Alyssa Mayo - 2015 Program Participant

hiking in New Zealand

Alyssa hiking around New Zealand with her mother, who flew over to Sydney; they explored both the north and south islands of New Zealand.

Why did you choose to work abroad?

I chose to work abroad because I felt my life back in Florida was getting stale. When I looked at my day-to-day, it was very predictable. I wanted to try something that would put me in a new environment and force me to be a bit out of my comfort zone. 

How did you choose Australia?

When I first got into contact with Alliance Abroad, they mentioned they had openings either in New Zealand or Australia. Being as Australia was always on the top of my list to visit, I felt this would be a perfect way to get to travel while getting paid! 

Why did you select Alliance Abroad Group over other organizations?

Alliance Abroad Group was the first organization I had heard of offering this type of unique opportunity. I did research into a few other companies offering similar assistance with work/travel, but I had already reached out to Alliance Abroad and felt a sense of ease when I spoke with Rose and Andrew. Sometimes I would think of so many questions that I would call them multiple times in a single day, and they always were there to speak to me and never made me feel like I was an annoyance or calling too much. They were great!

Dinner at Gowings in Sydney, Australia

Alyssa’s handsome fiancé, Lucas, taking her out to dinner at Gowings in the central business district of Sydney for her birthday.

What were your housing arrangements like in Australia?

Housing was one of the biggest culture shocks when arriving in Australia. Alliance Abroad did mention the average range of what it would cost, but did not mention that it would be sharing a room with other people. Coming from having my own space back home, to seeing apartments with five to eleven people in them was difficult to grasp, especially when you first get here and have no idea what your budget is. It’s almost guaranteed to end up in a room share at first until you can get comfortable with the income and know what you can spend per week for rent. I moved out of my room share a few months back, which has been so much better and more comfortable; but, I know of others in the program that have stayed in room share the entire time because of finances or just because they ended up enjoying it!

What has been your most memorable experience while working abroad in Australia?

My most memorable experience while working here was my trial shift. I was not aware I would have to do one, as I thought I would arrive and just get to work. My trial shift was a Saturday night at Ivy during Pacha (an over the top club party they throw each Saturday night). When I walked in I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was unlike anything I had seen before, and I was amazed and terrified all at the same time. I ended up doing great at my trial, and that’s the venue I worked for my first six months in Sydney.

That night, I also met my now fiancé, Lucas. He was the bar supervisor that was in charge of me during my trial, and the one who hired me based on my performance that night. It was all around the best first day of work ever! I immediately fell in love with the venue and found my husband as well! Can’t beat that!

Tiger Kingdom, Phuket, Thailand

Alyssa’s best friend from back home, Stacey, came over to visit and after spending some time in Australia, they went to Thailand! This photo is from their time at the Tiger Kingdom in Phuket.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced? 

The biggest challenge is probably the most obvious one, and that’s getting homesick from time to time. Being in a new place and not knowing anyone is tough, and may make doubts creep into the brain. It’s normal. I always knew a friend or family member was only a phone call or Skype away. This is a once in a lifetime adventure, and home will be there when you get back. 

What advice would you give to others who are interested in working abroad in Australia?

I would say go for it! Of course it may seem crazy and even scary, but no matter what the outcome it will be a life changing experience. My biggest advice would be to come with an open mind. Don’t try to put thoughts in your head of how exactly it will be, or how it should be, because you risk the chance of being let down or trying so hard to make it what you thought it would be that you miss what naturally comes along!

Just come as yourself and see how your experience unfolds!

If you could change one thing about your program, what would it be?

I wished there were more than two days in a hostel included in the package. I love that all the participants are put in the same one, but two days is nowhere near enough for the amount the program cost combined with the jet lag.

What important tips can you give to future expats in Australia?

Bring your favorite snacks and a warm jacket! The weather here is very unpredictable, and you need to be prepared for it. Also, prepare your belly to possibly not have what it normally is used to! I miss little things like my favorite cereal and flavor of potato chips, so bring them in your bag and save it for when you’re really having a craving!

Friends in Australia

Alyssa’s Alliance Abroad crew - they all met at Wake Up hostel their first week and remained friends during their time in Australia and beyond