July 30th, 2015 by jamwong1 under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Jamie Wong
The first day when I started working for my internship in the Finance department at Nielsen in late June, it was a really nerve-racking day. The dress code at the company is pretty casual and the director in Finance told me that no one would even put on a tie here. I was a bit overdressed but now I can even show up with a sweat shirt and jeans to work unless there is a meeting!
Every morning I catch the subway from Central Station to Macquarie Park using my Opal Card (A tap on and off card that you can top up with money for all local transport in Sydney – every 8 rides a week and you will get the rest of all the trips free). Macquarie Park is a business park with lots of big name companies such as Cannon, Emerson and Foxtel. Nielsen is about a 5 minute walk from the Macquarie Park station, nearby there is the Macquarie Center which is a mall just a short distance from the company which is a great place for lunch and shopping. They are strategically located further away from the city as companies need more space and it is less costly – Nielsen have over 250 employees here at this office.
The everyday life at the office is quite consistent and there are so many opportunities to learn from the finance team. In order to get the best out of the experience is to always ask questions and be keen to learn. I have also learnt that it is important to have a good work/life balance because it is not possible to be productive if you are over loaded with work. This is one of the main aspects of working in Australia is that they understand how to crack a joke in conversations here and there. It really makes the environment so much more enjoyable to work in. Here is a list of the work culture I noticed:
- There are birthday lunches for the finance team and they order in a platter of food from the café across the street
- When the long serving receptionist left the company – they had the entire company to join her for a surprise get together with cake and snacks
- From time to time they have these “Nielsen Connect events” where they encourage employees to get together e.g. Poker Fridays, Soccer world cup between departments, Nielsen Art day (employees bring in art work related to office life and they vote on the best piece for gift cards prizes), Business updates where we get to hear the CEO speak
- Flu shots before the winter season hits and flexible with sick leave
- Employees can work from home and leave early if they need to pick up their kids from work
- Always keen to teach and give trainings to each other
- Soccer on Tuesday and Thursday – I play for a Nielsensations team at the lunchtime legends league against other company’s team in the business park
* Here is a picture of our team when we lifted the lunchtime legend trophy – Shane and I are on the left and made valuable contributions throughout the season
July 26th, 2015 by bsha under Australian Internship. No Comments.
Australia is famous for its deadly animals (spiders, snakes, man of wars). I’m glad I overcame my fears because animals are at the focal point of some of my most awe-inspiring (and terrifying) memories. Hopefully you can get past the fact that I discussed food in my last post. While Australia has an abundance of wildlife, Port Stephens, Phillips Island, and the Great Barrier Reef were especially spectacular.
Coming to Australia, the two (animal-related) things I was most excited to do were see a kangaroo and go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. To my dismay, there were no kangaroos hopping around the airport when I arrived. In fact, it took a couple weeks to even spot one (I guess some Australian stereotypes aren’t true).
My first kangaroo sighting was at a wildlife park. He was massive, towering at around six feet. There was also, a myriad of birds, wombats, koalas, and penguins at this park. However, my favorite part was feeding the wallabies. Wallabies are basically mini-kangaroos (see picture below). I got an ice cream cone full of grass and went up to different wallabies. Like most people would, the wallabies mostly ignored the grass and went straight for the tasty cone.
This guy adorably snatched the cone from me!
Another time I saw wallabies and koalas was in Phillips Island. Our guide was telling us about how the tourism industry is affecting koalas. Koalas spend around twenty hours a day sleeping; they need to conserve energy because the Eucalyptus leaves they eat need a lot of energy to digest (see source). Some companies make a business out of allowing tourists to hold koalas. According to our guide, this puts a lot of stress on koalas and drastically reduces their lifespan. At the wildlife park we were able to take pictures with koalas, but only those that were feeding; the ones that were sleeping were left undisturbed. In most Australian states, it is illegal to hold/cuddle the koalas, but some still allow it.
The highlight of Phillips Island was the penguin march (not to be confused with March of the Penguins). This is when penguins come out of the water and onto the beach to mate. While you might be imagining the penguins from Happy Feet, this particular type was called Fairy or Little penguins. These penguins are about a foot tall and have a dark blue coat. My classmates and I watched as the penguins tentatively came out of the water in groups. Sometimes, they would timidly exit the water only to immediately dive back in. Once out of the water, the penguins moved as one shimmering cluster past the rocks. Then, they lined up and marched up the beach (no dancing unfortunately). Regrettably, we were unable to take pictures, as this would disturb the penguins.
Port Stephens was another place with a wealth of wildlife. I got to ride a camel around a desert. In addition, my friends and I climbed down into a pool and feed small reef sharks and stingrays (including a 700 pound sting ray named Rasputia). Finally, we went whale watching and spotted some seals.
One of the main things I wanted to do in Australia was go to the Great Barrier Reef. My family and I are avid snorkelers so I was excited to see what the Great Barrier Reef had to offer. I snorkeled three times at different points in the reef. Each time was spectacular, although, as the wind picked up, it got progressively harder to motivate myself to get into my freezing wetsuit. But it was worth it; I saw huge rainbow colored parrotfish, angelfish, sea cucumbers (vacuums of the sea), surgeonfish (named for the sharp bone in their tail they use to defend themselves), and countless others. The most beautiful thing was the reef itself. Coral of all different colors, shapes, and sizes. The craziest thing I saw was a six-foot reef shark!
Unfortunately, the shark swam away before I could take a picture.
If you love animals, Australia is the place for you. If you have the opportunity, go the Great Barrier Reef, Port Stephens, and Phillips Island. I got the chance to see a kangaroo, feed wallabies, watch koalas, see penguins marching, ride camels, whale watch, and swim with sharks. However, I’m still searching for Nemo.
July 23rd, 2015 by Sammy under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
I’m one of those weird people. Someone with a clearly malfunctioning inner ear who enjoys things like roller coasters, drop towers, and other things that fling you around violently. So it stands to reason that I thought our recent, stormy trip the Great Barrier Reef was absolutely fantastic.
Things started off calmly enough, with cloudy skies and an innocuous breeze blowing by as we boarded the boat. A buffet of bite-sized blueberry and chocolate chip muffins happily greeted us as we stepped inside, with more foods being prepared for lunch and even afternoon tea. Seriously, if any place has afternoon tea, you know they’re putting on the ritz.
And thus our sudden change of fortune caught us blindsided. Soon enough, the food was safely stowed away while waves rocked the interior cabin. I thought this was just fine, and placed myself in the front of the boat, holding onto the metro-like railing hanging from the ceiling as we were thrown about. But other, more rational people… weren’t faring as well.
Those guys sat in little rows in the back of the boat, exposed to the elements (since any air can help with seasickness. Supposedly.). Hunched over, they (presumably) tried to ignore how we bounced along the waves in a fashion more similar to a jetski than the medium-sized ship we were actually riding.
A not inaccurate depiction of our trip
None of this was totally unexpected. At the counter beside the buffet stand, the crew members were hawking ginger tablets and more heavy drugs to cope with seasickness like street vendors. Hell, barely before our ship’s engine had gurgled to life, one of the lead crewmembers declared to us with a grin, “I’d say ‘bout sixty percent of you’ll be sick before we get to the reef.”
Obviously, he was right. And while the snorkeling itself was truly amazing, I think that’ll only be half the trip I remember: the other half will be holding onto the railing and munching on a muffin as the roiling sea threw me about.
And to be honest, I think the rest of my fellow snorkelers will also remember their trip in a similar way… for better or for worse.
July 22nd, 2015 by jamwong1 under Australian Internship, Summer Break, Uncategorized. No Comments.
by Jamie Wong
If you are travelling to Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road tour is definitely recommended and a must do!
On weekends away from our global marketing class and company visits, our professor allows a generous amount of free time to explore the city. Instead of being lazy in our comfortable Sheraton hotel beds and walking around the same places in city center of Melbourne, a group of us went on a day tour to check out The Great Ocean Road in the southern coast of Australia.
That morning, our 5 star hotel breakfast at the Sheraton was rushed and many of us were not in the greatest of moods as we had to get on the bus at 7:15 a.m. We hopped on the bus and headed towards the south western part of Melbourne. As we drove towards the suburbs, some of us caught up on some sleep as the night before we had stayed up all night watch the Champions league final. It was very interesting to see the transition of the modern streets in the city to quickly changing into incredible scenic landscapes as we drove towards the coast and our destination, the Great Ocean Road.
Our first stop was the Great Ocean Drive. As soon as our group got off the bus, it was freezing cold but luckily our tour guide greeted us with hot beverages and snacks. Although the instant coffee packets are not comparable to the espressos we had in Melbourne, we were content with it as it gave us the much needed warmth.
The great ocean drive runs along the coast and due to its geography, there are many bends and corners. It was a bumpy ride but the anticipation and excitement of viewing the twelve apostles got us through without much complains.
Also, our stop for where we had lunch overlooking the ocean and the lighthouse. It was quite cold and windy out but it was an incredible experience to be able to enjoy a meal with friends, with the feeling of sitting at the edge of the continent. The lunch was simple with sausages, salad and pasta but it tasted so much better because we were starving and needed the calories to keep ourselves warm. One of the memorable moments of that day is when Venessa’s entire plate of food flew across the table and hit Eric in the stomach due to the winds.
When we reached the famous twelve apostles (Above is the photo of this natural wonder in this part of the world), the tour guide told us there are actually only eight left today. A few stacks of rocks have already fallen off due to the constant contact from the waves. We took many pictures and selfies from probably every possible angle, shared on our different social media sites.
The night ended with a long ride back to the city and we were exhausted by the end of it, but it was all worth it. Do as much as you can while you are travelling to a new city because it is hard to have another opportunity again.
July 7th, 2015 by Sammy under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
Little phrases like that are the reason that I just know I’m in the right workplace at my company in Australia. In no way would you ever hear anything like that at a U.S. office space (usually, at least), but Down Under, where most things to do with freedom of expression are more relaxed, it’s not uncommon.
And yeah, freedom of expression is very relaxed here. Not just in their rampant bashing of their politicians and celebrities, but also in simple day to day interactions like the one I referenced above. Where else would you find a waiter who literally sits on your table before asking for your order? And where else would your co-worker unabashedly come up with a scheme bordering small-time item-kidnapping to better know some mystery lady?
Not exactly the Australian standard.
In general, Australians are all about saying what’s on your mind This was something I realized as I watched my coworker glare at her screen, saying the first two words of this blog post not in a frustrated mutter under her breath, like someone would do in the States, but rather in a very audible grumble that turned the rest of the office’s heads and left me in stitches. Nobody thought it was weird or out of place aside from me (after all, everyone curses in the office, as I later realized), but they were simply curious as to who had done what now.
That blew my mind at the time, and I’m going to be perfectly honest here: I think this is really great! Obviously, this can lead to some confrontations with people who aren’t used to the Australian culture, and this will still offend some people who are part of their culture. But personally, I think it’s kind of a relief to not worry about being PC all the time; to be in a place where maybe you have a bit more freedom to say what you want.
And to think: I’m arguing that Australians have more freedom of speech in their culture than Americans. If you’d told me that before I came here, I’d say you were crazy.
But now that I’m here, I’d say you’re goddamn right!
June 28th, 2015 by jamwong1 under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Jamie Wong
Our global marketing course began at RMIT on June 1st and our week consisted of lectures and site visits. This 3 credit class is one of the most interactive and challenging courses because it not only taught us the marketing theories, but it was reinforced through site visits to various businesses. These visits consisted from meeting executives from companies in sky scrapers to rangers at koala conservation centers.
In Melbourne, Phillips Island was definitely a memorable highlight of these two weeks. We first went to the visitor center in Phillips Island, and met the economic development manager and marketing directors of the island. We were greeted and welcomed with snacks as we learned about the ecotourism challenges that the island faces. Then, we traveled to the Koala Conservation center and the tour was led by a local ranger. Although these animals are usually asleep most of the time, we were fortunate to be able to see one Koala that was fairly active. As the evening approached, we ended our night with the the Penguin Parade by the beach. Hordes of little penguins would come to shore from sea to the beach and hatch their eggs. It was an impressive scene and one that I would never forget.
On June 5th, we visited the Melbourne Cricket ground and toured around their stadium which can hold 100,000 Aussie rules fans. This stadium is by far the largest sports stadium I have ever set foot in. The tour guide taught us some of the basic rules of the game as we walked around their facilities. It was quite regular that athletes would have a concussion while playing; only until recently they have adopted this new rule where head injuries must be checked by the doctors. We also had a fantastic time at their sports museum as they had a section to try the Aussie rules for football and a popular sport called net ball. In the late afternoon, we then had a presentation by the finance director at the MCG and learned about how their finances affected their marketing decisions. The next day we watched Carlton versus Adelaide Crows, which ended up as a loss for the home team. This match was even and the scores were very close the whole game but it was unfortunate that the home team Carlton lost. Despite the loss, our group had a great time regardless of the outcome.
June 26th, 2015 by bsha under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
I am terrified of spiders. Unfortunately huge spiders are something Australia is famous for. So you might be asking why I chose to study abroad here. One of the main reasons is the program. The coolest thing is this program allows me to study abroad over the summer and work an internship in another country.
Broken up into two parts, the first part is a two-week global marketing class in Melbourne and the second part is an eight-week internship in Sydney. In this post, I’ll talk about my time in Melbourne.
One of my favorite parts of Melbourne was the food. Not having a kitchen was a great excuse to sample the local cuisine as much as possible. From trying the hottest dish on the menu at a local Thai restaurant to sampling different food at a night market, I truly spoiled my stomach. Foods Australia is famous for include meat pies (basically all kinds of pies), vegemite, kangaroo, Tim Tams, lamington, and Pavlova (those last two are types of dessert).
This is lamington, an Australian dessert.
More surprising is the plethora of Asian cuisine options. Four of the top six highest immigrant populations in Australia are from Asian countries. This is clearly visible in terms of culinary options. One of my favorite meals in Melbourne was at a place called Sushi Burger, which used two round, flat, stacks of rice as buns and put the fish/meat/vegetables in between.
What a Sushi Burger looks like. My pictures didn’t turn out great so this one is from Google.
In addition, Melbourne has the largest Greek population of any city outside of Greece. Our first attempts to go down Lonsdale St (a street known for having many good Greek food options) failed because a nearby restaurant was on fire. I did come back a few days later and satisfy my gyro craving.
Food is something Melbourne does very well. I came to find the best restaurants are the ones you didn’t plan on visiting but just happen to wander into. I’m excited to see what Sydney has in store for me.
June 21st, 2015 by Sammy under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
When I first began writing this post, I was going to write about Melbourne, and how exciting it was to see the sights, and go to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology for our classes, and other normal blog stuff. But I’m sure that both of my fellow bloggers (Jamie and Blake, who you can find here and here) will talk about that in a much better way than I would.
So, let’s talk about our, er, highly prestigious flats in Sydney.
Maybe I’m biased because of our amazing accommodations in Melbourne at the Sheraton. And yeah, I do miss my complimentary breakfast (with mini muffins! And danishes!), and I do miss my unlimited wifi, and I do miss our daily cleaning services. I can’t deny that. But at the same time, our flats in Sydney have some serious questions to answer.
Seriously, who wouldn’t miss these little guys?
Let’s start with the design. Out flats (which I won’t specifically name here, for reasons you’ll soon see) have three elevators that service a total of 29 floors. They putz between the various floors on whatever speed they decide to choose for that day, but one of them only goes to the 10th floor, and the other only goes from the 15th to the 29th. Not that it matters for the latter one, since it’s been out of service for most of our time here.
Then there’s our near-comical list of appliance problems. Our washer’s ‘high’ spin speed sounds like a lazy twirl. Just two of our four stove-top lighters were operational upon arrival (though in the flat’s defense, that was actually quickly fixed). Our dryer appeared to have all the drying power of a wet fart before it fizzled out completely. And let’s not even talk about our hyper-responsive fire alarm, which just today was set off by the smell of medium-rare sausages and ramen.
I think one main problem is that our flat is under-staffed. For instance, they had one elevator guy on call to fix their elevators (which, remember, only number three), and he was “busy” when we first arrived. Seriously guys, you’re telling me you couldn’t find any other elevator technician in Sydney?
Our number one enemy the first week here.
Obviously, I’m playing all of this up a bit. At the end of the day, it’s really not that bad! The fact that they even have all these furnishings in any semblance of working condition (Our dryer aside; screw that thing) is very nice, and the carpeting and walls and such are all very well kept up. Hell, they even have weekly cleaning services, and it certainly can’t be easy to even attempt to run a place as massive as ours is.
But on the other hand, they accidentally let me walk into and consequently be trapped (albeit very temporarily) inside an elevator where the buttons didn’t work. So I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
June 17th, 2015 by jamwong1 under Australian Internship, Summer Break. No Comments.
By Jamie Wong
On May 27th, my roommate Eric and I started our journey to Australia. We traveled to Washington Dulles international airport then flew to Melbourne via Los Angeles. The Virgin America and Qantas flight brought us to our destinations on time with comfort and limited turbulence. The total travel time was 25 hours including the 2 hour layover in LA. Despite the long hours inside a confined aircraft cabin, we overlooked all of this partly because of the anticipation and our excitement for this study abroad program.
After, we landed in Melbourne; as soon as we arrived I noticed that the airport had Chinese translation written all over it. Then, looking over at the airport arrival board, I noticed that there are flights arriving from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and different parts of China. It gave me a broad sense of how many Chinese immigrants there are. Looking over at the billboards while waiting for our luggage, I also saw advertisements from Air China which now has opened up direct flights routes from major cities from China.
Then, after getting our bags we took the sky bus which took us straight to the hotel. As the bus roamed around the out-skirts and into the city, the things that stood out to us is the architecture of the buildings and the variety of the Asian restaurants. When we arrived to the hotel, we finally regrouped with some of the members in this program at the lobby. Everyone seemed extremely friendly and eager to get to know one and another. Afterwards, we as a group explored a bit on our own. Here is a picture of the Flinders train station which is 10 minutes away.
We awaited our professor inside our hotel room but after a hot shower, the jet-lag kicked in and some of us just rested through the day. It was quite tiring but I managed to get through until later at night. I was fortunate to have a good friend that studies in Melbourne and we met up right away. He showed me around the city and it was an incredible feeling being in a new place like Melbourne. I attended his close friend’s birthday party at a pub and it was interesting talking to college students from Australia.
It was a very good first day and it still felt surreal to be in Melbourne. I slept extremely well as sleeping on the plane gave me a few aches here and there, but it didn’t matter as I sunk into my bed. I still remember waking up in the middle of the night not remembering where I was. After a few seconds of confusion, I reminded myself that I am embarking on this incredible study abroad journey in Australia with 13 others.
May 25th, 2015 by Alyssa Lesho under Italy, Semester. No Comments.
by Alyssa Lesho
I have my second-to-last exam today. On Wednesday I have one more, and then I fly home on Friday. Many exchange students are staying for a few weeks after exams to travel without having to worry about classes, but I start my summer internship on June 1st, so that wasn’t an option for me.
Since this is my last post, I guess I should probably finish on some advice and tips and reflections, in case anyone reading this is thinking about coming to Bocconi for a semester.
The church where da Vinci painted “The Last Supper”
Milan is a wonderful city to study abroad in. It’s very centralized in Europe. With three airports close by, it’s easy to find a cheap flight for a weekend trip. If you haven’t been to Europe before, like me, you should try to travel most weekends. Meet up with UMD friends abroad, because that will make the trips more special, but also get to know some fellow exchange students. Eat local food. Spend money to get experiences, not to drink. Understand that you probably won’t stay within budget and be okay with that.
Don’t leave Milan for the end of the semester – you want to study then. Try and explore a little of Milan every week. Get tickets for “The Last Supper” early on. Go to exhibitions at Palazzo Reale, the Gallery of Modern Art, and Pinacoteca di Brera. Sometimes there’s free entry to museums on the first Sunday of the month. If you come for Fall 2015, get tickets for the Expo (Bocconi might still be giving out free ones).
Try and learn Italian. Many people speak English, but you should know the basics. Eat gelato often. Don’t order the same thing at every restaurant. Appreciate that you are living and studying in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.