Andrew is currently a junior studying Policy, Planning, and Development as well as Entrepreneurship. This past summer he had the opportunity to travel to Australia as part of an internship where students can gain valuable work experience in an international setting. This is his interview on what it was like being in Australia.
What was the purpose of your trip to Australia?
I traveled to Australia this summer to give myself a new perspective. One of the main things I did while abroad was intern at a non-profit that uses public policy to advocate for the rights and needs for careers of the mentally ill. I also planned on exploring the surrounding area while on the other side of the world.
Did you encounter any new perspectives there, whether political or not?
I was surprised at the fact that in Australia people have a higher standard of living. People my age would complain about how their part time job at the mall only paid $22 an hour. To most American youth, that is A LOT of money to get per hour at the mall. But there, people are paid a living wage, compared to our “minimum wage” here. They make enough money to survive, and are taken care of by their government. Being in Australia was a lot like being in a parallel universe of America. The people seem a lot like us and most things are familiar, but subtleties made it drastically different. Australia’s cordial relations with China, Cuba and various Middle Eastern countries strongly contrast the tension that exists between those nations and America. Another great thing I loved about Australia is how they are so informed about world affairs. I had more cab drivers analyze the US Presidential GOP candidates share their views than I have heard students at SC even mention any aspect of the presidential race. Also, I thought it was really cool how Australians loved to “keep it real” and just put profanity and slight nudity on the television. Four letter words are welcome on the TV and radio, and breasts can be shown. This is very different from home, but I think it’s nice that they don’t try to over censor everything. And their attitudes toward work were much more relaxed, which made for a less stressful work environment. It was also super strange that they have a parliament form of government and are still under the reign of Queen Elizabeth!
What were some highlights of your trip there? Any great new experiences?
The trip was an opportunity for me to branch out and meet other SC students from different social groups. I was so happy to bond with so many Greek students and make some friendships that will last a lifetime. While there I went to the Monster Ball to see Lady Gaga. I also clubbed at some of the most exclusive nightclubs in Sydney. Some of the other students on the trip had connections so I we were able to get in. I also traveled to New Zealand! That was life changing! I saw some of the most amazing geologic features on the planet, road tripped for over 12 hours driving on rural back country roads. Mind you, I had to drive on the left side of the road, which was so hard and scary at times! At one point it was pouring rain, I had the windshield wipers on full speed, had the high beams on since it was pick black, all while using the light from out iPods to read a paper map while driving on the windy wet road. We got to all our destinations safe and sound and the arguments only brought us closer together. I bungee jumped off a cliff over a beautiful river, explored caves. Another weekend, I went to Cairns in Queensland and lived in a hostel for several nights! While there I white water rafted, scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef, and hiked some of the most amazing trails in northern Australia. I also gained some of the most valuable and rewarding work experience of a lifetime! Also, it gave me a lot of time to reflect on who I am and the kind of people I value, helping me to establish a stronger sense of self. I also learned how to feel fulfilled each and every day in what I do and to appreciate everything and everyone who is in my life today, especially my best friends and family.
How can a student take the same trip as you did?
Students should seek out the Maxwell-Winslow Summer Internship offered by the Marshall School of Business. It’s open to all students, regardless of your major. They also offer need-based scholarships.
How was the attitude like towards LGBTQ people?
Sydney was so gay friendly. They have a part of the city called Oxford Street, which is like their version of West Hollywood. Rainbow flags were everywhere and there were plenty of LGBTQ-friendly clubs and venues. I also liked that almost every Australian, when referring to their spouse would say my “partner” as opposed to “husband” or “wife,” which has the dichotomy associated with them. So progressive! They still do not have legal gay marriage but there are a ton of campaigns working on it and it’s believed to be right around the corner.
Andrew has been involved with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly and he received a USC Stevens Institute Award for Innovation for his “Caught Queer-Handed” event.