While abroad, I thought I could learn a lot by interning. I know workplace culture can differ greatly from place to place, and I wanted to experience the UK with this perspective that I could not get as a student. Throughout the past month, I have been commuting into central London from Lewes, East Sussex by train. Although I at first dreaded having to travel about two hours a day, I ended up really enjoying it. Not only did I welcome a moment of rest and peace by myself (especially after all the stress of navigating a new place), but I also passed by a different demographic of people. I have met other people commuting to work, but also families, retirees, and tourists. I think spending time as a part of a larger routine for so many people in the UK allowed me to appreciate the population more (as well as the beauty of a long-distance public transportation system), and I would definitely encourage anyone else abroad to spend time getting to know the place on public transportation.
In terms of the internship itself, I got to learn a lot about how UK workplaces differ. At both work and school, I have noticed that adjusting to the work/life balance has been unexpected difficulty. People in the UK really embrace going home at 6pm, leaving their daily worries behind them. When I first got here, this left me feeling unsure of how to spend my time and find new spaces to socialize in, since I am so used to schoolwork and clubs occupying this time.
So, I have enjoyed having an internship if only to break up my day and give shape to my schedule. I think it has helped me learn a lot about setting aside time for myself to take breaks; I will definitely take this habit back to the US with me.
Furthermore, as an RTF major, I have been able to learn a lot about London’s significance on an international stage. By working in international film licensing and distribution, I have learned about how London can act as a midpoint between the United States and other places around the world. Lots of films may originate in the United States, but many film companies set up in the UK to be closer to some other key film markets, like Germany and France.
Plus, I got to attend the BFI’s London Film Festival for the first time. While it is not the most popular festival, it is surely very prestigious and comes at a key time in awards season campaigning. LFF offers special deals for 16-25 year olds to rush tickets for major screenings, so I got to see 5 films for only 25 pounds. I saw Paul Dano’s Wildlife, Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite. Lanthimos is one of my all-time favorite directors, and I am rooting for The Favourite in awards season.
I have also gotten to see lots of theatrical productions in London’s West End, which is the European equivalent to Broadway. Coming here, I did not realize how accessible these productions would be, since I know major theatre can come with a big price tag. Luckily, the West End is very kind to locals, offering cheap day tickets for most shows. I have met up with another UT student at UCL for the semester, and we will tag team the shows. So far, we have seen Aladdin, Mamma Mia!, Company, Heathers, and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. I think my favorite has been Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. It is a new production that might end up on Broadway in 2019, and I cannot stop singing the songs! Many of my RTF peers have grown up in theatre, but my previous work has existed almost exclusively in film. I have really enjoyed learning about some of the artistic intersections between what I do and the longstanding theatrical traditions in London.
Point of all this? I’m glad I’m spending a lot of the time out of the classroom. Yes, my studies are important, and I have enjoyed learning under a different framework and educational structure. However, I have gained a much more complicated and nuanced view of London and the people who live in it by going out and exploring some of its highlights. A lot of these experiences I simply cannot get anywhere else, and I am glad I get the chance to embrace the offerings of the UK to the fullest (And on that note, I would advise not jam-packing your study abroad schedule, so that there is enough time to go out and have these type of adventures). I am definitely a better person and creator because of what I am doing here – I’ll take this with me for the rest of my life!
This post was contributed by Emma Rappold, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Emma’s experience studying at the University of Sussex>>