August 20th, 2014 by Alice Lu under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Alice Lu
The night before I left Sydney seemed like any regular Friday night. My coworkers threw a going away party for me and invited the IT, Supply Chain, Human Resources and Finance department. I couldn’t believe I was leaving my coworkers who taught me so much, joked with me so much, planned weekend activities with me and made it so easy for me to call them my mates. It wasn’t until at the end of the night when one by one they all started leaving that I shed some waterworks.
Living in Sydney was truly a whole other world that even now I can’t believe I was a part of. I’ll miss being able to walk out of my apartment and get $8 delicious thai food or have $20 all you can eat gourmet authentic Italian pizza only 15 minutes away. I’ve always felt fortunate to have the train station conveniently located near me, in fact not just one but two train stations! On the second to last night, Jenna and me went up to the opera house one last time and gazed at the beautiful humble skyline lit up bridge, quiet harbor, and still opera house. The silence helped me reflect on everything that I experienced that summer and how grateful I am to my family and the business school for giving this opportunity.
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer to anyone studying abroad in the future, it’s to live your study abroad with no regrets. Don’t worry about the money, don’t be afraid of the unknown, don’t let anyone hold you back and most importantly if you have to argue with yourself about wanting to do something-do it. Studying abroad is the one moment in your lifetime that you can do whatever you want because it’s a fleeting time period. It’s you chance to be selfish and learn more about yourself. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to be more independent, gain some street smarts, taste some truly delicious cuisine and learn more about myself than I ever would at home. This summer taught me more about what I want to do as a career and not to plan out my future because there’s no guarantee it will work out.
So go out there and discover something about yourself! Go out there, live life and don’t let anything hold you back when you get there!
Me at a gorge in Melbourne at the 12 great apostles. A devastating shipwreck happened here in the 1800s.
A helicopter ride over the beautiful 12 apostles- now only 7 surviving
Sliding down a slippery slope in a rainforest in Cairns while raining!
You will most likely always see these “Aborginals” at the Rocks near the Opera house playing techno cultural aboriginal music using their digeridoo.
August 17th, 2014 by Alice Lu under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
By John Galdi
Wow. That’s just about all I can say after finally making it back to the states, bringing an end to this incredible journey. My time abroad has left me speechless. It has been difficult to put into words exactly what I did in Australia and how amazing it was. Words just don’t do it justice. I met tons of new people, learned more about the world and myself than I thought was possible, and most importantly had a great time! Hopefully I will be returning sometime in the future.
The last week of my internship was very rewarding. I spent most of the week preparing my presentation of the potential commercial licensing partner reports I had been developing over the previous 8 weeks. The presentation was in a very formal setting, much more formal than it would be in the U.S. While I was leading the presentation, the speaking floor was open for any comments or questions from anybody in the room. This style really gives everybody a chance for contribution. After I was done the presentation, the company threw a going away party for me with enough food to have the same going away party twice. Anyway, I could not have asked for a better internship while on this study abroad program. The people were great, my supervisors were very respectful and took my advice into great consideration, and everybody there was very reasonable.
The plane ride back to the United States was brutal to say the least. We had a 14-hour trip from Sydney International Airport to San Francisco, and I must’ve gone through 5 movies and a couple of TV shows. I probably walked close to half a mile on that plane, walking up and down the aisles during the lengthy trip. Once we got to San Francisco, we had to get our luggage at baggage claim, which took about 20 minutes, after we had already gone through customs. We then had to re-check our baggage at another kiosk before going through another security checkpoint with a long line. When we were finally at the gate from San Francisco to Dulles, most of the other passengers were already boarded and we slid on just before the doors closed. I cannot imagine what I would have done if we missed that plane. I don’t even want to think about it. After the second leg of the plane ride from San Francisco to D.C. (which was only 5 hours and went by relatively quickly compared to the first leg) we finally were able to meet up with our families again and sleep in our own bed. That first night of sleep was easily one of the best nights of sleep I have ever had. I slept most of the next day away.
I’d like to thank everybody that made this experience for me possible. Thank you.
As we left Sydney, we got one last look down into the city, as our 14-hour plane ride began.
August 17th, 2014 by Alice Lu under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Jenna Booth
Leaving Sydney is harder than I imagined, but it shouldn’t be that surprising considering this is the longest time I have lived somewhere that wasn’t my house or my college dorm.
Now that I have literally lived and breathed a different country, I do not find being a cookie-cutter tourist as appealing anymore. The funny thing is that we are inundated with photos of major landmarks all the time, especially on social media, and somehow you expect them to look different in real life. Spending a few days and seeing the major attractions is still an incredible experience, don’t get me wrong, but going forward I don’t know if it will be enough for me.
It’s not the same when you can go to your favorite pub and get your favorite pizza and wedges every weekend.
My order: Devils pizza (salmon, spinach, shrimp, scallops, and bacon), gluten free crust, no cheese. I’m pretty sure the chef is going to notice when I don’t turn up anymore.
It’s not the same when you have the train platforms memorized.
It’s not the same when you are telling other bewildered tourists ask you for directions and you proudly tell them exactly where to go and can give them multiple options (quickest route? Scenic route?).
My favorite walkway through the Rocks with an old tree growing out of the cobblestone and tiny restaurants spilling outdoors.
It’s not the same as seeing the recurring graffiti “GRIME” painted in impossible-to-reach places near the top of buildings at various places around the city.
It’s not the same when you get a handwritten goodbye letter from one of the receptionists at the front desk in your apartment building that you became friends with.
It’s not the same when you can tick off a bunch of “firsts” in one country – first time flying alone, first time traveling with friends and not family, first time buying an alcoholic drink, first helicopter ride, first internship, first time living without a phone for two months, first time you have seen your bank account balance so low…
I found many adventures in Australia but I also found another home. Everyone is asking me to tell them all about my time there and I’m telling the same stories over and over but it is hard to capture the feeling of being there and the context of the people in the stories.
I tear up every time I think about it because I have a hard time accepting the fact that I may never see some of these people again, but as one of my coworkers put it: “Coming back to Australia will only be as long as you make it.”
August 12th, 2014 by Victoria Zhao under Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Victoria Zhao
In a blink of an eye, more than half of my time in Ecuador has already passed. It only feels like yesterday that I touched down in the humid Guayaquil airport, with no idea of what to expect, but soon we will be leaving this beautiful country to return to home.
With field work in different regions and projects with different community groups, no day is ever quite the same. But at the end of an exhausting day, I return home — home to a wonderful homestay family.
Because of the nature of our program, the eight weeks are split into three separate experiences with three different families. Four of the eight weeks will be spent in Cuenca, with two more in the North and two in the South. Although a part of me wishes that all the time could be spent with one family, I know that such would be impossible. Luckily, since Ecuador’s unique nature lends itself to different cultures in each part of the country, I have been extremely fortunate to experience completely different personalities in getting to know each family.
My host brother in Pulinguí is a new Maryland fan!
Up North in Pulinguí (about forty-five minutes north of Riobamba by bus), I was welcomed into a large family of five: Luis, a construction worker studying part-time to become a teacher; Teresa, an ama de casa, literally “lover of the house,” or housewife; and their three children Veronica (14), Michelle (11), and Luis Jr. (10).
The first morning in Pulinguí, I accompanied my host mom to take care of the animals. First we visited her mother in the nearby village, who only speaks the indigenous Kichwa language. We then walked up the mountains for about an hour, following the cows, a donkey, and an adorable piglet, until we reached her family’s plot of land, and started to cut grass to feed them. At midday, we returned to the house to prepare lunch for the children as they returned from school. The following days, as I joined the other interns to work in communities around the area, my mother would wake up around three or four every morning to pack me a lunch for the day.
Sometimes, it was tiring to return after a long day. All I want to do is go to bed to prepare for the next morning, yet I stay up with the family, speaking barely intelligible Spanish and making conversation. However, I cannot imagine how different my experience would have been if all the interns merely lived together, with limited immersion with the culture and the people. My siblings would clamor at my iPhone every evening, scrolling through all my photos and asking me detailed questions about my life in America. Michelle and Luis would turn on the radio to dance and sing to bachata for hours.
My family in Pulinguí may not have hot water, or wi-fi, or any of the luxuries that we have at home. Days are long, and life is hard. Yet, they all welcomed me into their home and into their lives, and allowed me to experience their day to day experiences. When we left Pulinguí, my dad reminded me that I was welcome to return any time.
I may not know when the next time that I will be in Ecuador may be, but my lovely homestay families will forever be in my heart.
August 5th, 2014 by Alice Lu under Australian Internship, Summer Break, Uncategorized. No Comments.
By Jenna Booth
Sydney is a unique experience compared to other study abroad programs partially because of the simple fact that it isn’t that much different from the U.S. If you asked me what major cultural differences there are, there is nothing that I immediately think of. The value of coming to Sydney and realizing how similar it is to the U.S. makes it cast a more reflective lens upon your life back at home.
Example #1: Talking with native Australians about the exciting things we have been doing while we’re in Sydney or our weekend excursions is always interesting. A lot of people have not climbed the bridge, even if they have lived here their entire lives. They are in no rush.
I don’t blame them either. Climbing the bridge is easily one of the highlights of my time here and is basically on my mental list of lifetime achievements, but if I lived here I probably wouldn’t have done it. It is hard to appreciate the things that you are accustomed to.
If I had people from other countries asking me if I have taken a tour of the White House, I would say no. If I had people ask me what the best restaurants, bars, and museums in D.C. or Baltimore were, I would not be very much help. I can’t remember the last time I went to any of the memorials in D.C., or if I have even been at all.
Example #2: College in Australia is not like college in America. Everyone talks about “the college experience”, but until you talk with people who are going to school here, you don’t realize how true that phrase is.
There is so much of a focus on campus life at American universities and you take it for granted. In Australia there is very little on-campus housing offered, and it is usually reserved for people who live extremely far away or are rather (read: very) wealthy – it is not unusual for students to have one, two, even three-hour commutes one way.
The lesson: I’m going to make a conscious effort to live a little more “carpe diem” and soak up the things back home that I usually take for granted – the obscene abundance of campus events, clubs, opportunities, and resources at our disposal as well as the proximity to our nation’s capital. Just because they will always be there, doesn’t mean I always will be – who knows, I could find myself back in Sydney in a few years…
How to not seize the day: Nap on Bondi beach.
My first time to Bondi and I decided to take a nap on my towel on the beach while my roommates are in the water
How to seize the day: Venture perhaps a tad too far out on the rocks in the ocean.
Me and my amazing roommates at Bondi Beach exploring the cliffs on the Bondi to Coogee walk
July 30th, 2014 by Alice Lu under Australian Internship, Summer Break, Uncategorized. 2 Comments.
By John Galdi
First off, I’d like to wish my younger sister a Happy 16th Birthday! Have a good one! I’ll be home before you know it.
In other news, Australia is one of the most incredible countries that I have ever been so lucky to travel to. As my time here winds down, I am starting to reflect on how great of an experience this has been for me. There has never been a dull moment, whether it’s at work or on a journey through the bush. Mostly I’ve been boring you with information about Australia…but don’t worry, I won’t do that again today. This post is strictly to share with you how incredible my journey has been and maybe give you some tips on what to do when you’re in Australia.
One of the coolest views of Sydney’s skyline can be seen from the top of the harbor bridge. Yes, the top of the harbor bridge. BridgeClimb is a company that organizes “climbs” to the top of the bridge (which is much higher than I thought it would be… don’t look down) via a staircase on the arch of it. Once we got to the top (pictured below), we were able to look back on the city and stare in awe. This had to be one of the most impressive views I’ve seen.
Me on top of the world! Jk, only on top of the Sydney Bridge which might as well be the top of the world
Luckily, Vivid Sydney was going on during our bridge climb, so we were able to look down on the projections on the Sydney Opera house and many of the buildings.
Taronga Zoo is a very famous zoo in Sydney. It has animals from all over the world. I don’t have much else to say about it. You have to go to really experience it. Definitely worth the trip though!
One of the zoo’s most famous features is the view when looking at the giraffe exhibit, with the city in the background.
- Port Stephens
In Port Stephens, we went on hikes to lookouts over some beautiful coastline. It felt like we were on top of the world for a little while. We also did some whale watching where we got to see some humpbacks. Port Stephens is a quaint little town, great for weekend trips!
The Blue Mountains are a mountain range in Australia that has a bunch of impressive hikes down into the valley. Some of the plants there cause the valley to have a blue hint to it when you look down on it, hence the name Blue Mountains. We went on a nice hike down to the bottom of the valley, followed by a train ride back to the top… on the steepest railway in the world.
Here is one of the waterfalls we walked down to. Some awesome views!
If you ever come to Australia in the “winter” (our summer), you MUST go to Cairns. Make sure you pronounce it “Cains”, or you will be corrected immediately. Apparently, summer is not the time to go to Cairns because of all their cyclones (hurricanes that spin the other way) and unpredictable weather. Fortunately for us, we went at the right time of year and got incredible weather. Cairns is a relatively small town, but it has tons of things to do for tourists. From great food, to scuba diving at the reef, to walking through the beautiful rainforest, Cairns was breath taking. Scuba diving was much harder than it looks, but definitely worth the experience. (Sorry for the scare mom & dad)
This beautiful lagoon in Cairns was right next to the main wharf. We all agreed it was the most refreshing pool we’ve ever been to, special thanks to the hot weather in Cairns.
Scuba diving in the great barrier reef!
Only 2 weeks left! See you soon College Park! Cheers!
July 30th, 2014 by Alice Lu under Australian Internship, Uncategorized. No Comments.
By Alice Lu
When I told me friend I actually only knew one Aussie my age, he freaked out. He couldn’t understand it! So this is what I told him:
“The reason why I haven’t met many other Aussies my age is because they all live at home with their parents. They commute to their universities and then go back home at the end of the day. Some don’t even go to university, they go straight to work or they begin their year long backpacking adventure around the world. They also don’t live in the city where I do, they’ll be in the suburbs. I am never in the suburbs unless I’m at work.” I see the most Australian students in the morning and after work when private school students in primary, secondary, or high school are boarding the train. Or when they are coming home on the train from after school sports practice. I think it works better if the state does not provide public school buses when public transportation is so convenient.
Surprisingly I’ve met more Kiwis (New Zealanders) and Europeans than Australians. It’s because so many Europeans travel after or during university before they decide to settle down in the real world. They all come down to Australia because of the similar language and the appeal of this magnificent country. Most of coworkers are not Australian, in fact two of them are Kiwis, two of them are from India, one from Nepal, and two from England, one being the supply chain director himself. Only three of them are actual Aussies.
I think I’ve met more non-Australians than Aussies and that’s because Australia is a big melting pot of ethnicities, just like America! When I went to Cairns I stayed in a hostel where I met more Germans than I did Aussies. It really makes me wish that all parents in America could raise their children up with the thinking that life is short and one should take full advantage of it by seeing and learning from it as much of it as possible. The number of backpackers and high school graduates who are able to find employment in Sydney without prior work experience was something that surprised me. We’re all used to the competitive nature to find employment in the USA but here in Sydney, people can work for a company and after a couple of years move up the ranks. If only it were this easy in the states.
It’s bittersweet, more bitter than sweet but this is my last weekend in Sydney and I just can’t believe how fast time flies. I can’t wait for what’s in store this weekend when I fly to Melbourne with Jenna and then enter my last week at work. Cheers!
My coworker had extra tickets to a Tigers and Bulldogs Australian Rugby League game. Clearly I was a tigers fan that day (who won by the way- GO TIGERS!)
- This is one of the examples of gourmet food Sydney offers here. These are gourmet pancakes at a fancy place called Pancakes on the Rocks which is open 24/7. I found my Sydney food heaven.
July 28th, 2014 by pbhullar under Uncategorized. No Comments.
By Hanna Moerland, Master of Public Policy ’15
In a lot of ways, our group was really lucky: as a four-person team who ended up working together on one project, we lucked out that our personalities and interests balanced each other out really well; our accommodations were very comfortable; we had good internet access; and we had access to real coffee (instant just doesn’t cut it sometimes).
The biggest challenge for our group was our intense schedule – I think we all underestimated how rigorous it would be: conducting hours upon hours of interviews and primary research, on top of spending hours in the car each day. As there were four of us, we decided to have four areas of focus in our research – although we hadn’t calculated into that equation the time and effort that goes into tracking down the experts in each of those areas, translating interviews from English to Sinhala or Tamil, and then sometimes translating between Sri Lankan English and American English. We had three main research sites, and by the third one we had a rhythm going that made it easier on each of us, but by then the primary research was done!
This project was a great learning experience. Every aspect of it was an opportunity for our group to engage and exchange information gleaned through work experience and school: everything from reviewing the policy document, focusing our areas of research, creating a policy evaluation framework, working out team communication, conducting interviews, recording data from interviews and primary research, to creating the final deliverables – a presentation and final written report.
In the end our client was impressed with our insight – noting that for outsiders who were there for just three weeks, we picked up on a lot of what is going on – and we got a lot of positive feedback on the format, structure, and findings in our final presentation. At the end of this experience, I’m really proud of all the hard work we put in as a group and the final product that we created.
July 21st, 2014 by pbhullar under International Consulting, Short-Term, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Maurice Nick, MBA ’15
My upbringing was different compared to many other children in America. As a child, I was in church at least three nights out of the week: with prayer service on Tuesdays, Bible studies on Thursday and Sunday was an all-day event with two services starting from 10AM until 6PM. While to others this church schedule may seem over the top, to me it was a part of life that I thoroughly enjoyed. My family is comprised of more than thirty ordained preachers, owning more than ten churches.
I thought everyone was raised similarly until high school when I realized how secular America actually was. While I knew many students had religious families, whether Christian or Muslim or any of the many others worshipped in the United States, my peer group made a conscious effort to not reveal it for fear of not fitting in. I purposed in my heart then that I would stick to all the teachings instilled in me at a young age.
Over time, however, I started to accept secularity to be a part of everyday life and even found myself conforming to the point that I did not make many outright statements reflecting my Christian beliefs in the company of my peers. This is why upon stepping onto Sri Lankan soil – I was immediately affected by the religious zeal displayed by every member of society. It was a breath of fresh air to see individuals so devout in their faith.
The ways I was impacted ranged from my attire to my transportation. For example, I was refused service for wearing a tank top – called “skinnies” there – an American staple in the summertime. It made me wonder how they would react to other less savory articles often flaunted in public on American soil!
An even more significant example was when the public bus would not move without a word of prayer. My colleague and I boarded a bus to make the four-hour trip from Anuradhapura to Trincomalee to enjoy the beach with others from our program stationed there. My mother always taught me to pray before I moved my car, and as a child we would sit in the driveway and say a minute long prayer requesting protection from Jesus. I had seen the crazy stunts these drivers pulled behind the wheel, and as per usual I was going to say a prayer.
I closed my eyes and begin to pray as others boarded. Soon my surroundings got quiet, and I heard someone in the front of the bus speaking. I peeked one eye open to see what caused this sudden shift in the environment. Imagine the shock on my face and joy in my heart to see a small woman standing there praying! Most of the other passengers had their head bowed or hands folded in some way to reverence the prayer. I couldn’t help but think of the backlash this action would have received if done on public transportation in America. Therefore, to find myself in a foreign country with strangers who I originally thought were different from me in every way and then to be connected with them on such a spiritual level with a prayer was such a powerful experience. It gave me a level of understanding and shared camaraderie with strangers that I had never felt with my own compatriots.
Despite already being shocked by the public prayer, there was an even greater surprise awaiting me. My colleague had fallen asleep, and we were on our way to Trinco. The street signs were in Sinhala, the people only spoke Sinhala, and my map was in English. So when the bus pulled over to the side of the road, as far as I was concerned – we were lost.
Then somebody yelled out a command of sorts and I watched as folks dug into their pockets and bags to retrieve cash. I had no idea what was going on and all I could do was be a bystander as people started giving money to a collector who got off the bus and later reappeared. This entire episode confused me and it was only later that I found that he had gone to say another prayer and give an offering to Buddha.
I was truly amazed by these occurrences in Sri Lanka. I couldn’t help but feel an uncomfortable knot in my stomach at the thought of the reaction in America if a prayer was suggested on public transportation. And not to mention how other individuals would have reacted if prayers during the bus ride interrupted the average American’s on-the-go non-stop hustle and bustle!
Even though I was sent there to teach the business owners how to maintain their financial records, in the end, it was the Sri Lankan people who taught me to always hold steadfast to my faith regardless of where I am in the world.
July 16th, 2014 by pbhullar under International Consulting. No Comments.
9am: After security checks, we met Paul Richardson, Director of the Office of Economic Growth of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Sri Lanka. He briefed us on the security issues and awareness as Americans/foreigners in Sri Lanka. Don’t worry mom, I think I’ll manage. Bottom line: be aware of your surroundings and dress appropriately.
The second part of Richardson’s talk was specifically of interest: USAID’s work in the region and Sri Lanka, and him being apart of it. As a graduate student trying to navigate my career path, my current interests somewhat lie in international development, be it social, health, or environmental issues. I’m unsure how to navigate that career path, and thus love networking and hearing other peoples stories. I will now elaborate on Richardson’s career path, as it was of interest to my umd cohort and me. Paul Richardson was originally born in Canada, studied his masters in Italy, and finished his post-graduate published work in the UK. Richardson defined himself an economist by trade. He originally worked for the UN in Milan, Africa, and then in the UK. Richardson found himself immigrating to the US upon marriage to a native Bostonian. In the US, he found work with the US Dept of Commerce, and finally USAID, where he works as a foreign-service officer, and lives places long-term with his family. He’s lived in 11 countries and visited over 70 countries in his lifetime. Currently, he and his family have lived 2 years in Sri Lanka with 2 years left. His squadron focuses on the economic development of Sri Lanka, which is now a low middle-income country. Richardson explained, unlike other facets of the Foreign Service, USAID requires a master’s degree of its officers, which results in more interesting and in depth work. Good to know I’m on the right track.
11am: Meeting with Jamal, the coordinator of our consulting projects at Biz+ Vega. He laid out the next 3 weeks of our stay.
2pm: While everyone else was meeting with his or her clients, and since my cohort is meeting with our client tomorrow, my team took a poolside lunch. Where we discussed our work styles and past experiences. After lunch, we walked 5 minutes to the train station to catch a local train to Mount Lavinia to finally go to the beach! The train cost 10 rupees, which translates to less than 10 cents. The train ride was raw and beautiful. Just simple benches, open windows, and the startlingly beautiful ocean scenery. No foreigners in sight. The train let us off right at the beach. We wandered to a beachside cabana restaurant, ordered a drink, and relaxed and chatted on chaise lounges on the sand. Watching the sunset over the rough Sri Lankan surf with the subtle noise of the every so often train rattling by seemed like a dream.