me to take a local job first to build my resume and then move out of state later. I did not want to do that. Too many of my friends were getting engaged and settling down, and I was afraid that would happen to me (too soon) and I would never get that chance to move out of state.
Although it took me 6 months, 99 job applications, many interviews, lots of tears, coaching from my parents, and contacting many people in my network, I was so happy when I received my official job offer in…. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (and working in the study abroad/international education field too)!
I spent 10 months working in Sydney, where I was responsible for coordinating unpaid internships for over 100 U.S. university students, while also guiding weekend excursions and faculty led programs. I have since moved back to the United States, where I am working for the same company in the Chicago office, and I love the variety of work (and the traveling too)!
My experience living and working abroad in Australia was much different than when I lived and studied in Italy, but they have both changed my life for the better. I am truly a believer in the saying ‘If you really want something, you will set your mind to it and work very hard to get it.’ Nothing in life comes easy, but hard work and perseverance will pay off in the end.
I decided to start this blog because I am so passionate about traveling, the world outside of the U.S. and because so many people have asked for recommendations when traveling to one of the many countries I have been to (26 to be exact-as of May 2018). I am very excited to share my experiences with you!