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Destination Highlight : Disney, Florida

Does finishing work and jumping on a rollercoaster within the same hour sound like a dream come true? Maybe Disney’s cultural exchange program is for you!

My beautiful friend Sherry from Australia went over to live and work in Florida from Jan 2016- Jan 2017 and she was kind enough to answer my questions about her time overseas. But before we get into that, here’s a program recap for you:

Disney seems to have some relatively simple rules

  1. You need to be a current student with at least one more semester at Uni after the program finishes

  2. Be from a certain country : Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK + a couple others are all welcomed to apply.

  3. Jobs are decided based on the skillset but character attendant, merchandising, costumes and F&B are all options. Ready to apply?

More info here.

What's your favourite memory from Disney?

It was late at night towards the end of the program, there were about 20 of us gathered at Magic Kingdom. We were running around the park, going on our favourite rides, eating Mickey shaped pretzels and laughing till our cheeks hurt. It made me feel so thankful for the memories and friendships I'd made during this unique opportunity.

Did you have any bad experiences whilst you were away?

I would say that every experience has taught me something. Two things that were eye opening for me was the work culture and the wage. The long hours, shifts that went well into the morning and after a long week, having so little money left over after rent.

I am proud of my 20/21 year old self because I learnt to be flexible and adaptable to change. I managed to have a balanced work/social life and go on little trips with my thrifty and frugal ways.

Did you struggle to make friends?

Before I went on this trip, I remained in my close knit group of friends from school. Even at University, I didn't venture in making a lot of new friends or I didn't find any deep connections there. But, there's something about travelling solo, going to a place you've never been before where for me I didn't fear meeting new people.

It was almost exciting. I think just being in a new place, you feel both inwardly and outwardly different in some way. Sure I couldn't make connections with everybody, but I did with a handful and my friendship with them is unlike the bond I have with those I grew up with.

I would say because as travellers we have a shared interest and connection already it makes it a bit easier. My advice is be open to letting other people in as you travel because you just learn so much from them. They could become lifelong friends.

How did you handle a bad day?

I leaned on my friends and family.

Tough days are inevitable especially when you are away for a long period of time. There was one point, half way through, that I was considering going back home to Australia. I was having feelings of dread going into work.

But, I am so glad I stayed because I learnt so much about myself, had unforgettable experiences and met the most amazing people, all of which I would have missed out if I left. I say lean on your support system. You'll get through it. You're stronger than you think and you're so deserving of the good that's yet to come.

Did you learn anything about yourself whilst you were away?

I learnt to rely on myself. I got so used to relying on others back home, that I just never had an opportunity like this where I was forced to. I just remember feeling empowered coming home. Home was the same, but I felt so different. I experienced a lot of growth that year.

Who's off to go live their best Disney princess life?

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