Vicky Liao – London Internship – Management Track

Vicky at Big Ben

Vicky at Big Ben

Interned in accounting and finance at the Crowne Plaza’s London Docklands on the London Internship Program in fall 2015.

Internship:  I interned at Crowne Plaza London Docklands’ Accounts Department. Every day I posted credit, commissions and remittance invoices on Crowne Plaza’s internal server for payment processing/documentation. Additionally, I collected cash from all hotel cashiers to verify the amount matched with what was reported. I also checked daily credit card reconciliations to ensure zero variance on the balance sheet.

I Learned: From this experience, I learned both cooking and how to adapt to a country with a different culture. It was difficult in the beginning because the London campus was not as big and convenient as the BU campus. It was hard to find food and stores near to the London campus. One cultural difference I found was that most British don’t like to stock up on groceries the way that most Americans do. Instead, they prefer to buy groceries every day or every other day. Eventually, I started to get used to it and buy supplies at the grocery store in the train station every day after work.

Hardest Part: The hardest part for me was finding time to focus on studying. I had my internship, and I wanted to spend weekends travelling to other places. As a result, it was hard for me to keep my mind focused on studying because traveling and my internship used up most of my energy.

Best Part: Traveling to other cities in UK and to other European countries were the best experiences ever. It was great to see all those places and learn about their cultures.

My Tips: If you are planning to travel a lot, then plan it way ahead of time and be aware of the timing of your courses. Also, I took the course AH381. It was a London Architecture and Urbanism class. It was the best class I had in London because the class was half lecture and half field trip. In this class, I learned a lot about London’s history and got to go to many famous attractions. I would definitely recommend this class to students who are interesting in learning more about London.

Amanda Barone – London Internship – Management Track

Amanda in Kensington GardensInterned in finance on the London Internship Program in summer 2015.

Internship: I was an Analysis Intern for a company called CMD, which tracks the performance of thousands of fixed income securities and uses this information to provide money market analysis to industry insiders.

Because the company is quite small, I was given a lot of responsibility right away; by the end of my first week, I already had four articles published to an audience of about 20,000 market professionals! I primarily wrote articles about Movers & Shakers in the financial industry and weekly bond market reports for SSA, FIG, and corporate bond markets.

As someone who is studying both Business and English, this internship enabled me to learn how to analyze the bond market and gain professional writing experience. Through this internship, I was also able to gain a truly international work experience; there were only eight people in my office, but each person was from a different country!

I Learned: Between take-out, my Mom’s homemade meals, and BU’s dining halls, I don’t have much cooking experience. It was a bit of a reality check to have to prepare all of my own food, but I feel that being thrown right into it really helped me to learn how to plan dishes, grocery shop, and make delicious meals on my own.

When my English class read the works on the topic of World War One, we supplemented the reading with a field trip to the Imperial War Museum. It was so insightful to see history through the eyes of another culture, and I realized that I actually had a passion for learning about the World Wars.

What Surprised Me: What surprised me most about going abroad was how quickly you make friends with the people on your trip! Going into the experience, I did not know anyone who would be in London at the same time as me. Luckily, I met an amazing group of people. We became very close very quickly because we were all learning how to adapt to a different culture at the same time. I am very grateful to be going back to Boston with a new circle of friends that I may have never otherwise crossed paths with!

Hardest Part: I knew going into the experience that London was one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I was still surprised to see just how expensive everything was! The exchange rate was quite shocking. Although it seemed normal to buy a coffee for 3.50, I had to remind myself that I was using the British pound rather than the American dollar, which meant that my coffee was actually costing me closer to $6.00. I realized almost right away that I would need to stick to a budget if I did not want to burn right through all of my savings. Although it was really difficult to resist the temptation of all the amazing London shopping and eating, I know I spent my money on things I really cared about which made me and my wallet much happier!

My Tips: BU’s London campus is so close of the South Kensington museums (the view out my window was of the Natural History Museum), which are some of the best museums in the world. But by the end of the trip, some of my friends still hadn’t been to many of them even though they were literally across the street! Most British museums are free, so my best tip is to pop in whenever you have a free hour. Going to the Victoria & Albert museum for 45 minutes a few mornings before class really broke the museum down and made the entire experience more enjoyable!

Hidden Gems: Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious coffee addiction. Because the Brits are so obsessed with their tea, I had to do some serious exploring for a great cup of coffee. I researched the best coffee places in each area and worked my way around the city. Some hidden gems included Monmouth Coffee, Brooklyn Coffee, Notes, and Workshop Coffee Co. It was so nice not only to have an excuse to see most of the city, but also to escape from the hectic city and relax with a cup of coffee.

Best Part: The last night of my trip coincided with one of my roommate’s birthday, so my entire friend group decided to have a huge celebration meal at Ottolenghi. The food was some of the best I’ve had in my life, but even more incredible was sitting around with a bunch of people who had been strangers just weeks ago and talking about all of the amazing adventures we had in London.

Andrea Han – London Internship Management Track

At the Golden Jubilee Bridge

At the Golden Jubilee Bridge

Interned in London in Human Resources at the Elizabeth Arden Head Office, Summer 2015. 

Internship: I was an HR intern at the Elizabeth Arden Head Office in London. During my internship, I had various projects and assignments. My main project was to look over all the CVs from applicants for new positions at the head office, conduct phone interviews with all the applicants, and then schedule in interviews with the candidates that I felt were suitable. In addition to that, I created/revised different employee contracts, helped new employees get settled into the company, covered reception, analyzed all the consultant grievances and disciplinary letters for patterns and general themes, and created posters and cards for recruitment. If there were formal events or conferences occurring during the day, then I would help set up and have all the food ordered and prepared. Of course, there was always some filing or copying that needed to be done, so I did that as well.
I Learned: I learned that I’m actually quite good at adapting to new places and am pretty resourceful.
What Surprised Me: Just how beautiful everything really is!! Even though I knew London was pretty amazing beforehand, everything was magnified a thousand times when I got there!! Seeing things about the city is extremely different online than in real life, and there wasn’t one place where I wasn’t amazed. During my time abroad, I always loved taking little walks to random places and discovering new beautiful scenery and sites!! Even getting lost was a fun experience on its own, and that’s saying a lot.
Hardest Part: Their wasn’t anything really hard in particular, but one thing I did have issues with at times was talking to the locals and understanding some of the phrases and terms. There were some things that I said that they didn’t understand, and some things that they said that I didn’t understand. Although this wasn’t something that happened to me, in particular, a couple of my friends had warned me about the word “pants” because in the UK people say “trousers” instead of “pants.” The term “pants” in the UK actually means underwear, so things could get a little awkward when a mistake of this nature was made. In general, language was something that took me awhile to get used to, but it was definitely worthwhile getting to know the language and culture a bit better.
Best Part: My entire time there!! I enjoyed every single bit of it. It was really nice to go out and explore London during classes because I had created a list of spots to visit during my time abroad. During my internship, I loved working and interacting with all my coworkers. They were all so nice!!! In addition, I learned so much about HR and am looking forward to gaining more experience in this field. If I were to pick a specific time, it would probably be my weekend in Scotland. This was the best weekend I have ever had, and it was an experience that I will never forget. Edinburgh had one of the most breathtaking sceneries with the mix of the new city and old city. The Highlands were absolutely gorgeous, and it was really a great time just to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy city life.
My Tips: Plan your expenses wisely!!! Everyone knows that London is a very expensive city, but actually experiencing it is something really different. In addition, it does not help that you are going to be living in a really posh (but beautiful) neighborhood. Definitely keep track of how much you are spending, and plan budgets for each week. Furthermore, definitely take advantage of all the free things to do in London. For a city that is known to be expensive, it’s amazing that almost all their major museums and parks offer free admission (and a lot offer free admission to students). Plus, all their exhibits, in my opinion, are the best I have ever seen! There were a lot of famous pieces of art in many exhibitions, and it was really wonderful to see them. In addition, they have a lot of parks all over the city! Whenever I wanted to take a nice walk outside, I would always go to Hyde Park to relax and get a delicious whippy. 🙂
Hidden Gems: All the markets – Camden, Borough, Greenwich, Portobello, etc!! I absolutely loved going to the markets because they were all so much fun. Plus, there were some really great antique shops in the markets to shop around and browse. Although it can get a bit hectic and crazy with so many people (especially on the weekends), it is something just to experience. I ended up visiting each several times just because it was that good. I especially loved all the great food that was offered in the markets because it was tasty food and super cheap!! It can’t get any better than that!!

Shannon C., London Internship – Law Track

Platform 9.75Interned in law at a small human rights firm, Spring 2015

Internship: My internship was with a very small human rights law firm with just around six full-time employees in total.  While I didn’t have one on-going project with the firm, I worked on different things such as researching different bodies of law as they applied to our clients and preparing memos on the topics; drafting letters and notices for our clients and opposition; and creating hearing bundles to be used in court.  I even got the chance to attend court on a few occasions, which was a really great opportunity to see first-hand how the British legal system works.

I Learned: I had no idea that the British work environment would be so different than the American work environment. Though there are definitely exceptions, the British work environment tends to be much more relaxed and laid-back than in the US.  It’s common for co-workers to go out for drinks at lunch and talk about their personal lives at work.  Because my office was so small, I came to know the lives of my co-workers pretty well.  The office felt very comfortable and open, but at the same time everyone was really focused on their work, and I realized that I liked the balance of those two aspects.

I also learned how to travel with other people.  This wasn’t really something I had given thought to before traveling abroad, but it ended up being one of the most crucial parts of enjoying my time abroad.  My roommate and I went on every trip together and had a great travel dynamic, which allowed us to enjoy our adventures.  We came to know who was good with directions, who was good with plans, and who was making sure we were taking enough pictures.  I learned a lot about compromise and communication and planning – the little things that can make or break a trip!

What Surprised Me: The thing that surprised me most when I was abroad was just how much there is to do in London.  It seemed that in the last few weeks of my time abroad I was trying to squeeze in every last ounce of London that I could.  The city is so large and surrounded by so many other great places to visit in England that it’s nearly impossible to fit everything in.  One thing that helped my me and my friends was making a list in the beginning of the semester of the places we wanted to see most – it helped us make sure we hit everything that we had planned on.  Definitely make sure that you spend a majority of your trip in London.  It’s great to travel around Europe, but there is also so much culture and history to explore right in London!

Hardest Part: This is going to sound really cheesy but…the hardest part of my experience was leaving.  After spending four months exploring a new city and learning all about its culture, history, and people, I had definitely developed an attachment.  Not only did I love the city, but I loved being constantly busy and always exploring something new.  I remember the last few weeks I was in London, I could hardly think about leaving the city.  But what’s nice about the BU program is that there are many BU students share that same experience with you.  Once you come back to BU, it’s like you immediately have this family of students who were abroad with you and who you can share memories and stores with.

Best Part: Markets!  Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best part, but it was definitely a highlight.  London has so many great outdoor markets in its different boroughs that are great ways to spend weekend afternoons.  Borough Market and Camden Market have excellent food, and Portobello Market has what seems like an endless amount of antique shops to explore.  Broadway market also has a mix of food vendors and hand-crafted items, and even some musicians performing on the street.

Overall though, the best part of the experience was how much of the world I got to see.  I visited a total of nine countries as well as towns around England.  It was such a great opportunity to become a better traveler, learn different cultures and histories, and see new parts of the world.  As much as I would encourage students to spend a majority of their time in London (after all, it’s such a great city with so much to do), I also encourage them to travel outside of the city or the country at least once or twice.

My Tips: Definitely utilize the social programmes! BU offers coordinated trips and events that you can purchase ahead of time for a discounted group price.  They were really helpful for trips that were difficult to get to without a car, or for finding tickets to shows that would usually be expensive. I went on planned programmes to Swan Lake, Stonehenge, Notting Hill Arts club, and a few others.

Also, be sure to budget!  London can get expensive, but it’s entirely manageable if you plan ahead.  You can find free events and things all over the city that won’t break the bank, and a quick internet search will show you affordable events all over the city.

Finally: museums are free.  This is perfect for rainy days, cold weather, or spare time.  You can explore a museum for 20 minutes and come back the next day to see more of the exhibits.  The BU buildings are also within walking distance of the Natural History Museum (which was basically my front yard for the entire semester) and the Victoria and Albert museum so there’s almost no excuse not to visit them!  There are so many museums all over London – try to visit as many as you can!

Hidden Gems: That’s a hard question – there are a ton!  During my first week in London, my roommate and I went for a walk in Hyde Park and spontaneously ended up in the Serpentine Gallery (free!).  It has really fun interactive exhibits and is fun to pop in and visit.  Another day, we ended up in Battersea park, and I wish I had known about it sooner!  It’s across the river from South Kensington (where the BU buildings are) and has fountains, open fields and sculptures.  It’s a great place for a picnic, a run, or just people-watching.

Also, if you like live music, you have to check out Ain’t Nothin But the Blues.  It’s a blues bar in SoHo that has live music every night (also free!).  I must have gone four or five times during the semester.  It’s a small little place that’s always filled with people enjoying the music and atmosphere.  It was a great activity for weeknights after school or work when my friends and I wanted to do something as a group.

And did I say markets?

Jana Amchin, London Internship Program

JanaBoroughMarketInterned in Marketing and Events at The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Fall 2014

Internship: The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation was started by one of Britain’s most admired chefs, Jamie Oliver, to share his love of food and to educate people about the benefits of a healthy diet.  Interning at the Foundation was a wonderful experience from both a professional and a personal standpoint.  I learned so much about numerous aspects of a profession that I would love to become a part of.

The majority of the time, I was involved in the Kitchen Garden Project (KGP), where I became familiar with food education and policy for schoolchildren.  I was in charge of posting on KGP’s Twitter, as a means of communicating with our followers and promoting the important work of the Foundation.  Our objective was to attract more UK schools to the new Kitchen Garden Project website, so that they, too, could benefit from this wonderful program.  I also had the opportunity to work in other departments within the Foundation, doing various jobs such as researching and contacting young people’s centers and housing foyers across London to promote Fifteen Apprenticeship Programme’s upcoming recruitment period.  In addition, I had the chance to attend a cooking workshop and to help prepare lunch for a company meeting, as well as set up for a few of the Foundation’s fundraising supper clubs.

Interning at the Foundation only served to further my love of everything food.  From my experience here, I came to look at food from a different perspective than I had before.  I now appreciate food not only for the actual food itself, but also for what it represents- food brings people together in a way nothing else can.  I was very fortunate to have been placed at such a well-respected organization and to work with such an accomplished group of people.

I Learned: I learned not to limit myself and to step out of my comfort zone.  Living in a different country made me realize that I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities around me- when else would I have the chance to spend four months in London?!?!  I pushed myself to explore the unknown – I went to places I didn’t think I was interested in going and did things I didn’t know I wanted to do.  Not surprisingly, I had some of the best experiences of my life!

What Surprised Me: What surprised me most was how a city that is so rich in history could be so young and modern.  London has always been considered very traditional and proper.  In reality, however, it is actually very contemporary and exciting!  It has so much to offer, including wonderful dining, shopping, and world-famous museums and theater.  Alternatively, you can choose to hang out at a local pub, walk along the Thames or explore the incredible architecture all around the city.

Hardest Part:  Fitting everything I wanted to do into my busy schedule!  Between classes and my internship, I very carefully had to pick and choose how to spend my free time.  London is a big city with many unique neighborhoods, so there were always fun and interesting things to see and do.  Of course, there are also many other amazing European cities to travel to on the weekends. There is still so much I want to do in London that I didn’t have time for.  I’ll just have to go back!

Best Part:  THE ACCENT!!  And exploring new places with my new friends!

My Tips: Definitely read Time Out London every week.  It’s filled with loads of useful information on free things happening throughout the city, good places to eat, and the best markets, bars, and shops to go to.  I enjoyed reading it on my commute to work.

Hidden Gem: It’s not really a hidden gem, but you need to go to Borough Market while you’re in London.  It’s so much fun to walk around and drool over all the delicious food at the hundreds of different stands.  It can get really crowded though, so it’s best to go during the week.  However, if you’re looking for less touristy, but equally as yummy food markets, definitely head over to Whitecross Street Market or Maltby Street Market.

Stephanie Gianni, London Internship

Westminster StephanieInternship: I worked as a Press and Marketing Intern for English National Ballet, one of the UK’s most renowned ballet companies. This experience helped me learn the difference between Public Relations and Marketing. My main ongoing tasks with Public Relations involved researching press contact information, and cataloging press clippings. Also, I was able to assist with dancers’ interviews and photoshoots for media outlets such as Glamour Magazine, The Evening Standard, and BBC News. For Marketing, I learned to use InDesign to create promotional fliers, analyzed ticket sales reports, created direct mail materials, and called local dance schools. The most exciting experience I had was representing ENB at opening night of a world premiere show by checking in guests and answering questions about the company.

I learned: My internship experience helped me learn the difference between Public Relations and Marketing, and gain further insight into working in the arts industry. Looking back on my abroad experience, I learned how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity presented. Four months may seem like a long time, but time flies much faster than you expect. I have to say I also became a savvy traveler after exploring Europe without having data or internet everywhere I went.

I was surprised by: How confusing it is to see cars driving on the opposite side of the road and get used to looking the right direction to safely cross the street. It was also surprising that, although the European countries are so close in distance, each can be vastly different in culture

The hardest part: I’m from California, so I know what it’s like to be away from home for long periods of time. However, when I first got to London it took me a few weeks to become comfortable being this far away from home, especially with an 8 hour time difference. Once classes started and things became familiar, I focused on the excitement of being abroad and by the end never wanted to leave.

The best part: Immersing myself in the city I lived in while having the opportunity to travel Europe with new and old friends. These trips, memories, and people made my abroad experience unique, and I can’t imagine a better way to remember my first times in Europe!

My tips:

  • Figure out the places you’d like to travel to most, then book your flights early.
  • Budget your expenses; remember the pound is almost double the value of the dollar.
  • Immerse yourself in London and all it has to offer (there are plenty of free activities).
  • Sign up for BU Social Program events for cool events at a discounted price.
  • Form relationships with your co-workers because it’s the easiest way to get to know locals.
  • Balance your time between traveling Europe and really experiencing the UK.

Thomas Tung, London Internship

London Bridge with crowdInterned at a company called Thriev, a start-up company that specializes in private chauffeur service.

Internship: Thriev is Kind of like Uber, but they use all electric vehicles and their target market is mostly corporate customers. I was a graphic design and social marketing intern for them. Projects included creating new websites, finding optimal solutions for the phone network, managing Google AdWords to promote job listings and the company’s services, etc.

I learned: From my time abroad, I learned to trust my instincts more. You go abroad to experience a new culture, create new memories and build new friendships. You’re living life and enjoying every moment of it, but you realize you should acknowledge that little voice in your head or that gut feeling. It can help you get out of sticky situations if you ever encounter them. Also, you learn to respect different cultures. Living in London for three months makes you realize that you’re not just a tourist in a foreign country.You’re living in a different country where there is a different culture than America. Traveling and studying abroad allows for a student to embrace the lifestyle of the community that hosts him/her.

I was surprised by: I learned that British people ‘work to live’ which is the opposite of Americans who ‘live to work.’ It’s not to say that British people are not hard working. They are extremely hard workers. They just understand that work is not what life is all about. They care about downtime, and spending that downtime with friends and family.

The hardest part: The hardest part was getting adjusted into the English culture. It is so different than what it is like in the States. Social norms are different in the UK. Currency is different and at a different value. For the first month or so, you forget that you have to convert all the values into American dollars.

The best part: The best part was meeting new people from the different colleges in the States as well as British people with whom you develop professional relationships. You get to learn and experience education and business from a different perspective. Traveling all over Europe was another plus.

My tip: Keep an open mind, but trust yourself. That is the best way to enjoy your semester abroad.

Ann Masline, London Internship

Ann PenguinsInterned at Whisky Mist Nightclub

Internship: I worked at Whisky Mist Nightclub in the district of Mayfair in London. I was the PR and Marketing Intern at Whisky Mist. During my time at my internship, I planned events, managed the club’s social media accounts, and emailed prospective clients, from musicians to fashion designers, to visit Whisky Mist and have their events with us.

I learned: From studying abroad, I learned that there are so many fun and exciting opportunities beyond jobs and internships in the US. Knowing this, it’s exciting to realize that if I wanted to go back to London, or any other international city, it’s possible, and I now have the independence, resources, and skills to do so.

I also learned that “please” and “thank you” go a long way, no matter what country you are in.

I was surprised by: Something that surprised me most about my time abroad was just how many young people, both American and non-American, there are travelling around the world. Everywhere I went, there were college students and young professionals making memories and exploring, just like I was. It was amazing to meet these young people who were having similar experiences to the ones I was having.

The hardest part: The hardest part about studying abroad was balancing traveling and exploring with taking time for myself to relax and reflect. It was my initial instinct to book trips across Europe for every weekend I was abroad. After a few weekends of traveling though, I realized that I needed to balance my down time, time spent exploring London, and time spent exploring the rest of the world. Initially, I wanted to do it all, but I found that it was necessary to truly evaluate how much energy, money, and time I had.

The best part: One of the best parts of my abroad experience in London was at the end of the program when I no longer felt like a tourist, but more like a local. By the end, I was confident enough to give people directions, I was a “pro” on the buses and tube, and I was establishing a real routine in my day-to-day life. This was one of the best parts of my time because I no longer felt intimidated by the city, but rather comfortable and confident. By the end, I could also truly envision myself working and living in London in the future.

My tips: 

  • Plan on traveling the most during the first half of the program, when you have classes. During the second half, when you are doing your internship, you won’t have three-day weekends, and everyone will be exhausted from working all week.
  • If you have to choose between shopping at Harrods and buying plane tickets, don’t shop! You will always remember the fun and excitement you had traveling more than the new shoes that you bought.
  • Go to the markets! They are amazing.
  • Try to meet as many locals as possible; not only will you meet great people and learn more about London, but you’ll have a couch to crash on if you ever want to visit again!

MJ Vasquez, London Internship

IMG_6731Interned at Union Investment Management in Spring 2014.

Internship: I worked for a small investment management firm called Union Investment Management located right in the center of London. At my internship, my main project I worked on was the creation of the firm-wide compliance manual offered to first time employees. In addition, I worked on creating summaries for client portfolios. The raw data was provided to me and the other interns, and it was our job to create an easy to read one page summary of what the data was showing. I greatly enjoyed my experience at the firm, not only because of the work we were assigned, but because I was really able to experience what working for an international company was like.

I Learned: Studying abroad taught me that there are so many beautiful places in the world that are just waiting for young students, like myself, to go explore and that aren’t necessarily the tourist “hot spots.” I have always loved traveling within the US, but having the opportunity to be out of my comfort zone and visit cities I had never even heard of before, truly brought a different meaning to the word ” exploring.” Because traveling around Europe is very accessible from London, picking my travel destination was always a challenge!

In addition, studying abroad also taught me the value of creating international friendships. For one of my weekend trips I decided to fly out to Skopje, Macedonia and then take a 4 hour bus ride to Ohrid. On the way back from Ohrid to Skopje, I sat next to a young girl, who helped me figure out the ticketing procedure on the bus after she saw my confused face when the bus driver spoke nothing but Macedonian to me. For the whole bus ride, she and I spoke about the differences in culture between Ohrid and the rest of the world, along with our travel experiences and school life. She and I still keep in touch via Facebook, and I am extremely glad she was able to help me with my challenge that day! I was able to develop plenty of other friendships from similar situations throughout my whole study abroad experience.

I Was Surprised By: What surprised me most about my time abroad was the amount of free time I had. Without having to attend club meetings, office hours, or work, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. After a while, I made sure I took advantage of all my free time. I started exploring all the different places that London had to offer!

The Hardest Part: The hardest part of my experience was finding time to keep in touch with friends and family from home. With the time change and with the different activities I was doing, it was difficult to find a time to update my family on everything I was doing. After a while I was able to balance my activities with my down time, and I ultimately always found a couple of minutes each day to catch up with my parents.

The Best Part: The best part of my experience was meeting wonderful English friends with whom I still keep in touch. During my time abroad I was able to develop a friendship with them that I know will last a lifetime. We did a variety of events such as cooking a “Sunday Roast” together, as well as having picnics at Hyde Park filled with typical English biscuits and snacks. My favorite activities included just hanging out at our flat with them and learning about the differences between American and British culture.

My Tips: 

  •  Don’t stay inside! Enjoy every single day by doing something outside your flat. You’ll thank yourself when the time comes for you to go home.
  • If your internship is close enough to campus, walk. It will save you a lot of money, and you’ll get to explore parts of London you normally wouldn’t have a chance to explore.
  • Enjoy all the food London has to offer. There are plenty of places to eat delicious food – you just have to find them.

Rachael Gresham, London Internship

Rachael Zip LineAs a college student you are naturally inclined to fear the inevitable – graduating. In what feels like no time at all, suddenly you are in my current position: an incoming senior trying to write about the best semester I had, while attempting to wrap my mind around the fact that in a few shorts months I’ll need to deal with the big ‘R’ word – responsibility.  Go abroad. Before you have real responsibilities, grab the opportunity to travel the world. Build it into your schedule as a freshman or figure out how you can manage it as a senior; either way, do it.

Second semester of junior year was when I crossed the pond and explored London for the first time. BU London resides in none other than the posh neighborhood of South Kensington, with easy access to everything you could possibly need. Hyde Park is less than a block away, Imperial College boasts a gym and student activities they welcome you to join, the #9 and #10 buses run right along High Street when the Tube is too crowded to bear, and there are three grocery stores to choose from, in addition to the American favorite, Whole Foods, around the corner.

Being on the Pre-Law track, I interned with a law firm based in the middle of City, the epicenter of London and its original neighborhood. I was tasked with very basic office jobs: photocopying, retrieving the mail, logging files, making phone calls, and taking notes during client interviews. While the work was not overly stimulating, I loved being able to talk to my coworkers about their favorite parts of London, as well as the UK, and gain native perspective on the city I would call home.

If you are a homebody like me, the mere thought of traveling thousands of miles away can bring on an anxiety attack. This is actually normal; you are not in the minority. Just ask yourself this: if not now, then when? Going abroad taught me how to say ‘yes.’ It taught me not to fear change, but to embrace it, and fully enjoy the opportunities that might never come around again. Being abroad also taught me more about myself, as painfully cliché as that is. Take control of your semester. Be selfish – visit the countries you want to visit, do the things you want to do, explore on your own, and never say no. It might feel like you have all the time in the world, but just like graduation, your end date is looming and one of the best times of your life will be over before you know it.

Sure it was hard to leave my family, of course the exchange rate made it impossible to afford everything, and yes being in a foreign country is scary; however, all these fears subside when your Mom tells you how envious she is of your jet-setting lifestyle and your Dad is can’t stop listening to your tales of Istanbul and Croatia, places he’s never been. If you are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to not only travel abroad, but to live there for an entire semester, it is actually your duty to go. I am so serious, you must. Those of us who have returned need more people to envy.

Two Tips:

  • Immerse yourself in the cultures of the countries you travel to and find what it is really like to live; don’t just visit all the tourist traps.
  • Remember to sleep or you will end up sick for a week.