For the two weeks of 2019, I have the fortunate opportunity to study abroad in one of the most amazing cities in the world, London. Learned a lot and saw a lot. Through the wonderful Professor Suzanne Mims and GEO office back at Mason, I was not only able to discover the city with a vast history of over 2000 years, but also learn about Public Relations and the different branches of it from some of the best in the business. Here are some of the lessons I learned in London, both Public Relations related and city related.
1. British Pounds are confusing, but use your cash before you leave the country.
Listen I get it, we have a lot of coins in the US and the UK is no different. The amount of coins you will have by the end of your visit will be insane. It was also rough trying to exchange them back to U.S. dollars. Make sure you keep track of your cash and use it up before you use your card if you ever visit!
2. Always tell the best stories.
Out of all the visits, from Disney to Brunswick to Ketchum to Edelman. They all told us the same thing; storytelling is crucial to whatever you do in Public Relations. Why should the public care? Why should people read your stories? How do they represent your brand? All these things matter when you are trying to introduce a product or service to your audience.
Via Salma Hamze at Ketchum UK
3. The Tube is complicated, but I promise if I can navigate it, so can you.
If you’re from the DC area like I am, you’re familiar with the metro lines. There are six lines and they intersect here and there where you can get off and switch on another line fairly easily. London has the exact same thing, except add five more lines, branching off here and there on the same line, a few hundred stations across the city, escalators, lifts, something called eastbound and westbound and you got it! DC metro on steroids nicknamed, The Tube.
It’s complex and super overwhelming but I promise you, it makes sense. The London Underground is the world’s first railway system and at one point it was the biggest. Some key things to know are that there’s always more than one way to get to a place, so do not fret, rush hour is very crowded on the Tube so don’t feel overwhelmed and the most important piece of information to remember that you will always be reminded is to Mind The Gap!
The London Underground Map via Visit London
4. “Be curious and ambitious”
These are the amazing words of Clare Coffey, a director at Hill + Knowlton. We visited H+K as our last company visit on the 15th. She’s the “girl boss” that I have only seen in films and read about in books. She is everything I want to be in life. Successful, passionate, can be taken seriously when needed to be, hardworking, and of course, fashionable.
She came at the end of our session for a quick Q & A over lunch. As she went on to talk about her impressive career she gave us advice, which was be to be curious and ambitious. This wasn’t just PR and job advice, I took what she said as life advice. Always work hard and ask questions. It’s okay if I don’t know the answer to things, that’s why I should ask questions. And asking questions helps you improve your knowledge on topics, it shows you care. And that’s what you should want in your life and professional life, to care.
Via Salma Hamze at H+K
5. A lot of things cost money, but a lot more things to do here are free!
Yes, a lot of the very touristy things cost money, like The Shard, the London Eye, Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace…. But there is so much do here that is also free!I’m broke too, I get it. The British Museum where you can see all the artifacts the Brits stole when they invaded another country and don’t want to give back is free for the public to see!
The Sky Garden which is like The Shard but free and with plants is also absolutely amazing. You can go to the top and see all of London, enjoy a meal or a drink and take pictures around cute plants!
Most of the Art Galleries and the Fashion Exhibits are free as well if you’re into art and fashion or just want to be out and about while staying warm.
Covent Garden, on West End London, is probably one of the most beautiful places to visit to just walk around especially at night with the lights on. There are restaurants if you get hungry, dessert places to satisfy a sweet tooth no matter what your taste is. A small market to buy all the trinkets, toys and art your heart desires.
Via Salma Hamze
I learned a lot in London, I’m not sure if I’m ready to leave yet, but I know I’m coming back. There is so much more to see and so many gaps to mind.