I chose Intern Down Under because I wanted a completely different experience from my last trip I took earlier this year. My last trip was through a program that planned every last detail for you and while this was convenient it made me want to travel with some more independence. I decided on Intern Down Under because I felt it was the perfect next step before solo travel. Through Intern Down Under I have had to plan my own activities and not just rely on someone else to do that for me.
Before our internships started we had an 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 fairly easy trail that lead to gorgeous views. The water was wavy but not too harsh to swim in and there was very few people in the area which gave it a hidden oasis feel. There were few restaurants but there was a small cafe and beach shack that had amazing chips! Piha was also a short drive from Kare Kare which made this an entire day trip, and our guide Dave was one of the coolest people I met in Auckland! My favorite part of orientation in Sydney was Manly Beach. Manly was one of the most lively beaches we went to but it was still not too overcrowded. There was plenty of restaurants to choose from that had vegan options and tons of stores with great clothes and other shopping! The beach was also beautiful which made it a must see when in Sydney. After our short tour of the area, I plan to return many more times.
For my first internship in Auckland I worked at Talented Tots. An early childcare center that was about a 45 minute commute away from our apartment. I absolutely loved working at Talented Tots because of the lovely staff and kids I had the chance to meet. All the other teachers were more than helpful with settling me into the work environment and also just learning about the area. The staff gave me plenty of ideas as to where I should visit and even offered to drive if I really needed the help. The kids I worked with 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 liked most about Auckland 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 at restaurants but this is definitely not an issue here. Australia is the easiest country to have dietary restrictions in because all of the menu items are clearly marked whether they are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. Many restaurants even have separate menus where I have been able to find foods I wouldn't dream of eating outside of my own cooking which include "pepperoni" pizza, burritos, and even "pulled pork". I love the freedom one with restrictions can feel when entering restaurants here compared to anywhere else I have been in the world!
I think Intern Down Under has helped prepare me for my future in a couple key ways. First of all I haven't felt this amount of freedom in a long time and I love it! I feel as if I am really preparing to take care of myself. For example, I cook all my own meals here and if I do go out for meals I must learn to budget. I also have worked on my own to plan weekend trips and excursions which lead me to learn how to handle unexpected situations and problems when they pop up. Secondly, I have 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 to live with people you don't know! But it is also good practice to learn how to get along with others who may push your buttons in a respectable way.