We Have a Maid: London Update 2

I woke up Wednesday morning to a knock at the door. I was still sleeping, but one of my flatmates let her in. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t do well with maids. Not because they aren’t wonderful or that I’m afraid they’re going to steal something, but because I feel that my mess is my responsibility. When she started clearing the dishes we had used moments earlier for breakfast, I quickly told her if she needs anything out of the way, just tell us to move it or kick it. That’s when I discovered she was French and didn’t understand a thing I said. So she went on her merry way and took care of four 20-something girls.

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This was just one of the many experiences I’ve had in the last 10 days that are very different than what I’m used to.

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If I told you the transition to living in a different country an ocean away from home was easy, I’d be lying. Luckily for me, I’m surrounded by 26 other students in the exact same position.

Monday marked my first day working in London. At 9:55 a.m., I arrived at Lumiere London, my internship for the next three and a half months. What I walked into was NOT what I expected. Apparently, over the last month or so, the beautiful photography studio I was expecting was no longer the home of Lumiere London. Carlos (my adorable little photographer boss) and the rest of the companies he owns/works with, moved to a larger and better space. Unfortunately, the construction wasn’t really close to being finished.

I went in Monday expecting a short interview and schedule set up. That turned into working for seven hours with the office manager, Alessandro, and updating their entire website. When I told them I knew how to use WordPress, I realized too late that blog WordPress versus professional website WordPress are very different things. But thanks to the MU j-school’s “learn by doing” method, I figured it out.

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My second day at Lumiere London, I was told to bring clothes I could get dirty. I did. We spent the majority of the day organizing and cleaning the dust/dirt-filled studio space. Every surface was disgusting. And with no heat in the studio and 30º F outside, it made for a chilly day. But a good one. This was my first day to really get to know Carlos and Alessandro. We were able to goof off, talk about backgrounds, and work peacefully/jam out to my Spotify playlist. So an all-around solid day.

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On Wednesday, we had our first day of classes. We have two classes on Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m. and going until 7:30 p.m., one being an international journalism/media class and the other our internship seminar, both taught by Steve Rice. (If you’ve taken J2150 at MU, you’ve probably heard of him.)

Now, if I’m being completely honest (and this is my blog so of course I’m being completely honest), I was NOT looking forward to having Steve as our professor. But I have to tell you, Steve is really cool. And nice. And a good teacher. And loves his family. He’s like…a real person. WHATTT? Who knew?

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So we had our class introduction, etc. For the seminar, we just gave presentations on each of our first days of working in London. It was amazing to hear what kind of work my peers were already doing in their first two days. It really seems like CAPA (our program) knew what it was doing when they picked out these internships for us. Everyone is genuinely interested in their jobs and it’s clear they will be building great portfolios. My friend Sophia had already published a story in The Independent (kinda big deal) by the time class began.

On Thursday, we met Richard.

Richard is a hilarious little British man that teaches our British culture class. He is so funny and as obsessed with One Direction as I am. He even told us Harry Styles owns a house a mile away from our flat so if I end up home before April 29th, just know it probably had to do with stalking charges…

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Our afternoon with Richard was great and I must say, I really love my classes. We get to adventure through the city of London. With Steve, we’ll be going to BBC and The Guardian, etc. while Richard will be taking us to museums and curry restaurants (IN CLASS). I don’t know why I’m getting school credit for this stuff, but I’m cool with it.

Friday was great. It was my last day at my internship for the week, but as expected, I didn’t do much with fashion photography. Instead, I learned a bit more about the business aspect, then spent the afternoon painting the rafters with Carlos. I kind of loved it. I got to spend more time with my co-worker (kinda?) named Dan who is very British and sounds (in my opinion) a lot like Benedict Cumberbatch. He also has the perfect, stereotypically sarcastic sense of humor, which made the fact that he had to ask if I was being sarcastic at one point just that much better. (Yes. I was being sarcastic.)

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The week flew by. Everything is flying by. But I have be honest. This is unlike anything I ever imagined. And there have already been a few bumps along the way. If I were to tell you that homesickness didn’t consume me the first few days and that I didn’t cry in the shower everyday for the first week we were here, I’d be lying.

I didn’t intend to make this post serious, but it’s been a little rough over the past couple of weeks away from home. As a person that suffers from anxiety on a daily basis, being in a huge city with total strangers is hard. It wasn’t until five days in that I began to feel comfortable and transition into my temporary life in London.

However, now that I’ve made the transition, I feel good. Really good. The sights, the sounds, the smell (meh…maybe not the smells), the life all make this experience so unique. I have 99 days left before I make the long journey home, and I intend to spend every minute of it exploring and educating myself on what the world has to offer.

(PS: I totally went poop in the Stonehenge bathroom.)

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London is so diverting

Well. I’ve moved to London (temporarily). For the next three and a three-quarter months, I’ll be living in Camden Town, London. If you’re anything like me, you imagine everything to look like it does in Mary Poppins and Big Ben to be visible from every borough. Boy was I wrong.

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We’ve only been here about four days, which is not nearly enough time to explore the whole city. I’ve seen the major sites via bus tour and took a walk through the original, one square mile of London that houses Parliament and Benny, but everything is already so different than I imagined.

Beginning with the people, I definitely underestimated how diverse this city truly was. I knew the statistics, but until you are actually walking around London, the fact that there are over 300 registered languages spoken daily and that white British are a minority didn’t sink in.

Our flat in Camden is extremely modern, not at all like the hotel Amanda Bynes starts at in What A Girl Wants. We have a lovely view of the street below and some office building across the way. But the unique thing about Camden is its colorful variety of people and shops. The Camden Markets are one of the most renowned and popular attractions in London. The streets are filled with shops and salespeople. You can find anything from London souvenirs to Doc Martins (the current fashion trend of the city). Pubs and bars also fill every street corner here. The night life is booming and there seems to be no lack of entertainment. I unfortunately haven’t found a go-to coffee shop yet, but it’s only the first week (and nothing can ever take the place of Kaldi’s in my heart).

Our group of 26 (or 27…I don’t remember) is really great. The majority are strat comm, meaning I know very few people here. It’s definitely put me outside my comfort zone to be in a new city on a different country without any of my closest friends or family. That’s been the hardest part thus far is accepting that I won’t see any of them for nearly four months. I think the first few weeks is the worst for homesickness. Though the city offers countless distractions, I find myself thinking of home in my downtime.

However, I begin my internship tomorrow with fashion photographer Carlos Lumière and I could not be more excited (OR NERVOUS). I know very little of fashion, but I look forward to working with Carlos and learning the ends and outs of running a successful photography business (I’m assuming he’s successful because he splits his time between London, New York, Paris and Monaco…).

I just did a trial run so I could figure out where the heck his studio was and let me tell you something. Having no GPS on my phone was terrible. I didn’t even know which direction was north. You exit the tube and you’re suddenly in a street with no idea which way is up. BUT. After walking five minutes the opposite direction, I managed to get my bearings thanks to the London Eye and eventually found my way.

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I have a huge adventure ahead of me, that I know for sure. New friends, new places, new experiences, etc. I can’t wait to finally get in the swing of things and stop feeling like a small child as I ride the metro in silence. This city is beautiful, the people have been kind, and I can already tell that this life-changing experience will leave a long-lasting impression on my life.

Look out for more blog posts to come. If I get obnoxious on social media, I understand if you choose to unfollow me. Also, feel free to send words of encouragement or just updates on life back in “the States.” (That sounds so pretentious. I’m sorry.)

Peace n Blessins,

Ellise