Living in Sydney, Australia for 2 months was not only the experience of a lifetime, but was an opportunity for personal growth and development. I have wanted to go to Australia for quite some time, so when I found the Boston University Sydney Summer Abroad Internship I knew that was the chance to fulfill my dreams. The overall experience involved taking a class through Boston University, called The Australian Political System, as well as completing an internship on the Lung Transplant team at St. Vincent's hospital. As an aspiring Physician's Assistant, I was thrilled about this opportunity.
A typical day as a clinical intern included attending hospital ward rounds every morning, sitting in on patient appointments for those who were both pre-and post-transplant, and attending various team meetings that discussed how physicians should respond to emergencies on airplanes and how physicians should proceed if a transplant is rejected. I also had the opportunity to scrub in on a bilateral knee replacement surgery, a total right hip arthroplasty, and a left knee ACL surgery. In my last week, I observed a coronary artery bypass graft surgery where surgeons harvested veins from the patient's leg and used them as grafts to bypass blocked coronary arteries.
While the surgeries were incredible, true learning came from the time I spent in clinic sitting in on patient appointments. In clinic, I was able to hear the many stories of both pre- and post- lung and heart transplant patients, and witnessed first-hand the special bond between patient and doctor. As I opened the door for each patient in the clinic, mostly those that were suffering from viruses, infections, and lung disease, I was greeted with a smile and a "how you goin'?," the Australian way of saying "how are you?" A simple smile and greeting made me realize the importance of human connection, a connection that Australians value in their culture. This type of connection is what made St. Vincent's Hospital such a pleasant place to be and what made Australia such an incredible country to live in.
On the weekends, I spent time exploring the smaller towns of Sydney, including Surry Hills, Paddington, Darlinghurst, and Glebe and was also able to travel to some sites further away like Manly and Bondi Beach. The incredible public transportation made it easy to travel to places that were a few hours away like the Blue Mountains, Taronga Zoo, and Featherdale. I was also able to organize an amazing wine tasting tour in Hunter Valley Wine Region, and took surfing lessons at Seven Mile Beach.
One of, if not my favorite trip, was the very last weekend I spent in Australia. During this weekend, my friends and I flew to Cairns, Queensland, where we snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef and held a 2.5-year-old koala named Vovo.
In a short eight weeks, Sydney became my home away from home – I even found myself using phrases like "good on ya," a version of "good job." The people I worked with and the Australians I met taught me to truly live in the moment and enjoy the present. The final weeks of my trip, I made sure to enjoy every minute of each day, especially morning tea, which was an important part of the Australian lifestyle. On my last day, a few friends and I headed to one of our favorite spots: Bondi Beach. As I sat at Lox Stock & Barrel café eating my last delicious Australian brunch, I looked out at all the families on the streets and on the beach and felt like I was right at home in the place that I had made home for the past eight weeks.