The Great Expectations of London

Hopping back on to write a little bit about how my adjustment abroad has compared to my expectations. Studying abroad is something I always knew I would do– even before coming to Pitt– as seeing the world from a new perspective is something I believe everyone needs to experience. For someone who has never left the U.S, it becomes kind of hard to remember that there is a whole world out there, full of different people, cultures, and customs to explore. I became so comfortable with this certainty that I would study abroad (albeit the pandemic gave me my doubts for a while) that I forgot to think about what it would actually be like when I arrived. For that reason, this experience has been full surprises and superseding expectations, and taught me how to live life with a more open mindset.

From an academic perspective I have appreciated this new mindset when it came to my classes, and have learned how taking different classes to your major can give you a new perspective and skills within your field. For instance, my Analyzing and Exploring the Global City course, has given me new insights on how to evaluate what types of business models help and hurt communities, which will allow me to better identify and cater to correct audiences in my marketing career. My Writing the City class amplifies those skills by teaching me how to write about people and places in an exciting and interesting way. These are not essentially “business” classes, but they have given me an outside perspective that will make me a better businesswoman moving forward.

Professionally, I did not expect to learn so much about London corporate culture, given that I did not partake in an internship. However, living right next to “The City” or the square mile financial district, I have been able to observe what it is like to go to work in London and interact with colleagues. The practices appear to be very similar to American work culture, very fast-paced, low context communication, that is, very direct forms of communication. However, colleagues seem to be much more personable in London. Like I’ve talked about in previous posts, as soon as the workday ends, because of the public transport accessibility, the entire office seems to go to pubs together at 5 o’clock, and while they’re all still in their work clothes, there is no talk of work.

Finally, on a personal level, I feel I have a much greater appreciation for diversity in the communities I inhabit than before I departed on this program. This program is the first time I have seen such great levels of diversity in action, interacting and embracing one another. Upon learning about British culture, in this one city I’ve also gotten to learn about endless cultures with the nationalities that have come and been able to make this place home. From Chinatown to the Bangladesh East End, to the French remnants in Soho it’s getting to experience the whole world in one city, which is something I never expected, but am grateful to witness.

I can’t wait to continue exploring and learning from this amazing city, and will keep updating soon!

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