This summer I had the opportunity to do something that I'd dreamed of since I was a kid, watching movies like “The Parent Trap” (the Lindsey Lohan version, of course) and reading every single Harry Potter book. I got to travel to London. This wonderful place where I don’t need sunscreen to go to the grocery store and there isn't a single cowboy boot in sight (disclaimer, I am a natural born Texan.) Not only did I travel here, but I have been living here for the past 8 weeks. The first 4 weeks were spent in a classroom at King’s College in Waterloo. The last 4 weeks have been spent on Great Portland Street, on an internship with Knomo.
Coming ‘across the pond’, as they say, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. This was the first time I had been to Europe let alone outside the United States. My journey came to a slow start when I sat on the tarmac at DFW airport for an hour. Despite this, the excitement was building. I would soon be flying across the world! I finally made my way to Charlotte, North Carolina to catch my connecting flight to Heathrow for the longest flight of my life - honestly, you’d think that a middle-aged man would know that you shouldn’t kick the back of someone’s seat. Upon arrival, I didn’t expect that I would have language barrier issues like many of my peers studying abroad in other countries, that is, until I got to border control and I had to ask the poor guy to repeat himself four times.
Luckily, as time wore on it became easier to understand others. When calling my friends back home they would make fun of me for picking up on local terminology like “taking the lift” or “jumper.” I was the most excited when I mastered 'the Tube', which is 100x more efficient than the public transportation system back home. (Dallas - take notes!) Although it is really easy to get from place to place that didn’t mean I didn’t get lost. For example, the day of my interview with Knomo I got off at the wrong stop, which ultimately resulted in me sprinting down the forever crowded Oxford Street in my heels. I may or may not have fallen on a tourist and ripped my trousers.
With other students in my program, I got to see so many places that I'd previously only seen in my history textbooks - from Stonehenge to Buckingham Palace. During the week, I was writing papers and finishing group projects. However, the second that the weekend would come around I would be at a new museum or some unexplored part of the city, camera proudly in hand, soaking up as much of the history and culture as I could. By week 3, I had yet to take advantage of how close I was to other neighbouring countries. So, I booked a train for the next weekend to go to Paris. By myself. By the way, I don’t speak a word of French. That night I arrived after 22:00 and was surprised to find that the sun hadn’t set. The next morning, I got up bright and early. I queued up for hours at a time behind hundreds of other tourists at the legendary spots. I had the most amazing gelato in my entire life at a place called Berthillon. I even got to meet the friend of a friend who showed me her favourite spots in the city, before returning to London.
Before I knew it, I had finished my class and was half way through my time in London and I was getting ready to start my first day of work.
Of course, I had been preparing. I had been told that it may take a while for people to warm up to the new girl or that their British 'humour' is a lot drier than American 'humor'. Everyone knows that the first day is the most nerve-racking. Fortunately, I didn’t have much time to worry because my first day was the same as the AW17 campaign photoshoot, so after quick introductions and a tour around Studio 83, I was running suitcases full of bags and fancy steaming machines from one location to another. I even had to help one of the models hold up his pants (trousers) using my bobby pin as a make shift belt. When I returned to my flat for the night and exchanged stories with my roommate about our day I began to realise how lucky I was to be placed at Knomo.
A few weeks later, I commenced on my second mini-journey. This time to Amsterdam with my very own Elektronista clutch, which made getting through border control so much simpler. I didn’t have to dig through a dis-organised backpack filled to the brim to find my passport and other items. As my friends studies Art History, our first stop was the Van Gogh museum, where I learned about artistic rivalries, insane asylums and romantic drama. You know, the good stuff.
My last few weeks at Knomo have now flown by and I have had the opportunity to do and learn so much about what it is like to work for a growing, international brand. At times, it's been insane, but I have met so many amazing people along the way. As a result, I've had one of the most enriching experiences of my life. In the end, I have five lessons I learned that helped me #LiveFree:
1) Put your phone away: Not having data for two months has shown me how much you miss when you live on a screen. We live in a world where people stand in line for two hours to take a selfie with the Mona Lisa rather than appreciate it.
2) Don’t be afraid to get lost: Sometimes it’s when you’re lost that you make the best discoveries. Ask Columbus.
3) It’s okay to do some things by yourself: you learn a lot about yourself. Also, it’s the one time you can be truly selfish.
4) Always look for the bright side, it’ll keep you sane: Sure, one of my trains was delayed by three hours, but I am now getting a refund!
5) First impressions are almost always wrong: Whether it’s that weird looking food or that person you had a bad interaction with, there’s usually more to the story.
This has been the most amazing experience and I am so sad to be leaving this wonderful city, but it’s time for the next adventure.