"London, baby!" - Joey Tribbiani, Friends.
A few days ago, I wrapped up my first week here with the School of Journalism's Summer in London program. It's hard to believe I've only been here for 10 days, because with all that has happened, I feel like I've been here for months!
We arrived Sunday the 11th and hit the ground running the next day with a bus tour featuring some of the city's most famous sites, including Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, London Bridge and Westminster Abbey. We drove through Piccadilly Circus (which is like the Times Square of London) and past the London Eye, the giant ferris wheel along the River Thames. And of course, we got to get out at one point and take plenty of pictures!
On Tuesday the 13th, we began our internships. Each of us works at a media-related organization three days per week. I'm working at a public relations agency called Bell Pottinger. There, I've been helping their consultants do research on what kind of media coverage their clients are getting and also helping one of their clients implement a big, newly-launched campaign. They have a vast group of clients from all kinds of business, whether it's insurance or real estate or technology - I'm still amazed at how many clients they serve!
Friday, we began our class, which is taught by a former ABC news correspondent. We were all fascinated as he told us of his journey covering the revolution in Libya during summer 2011 and all the dangers and excitement that came with it. We also heard from someone at Channel 4, a British public TV station, who talked to us about some of the differences in the ways British media and American media are regulated. We were amazed to hear how each country approaches news gathering differently, and we're really excited for the rest of the class!
During the weekend (which includes Mondays; how nice it is to have Mondays off!), we finally got a chance to do some sightseeing and exploring on our own. I saw everything from Buckingham Palace to a market in one of London's smaller boroughs to the massively gorgeous Hyde Park on a perfect Sunday afternoon. We ended our weekend Monday night with a trip to see the musical Billy Elliott! (I saw it one other time in New York, but it was just as impressive the second time around!) Here is a picture of the front gate of Buckingham Palace; I'll be going back soon to see the world-famous changing of the guard ceremony!
I'm still getting used to things, like some of the different words used in the United Kingdom (for example, "biscuit" here actually means "cookie"; our office has two biscuit jars in the kitchen that are restocked every day and hard to keep away from). But I can't get over how much this city has to offer. You have major tourist attractions, you have just as interesting off-the-beaten path sites. You have the feel of a big city, but take the tube (subway) a little further out and you have the feel of a smaller town. I can't wait to explore more of London over the next six and a half weeks!