Donald Carroll's Work Experience Australia
Here at Alliance Abroad Group we love to talk to our current and past Work Experience Australia participants to learn about the program from their point of view. We ask them about their travels and their experiences with us, and how we can work to improve our program. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Donald Carroll who is just finishing up his 12-month program in Australia.
24-year old Donald grew up in Chicago; and is a 2011 graduate of a Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program. He has worked as a chef in Yellowstone National Park, Montana and before joining our program at a Cold Region Testing Facility in Alaska.
Donald, why did you want to work in Australia, was there a particular reason or just a need for a change of scenery?
My main reason for coming to Australia was to start a spark of adventure, to get out of the states and explore the world. I felt like life was becoming too monotonous and I needed something new to break out of same old routine.
Traveling halfway around the world sounds like a good way to get out of the same old routine. Were there any troubles you faced in getting ready to go to Australia and how did AAG help alleviate those problems? The biggest challenge I faced was getting a job in Australia. AAG kept sending my resume to hotels and restaurant across Australia, and they were also very encouraging during the job-hunting process. AAG did a very good job with getting me prepared for interviews with the Australian employers.
That is what we like to hear! Did you have the support of your friends and family when you decided to make this big life change? My friends and family know me best; they call me their “rolling stone”. This was nothing new for them, most of the time they will only be able see me for a couple weeks out of the year since I live in remote part of Alaska during the winter. The main challenge was communication, I’ve been using e-mail, Facebook, Skype to communicate, but being half way around the world with time zones is a little challenging sometimes.
Thank goodness for modern technology even if the time zones are so far apart. What are you doing for work in Australia, and where are you currently living? I’m currently working as a commis chef at the cafe in The Botanic Gardens in Sydney.
What were some of the biggest cultural differences you noticed?
Donald: One of the biggest cultural changes I have experience is the language. The Australian word lingo in the kitchen is very interesting (ex: rock melon = cantaloupe, rocket = Arugula). Also trying to pronounce some of the cities in Australia can be a challenge. Just like I live in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo. Other cultural differences I’ve noticed is driving on the wrong side of the road and using the metric system.
Now that is a mouthful, Woolloomooloo. Was AAG Australia a good resource for any troubles you might have had adjusting? I haven’t had to many issues adjusting to this new lifestyle Australia. I know if ever I needed any help; I could call AAG for support, which is nice benefit to the program.
Now that your program is starting to wind down, what was your favorite experience while in Oz? I have had so many awesome experiences so far from Vivid to hiking the Great North Walk, but the one that stands out the most was a short road trip with some friends to Glow Worm Tunnel, just outside of Lithgow. What made the trip so memorable was the journey getting there; we took a short walk that took us to the edge of some of the cliffs in Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains. Then we traveled through a pothole-infested road in a rental car to get to the tunnel. Once we got to the tunnel the glowworms put on a really good show. I still have a couple more weeks left in Sydney and a 3-week road trip across Australia, but this definitely has been a highlight on my holiday.
Wow a 3-week road trip sounds fun. Did you get what you were hoping for when you started planning this life-changing event? I got everything I could hope for out of this experience, I’ve been able see a good chunk of Australia, and make new friends along the way.
That is great to hear; new friends can make all difference. Would you recommend this program to any of your friends back home? I have recommended AAG to some friends, but for some people its very difficult for them to flip their world upside down.
It is a hard decision to pull up stakes and move that is for sure. What would you have done different if you could go back and change a few things? I wouldn’t change anything that has happen over the last year; Sydney has really been a perfect place for me even if I didn’t realize it when I was offered the job.
You like to hike and have shared some amazing photos with us, how many miles or KM do you think you walked while in Australia? I estimated that I have walked about 570 km in the last 5 months. Some of my highlights have been; the great north walk, 6-foot track, and the coastal track in Royal National Park.
That’s amazing; do you have any words of advice for future participants? The best advice I could give is “make the most out of your holiday”. Explore your surroundings; make new friends, and enjoying the small things, since the holiday in Australia will go by fast.