Sydney Internship and Study Abroad Program: John Bozeman '18
As I write this blog post, I have been outside our beloved United States for nearly five months, and what an exciting time it certainly has been... Wow, it feels like a lifetime ago when I was curled up in a ball of stress cramming for Professor Guse’s Micro Theory final in Huntley. As an Economics major participating in a program targeted at Accounting students, I decided to opt out of an internship during the two-and-half month span between W&L’s fall semester and University of Sydney’s first semester in order to travel. Since packing up my belongings from third year housing and departing Lexington in December, I have knocked four countries, two continents, and a host of adrenaline-intoxicating activities off my bucket list, met hundreds of people from every corner of the planet, and been inserted into some of the most ridiculous situations you could never think of. It has been the opportunity to explore far-off places and interact with so many people who have certainly never heard of Washington and Lee University, or probably even the state of Virginia, that has been the most rewarding aspect of my study abroad experience.
I started off with my family for a relaxing couple of weeks in Australia scouting my future home before heading to Thailand with W&L students Nate Frank and Sam Taylor. After experiencing a rural Thai wedding, a week of bed bugs in a hotel room whose windows welcomed both rain and mosquitoes, a moped crash deep in the Thai jungle, crippling food poisoning, an open water SCUBA certification class, dozens of savory dishes, and the hazards of simply moving about the civil planning circus that is Bangkok, Sam and I said goodbye to Nate and hopped on a flight to Singapore. Singapore is unique in that it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, chewing-gum is illegal, a one-hour drive will take you across the entire country, beers cost eighteen dollars, and one in six citizens is a millionaire. During our week-long stint in Asia’s second smallest country, Sam and I fattened up and learned about the country’s strict-law-enforcement, low-tax business model that makes it the attractive international commerce hub that it is before flying to Auckland, New Zealand where we began what will likely be the most exhilarating month of our lives.
We were joined on our first day in NZ by Sam’s older brother, Alex, who had flown forty hours from Stuttgart, Germany, and the newly-spawned travel trio joined an eleven-day bus tour of the country’s less-touristed North island. It was on this segment of the trip that our eyelids hung heavy from late nights chewing the fat with backpackers from England, Germany, Australia, Canada, and Brazil, and our adrenal glands worked overtime to accommodate the bungy jumping, sky-diving, black water cave rafting, and whitewater rafting down twenty-two-foot waterfalls we found ourselves taking part in. After a whirlwind eleven days, it was with much regret that we had to say goodbye to our new friends and fly to Queenstown where we launched our two backpacking trips on what are called New Zealand’s “Great Walks.” We hiked the Fjordland backcountry for a total of six days before wrapping up our trip with another week in Queenstown and finally flying to Australia to start our studies.
Our time in Sydney has been incredible as my peers’ previous blog posts have outlined, and I can only imagine that our last two months will only continue to follow that trend. Classes are both challenging and rewarding, the hustle and bustle of Oceania’s most populous city offers an exciting break from the hills of the Blue Ridge, and the Australian people continue to amaze me with their outgoing personalities and lust for life. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our time entails... Stay tuned to find out.