A quick run-down of the past week exploring and getting the hang of London. Part 2 of 3.
As if I weren’t already a ball of nerves headed off to my internship site, I had another shock to the system when I woke up. The fire alarm yet again jolted me out of bed before my soothing alarm clock could lull me to waking.
Well, at least I knew I wouldn’t be late. Unless I got completely on the wrong line or transferred in the wrong direction, which could have actually happened, I suppose.
The area of the Immediate Media Co. building is in another area that is fairly residential, and the Hammersmith Tube that I stopped at was like a little supermarket for those in the surrounding area. After a friendly neighborhood police officer guided me in the right direction (bless his heart and/or knack for telling tourists apart), I made it to the building. Well, I actually passed it the first time and rounded back with seven minutes left to spare before my 10 a.m. appointment. The posh building on the corner of the intersection almost seemed out of place because of the residential neighborhoods directly behind it. The first thing I saw upon entering was a woman dressed in a tooth fairy costume gliding through the room. This was going to be fun, I thought.
I passed through the reception area straight to the third floor and just so happened to walk in with a group of women with their passes ready to gain entry through the secure door. At that point I should’ve known that I was to stop at the reception desk on the ground floor, but I went in anyway.
The newsroom took up the whole floor, the only publication to do so in that particular building. I was directed to the web department at the back of the room and was finally able to put a face to the names I had been reading up on in my weeks before arrival in London. Note to anyone coming into the newsroom in the future: people at the Radio Times are TALL. Maybe I’ll experience a late growth spurt by sheer association.
I said a quick hello to a few people around the office that I’ll be working with, including the editor in chief Ben Preston, who was working on deadline and rushing off to an appointment in Paris for the weekend. I met some of the web department writers, with whom I’ll be starting off with and then went down to the building’s café for coffee and a chat with Tim about my expectations and responsibilities.
I think this will be an interesting change of pace. The Radio Times is the third largest selling magazine around and circulates to more than 1 million readers. It’s 90 year history has seen its fair share of development and leaps into the digital age. I’ve been chosen for this placement because of my experience and my interset in arts and culture writing. I know I can do it, but there will be a lot to learn along the way.
The biggest challenge, as with this entire trip, will probably have to be adjusting to the culture. That goes for both the British entertainment culture, as well as the office culture in such a large yet European environment. Tim and I already discussed that coming in with little knowledge about what’s popular here will be a huge learning curve. But then again, there’s also the potential for bringing in an American perspective to look at things from a different vantage point. Plus, there’s plenty of Hollywood coverage going on here across the pond, and I’m much more savvy about that. I will have to get on that Doctor Who train soon, but then again there’s also Arrested Development that needs tending to.
In general, I feel so lucky to have gotten the placement I have. Several other MU students have interned with the magazine, so I have some pretty big shoes to fill. But if it’s one more opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture AND learn more about the journalism industry in various environments, I’ll jump at the chance to get myself a little more lost in this amazing city I’ve transported myself into.
One thing for sure that I have come to realize that I can count on is not only the support of my friends and family back home, but also of the great people I’ve gotten to know on this trip. Wednesday afternoon and evening were a testament to this.
A few eager Skype calls and a two-hour nap after my morning meeting, my flatmates and I went out for an evening stroll around South Bank. Since our arrival, it was really the first time I had gotten to explore more of our neighborhood without the constant reminder of having somewhere to be. We spent a good two hours roaming around the River Thames and taking the recognizable photos of the landmarks here. The sun was setting as we made our rounds across the river and snapped photos of the London Eye and Big Ben. We talked about how fortunate we were to be able to simply be in the moment with the city moving all around us.
By the time we got home, we weren’t ready to settle in for the night just yet. The five of us congregated around the dining room table for the first time all together since we had moved in. We talked about journalism woes, MU, childhoods, goals for the summer, internship excitement, Game of Thrones and everything else that you could think of that would fall under the category of “roommate bonding.” It was the first time we all truly started getting to know each other after the initial frenzy of settling in.
The dynamic of our flat seems almost too perfect. But really, in a city like London and the opportunities we’ve been given, so does everything else.