Friday, February 5, 2010

DG's Around the World: Heather White

Heather White (08) is a current sophomore who spent the past semester studying abroad in Sydney, Australia.

I spent the last six months halfway across the world. With an aunt & uncle living in Sydney, visiting had been in the books since I was six; it was just a matter of how I could get the most out of my stay.

As an international business student emphasizing in Finance and French, I knew I could get a lot out of a study abroad experience. I organized my semester away from Mizzou much earlier than most in order to best fit the things I knew I would want to accomplish in my final 2 ½ years back at school: with DG, my major, and other College of Business activities on campus.

I’ll admit, my studying was quickly placed on the backburner. Opportunities seemed to come immediately, and I knew that this trip would be my chance to take advantage of what I didn’t have in St. Louis or Columbia.

My first night, (yes, after the 14-hour plane ride from Los Angeles), was the marking of the 10 year anniversary for WISH, a popular clothing label sold in Australian department stores and markets, and more recently breaking into selective parts of California and New York. I was lucky enough to be invited to this event, and would spend a few weeks after it helping in other ways as an intern.

WISH didn’t have much opportunity in terms of hours, but then another opportunity came into the mix: interning for Banque National de Paris Paribas, a highly recognized bank throughout Europe with offices throughout the world in finance AND French.  It couldn’t have been any more clear what I was going to do! I first worked under the investment partners, then later moved to another floor and worked under the head of communications for “Australasia”. 

I believe there is no better way to figure out where you’re meant to go in life than to try it out first hand. I was able to make connections in Australia that will hopefully stick with me for the rest of my working life and after. After all:

'The way of the world is meeting people through other people.’ -Robert Kerrigan

I also enjoyed all of the perks of playing business dress-up on the days when I wasn’t in my uni dress code. That said, a whole new set of wardrobe changes came into play on the weekends! Sydney is a great city, with some of the best beaches worldwide. It's also the largest city in Australia, and definitely enjoyed these new features, as no other place I've lived has been able to offer. 

When you fly across the world and have no idea when the returning trip will come, you try to see as much as you can, which is just what I did. Of the six states and two territories in Australia, I visited five: NSW- Sydney, Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley Wine Region, Byron Bay- surfing town, QLD- great barrier reef, NT- ayers’ rock, King’s Canyon, Alice Springs, SA- Adelaide, Clare Valley wine region, and VIC - Melbourne (the more ‘European’ city with great shopping and arts.)

Now, you might be wondering if I dropped the classes after the first week, which after all, was "the whole reason" I was in this country. But I managed to keep up, and took Principles of Marketing, History of Art, the secrets to taking, developing, and printing great photos, and History and Politics of Australia. And I enjoyed it. I would do it all again, except Australian Politics 1001 - a class I could find on the Mizzou website.  

While being on a different university campus with students and staff who look similar enough, but think and act incredibly different, I’ll admit I learned a lot - most of which I’ll likely not appreciate for a while.

Overall, my experiences abroad are more than I could have ever expected. I learned lessons that I will be referring back to for the rest of my life. I’m not sure the laid-back Aussie lifestyle quite rubbed off on me; in fact, I looked forward to getting back to my busy life in Columbia with school, work and Dg. 

Still, Sydney is a place I most definitely miss, and will have to revisit someday.


Heather White (08) befriending a kangaroo at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. 


Fellow DG, Taylor Yehling (08) was one of five friends who spent Thanksgiving Break visiting Sydney. 
Their night of arrival was coincidentally The Australian Idol Finale. 
Here the six friends enjoyed a firework show while taking in the city view.

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Marie said...

Are you at the U of SC Moore School of business? Small world. I am a graduate of the Masters in International program (1992) in Portuguese. I was also a French major there. Marie Gilbert-Sigma, Chicago NW Suburban Delta Gamma.