GRIP, Internships Abroad Hungry for Adventure

September 12, 2022
By Stella Hung, College '24

Business in Sydney, Australia

If I were to choose a single word that encapsulates my summer abroad in Sydney, it would be hunger. As my time here is wrapping up and I reflect on these past two months, I can only think of the abundance of culture, food, art, and nature that I experienced in Australia. This country is filled with a variety of activities to do and explore. Having lived in Hawaii, Japan, and now Philadelphia, Australia felt as if everything about life as I knew it was all packed into one place. While it is a place abundant in nature and rich cultural history, it also has vibrant, hustling cities with amazing food, mesmerizing skylines, and beautiful art. During my experience abroad, there was never a day when I wasn’t hungry to explore all that this country has to offer. Every weekend was planned with activities to do and people to see, and I was constantly on the move to satisfy my hunger for new adventures and experiences in Australia.

One of the first things that stood out to me when I arrived in Australia was the food. I have never been somewhere where there is such a wide variety of cuisines - Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian; you name it - with cheap and affordable options. I was amazed at how easily accessible healthy options were, whether it be the salads and overnight oats at cafes or the low prices of fresh produce at the supermarket. Brunch and gelato here are unmatched, and banana bread is a staple at all cafes - something I was completely caught off guard by. As a coffee lover, I was also spoiled by the delicious coffee and prominent coffee culture that exists here. It was surprising to learn that every coffee drink is made with espresso - brewed coffee doesn’t exist here, and I took advantage of it.

Growing up in Hawaii, I was most excited to discover the beautiful nature of Australia. Although I knew that Australia was a naturally beautiful country, what I experienced exceeded my expectations. I went hiking in the Blue Mountains where the Eucalyptus trees produce a blue haze - hence the name - and was mesmerized by a new kind of nature I had never seen before. I swam in the great barrier reef and explored the Daintree rainforest, both of which felt like a fever dream of being enthralled by the natural world. At the Taronga Zoo, I saw kangaroos and koalas for the first time and was close enough to almost be face-to-face with them. And last but not least, I surfed at Manly beach where I was able to get a taste of my life back home in Hawaii. Although I enjoyed working in the city’s main business district for my internship, I was extremely grateful for the opportunities to explore Australia’s natural beauty during the weekends.

Aboriginal Art at the Museum of Contemporary ArtSomething I greatly admire about Sydney is its emphasis on art and culture throughout the city. Exploring the art scene is very accessible here, especially if you are a student. Watching an opera at the iconic Sydney Opera House has always been a dream of mine. With a bit of luck, my friends and I obtained student rush tickets for the opening night of La Traviata and were able to experience a very close view of the performance. Museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales are free entry, as with most museums. I enjoyed viewing the pieces by Australian artists - especially aboriginal art. The aboriginal culture really shines through in Australia. There is aboriginal dot art featured in wall art throughout the city and in things like notebooks, mugs, and coin purses. Acknowledgment of land is also prevalent in city life, whether it be voiced before a performance or written out at various establishments. I admired the country’s efforts to pay respect to the Aboriginal people and their culture, land, and heritage, and it made me want to learn more about Aboriginal history.

Looking back, I can confidently say that I never expected to fall in love with a place as much as I have with Australia. It is a beautiful country with amazing people and culture. I am content with how I used my time in this new city, as I feel like I have explored Australia to the best of my ability. I’ve successfully satisfied my hunger for exploration and adventure. Although I am sad to board my flight back home, I am extremely grateful to have worked in Sydney this summer and would not trade this experience for anything else.

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The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.