previously posted on my blog Abroad in London
as a weekly update for family and friends
When you’re in the eye of a storm that is about to impart a dramatic change on your life it feels like everything is moving so quickly- or not fast enough. In retrospect I couldn’t have planned out the milestones that led to my six months in England in any better sequence or frequency if I had tried to. A decision made in March to pursue any opportunity abroad led to a July 1st flight from Boston to London. It was enough time to survey my options- studying abroad or working abroad- and to change my mind several times.
The decision was fuelled primarily by two events in my life. The first event was a trip to Paris that I made during spring break with my mother. Paris marked my second trip to Europe and one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. The sights, sounds, even smells of Paris were only a taste of what I knew Europe had to offer. The second event was an elective class I chose to take that very year on the French culture. The thought of studying abroad in Lyon, France was too good of an opportunity to pass.
Only there was a problem- my GPA was just below the requirements needed to study abroad. Suddenly my dreams of the Euro rail and museums quickly became inaccessible.
My mother has always called me stubborn- and with good reason. But for once I put that particular trait to work for me instead of against me. I refused to give up on my European dream and began brainstorming other ways to get in. The entire concept of studying abroad was struck from my list- I didn’t have enough time left in school to both bring my GPA to scratch and to study abroad. With only a year and a half to graduation- half of which would be spent on co-op- I knew I had run out of time.
I began to wonder that if studying abroad was an option at my university could working abroad also be one? It made sense. My university is best known for it’s co-operative education program that required students to work for six months and study for six months each year. Before I could even search the university’s website I simply knew that this was an opportunity that I would pursue.
It should come as no surprise that my university- so renowned for it’s co-operative education- did have a program for international co-operative positions. At the time of my inquiry- and during my placement- the program was still in its fledgling stage. To make matters worse for myself I also came to my revelation about working abroad several months too late. Most of the program’s participants had been vetted months before and were already in the process of interviews by March.
But as fate would have it a particular element of my resume stood out to a prospective employer and I was hired. I’ll let you in on a simple secret- it helps when you’ve worked for the company before.
The feeling of wonderment upon receiving the offer still is fresh in my memory as I reflect on that day. I recall distinctly the series of events, so perfect that they could’ve been fiction. I was interviewed by telephone in their downtown Boston office. To say I was nervous would be a tremendous understatement. I knew precisely what was at stake as I sat in the pristine waiting room while I half-watched the news on the television. When the interview concluded I made my way to the nearest bookstore and hesitantly drew a copy of Lonely Planet’s guide to London off the shelf in the travel section.
And I dared to dream.
Within an hour of the interview I was informed that I had been selected to join the team in London for the duration of my six month co-operative experience.
I honestly can’t remember selecting two more guides on London- one on the subject of moving there- or any of my classes from that day. But I remember nearly every last detail from my orientation with the international co-op department to the return flight out of Heathrow.
It’s fair to say that I entered the United Kingdom with a set of lofty expectations. And though I didn’t visit every city, museum or destination on my lengthy list I can confidently say that I was enamoured of every one I did get to see.
Simply living in London was the experience I treasured the most but amongst the others include some amazing trips and excursions that it would be my honour to share.
Here’s a little taste of my six months…
Abroad in London