While I can attribute my internship to greatly aiding in the process of London feeling like home, it was not the easiest transition initially. I have never held a professional internship in the States prior to coming to London, but in some ways I think it served as a benefit to me! I did not come into my internship with pre-established experiences and concrete constructs of what it was going to be like. I obviously held several subconscious expectations, but overall I was open to whatever environment I was about to walk into.
I was also placed at a Crowne Plaza Hotel, which meant I was entering an industry I knew little to nothing about. My supervisor was completely understanding of my situation, and was conscious about explaining even the little things that seemed simple to her about the industry. I was overwhelmed by not only her kindness, but the willingness and eagerness to explain from all of my co-workers. The majority of the people that I was working with were incredibly eager to hear about my background, what I was doing in London, and the program that I was doing while here. And of course, it never hurts to ask questions back as well!
Considering the open floor plan that I was placed into, it is quite good that everyone was amicable and easy to talk to. Instead of the traditional cubicle structure that is prevalent in corporate America, there was an average sized room with clusters of desks. The cluster that I sat at had a desk for me, my supervisor, and one other co-worker who worked accounts as well. After the initial shock wore off, it became clear that this floor plan facilitated communication much easier than separate offices and cubicles. It also meant that I had to get over my shell shock of siting five feet away from the financial controller and general manager of the hotel!
There was definitely an adjustment period in learning how to work with a multitude of people from vastly different cultures, but all it took was some curiosity and a willingness to listen and try to understand. There were moments when accents were thick and I missed pieces here and there, but I was not the only one experiencing these struggles. Most of the people in my office were from Europe and the Middle East, meaning that they could all relate on coming to London and overcoming the adjustment period. More than anything, it is important to understand that in a multi-cultural city such as London there is always someone in the same boat as you!
Thanks for reading!