In any new environment, there will be many obstacles that you encounter. This may be a language barrier, different communication styles and work habits than you’re used to, or different societal norms. However, despite those obstacles, for proper adjustment into this new setting, there are two essential skills needed to overcome these obstacles in a timely manner. Those skills are adaptability and problem-solving.
Personally, the most difficult part of Australian culture that I’ve had to adjust to thus far is their language. Australians tend to shorten even the shortest words, so it’s a little bit difficult to comprehend and certainly presents a learning curve. For example Mcdonald’s here is called Maccas. This is something that if I wasn’t made aware of it, I would have no idea what Maccas was referring to. At the same time, I really do enjoy learning all of the shortened terms as some of them I coincidentally already use in my vocabulary. For example, I sometimes say Brekky instead of Breakfast which is the norm here. After only being here for a month, I’ve been able to recognize when these terms are spoken, and have even started to unconsciously incorporate them into my own vocabulary which is great progress from when I first arrived down under in Sydney.
Another interesting aspect of Australian culture I have identified is in relation to business and office environments. First off, the way individuals in the office communicate is much more lax than in the United States. You will hear a lot of swearing and joking around, however, everyone still gets their work done and is serious when needed. This is very interesting as it’s not just lower level employees at the firm, but in some cases can be seen from the CEO as well. This I believe is due to the lack of a strict hierarchy in the workplace. The CEO of a firm can frequently be seen walking around the office talking with people, and in my office, even playing ping pong every once in a while. Thus far, I’ve found it very interesting as in a corporate setting in the United States, it would be rare to see a CEO sitting in the office next to you, especially as an intern. These are just a few of the observations in the workplace I’ve been able to identify from just a month of working, and I’ve found it eye opening to be able to compare and contrast this position from positions I’ve held in the past, especially ones working in the same industry.
To wrap up this blog post, I would like to give a little recap on all I have been up to since I last wrote. This past weekend, a group of friends and I went up to Byron Bay which is on the northern coast of New South Wales. This was a much needed change of environment from the city scene, as we did a lot of hiking and spent a good amount of time at the beach. We were going to go hang gliding which I was really looking forward to, however, the winds were strong enough while we were there so we had to ditch that plan. This past Monday, the program I am with brought us on an overnight at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. This was an experience like no other, as not many people can say they have been woken up by the sound of tigers and monkeys in the middle of the night. It’s experiences like these that make studying abroad truly so special, and I’m looking forward to these next two months and soaking up more memories like these as before I know it I will be boarding a plane on my return to the United States.