Alumni takeover: Becoming a successful writer after being a study abroad student at UTS
Hi, my name is Carly Quellman and I am originally from Southern California. I was studying interior design at Sacramento State University when I applied to study abroad at UTS in 2015. Even though I studied interior design in the states, my college advisor felt as if UTS's architecture classes best corresponded to my major.
My friend and (at the time) classmate really wanted to go on a semester abroad. She had been researching Australia for months. I was in a really bad place, mentally and emotionally, and was looking for an escape. I couldn't have told you five things about Australia, to be honest. I was so unhappy with my overall college experience that I actually applied to transfer schools. Studying abroad was my backup. My friend ended up not being able to go, so once I got accepted to UTS it was me, myself, and I—9000 miles away.
My time in Sydney
When I applied to study abroad, I wasn't in a good headspace about anything, including my future. I knew deep down that design wasn't my art form, but I felt an urgency to finish for the sake of a degree. What I didn't realize about UTS is that they are known for their architecture and engineering programs. I was completely in over my head! However, the experiences I had while studying at UTS were life-changing. I met some of my best friends out there, specifically one who inspired my move to New York. I was definitely overstimulated—new sights, new friends, new feelings. So in turn, I documented it. I sat in my room (in my tiny six-share flat) and wrote in my journal. I detailed every day of my life from July 2015 to January 2016. It was both therapeutic and invigorating. I could physically feel myself growing, accepting, and learning myself.
My favourite part about living in Sydney were 100% the people. I lived in a six-share flat with three Australians who were already really close. I met two of my best friends that way and we still stay connected, though we are now split between three countries! The sites, sounds, and foods were pretty spectacular too, but Sydney's community truly made me feel welcomed—exactly as I am. Australians in general are very easy-going people, so that helped a tremendous amount. I've been to Melbourne and up to the Gold Coast as well. Different kinds of people, yet same reaction.
Now, looking back three and a half years later, I will say that I learned to unhinge myself from everything but experience. I fully embraced every aspect of my life when I was living in Sydney. And for the first time, I felt like my environment fully embraced me.
Going back home after the semester abroad
Upon returning to California, I wrote a six-excerpt blog for Sacramento State's student site about my time abroad. I felt congested when I returned to the states, bubbling with all this experience. I couldn't properly interact with others. It felt like leaving your first love, but separating on good terms. I was just vulnerable and open. Coming back was a really hard transition for me. I changed my major to Journalism and began doubling up on classes so I could still graduate in 2017. With a degree in hand, I spent the next six months plotting my transition from California to New York. I won't go into all the details, but I can tell you firsthand that hard work pays off. That's why it's always worth it.
Becoming a writer
I am currently a digital creative copywriter at D'Addario and Co., the biggest music manufacturer in the world. My day-to-day varies since my title is multifaceted, but I edit a lot of product copy, write social captions, help with headlines for media campaigns, and various other tasks for MARCOM (those are our Marketing & Communication teams). I'm also a freelance writer for multiple publications, like Quoted Magazine—our fifth issue just launched April 1! They're my first magazine byline, so I'm very proud. We're in Barnes N Noble, around New York, and even on international airlines. I'm an editorial writer at heart, but I can feel myself shifting into advertising and creative copywriting.
Yura Mudang coordinates as a Tattoo
Me and my friend Jas, another foreign exchange student (who now permanently lives in Sydney) were planning to get matching tattoos of Yura Mudang coordinates before we left. Multiple places priced us out exorbitantly, so we decided against it. Jas ended getting it done a year or so later, but I felt like there was a reason why it hadn't worked out for me at that specific time.
Once returning to the states, I again tried to get the tattoo, but I couldn't find the right artist or price, let alone reassurance that I was making the right decision. Around this time was when I really started planting seeds to make my move out to the east coast.
On my 22nd birthday, I promised myself that if I could obtain a writing job in New York by my 23rd birthday—which falls on the 23rd of August—my 'Golden Year' would be in full affect. I didn't obtain a full-time writing career until six months after my move, but I know that everything happened for a reason. This tattoo is representation of everything I experienced prior. All the feelings I couldn't wait to run away from were necessary to accomplish what I have.
- Tattoo by Ariel Wyu (Instagram: @arielisgood)
It may sound hippy-dippy, but I believe when you look back at bits and pieces of your life—especially the bad ones—your present-day self makes a lot more sense. Acceptance leads to contentment.
UTS was one of the best experiences of my life and will always mean a lot to me. It's sunny, the people are just as warm as the air, and it's a great place to learn yourself and grow up. Traveling is not scary unless you worry. No expectations = no worry. So what's there to be scared of?
UTS Study Abroad Alumni