Below the Surface

Guest post by: Lily Jiang is a Senior studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship. This Fall, Lily participated in the Early Fall Start Australia 2019 study abroad.

As my senior year begins, it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by the monumental life choices I will make in the next 12 months as college ends. There is so much uncertainty about my trajectory, it’s easy to get caught up in the small detail and lose sight of the bigger picture. Where I’m going to be living, what my values for my work life are and what kind of career path I want to pursue are questions I constantly ask myself. With this in mind, I was determined to gain some insight from the professionals I will be talking to and hopefully see my own career in a clearer light. I was ecstatic to be pushed out of my comfort zone and be on the move constantly for the better part of three weeks. That’s why embarking on this study abroad trip to Australia has been the best decision I’ve made. I was able to fully immerse myself in another culture, meet extremely accomplished business professionals and gain a stronger sense of self. It would be the first time I traveled outside of the country and that in itself opened me up to a brand-new perspective and an opportunity for tremendous personal growth.

I visited many wonderful companies with memorable speaker but the very last cultural experience really stuck in my mind. It seems fitting that I ended my Australia trip with one of the main reasons that I chose Australia for my study aboard: The Great Barrier Reef. I think it says a lot about the state of climate change when one of the key factors that made me choose Australia was the thought of “I need to visit as soon as possible before it’s all destroyed”. It’s a bleak view of the future of our environment and I’m thankful that when we visited the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, they gave me hope that things can change. The reef is in critical danger but it is still reversible if we put in the time and resources to reverse our actions.

When visiting Cairns, it is a clear testament to why business, government, and society are inseparable. Looking at a report published by Deloitte, Al Gore explains “This timely report is a much needed, holistic view of the incredible economic value and opportunities provided by the Great Barrier Reef. Any failure to protect this indispensable natural resource would have profound impacts not only to Australia but around the world.” The Great Barrier Reef has an economic, social and icon asset value of $56 billion. It supports 64,000 jobs and contributes $6.4 billion to the Australian economy. The tourist industry in Cairns revolves around the Great Barrier Reef and in return, money made from it goes back conservation.

Swimming in the reef was the most amazing way to end the trip. I saw parrotfish, turtles, giant schools of different aquatic life and it was so peaceful floating in the ocean that is brimming with life. I could spend hours exploring the corals and looking at the different creatures that lurk below the surface. It was surreal to be that close to wildlife that I would only see in zoos and be reminded as to why conservation is crucial for our planet.