I chose Intern Down Under because I wanted a different experience from the Gap Year Program I completed in Southeast Asia. The last trip planned every detail for you. While this was convenient, it made me want to travel with more independence. I chose Intern Down Under because it was the perfect “next step” before solo travel. With Intern Down Under, I chose how to spend my free time without relying on supervisors to do that for me.
Before our internships started, we had a five-day orientation period. My favorite part of the orientation in Auckland was going to Piha Beach. Piha was one of the most beautiful beaches I had ever been to and I felt lucky to visit. We hiked a easy trail that lead to gorgeous views. The water was choppy, but not too harsh to swim in. And there were few people in the area which gave it a hidden oasis feel. A small cafe and beach shack had amazing chips! Piha was a short drive from Kare Kare Beach which made this a full day trip. Our guide, Dave Jordan (a.k.a. Jaffa Dave) was one of the coolest people I met in Auckland!
My favorite part of orientation in Sydney was Manly Beach. Manly was lively, but not overcrowded. There were plenty of restaurants to choose from with vegan options and tons of stores with great clothes and shopping! Best of all, the beach was just plain beautiful! This made it a must see when in Sydney. After our short tour of the area, I returned whenever I had time.
For my Auckland internship, I worked at Talented Tots–an early learning childcare center. I absolutely loved it because of the staff and kids I met. All the teachers were helpful settling me into the work environment and teaching me about the area. The staff gave me plenty of ideas on where to visit and offered to drive me around if needed. The kids were all very sweet and made going into work each morning exciting! I already miss the Talented Tots family and am sad that I won’t be able to go back! Some of my job duties included playing with the kids, helping set up activities, making lunch for the kids, and cleaning dishes. If I was ever concerned about a job duty someone was always around to ask for help.
My favorite day of internship work was my last day at Talented Tots. They surprised me by having all the kids and staff wear blue since they knew it was my favorite color and threw a small party for me. We had plenty of snacks–including cupcakes–and did a dance. It was a really great feeling to know that I was appreciated on my last day and left me feeling like I had really done a good job and made a difference to my internship hosts.
What I enjoyed most about Auckland in general was the location of our apartment. We were right in the central business district and less than a 5 minute walk from all the best shops and restaurants. I was constantly out of the house and exploring since everything was so conveniently located! Auckland is a very trendy city which made it so exciting to get out and see all the interesting locations that were right outside our door.
What I like the most about Sydney is the food! Being vegan can make finding food options a little stressful when eating at restaurants but this is definitely not an issue here. Australia is the easiest country to have dietary restrictions because all the menu items are clearly marked whether they are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. Many restaurants even have separate vegan menus with faux “pepperoni” pizza, burritos, and even “pulled pork”. I love the freedom entering restaurants in Sydney compared to anywhere else I have been in the world!
Intern Down Under helped prepare me for my future in a couple key ways. First, I haven’t felt this amount of freedom in a long time and I loved it! I am really preparing to take care of myself. For example, I have learned how to budget when preparing my own meals. Second, I planned my own weekend trips and excursions which taught me how to handle unexpected situations and problems as they arise. Finally, I learned to live with other people from different backgrounds and how to do so while causing as little conflict as possible. It can be hard sharing space with people you don’t know. But it is also good practice on how to get along with others.