Art Estrada - 2014 Program Participant

Chefs and F&B for Sydney Catering Company
A delectable masterpiece!

Why did you choose to work abroad?

The reason why I choose to work abroad is because I wanted to see the world while working at the same time. I had just graduated from The Arts Institute of Las Vegas and my lease was up, so I took it as a sign. Plus, I was that person who was always spontaneous, if I could move to Las Vegas not knowing anyone, then that means I could do the same in another country. I also wanted to work abroad because I knew that it would look awesome on my resume and would give me that extra advantage on my competitors. But bottom line, I didn’t want to be stuck in the USA bubble and wanted to see the world.

How did you end up choosing Australia?

I chose Australia because that was the only country that was taking interviews at the time I was looking. Let’s face it, Australia is a beautiful country so I was not complaining at all. 

A chocolate cake

One of Art’s masterpieces, a delicious chocolate cake

Why did you first discover Alliance Abroad Group?

The career services person at my college told me about the opportunity with AAG. She said that it would look good on my resume and that I could get a lot of experience while traveling the world. So, I thought to myself, “I’m young, I have no responsibilities, and my lease is up! Why not just go across the world?” I felt like nothing was here for me and in the U.S., so I wanted to travel somewhere and have fun.

Speaking from experience, what advice can you give to others who are interested in working abroad?

Go into it with an open mind and be ready to learn. Let your guard down. If you go into it with your guard up you will not learn and you will not be happy. 

What was finding housing in Sydney like?

Before I was scheduled to leave, AAG arranged for me to stay at a hostel which was close to everything in Sydney. They sent me info about the hostel and even sent me the website which helped me see what was around that area, plus I got to see pictures so I’d know what to expect.

When I landed in Sydney, AAG arranged for a driver to pick me up and take me to the hostel I was going to stay at. It was nice that I didn’t have to stress about that. They booked my hostel for two weeks, which was great because I had time to get over my jet lag and explore the wonderful city of Sydney. I made friends from all over the country. When it was time to leave for the Blue Mountains, they helped me with a hostel for another week. During that stay they helped me find a more permanent place. I was lucky it only took me two days to find a place with an awesome roommate not too far from work.

 A magnificent wedding cake.

Art showing off a magnificent wedding cake creation.

What was the most challenging aspect of working abroad in another country?

In the professional aspect it was just learning how they worked and what they called certain things. Yes, we both speak English, but we call produce different things. For example, what we call a cantaloupe, they call a rock melon, and bell peppers are called capsicum. A personal challenge I had was that I come from a close family. Yes, I lived in Nevada for school, but that was just a four hour drive from home, so it wasn’t that bad. But in Australia I was on the other side of the world. I had to schedule calls home because of the time change and being so far away from them on holidays was hard. Another personal challenge was not having my American comfort food around me. I was so happy when I saw my package that my parents sent me because I wanted American food sometimes.

What are the top reasons you'd want to return to continue working in Australia?

One of the top reasons is that the program went too fast, and six months wasn’t enough time. By the end of my stay I was finally getting the right connections and meeting the right people in the industry. On my birthday this past August I got a letter from Adriano Zumbo (who is my idol) saying the next time I’m in Oz that I could go into his test kitchen and have a trial for a job with him! I’d also love to go back to visit all the friends I made out there, it’s like my second home now!

Delicious tart.

Art’s delicious tart.

How has your experience working abroad impacted you?

Well, I came into the program with the mindset that I was going to be who I am and live life to the fullest. Australian people? I love them and they love me. Honestly, if Alliance Abroad Group had told me that I’d be making a family while I was over there, I wouldn’t have believed them. All my friends out there I’m still in contact with, any I talk to many everyday. However, it is a different relationship because they’re in another country. 

Would you recommend your Alliance Abroad program to others?

Yes! I would recommend this program to everyone. Honestly, this was the best choice I could have ever made. Living abroad showed me so much more of myself that I didn’t know was there. I went to a new country not knowing anyone, I worked, and I made some awesome friends who are like my family. I made enough money that I could treat my family to anything they wanted to do when they visited me. I also got to go on a holiday to Bali alone and had the best time of my life. If you are ready to travel, this program would be the best choice for you. 

Friends in a hostel.

Art and his friends at hostel.

What important tips can you give to others planning to work abroad?

You should go in with an open mind. I don’t know how much I can stress this, but it’s important. When you are open, you can learn more easily. I’ve learned so much about myself and I’ve grown a lot mentally and professionally. Also, take advantage of your time out there, after my six months were over I stayed for a full year. Staying for a full year allowed me to experience so many things and I met a lot of awesome people. I recommend traveling a lot since you’re so close to other countries. Flights are short. I went to Bali and the flight was only six hours. If I were to fly through LAX it would take a couple days. Bali was awesome, and since I was so independent I was able to go alone.

Traveling alone in itself was an experience of its own! The last tip I have is to try new things that you normally wouldn’t ever try. Never say no, and you’ll have the time of your life.