London Calling

I’m off to London this summer! Flights are booked, “London for Dummies” is sitting on my desk and our first orientation was last night.

Speaking of that first orientation, the study abroad coordinators gave the 15+ students going to London this summer a 14-question “quiz” about England and our host program. The questions included: describing the English flag (the one above is actually the Union Jack, the UK flag that incorporates the English design), who the prime minister is (David, not James, Cameron — very different people) and the current exchange rate of USD to GBP.

Admittedly, none of us did too hot. We haven’t memorized CAPA’s founding date and we certainly didn’t know the metropass is called an OysterCard. Fortunately, most of us at least knew who Prince William is marrying.

But we all need to learn these things, because one of the numerous forms we must fill out includes (surprise!) a little test, which we have to pass. Not terribly worried about it though — London is one thing I absolutely don’t mind studying for! Looks like “London for Dummies” was a smart call.

Because I’ve traveled to Europe before, I’m already not looking forward to dealing with volt adapters and plug converters. And I’m definitely not even planning on taking my hairdryer. A Phi Mu sister is going, too, so we plan on splitting the cost of a hairdryer and flatiron once we get there. Looks like I’ll also be purchasing a cell phone once there, so I can text and call local friends. Skype and Facebook will suffice for everyone back in the States.

Annddd…there’s less than two months until I’m in London! I still have dizzying amounts of paperwork to complete and a biometric scan to do (I didn’t even know what that consisted of until looking at the UK Border Patrol website — it’s definitely not as terrifying as it sounds).

A CAPA representative will be at Mizzou in April to do interviews for internship placements, but we won’t actually find out where we’ll be placed until right before we leave. Some of us may not even know after arriving in London!

I’m sure that whatever I end up with, though, will be amazing. I’m excited to see how newsrooms operate in Europe, where the approach to journalism is so different. In America, there’s a heavy emphasis on conflict, but not in Europe. Should be an interesting and wonderful learning experience, especially since I would love to work in international journalism.

Another exciting detail: KBIA producer Janet Saidi is our accompanying faculty member this summer! I’ve worked with Janet at KBIA already this semester, and knowing she’s going to London has made me even more excited — she really is terrific. She’ll be teaching our International Issues Reporting class and checking in on our progress at our internships.

I’m also excited to find out where we’ll be living this summer. Past students have been placed in the Kensington and Notting Hill areas, and I’d really love either of those. Mizzou’s journalism study abroad coordinators and CAPA ensure that students are placed in a safe neighborhood with easily accessible public transportation — I wouldn’t expect anything less, and I also know my parents wouldn’t settle for anything less. Gold star to you, Mizzou and CAPA!

Another bonus: a fellow convergence student, Derek, is also travelling to London this summer. We’ve already agreed that visits to other cities and nations in Europe are a must, but won’t make any concrete plans until we actually get to London and figure out our internship schedules. I’m sure we both have some specific places in mind, though. I plan on letting my inner-nerdiness really shine while I soak up all the rich history of Europe! My camera will definitely be stretched to its limits.

If you’ve been abroad, let me know how your experience was! What cities and towns should I visit? Any restaurants I absolutely need to try? What was the hardest part adjusting to a new culture? We’ve been warned quite extensively already about culture shock (I’ve already looked up which shops sell Mt. Dew!), but I don’t mind a challenge. Let the immersion to British culture begin!

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