Expect the Unexpected

Before arriving in London, I expected study abroad to be easy-going. I thought I would be able to visit each and every monument, museum, and neighborhood, and I figured I would be able to easily manage my time for class, work, friendships, and travel. While study abroad has been the time of my life, it has also been very exhausting.

When I say it has been exhausting, I mean that in the most positive way! I am happy I have been too busy during my time here. I am always on the go, going from class to my internship, meeting my friends in the evening at a nearby pub to relax, and trying my best to take part in Britain’s social culture. I did not expect to be as tired as I have been after being in class from 9:30 – 5:20 Wednesday and Thursday, and working twenty hours a week to meet my internship requirements. Initially, I expected my classes to be taught with the same structure as Pitt’s courses. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been pleasantly surprised to learn through field studies in my classes, a less familiar approach that I have learned from extensively.

Similarly, I expected my internship to be representative of my work experiences in the U.S. My team is smaller than I expected, consisting of five employees, including myself. This size allows for close collaboration with my coworkers each day. Initially, it was difficult to connect with my team, as a result of the close relationships my team shares in combination with the challenge differing cultural communication styles posed. I was very quiet during the first days of work, appearing to be on auto-pilot as I raced through my tasks. However, I began to notice British work culture encourages social conversation throughout the day, and social breaks are expected, as such interactions facilitate close-knit relationships in the workplace. I met with my supervisor and explained why I had been quieter initially and it helped us put the pieces together!

To future interns, I would advise to ask for help when you need it and do not be afraid to be vocal with your team. Being vocal with my team resulted in closer connection with my coworkers, and we now understand the types of differences that may arise as we meet our objectives throughout the day, which has helped us be more productive as a unit.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work and study abroad. As my semester passes, I am realizing there may not be enough time in the week to see all of London. However, I am starting to realize that it is okay that I won’t be able to do everything I had planned. To be fair, I don’t think I could ever run out of things to do in this bustling, ever-growing city, and I am definitely planning on coming back in the future!