(Picture above is the shelf next to my desk in the office- my own little library!)
I have officially finished my first two weeks of work in London! When I first got to England, I didn’t really have the “culture shock” that I was warned about so many times before arriving here. While it is different here, there are many aspects that make it compatible to the US. Working, however, has been a HUGE culture shock. It may be the fact that I am on my own in my new company, without my Bennies and Johnnies at my side, which makes this experience so scary. I am definitely learning a lot about independence.
I am working at an Event Organisation (spelt with an s, not a z in England) called Action Challenge. Action Challenge takes individuals, groups, charities, and corporate clients on adventures throughout the globe. Their most popular treks include Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Everest Base Camp, Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Sahara trek, and The Great Wall of China. Go to actionchallenge.com if you want to read more. This company is amazing and my work is really never boring. I have never learned so much geography in my life!
If you know me at all, I think you would be shocked to find out I work here. Yes, I’m in event planning so it makes sense, but Action Challenge is all about “getting back to nature” and “challenging yourself by trekking and cycling through the wilderness.” Even their motto is, “Of all the paths you choose in life, make sure some are dirt.” Okay, that’s a great slogan… too bad I’m Cassie and hate being outdoors (unless it’s near a body of water and hot out). Needless to say, I was extremely nervous when I found out my work placement. I truly thought these people would hate me! I don’t like hiking (or exercise for that matter) and I don’t even like camping. If I had my choice, I would take the scenic views on a train and a hotel! My coworkers were in for a big surprise, and I was afraid they wouldn’t like the fact I wasn’t a nature girl. Turns out, my lack of experience doesn’t affect my work! My main job is planning extensions AFTER a group’s trek! I plan 3-5 day itineraries of what people can experience after their journey in the country they are in. I basically get to plan vacations and I LOVE IT. Every trip I plan I want to go on. So far, I have planned extensions in Canada, Peru, Morocco, and China. I’m beginning to change y opinion on the outdoors, too. While I may not have the desire to climb Mount Everest, I would love to trek the Inca trail after learning so much about it. This job has really opened my eyes to trying new things.
My office is such a fun work environment. Most, if not all, of my coworkers have been on multiple treks the company offers. They all have so many stories. I love working with them. The culture barrier is definitely there though. A lot of times I have a hard time understand them! They all speak so fast and with THICK British accents. I didn’t even know it was possible to not understand. They also use some funny slang I’m catching on to.
- Daft- I knew this one, but they use it 100 times a day
- “Ring up on the teli”- call on the phone, another obvious one but it still makes me laugh every time.
- “Uni”- University. When I say I’m in school it means elementary school. You have to say College or University, unless you want to really confuse someone about your age…
- “Kind Regards”- the end of every email is signed: Kind Regards. I feel like an imposter signing my emails that way, so I sign mine “Thanks so much,” which when you think about it, isn’t pretty sounding at all.
- Pop machine- I asked where it was yesterday and they didn’t know what I was talking about. I don’t even know the equivalent here…
The office, itself, is set up pretty differently than at home. There are 16 of us in one little room and there are no cubicles. Everyone’s desks face eachother! There really is no hierarchy distinction either. The founder/owner sits and works in the same room as the intern. I can’t decide if I like this or not. The environment is really laid back and relaxed. Everyone is always talking and laughing with eachother. One of the funnier things they do is “tea time.” I should really count sometime, but about 10 times a day one of my co-workers will get up with a tray and collect everyone’s mugs for tea. I knew British people really loved their tea, but I really had no idea to what extent.
I have 2 “Cassie stories” so far. I’m hoping that’ll be the end of it.
- This past week we had 3 important clients come in to have a meeting with my coworker. As he shuffled them into the meeting room he asked me to make 3 coffees. FINALLY. Something I could do without needing help. FALSE. There are no coffee makers here. That would be too easy. The coffee maker here is a giant expresso machine with levers, compartments, and buttons. I stood there starring at it when my co-worker, Cat, asked if I needed help. “No.. no I’ve totally got this.” Who doesn’t know how to make coffee… I had to fake it. Best part about this situation is that the coffeee maker is conveniently placed in the center of the room. I kept starring at it. I didn’t even know where to start. Water. Water’s a good start. I go get some. As I pour it into one of the random compartments, water went everywhere. All over the machine. All over the floor. All over me. Cat stood up and laughed, offering to help me out. As she explained to me how to work that stupid machine, she asked me what I used at home. Explaining the Keurig blew her mind. So… now i’m the intern that didn’t know how to make coffee- my one stereotypical job.
- My boss came to my desk yesterday and gave me a new project to start on, given I “should know a lot about it because I live so close and must holiday there!” I was so honored she trusted me with such a big project! I had hoped I had gone to wherever this Trek was with my family to offer up some personal experience. After all, when she asked about my travel experience, I didn’t offer up hikes and cycling treks through mountains and terrain. Finally, I could offer some insight! That’s when she laid down the packet on Cuba. Great. “Have you been?” she asked hopefully? UMM NO. “No, I’m actually aren’t allowed to visit Cuba.” She was silent for a minute and then started laughing, “You’re funny.” “No,” I had to explain, “I’m seriously not allowed there.” I had to then give her the explanation on how Americans can’t get into Cuba. She couldn’t believe it! She kept asking me all these questions… well don’t you know this place? Or this city? What about this landmark? Or this beach? NO. I knew nothing. So, yesterday, I learned all about Cuba and planned a travel itinerary for a place I’m allowed in.
My first 2 weeks have been a lot of fun. Ive learned more about British culture in the past couple of weeks than I have my entire time here, and I love it. I cannot wait to see what else I learn here!