“So how’d Australia go?” “Sad to be back?” “Everyone seems to have the life of it out there!”
Em, Yes I suppose? When someone asks me how Australia went it’s always a bit of a lopsided question with an answer that just doesn’t do the most chaotic year of my life any justice. Enter, “Awk amazing, wish I was back so bad,” coupled with, “Don’t chat to me I’m so depressed to be home.” Well for all of you who want the dirty details (quite literally filthy at some point owing to my very strange job descriptions) here goes.
After looking for a work placement and putting in very little effort to applying for any of the posts that came my way, I decided to look further afield. 16,000km to be exact. What can I say my heart just wasn’t in your typical Belfast placement. After a successful skype interview with my soon to be employers Polkadot Communications, booking an Airbnb with Levi who despite his obsessive bottlecap collection turned out to be a gracious host, and nabbing the absolute cheapest flights on Skyskanner, we were off! Both literal and emotional baggage in tow.
I think like most people we were definitely quite green at the start. It’s not that I expected to land in Summer Bay and see ‘Roo’s sunbathing on Bondi Beach with a bottle of Fosters, (turns out it’s not even Australian, do I smell faulty advertising?) but I definitely didn’t expect Sydney to be the bustling metropolitan hive that it is. Me, Ciara and Mary all had high hopes of living the modern day dream of getting a well paid Australian job where we’d finish the day off with an Aperol Spritz in a funky bar while making everyone back home jealous via Insta-stories. Two weeks passed and there we were, like every other Irish female in Sydney standing with a stop-slow bat telling pedestrians to watch their step and inducing road rage. Ah yes, Traffic Control. Don’t believe what you hear, Australia is the LEAST laid back country I have ever been to. The very concept of someone (me) standing in full PPE, hard-hat included, telling pedestrians to watch out for a loose wire fully embodies just how uptight Sydney is when it comes to health and safety. And yes I needed qualifications for this job.
But about the internship. I truly loved going to Polkadot and couldn’t have asked for better mentors. My true ‘The Devil wears Prada’ moment came when I was asked to create a cheat sheet with bios on Sydneyside journalists and media correspondents for an event. It felt chic I won’t lie.. On the lesser side was boxing up PR packages, compiling media lists, creating clippings to add to client monthly reports, more media lists, writing journalist pitches, MORE MEDIA LISTS and creating blog posts for any socials ran by the company. The day ended at 5.30pm and then on went the high-vis for a night at the site. Glamorous right?
I loved Australia and plan on returning within the next few years, however, I would urge anyone who plans on making the move down under to do so with care. Plan thoroughly, choose comfortable flights with trusted airlines that include a decent amount of baggage. Pack properly, we were freezing when we landed and expected blazing sun 365 days a year. Unless you’re up north this is absolutely not the case. Give yourself time to get your visa and make this a priority over flights. We were lucky with almost immediate approval coming through straight away but I have heard of horror stories with people missing flights because they’re still waiting on that oh-so important document to come through. Grim. Be realistic about your budget when arriving and understand it’ll take at least a month before you start making a wage and consider the cost of living when saving in the lead up to your departure. But most of all, if you’re considering booking that flight even slightly, just do it! It’ll be a whirlwind of experiences from epic beaches to insane sunsets, wildlife galore and amazing sceneries. Nowhere does brunch quite like Sydney and the city’s activity list is endless. Once you get away from the high-rise madness the outback will hypnotise you and make you want to throw your phone off the harbour bridge. They do say once you go bush you never go back. For reputation reasons I’d like to clarify I personally don’t say this, but I swear it is a common saying.
A girl who misses a sunburnt country.
Kate Lagan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Affairs student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter- @PredisposedtoPR and Instagram- @klagan19