Rachael Bouley - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I have always wanted to travel the world, ever since I was very young. My time in Sydney was my first time out of the United States and an absolute dream come true for me! I have always been curious about the world around me, and I have always wished to see as much as possible, and have as many experiences as possible. Australia has always been the number one place I wanted to go, because of the unique animals, landscape and culture.

One of the main things that inspired me to go abroad was speaking with my family. My siblings, aunts and uncles all told me one of their biggest regrets in life was not studying abroad and not taking advantage of the chance to learn and grow in a different country. When I was a freshman in high school, my older cousin Anna spent six months in Sri Lanka, and hearing about her life-changing experience made me want to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.

View of Australian countryside in New South Wales
Taking in the spectacular view.

Why did you choose CAPA?

I choose CAPA because they offered me the most opportunities and support. I was thrilled that they arranged my housing for me, offered on-site staff, provided a transportation pass and organized exciting excursions. They partnered with my home university so I could receive direct ASU credit, not transfer credit.

What was your favorite part about Australia?

My favorite part about Sydney, and Australia in general, is how relaxed the people are. By nature, I am a very stressed, work-oriented person who always has too much going on and too much on my plate. Australian people make sure to take time to do things they enjoy and spend time with their families and friends.

One saying I heard that has always stuck with me is that every day, Australians have eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep, and eight hours of play. I love this saying and it shows how Australians have more balance in their life. If someone likes to surf, they make time to surf. If someone likes to paint, they make time to paint.

For me, that was so wonderful to experience because I will work myself to the point of exhaustion instead of taking time to relax and experience life! So I really appreciated how Australians encouraged me to relax, pursue my interests and enjoy the astonishing beauty of the country.

What made your experience abroad unique?

I think having an internship abroad make my experience very unique. Not only was I studying in Australia, but I was also working there. It was an incredible experience to play an important role in a small, important non-profit organization, and develop my journalism skills in a work environment on the other side of the world. I am so thankful that I got to work alongside Australians and learn so much during my internship experience!

Whitewater rafting, Tully River, Queensland, Australia
Whitewater rafting on the Tully River in Queensland

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff were so supportive and awesome! They always invited students to stop in the office for Australian treats, and often times my friends and I would stop in there, intending to be there for five minutes and staying for an hour because the staff were so friendly and easy to talk to. They planned amazing excursions (my favorite was spending the night at the Taronga Zoo and getting a selfie with a koala!) and the mid-semester dinner and farewell dinner were delicious! Whenever I had a question or needed help, they were always there to assist me, something I really appreciated.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have spent more time with my Australian friends. I miss them so much and didn't realize how homesick I would be for Australia once I returned to the United States. I hope all students take full advantage of every day they have in Australia, and make each day the best day!

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and prepared a quick breakfast before leaving for school at 8 a.m. I caught the train and traveled over the Harbor Bridge, allowing me quite the stunning view. I walked to class and learned about gender and sexuality in Australia and in the United States. After class, I went to the Greenwood Plaza for lunch, treating myself to a bacon and egg roll (the best food in Australia, I swear!) before catching the train back to Central Station and walking to my internship in Newtown for a few hours. I could have easily taken the bus, but I had time and it was so beautiful out that I wanted to walk and enjoy my stroll through Newtown.

I worked on projects at my internship for a few hours, editing articles or videos or developing new social media campaigns, before returning home around 5 p.m. and making dinner with my roommates. Then we went for a run to Darling Harbour, taking in the beautiful night lights reflecting in the water. I returned home and got ready for bed and for the next day's adventures!

Celebrating Australia Day at Bondi Beach
With fellow CAPA students celebrating Australia Day at Bondi Beach

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoyed simply walking around the city and taking in the sights. I spent my weekends exploring Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and all the neat suburbs that make Sydney such a fascinating place to visit and live. I also enjoyed going to the beach and learning to surf! My favorite thing was completing the Coogee to Bondi Beach Walk, which was so stunning and breathtaking: I wish I could go back and do it everyday. I loved visiting Royal National Park and Sydney Harbour National Park, visiting the zoo, and traveling around New South Wales and Australia in general.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

All the CAPA students lived at an Urbanest, which are very nice apartments! They were much better than I expected, and the complex itself felt very safe. There was on-site support staff, a gym, kitchen, laundry room and lovely courtyard.

My apartment itself featured four bedrooms. In each bedroom, there were two students, but their sides of the room were split by a divider, so I still felt like I had my privacy. Each room had a bathroom, so I just had to share the bathroom with my roommate. The kitchen and living room was huge-so much bigger than I expected, and with a lovely view of the city. I liked the size of the kitchen the best, because it featured all the appliances I could need and I was able to save money by cooking meals instead of eating out.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

I think it is important that every participant knows that they don't have anything to worry about. I was super nervous and worried, and looking back now, I had nothing to worry about. Australians are super nice and welcoming, and the CAPA staff is always there to support you and help you. Every little thing I had worried about never happened--I had enough money, I made friends easily, I wasn't homesick....welcome this opportunity with open arms and take advantage of every experience! Then you won't have anything to worry about! It's so worth it.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
Exploring the Great Barrier Reef with my best friends

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

My time abroad has completely changed my life. My friends and family would tell you that all I ever talk about is my time in Australia. 

I am much more open to stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing new challenges now that I have lived and studied abroad in a foreign country. 

I try and make sure that I take advantage of all of life's little treasures and enjoy my time with my family and friends more, and I make time to embrace nature and the beautiful world around us. I hope to live and work in Australia again one day, as well as travel the world.

Would you recommend CAPA to others? Why?

Yes, I would recommend CAPA to others! CAPA provides a comprehensive package of resources for students who want to study abroad, and the support they give to their students is fantastic! I met some of my lifelong best friends through the CAPA program, but still felt like I was fully immersed in the Australian culture, which is something I truly treasure. The courses were great and allowed me to learn much more about Australia and Oceania in comparison to the United States, and the internship program is phenomenal. 

Any student who wants an internship can have one, and they partner with Sydney organizations and companies who will help foster an intern's growth and develop new skills.