Studying abroad in London for a few months has allowed me to develop a variety of soft skills. I think the biggest soft skill I’ve developed while abroad, however, is adaptability. While London is an English-speaking country, there are still cultural differences that I have had to adapt to. I’ve had to adapt to differences in work, academics, and culture. When it comes to work for my internship, the office environment is very different to what I am used to back in the States. The company is very small, all female, and everyone sits together at one table with music playing in the background. It’s a much nicer, relaxed work environment! In terms of my academics, the courses meet only once a week for a longer period of time. The assignments are mostly papers and the classes themselves are very field trip heavy. Lastly, there have been many small differences in terms of daily life and culture. For instance, my apartment has very little storage and no dryer. I rely entirely on public transportation to get everywhere, including my classes and internship. While none of these differences have been negative, they have merely taken some adjusting to.
My internship has also allowed me to develop hard skills. I work for a small PR company that works with fashion brands. Working in the fashion industry was completely new to me, so I have definitely learned a lot. One hard skill that I have developed is PR pitch creation. I have learned how to create unique pitches for variety of clients that I then send out to hundreds of contacts to help get press for the clients. Another hard skill that I have learned through my internship is Diary Directory, which is a website that houses thousands of media contacts. I have used Diary Directory to update contact lists, as well as find new and relevant contacts. Additionally, I have also learned how to prepare clothing and jewelry samples for editorial shoots and stylists.
When it comes to cross-cultural situations, I have learned the importance of patience and empathy. With that in mind, I think it’s important to acknowledge that just because there may be cultural differences does not mean that one culture does something right or wrong. I also think it’s helpful to ask questions when you are unsure about what something means or whether or not something is culturally appropriate. Overall, having to adapt to cultural differences is one of the things that make study abroad such a rewarding experience.