Working it – abroad

Having been at my internship in a top global PR agency for a little over a month I’d like to quickly share some of the things I’ve noticed about working in the UK-

Tea is a big deal

I guess I had assumed that was a stereotype about English people, but drinking tea is serious business over here. A few times a day someone in my pod (grouping of desks) stands up and asks if anyone would like a cup of tea. The professor who taught my British PR class this semester compared this ritual to primates picking bugs out of each others hair – it’s how the Brits show they care.

They’re very affectionate, darling

In the US pet names are often considered annoying, condescending, or inappropriate but here you hear them all the time! It’s no big deal when someone refers to you as love, babe, darling, or my personal favorite: chicken. I remember hearing one of my colleagues pick up the phone the other day, “Hello darling,” she said. I assumed she was speaking to someone she knew well, maybe a friend, but after a brief pause, letting the person on the other end speak, she squeeled, “Oh it’s you!” My coworker didn’t even know who she was talking to, but still answered the phone with a term of endearment! It’s also very common to sign off on emails with a simple x or two if you’re feeling it.

Swearing is ok

While I don’t have enough experience working in an office to build this opinion myself, from what I’ve been told, cursing at the work place is much more common here that it is in the US. After dropping a few expletives the man who I sit next to turned to me, “They don’t speak like that in the US do they?” he said, smiling. I’m fairly confident they don’t, partially because some of the words he used haven’t quite caught on in states yet.

Well, that’s all I can think to share at the moment. I’m off to Budapest this weekend! You can look forward to a blog post about that sometime next week.

Cheers! x

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News to Me

It’s easy to loose track of the world studying abroad. Spending a semester in London can feel more like I’m on vacation than in college, but since I came to London I actually feel like I’ve been more tapped in to what is going on in the world. Every morning at my internship people gather to read the newspapers searching for stories that may effect our clients. On my way home from my internship I pick up an Evening Standard, a free evening newspaper available right outside of the tube. My commute home give me just enough time to brush up on the state of the world. With so much going on in the world from “Occupy Wall Street” to the state of the Euro it feels more important than ever to know what is going on. I hope that when I return to the US I make a point to stay just as up to date.

COM Together

Boston University

Last night I had the opportunity to join the Assistant Dean of Student Services in the College of Communication (COM), Micha Sabovik, for an pint at a local pub. Micha is in London talking to students about BU’s graduate communication program, but she was able to take a night off to talk to the undergraduate communication students studying in London this semester. About 9 students joined Micha, who gladly treated us all to a drink and some greasy pub food, while we all discussed the different opportunities available at BU, especially in COM.

One of the things that has really impressed me about Boston University in the past two years is the sense of community. As a large, urban school many would expect BU is cold and impersonal. Sure, the winters are chilly, but the people at BU are anything but! I’ve been a part of the over 400 BU students choose to spend their Spring break volunteering throughout the US rather than returning home or going off to tropical resorts. I’ve gotten to know professors outside of class. I’ve even had the opportunity to join the Dean of Students for the entirety of BU or a barbecue at his house this past summer while I worked for BU’s admissions office. Being invited out for a drink with a Dean from COM passing through London should have come as no shock, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when someone or something at BU reminds me how much I love this school.

London

Such a Blast

My dad and his fiancé Lisa visited me in London this weekend! It was so great seeing some familiar faces as I’m surrounded by all of this newness. The three of us had a jammed packed two days, all of us trying to make the most out of their visit. In just 48 hours we managed to stroll through Portobello Market, ride the London Eye, catch the west end show The 39 Steps, enjoy some fine dining, visit the Tower of London, peruse the luxuries at Harrods, stuff ourselves full at high tea, shop a little bit at TopShop, and enjoy a pint at an English pub. I don’t think we could have had a more complete weekend in London! It’s such a gift having my family come visit me all the way in England, but getting to do so much as well, I felt completely spoiled.

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Sweet & Sour

One of the great things about being in London is the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. For my History class we take lots of field trips to museums and historical places. This Friday we walked in the steps of the suffragettes and saw where they fought for the vote. It was amazing thinking about how hard these women fought to gain a voice. When women were supposed to be quiet and polite many women chose to stand up during political speeches, to march down the streets, to make sure they were heard. Because of their actions these women were often arrested and thrown in prison. In prison they were treated like common criminals, rather than the political prisoners they were. In protest of this treatment they would go on hunger strikes. The gaurds would then force feed the women – a traumatizing practice! When these measures didn’t work they turned militant, starting a guerilla campaign. The suffragettes went on to break the windows of parliament and other political buildings and set fires to churches. It’s so amazing how much these individual women risked and how much they went through to ensure that politicians would listen to women!

My public relations class went on a field trip this Thursday as well. We went to Cadbury World, a tourist destination devoted to Cadbury chocolate. The purpose of the field trip was to experience the various marketing tools Cadbury uses to represent their company. Cadbury World itself was kind of fun. There are cheesy displays and videos telling the story of how the company was founded and how chocolate was made. There was a model factory and even a ride where you rode in a little car along a track in Cadbury’s response to the “It’s a Small World” ride in Disney. The whole experience was really campy. It was fun seeing all the cheesy displays and there was plent Bournville y of chocolate to eat. While I learned a lot about Cadbury chocolate and their brand I didn’t feel like it was the most education trip I’ve been on. I didn’t feel like this trip enhanced what I learned in the classroom. The most frustrating part was  how long it took to get there. It took two different lines on the tube and two trains to get to, in Birmingham, where Cadbury World is located. I left my flat at 8:00am and didn’t arrive home until after 7:00. I feel like we could have had a more enriching field trip within London. My flatmates didn’t mind the chocolate I had brought home for them though!

Here are some pictures from my trip to Cadbury World

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Happy New Year

Being so far away from home makes it feel even more important to celebrate the holidays. Today marks the beginning of the holiest time of year for the Jewish people, the High Holy Days. Today was the first night of the High Holidays and also the Jewish New Year. I did’t want the New Year to pass me by so I asked a friend from one of my classes what he was doing for Rosh Hashanah. He had found a service at a nearby university and invited me to come along with him and a few other students from our program. I didn’t know what to expect but I was glad that I’d be able to stay connected to my family and my faith while here in London.

At 7:00 a few of us headed over to the services, which were being held by Chabad at Imperial College’s student union. While I don’t know much about Chabad I know it is an international organization that provides religious services for Jews all around the world. I was surprised when we were greeted by a hassidic rabbi and his very pregnant wife. Me and my friends were the first ones there and the rabbi’s wife introduced herself to us and invited us to light some candles with her to bring in the new year. Eventually more people arrived, just in time to start the service. The service was held in a large, wood paneled room  with two sections of seating divided down the middle by a makeshift partition constructed out of tables and chairs. Men and women sat separately on either side of the wall. This was out of the norm for me, having grown up in a reform Jewish community where men and women sit together. As we took our seats the rabbi informed us that in order to ensure people sat in the front rows during the service he had set up the chair backwards. He then asked everyone to turn their chair around so that the back rows of chairs become the new front. The rabbi then leaped into the service, breezing through the Hebrew, finishing the service in under an hour. This astonished me and my friends who were used to longwinded services. I guess they’re saving that for tomorrow.

After the service the rabbi and his wife provided a meal for everyone in attendance. By the time we all sat down to eat about 40 people had joined in! The rabbi and his wife provided a full meal, complete with the traditional foods like apples and honey to ensure a sweet new year, a round challah, and pomegranate. There was also salad, hummus, lox, chicken, rice, sweet potato pie, and cran-apple crumble. During the dinner I sat next to some other BU students but I also got the chance to meet American college students studying in London with other programs and a young French woman working in London for the year. It was especially interesting talking to the French woman about the different Jewish customs she grew up with, as apposed to us American Jews.

In the middle of dinner the rabbi asked everyone in attendance to stand up, introduce themselves, and share their New Years resolution. This year my new years resolutions definitely include being open, learning, and taking advantage of my opportunities. I’m so happy to be spending the New Year here in London and I can’t wait to see what the year 5772 holds!

Missed Connections

Moving to a new city can be overwhelming at times. Moving away from friends and family, even if it’s just for a semester, and orienting to a new place is hard! Somehow, whenever I begin to feel a bit rundown I manage to run into an extra friendly stranger. These brief but exceptionally kind encounters help make living in London seem that much more manageable. Last night the cab driver taking me and my friends home from a night handed us some fatherly wisdom: all men are creeps (I guess that’s an international dad thing) and encouraged us to pick football teams (that’s soccer for us American’s) and become big fans. Today at the grocery store the woman checking me out commented on by Boston University sweatshirt and began telling me all about how much she enjoyed visiting Boston and eating in Quincy Market (don’t we all!). These short conversations are all it takes to really brighten my day and make me feel more at home in London.

Made in the USA

Since arriving in London I’ve been trying to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. One way I’ve been doing this is by watching more and more British TV. My newest TV obsession is a show called Made in Chelsea. It’s a reality show based in London that combines all of the best elements of Laguna Beach and Gossip Girl. The show follows a group of posh super privileged socialites through all of their break ups, make ups, hook ups, and fights. It’s amazing! Here’s the preview if you’re interested in checking it out:

I had my interview this morning for my internship. Everything went really well and I’m excited to announce I’ll be working with Rogers & Cowan/Weber Shandwick. They are two PR agencies that work closely together to provide the best experience for their clients. I’ll have the opportunity to work with both agencies and gain insight into what they both do. Rogers & Cowan deals mainly with entertainment public relations and I’ll have the opportunity to work in product placement. Weber Shandwick is a full PR agency with many more departments. I will be working in the consumer marketing department of Weber Shandwick. As I was leaving the interview the woman I had been speaking with, Kate, was nice enough to give me some pointers on how to take the tube home. I told her I lived in South Kensington, which is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. “I’m familiar with the area,” she replied, “I love Chelsea.” I mentioned my new obsession with Made in Chelsea. It turns out Kate just worked out a product placement deal for one of her luxury car clients for the next season! Needless to say I was pretty impressed. It looks like my internship is going to be an amazing experience and I’ll have the opportunity to get involved with a lot of really interesting projects and learn a lot! Who knows, maybe I’ll even get a car out of this whole thing! (is that not how product placement works?)

Love from London

I promised myself I would start blogging this semester in an attempt to keep a record of my time in London and to stay in touch with my family and friends back home. Here it goes:

Here I am in Greenwich. I’m very jet lagged in this picture

I can’t believe just a week and a half ago I was in Boston! I’ve only been in London a short time but I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting the limited time I’ll have here. It’s been a lot to adjust to so far, between a new city, new people, and all new classes. I think I’m finally beginning to get a handle on everything! I’ve bought groceries, navigated the tube, and I’m beginning to figure out where to get a decent cup of coffee.

I’m living in South Kensington, one of the posher neighborhoods in London. (I wonder who let college students live here?) Even though I am studying with a BU study abroad program there are students here from tons of different colleges all over the US. Two of my room mates are fellow BU students, one a senior, one a sophomore, and the third girl is a junior at Providence College. It’s not easy living with 3 other women but I think we’ll make it work. I’m more concerned about the kitchen, which is shared among all of the students living on this floor.

While studying in London I’ll be taking three classes and completing an internship. I’m taking two of the classes in the first half of the semester, then in the second half the semester I complete the internship and the final class. At the moment I’m taking a class in Strategy and Tatics in British Public Relations, and a class in London Women’s Social History from Aphra Benn to the Blitz. While I’m a PR major it’s the Women’s History class I think I’m going to enjoy the most. I’ve decided on a women’s studies minor this past semester after taking an amazing class on Women, Race, and Gender in Mass Media. My history class has only met twice so far but we’ve already taken two field trips! Today we went to the National Portrait Gallery where we were asked to examine the women’s portraits on display. Yesterday we went the the National London Museum where we were given the task of analyzing how women’s stories were incorporated into the history of London. It’s great getting the chance to leave the classroom, analyze artifacts, and create independent conclusions. While I anticipate learning a lot in my PR class I don’t anticipate it being as inspiring. I’m most excited about my internship, though. I have an interview with a top PR firm this Friday. Getting the chance to live in a new country is such an amazing opportunity but also having the chance to work in public relations while here is just extraordinary! Hopefully everything goes well *crossing my fingers*

Outside of class me and the other students on my floor have done a bit of traveling and exploring within London. Last week BU organized a boat trip to Greenwich for everyone. Unfortunately I think I was too jet lagged to really enjoy it (I may or may not have slept through most of the boat tour). Last Thursday me and some of the girls went to Fashion Night Out, an international after hours shopping event sponsored by Vogue. As cheap college students we didn’t do much shopping but it was nice to explore the ritzy shopping district in London and take advantage of the free swag & drinks some of the stores were handing out!  On Sunday I went to the Brick Lane Market with two friends. Brick Lane is a neighborhood filled with artists, hipsters, and Indian food! Every Sunday the Market opens and vendors sell clothes, jewelry, bags, and tons of ethnic food. It was great people watching and window shopping. I left £13 down with a trendy ring and a stomach full of pumpkin curry! I think I’m really going to enjoy the markets here in London!

this is the pumpkin curry i bought for £3!

With three and a half more months left abroad I’m really excited to see even more! This weekend I’m going on a trip to Brighton. I’ll share more on that later.

-H

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