“Eine Mahs Bier, Bitte”

Going

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Highlight of my London week was definitely my night at the theatre on Monday. I saw Disco Pigs, a dark comedy featuring Evanna Lynch, who you may know as Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. It was my second time at Trafalgar studios and I was riveted once again. Their blackbox-style theatre puts you within ten feet of the two actors, who spend the whole 170-minute performance onstage — no set changes, no costume changes, no intermission. It’s a really intimate experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then came another weekend away! On Saturday I jetted off to Germany, where after almost 13 hours of trains, planes, and automobiles, I arrived in the quaint town of Forchheim. It was absolutely charming.

My mother’s dear friend Kathrin was born and raised here, and still spends a few weeks every summer at home since moving to the U.S. She was so incredibly kind as to host me and share with me the tradition she’s participated in since a child — the annual Annafest!IMG_9958

They dressed me up like a local and we were off to drink mahs, giant liter-sized beers served in the traditional jugs, from a few of the 27 total pop-up bars or “kellers” (cellars) that appear for the festival. They also had a parade of young girls who were crowned Queen of different traditions – Beer Queen, Kraut Queen, you name it. The coveted spot is won by knowing the most trivia on the history, varieties and most importantly, how they are made. This was likened by Kathrin to the Miss America pageant in prestige and career prospect. I only wish our pageants back home could involve beer-drinking… I might even have a chance then!

Sad to leave but excited for my next destination, I bid farewell to my new friends on Sunday morning and hopped a train to Nuremberg.

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On my way to Germanische National Museum, I stumbled upon this adorable eco-friendly goods market in St. Mark’s Square. Wandering there was a great way to learn about what kind of goods and foods are popular with the Germans, outside of what is offered to tourists.

This detour cut into my itinerary a bit, but I still found time to explore the art and scientific instruments at Germanische’s National Museum. What I most wanted to see was the world’s oldest surviving globe, created by Martin Behaim in 1492 — before worldwide knowledge of the Americas. To my dismay, it was out for restoration until November 2017, but I got to see the box it occupies. Close enough…

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Luckily the museum’s main attraction is a pretty permanent one. The Way of Human Rights lines the museum entrance with giant pillars listing the articles of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights in multiple languages. This monument was created in 1993 to embody Nuremberg’s commitment to champion international justice and equality in the modern era.

My exploration of he city’s history continued at Doku-Zentrum, a museum established on the former Nazi Party Rally grounds. Its various rooms go into detail on the psychological strategy of Hitler and the Nazi party to create a cult-like sense of community and power in their movement, which these Rallies and structures played a large role in at the party’s peak. They also brought great pride to the city of Nuremberg, which was honored with the title Reichsparteitagsgelände and grew to an unprecedented prestige. After all the grandeur and brainwashing faded, the city was redefined as a world leader in human rights when the Nuremberg trials yielded the first ever conviction of political figures for international crimes. It was a surreal experience.

 

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On a lighter note, I had friends from Atlanta visit me on Friday as they stopped into London during study abroad — I delighted in showing them some of my favorite areas, like the local I am – or wish I was!

Ordering

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Duck burger with crunchy ramen noodles (?), pickled cabbage, duck bacon, and wasabi mayo. Amazing.

 

London treated me well this week. I had to stop by the wildly popular Duck & Waffle, which sells almost exclusively — you guessed it — duck and waffles.

 

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Chicken and waffle burger at Bird – very American.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Carissa and I had a little taste of home at Bird, which does fried chicken arguably as well as we do in the south. It didn’t hurt that they put bacon and American cheese on there too.

 

And of course, I had to have me some traditional German food over the weekend – I went for a Saurkraut stew with assorted sausages mixed in. Delish.

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Working

Last week I visited FleishmanHillard Fishburn for a few days and tried my hand at some PR research. It was simultaneously a lot harder and a lot less advanced than I thought it would be — basically, a lot of elbow grease. I think that may be the first time I’ve ever gone past the second page of Google search results….

Still, very educational stuff. It will be interesting when I actually get to take classes on this kind of thing in the next year of school, having already experienced it, and I wonder if it will differ then!

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More شباك

Going

I was able to attend even more Shubbak festival events this week, and in turn got the chance to explore new parts of the city.

On Friday I happened to get off work at lunchtime, so I headed over to Shepherd’s Bush Market where Shubbak hosted a transplant of the Nehna Wel Amar Wel Jiran (We, the Moon, and Neighbors) Festival, a week-long arts and culture celebration held annually in Beirut by Collectif Kahraba. Throughout the market, you could stop and hear Arabic folk stories, watch a collection of short films in the pop-up cinema, experience immersive visual/audio art installations from Muslim women by Variant Space, and learn about Sudanese food and its cultural significance.

Through their tour of Shepherd’s Bush Market, I got to learn about the deep-rooted Arabic immigrant culture that has flourished in the area since the beginning of the 20th century — not without challenges. We were shown traditional dances, an incense ritual to ward off the evil eye, and even got to taste some special traditional Eritrean coffee, which they make with ginger.

Saturday I attended a literary discussion at the British Museum entitled “A New Confidence,” with 3 Arabic LGBTQ authors who shared their thoughts on what defines gay literature, where these two roads to liberation intersect, and the linguistic challenges of communicating not only across the Arab world with all its dialects, but also to the West as they share their stories. One of my greatest takeaways was the discussion surrounding فصحى, the formal version of Arabic. While it serves as the best tool for communicating across Arab dialects, I never realized its societal implications as only those with access to good education are able to understand it. And what I never knew is that the vernacular actually often lacks the vocabulary to speak about abstract and complex topics such as the complex emotions involved in LGBTQ struggles.

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After this talk I headed into the British Museum, where they had a special Pride exhibition going on about the gay rights struggle in the UK.

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The quote below: “The law’s function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others… It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.” – The Wolfenden Report, which lead to the decriminalization of homosexual acts in 1957

The library also houses (in a no-pictures zone) some really amazing original documents from people like DaVinci, Mozart, Chopin, Shakespeare, The Beatles, and even the actual freaking Magna Carta.

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It was so amazing to meet everyone at the Shubbak Festival, whether participant or staff member or visiting artist. There were a few other Arabic-learners like me, and their eagerness to be involved was infectious. One older Italian woman just couldn’t hold in her delight at our Eritrean cafe experience — “I’m just obsessed with this culture!” She explained.

The girls from Variant Space warmed my heart. Nasreen and Zeinab were just around my age, and they reminded me so much of the company I keep back home. Their art collective provides a space for Muslim girls to express themselves, whether that be through illustration, photography, poetry, or memes. I spent the longest in their installation and we connected on social media so I can keep up with their projects, and I can’t wait to see what they do with their immense bravery and motivation.

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This week I set out to find some decent British cuisine, as everything I’ve had so far has left a pretty bad impression. I hit the jackpot at Mother Mash in Soho. For £9.95, you pick your mash, your banger or pie, and your gravy from their lists and get your customized dish. It was just AMAZING and the most filling meal I’ve had for under £10 since I’ve been here.

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Of course I also had to take advantage of the Shepherd’s Bush Market, and let me tell you — I’ve been hyping up Camden Market for too long. There is plenty of African and Middle Eastern food for a much lower price, and likely more authentic, at Shepherd’s Bush. I’ve never eaten Nepalese food before, so I went for these bite-sized dumplings called “momos” — at £3.50 for 8 they had me pretty happy.

Working

The Dunkirk premiere was a huge event for us at work this week, and with deadlines for marketing materials on our big project Inhumans, we were pretty busy! I have been working pretty independently as my supervisors have a plate full and then some, so it was nice to be commended on my initiative by my boss on Thursday. He mentioned a project last week and sent over some background documents, but hadn’t gotten around to briefing me, so I just started doing what I could. Hopefully he likes what I’ve done when we review it on Monday.

Insights

I think I definitely have a lot more exploring to do, and my outbound flight is just creeping up on me. While I haven’t made many consistent friendships here, I am amazed daily by the people I meet and the diversity of everything I encounter.

It’s hard to know — Is this place just special, or is it just different, to me who has never spent more than a few days outside of my country? I have a tendency to think the former, but then I am inspired to go find out for myself. Either way, it is beautiful.

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Bon Appetit!

Going

We’re in London, but of course we couldn’t forget the 4th of July! Luke, Carissa, and I bought tickets to an Independence Day Pub Crawl and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint in spirit. I’d say it was about 80% Americans studying abroad or vacationing, and 20% slightly confused Europeans. We even met one guy who ended up there on accident when he came to drop something off to his friend who worked for the pub crawl. He didn’t know what Georgia was and I think our explanation confused him even more.

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We made some great friends here, American and non-American. It was great to see the mixture of awe and annoyance by people on the streets as we paraded from bar to bar, bearing flags and capes and the occasional US-themed footie pajamas. Even better were the reactions of those already drinking in the bars we visited, who either huffily migrated to a dark corner or bubbled with curiosity. All in all, it was a night of doing what Americans do best: being obnoxiously and unapologetically American.

 

The weekend I spent in the lovely city of Venice with my cousin Meghan, who has been spending her summer au pairing and traveling around Italy. It was absolutely beautiful there, even at a sweltering 87 degrees.

Among the may tourist spots we crammed into our two days, my favorite by far was the Museo Correr. While it’s located in the famous St. Mark’s Square across from the Basilica, it was very quiet and under-attended, in my opinion. It is part preserved royal palace, part Venetian history museum, part modern art museum. I loved these juxtapositions and the pure expanse of the museum, and it was one of those places you end up spending several hours in on accident.

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Meghan and I managed to fulfill our goal of taking the €80 gondola ride by hanging out around the pricing sign and asking a group of three friends, who looked just as hesitant as we, if they’d like to share. This was how we ended up in a tiny boat for 40 minutes with Lina, Maria, and Alessandro. They were Colombian, Spanish, and Italian respectively, but all met as immigrants in New York City, and were in Venice simply for a holiday. Maria told me that she went to New York for a three-month travel adventure, but ended up falling in love with it and never wanting to leave. Needless to say, I could relate to her story.

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Our gondola boy, Amadio, said the work has been in his family for three generations and the boat that he uses is the same once used by his grandfather. There’s actually a four-year school for gondola boys, which sounds excessive until you realize they have to learn two new languages and all of the Venetian history to be able to talk with the tourists. I was glad to know that though it may be a little clichéd by visitors, to Venetians this is still an important and sacred cultural tradition.

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For once, I have too much to talk about on this one! I’ll just hit you with the highlights. I came to Venice prepared to spend more money than on any of my other trips, where I’ve been thrifty with my dining. Italy is a place of extravagance, at least with cheese, and I intended to experience that fully.

My favorite thing that I ate in Venice came from Ristorante Santo Stefano; Tagliatelle e frutti de mar a.k.a. flat noodles with mussels, squid, and full shrimps (a little scary at first, all those legs!) See below for evidence of the elbow grease that was required for this dish — the harder the work, the greater the payoff I say.

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Another notable one was polenta e gambaretto: Italian shrimp and grits, which I felt obligated to order as a southern belle. The pile you see on the side is the shrimp topped with a ton of caramelized onions, and the polenta was smooth and creamy rather than, well, gritty.  This came from my favorite restaurant we ate at, Ristorante Casa Bonita, which I found via online recommendations. It was one of the only canalside restaurants we found with a decent price range, and it was delicious! Didn’t mind the free glass of prosecco either.

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Working

Work this week has been fairly quiet for me, just working on a lot of over-arching projects that rely on information trickling in by e-mail. Next week, though, I’ll be spending some time at IMAX’s brand PR firm, Fleishman-Hillard (as opposed to the social PR and film/project PR firms I already worked with.) I’m really excited about this because they are one of the largest PR offices back in Atlanta, and a coveted internship among the GSU Public Relations Student Society, where I’m an executive committee member. I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of work they do and bringing that knowledge back to my organization and future internships at home.

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I’m really learning how to think on my feet, and make things work even when it’s all going wrong. I mean, typically I’m the person who gives up on my plans when it starts to go now how I expected — but after my Netherlands flight fiasco, and this weekend’s flight delays causing me to arrive into Venice at 2 AM after all public transport was meant to close, I’ve kind of had to go with the flow a little more. I actually think the struggle I have had traveling to these places has made it all that more enjoyable and surreal when I actually do get to experience them.

TLDR; Did Stuff

Everything I did intertwined this week, so I’m gonna throw my sections out in a different order…

Working

This week I did a three-day work experience placement with Premier, IMAX’s PR firm. They are more editorial-focused than Way To Blue from last week, and I really enjoyed working with their team (I didn’t mind the bring-your-dog-to-work policy either.) For the first two days, I worked with the Brands team compiling news coverage of IMAX Inhumans to date as well as researching possible publications to contact with upcoming press releases. On Friday, I was paired up with the Social team to work on-site at an event called the O2 Silver Clef Awards, the biggest annual fundraiser for Premier’s client Nordoff Robbins. Nordoff Robbins is the largest music therapy organization in the UK, training therapists and administering therapy in four centers across the country.

Now, anyone who knows me can probably guess that this assignment was basically a dream come true for me! Music is one of my greatest joys and interests, so it was absolutely amazing to see the impact of this organization and witness the real charity and participation of some of the greatest names in music. My duty — handling and monitoring the Facebook Live Stream of the Blue Carpet arrivals — meant I was up close and personal with the celebrities that were attending to present and receive awards. Some of the attendees included Nile Rodgers, Phil Collins, Blondie, Eric Clapton, and Dame Shirley Bassey.

 

Going

At the end of the Nordoff Robbins event, the whole staff and all attendees were offered free tickets to Phil Collins’ performance at the British Summer Time festival that night, and of course I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him live. I headed over to Hyde Park around 8 PM and was surprised to be turned away from general admission because I was actually in the VIP Summer Gardens….. I mean, duh. They had the cutest little beanbag area and private crowd entrance for us!

 

Though he couldn’t stand at all due to back surgeries, Phil put on a great show, and I got to hear all the 80’s bops — Can’t Hurry Love, Feel It Coming, Sussudio, Physical Touch.

On Saturday I headed to another show, this time at the Barbican. They are kicking off their Shubbak festival, a celebration of contemporary Arab culture which invites people of all backgrounds to come, learn, and enjoy. I was drawn to this concert because of the Arabic classes I’ve taken at GSU, excited at the chance to see some contemporary musical acts: Tania Saleh, a popular Lebanese jazz-pop singer, and Cairokee, an Egyptian rock/rap group. Both acts incorporate traditional Arabic elements into their music and sing entirely in Arabic, focusing primarily on politically messaged material. My favorite part of these performances, though, was watching the crowd’s enthusiasm at having a dearly loved part of their native culture visiting in London, singing along with the songs and streaming into the aisles to dance, facetiming and facebook live-ing the concert to share with family and friends who couldn’t be there.

 

Even more poignant, though, were statements made by both performers that one member of each of their bands could not perform with them due to failure to obtain a Visa. Both acts chose to perform without their member, leaving a striking feeling of loss and unresolved tension that transcended the musical context.

On Sunday, I took the opportunity to visit the Barbican again and see their Conservatory – the second largest in London, it is open only on Sundays and bank holidays. The best part? Free!

Last but not least on my activities was the Museum of London, where I saw London history from the Paleolithic ages, all the way up to civil rights and cultural movements that are still happening today. It was pretty interesting to see the similarities and contrasts between England and the US — the different events that have shaped our current states, and our respective reactions to similar events like suffrage, slavery and World Wars.

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I really enjoyed the social atmosphere of Premier where I worked this week. There just happened to be two office birthdays on Wednesday and Thursday, so the cake-and-bubbly events surely provided me time to get to know my coworkers. I made some good personal/professional connections that I hope to nurture should I ever want to return to London!

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My street food winner of the week: Kolkati in Camden Market — a spicy Indian chicken/veg mix wrapped in an egg-fried flatbread.

I also decided to try the renowned Cereal Killer Cafe on Sunday morning. I absolutely loved the retro decorations — they even had twin beds set up as their ‘booth seating’ — the cereal wasn’t bad either (I ordered a mix of Toffee Crunch, Lion Cereal, and Rice Krispies with soymilk and strawberries on top). No, my qualms came from the fact that I waited over 40 minutes for my bowl of cereal. I mean, seriously, I know it was busy, but this is literally the easiest culinary task you could undertake. I had half a mind to walk into the kitchen and make it myself.

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Finally, a Sunday night blog-work sesh brought Luke and I to Gastronomica in Pimlico, a chilled-out cafe with an unbelievable Tiramisu! I paired with a “Caffe Shakerato,” which I think is just fancy Italian for ‘we put room temperature Espresso with ice and shook it up.’ It was served in a wine glass with a straw, though, so well worth the £3.

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iNsights

Take advantage of free things, but also, treat yo’self. Actually, now that I think about it, the more you do the first, the more you can usually do the latter.

I’m seeking out further opportunity to engage with other cultures in their own comfort zones. I felt so blessed to be included in the congregation and celebration, against all odds, of the London Arabic community at the Barbican. I didn’t understand most of what was said, and I didn’t even really speak to anyone there beyond a few words, but I was welcomed by the range of emotion that they openly shared in those few hours. That was my language. I hope to be able to attend further Shubbak events in the coming weeks; this week has even had me wondering what non-academic ways I can find at home to continue my study of the Arabic language. Sometimes I really resent the clash of personal and professional endeavors when it comes to the variety of my education.

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It’s been an eventful week!

Going

This weekend I pushed my boundaries and came away with an experience unlike any other. Months ago when I first accepted my job offer from IMAX, I realized that my favorite band Fleet Foxes would be touring Europe during my time here. Immediately I knew I had to transplant one of my most loved experiences — live music and festivals — into my European adventure. I set my sights on Down The Rabbit Hole, a 3-day festival at Vakantiepark De Groene Heuvels out in a country town called Ewijk in the Netherlands. A few weeks ago, it all fell into place when I found a group of Dutch girls who were looking for another to join their groepsticket (a discounted ticket for larger groups) and kindly offered me a bed in one of their tents!

Things started to go wrong, though, right from the outset. I missed my bus to the airport, meaning that I arrived after security’s closing at 11:30 PM, so I had to sleep on the floor of the departures lobby. When I woke at 3 to try again for my 6 AM flight, imagine my surprise when the security guard informed me that my boarding pass was for July 7th! I had to wallow in confusion until 4 am when customer service opened, only to be greeted by a small Spanish man who couldn’t care less about how many times I checked my flight or when I needed to be in Amsterdam (although I watched enough people yell at him before me to wince in sympathy). The next flight I could get, he said, was Saturday at 2 PM.

A few frantic parent-calls later, I knew what I had to do. Determined not to let my dream die, I bought the next Eurostar train ticket to Brussels and hightailed it to St. Pancras Int’l. Lo and behold, this train was delayed for 79 minutes — but 5 trains and a lot of Dutch-deciphering later, I was approaching a friendly-looking group of girls to ask “Is one of you Lisa?”

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She was, and we all got along instantly. I sometimes had to remind them of my presence when they got to shooting streams of Dutch around our circle, but sometimes it was funny to just sit back and watch their expressions and gestures — stranger in a strange land. They translated menus for me, I reminded them of English words that slipped their mind, and we all sang together to Cage The Elephant, Milky Chance, De La Soul, and more (“No one listens to Dutch music. Dutch words are too long and ugly to sound good in a song,” they told me). I was immersed in a culture that existed entirely separately from catering to my tourism or Americanism, and it was pretty cool. Although no matter how often someone came up to ask a question or compliment me in Dutch, they always happily repeated themselves in English when I explained my ineptitude.

In the end, all 6 of us promised to stay in touch and give a heads up if we ever visit each other’s continents again. I like to think that if the powers of Facebook brought us together so clandestinely, our blue moon could come around again.

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Festival food is expensive, delicious, expensive, and easily forgotten. Truthfully, it’s only fuel for more important activities.

I did, however, get the chance to try some Dutch foods that my friends brought along. Muntendrop is a very…. acquired-taste unsweetened licorice that they found great joy in offering me knowing the face all Americans make at first taste. Everyone was very excited about pompoensoep (pumpkin soup) but I was okay with just my taste-test. They found my peanut butter and jelly hilarious and shocking, telling me they thought the “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” song was a joke for their whole lives until this moment.

Working

Before my Dutch adventure, I spent the week working with IMAX’s PR/Social management company, WayToBlue. As everyone in my office was away at a conference for the week, they thought it would be a good opportunity for me to see some of the behind the scenes.

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I really enjoyed my time with WayToBlue and was a little sad that my week there was cut short by my pre-planned vacation. It’s a company dominated by young creatives, where projects based around analyzing social media are intermitted by brainstorming sessions for visual campaigns and real-life PR stunts. My favorite task was copywriting, which sounds legally involved but actually just means writing possible social media captions to fit the mood and audience of different products (in my case, movies like Baby Driver and Spider-Man: Homecoming). At first, it was a little scary to send over my writing or to speak up in brainstorming sessions, which I’d never really experienced before. But by Thursday my coworkers were congratulating me on my contributions and I felt really successful in my week spent there.

iNsights

I feel like I learned a lot about myself this week. Mainly, being confident in what I want and the way I see things is vital to getting the results that I want. Sometimes this lack of confidence doesn’t arise from insecurity but simply indecision — I think experiences like the ones I had this week are continually providing context for my goals and what makes me happy.

Also, I’m just incredibly thankful for my parents who are so supportive of me in everything I do even from an ocean away. While I’ve been running around experiencing different things and haven’t had as much time to have an full-on conversation every day like I normally do, every time we talk I walk away feeling more grounded and clear-headed. I can’t help but think that this is the first real glimpse of adult life we’ve had from both our perspectives, as college at GSU has only put me 40 minutes away and allowed me to easily reach out for help when I need it. I’m appreciating that proximity from across the pond.

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Hotlanta->Hotlondon

Going

On Monday, I got the chance to have my first experience at the Barbican because a friend of mine had two free tickets. We saw Jeff Mills, a techno DJ and composer, perform his piece “Planets” with the Britten Sinfonia — it takes you on a musical interpretation of a journey through the solar system, each planet and the miles between and even what might lay beyond. Mills was one of the founders of Afro-Techno movement out of Detroit in the 80s/90s, and this concert was a part of a series he did at the Barbican as part of an exhibition chronicling the rise of sci-fi and techno and their mutual contributions. I’ve never really experienced any kind of modern orchestral performance in this way, and I found the medley of traditional and electronic to be really beautiful and exciting. Even the lights were perfectly orchestrated. I’ve now got my own Young Barbican’s membership which allows me to get discounted tickets to future shows like this!

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This weekend I went for a picnic in Hampstead Heath, my new favorite hangout, with some of the usual suspects. We really enjoyed the sunburns and heat stroke for most of the day, but eventually decided to head to Westfield Mall, which is apparently one of the largest shopping centers in Europe. We came away with basically nothing but mall pretzels. I’d say it was a success.

Seriously though, it’s been ridiculously hot these past few days (85+) and riding the train is almost downright impossible, as is staying in my stuffy, no-fan, no-AC flat for more than 20 minutes at a time. I’m glad it’s sunny, but I seriously need to consider buying a table fan or something…

Tonight I headed to the Transformers *global* premiere with Luke! It was definitely the most bona-fide, celebs-walking-carpet premiere I’ve been to so far… I still didn’t get to meet Jerrod Carmichael though, which was my one goal of the night. Turns out the bigger the premiere is, the smaller my invite is in the grand scheme of things. It was pretty dang awesome to be able to experience something like this though! We even got to walk in on the carpet like the VIP we are.

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The most memorable people I met this week were a group of Italians that I hung out with on Friday night throughout a couple of drinks. They were Venetian, which prompted me to ask for advice for my Venice trip in early July (!!) The biggest tip I came away with was to get up early (7/8 am) and go into the main parts of the city, because this is the time when the tourists will not be around and you get to experience it how true Venetians do. I actually think this is a good rule for any city, and Carissa and I definitely took advantage of that during our Amsterdam trip. Given the fact that we only get to take 2-day weekend trips, it is truly essential to be awake for as much of it as possible. You know what they say…. sleep when you’re dead? Or on your lunch break on Monday.

Speaking of which, I guess I have preemptively made some friends for this weekend. I had my heart set on attending the Down The Rabbit Hole music festival in Ewijk, Netherlands to see my favourite band Fleet Foxes, and I decided to make it work no matter what. So, thanks to the help of the internet, I met a large group of Dutch friends around my age who have generously offered me a space in their campsite and any navigation advice I may need. I’m very excited to meet all of them and spend a weekend in their company!

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The good ol GSU pals went out for Ethiopian this week at a restaurant called Addi’s, which Luke was recommended by a friend. I have had Ethiopian food multiple times in north Atlanta and always enjoyed it, so I was really excited. I have absolutely no idea what the dishes were called, but we ordered a lamb, a chicken, and a falafel entree to split. They were all pretty good but fairly small portions and I was a little disappointed considering how much I loved it at home! The Ethiopian beer was still good though.

I don’t really have much else for ordering, as I’ve been eating at home pretty regularly to save money (boo hoo). I did make pasta salad at home for our picnic though, to which my Italian roommate declared “These are the two worst words an Italian person can hear next to each other.” I like Italians.

Working

I had a compliance visit from Visa sponsor BUNAC this week, which was actually surprisingly really helpful for me to step back and reflect on how my internship has been beneficial so far, and to hear some of my supervisors’ thoughts. It has honestly been a lot of learning and absorbing information thus far, which I think is an important part of an internship, but sometimes gets a little thumb-twiddley. But my colleagues talked about how fast I’ve been learning and how they are feeling ready to turn some of these projects over to me now that I’ve had time to observe how they’re typically handled.

Tomorrow I start at the PR firm that IMAX uses, where I’ll be working through Thursday. I’m really excited to see their side of things and even get the chance to work on some non-IMAX projects. This firm only handles entertainment PR, so it’s pretty well fit with what I’m studying for.

iNsights

This week I’ve really been taking note of how different my mindset and attitude has been as a whole since I’ve arrived here — and let me tell you, it’s been a world of improvement. Maybe it’s the idea that I’m surrounded by opportunity and experiences that I feel I always need to be poised to grab onto; maybe it’s the change of scenery and the fact that I can basically recreate myself as anyone I want to be; or maybe it’s just this city, its incredible warmth and vibrance and the freedom that comes with it. Either way, I hope to take a part of this back with me to change my perspective on life at home. I’ve been so clear-headed and forward thinking these past few weeks, and it’s just such a refreshing side of myself that I’ve never truly gotten to see before.

Signing off, see you guys next week!

 

1 Month Down

Going

Londontown has had the MOST beautiful weather this weekend! I told myself I was going to hit some of the inevitable tourist spots this week (Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, etc.), but I got a little distracted….. Like last week, and the week before! I’m sure I have plenty of time to get around these, but it’s amazing that my first month here is actually completely over as of today.

In reality, I spent the week exploring with my fellow Panthers again! On Thursday we continued our karaoke tradition with “Hip Hop Karaoke Night” at Queen of Hoxton, introducing us to Expert Level karaoke without a screen to follow along on (this makes you realize how little you may actually know the song). Still, we represented ATL well and of course my Ice Ice Baby cover was a flaming hit, as always.

Saturday we headed to Portobello Road Market, which had an amazing array of vintage shops and food stalls — sort of like a slightly less gentrified and price-hiked Camden Town, although it was pretty crowded with tourists as well. We were supposed to go see Buckingham Palace after this but we soon realized the market is really an all-day engagement! Afterwards we headed to Beckenham, where the boys are staying – a gorgeous little suburb an hour south of Central London and the first real peace from city life and traveling that I’ve had thus far.

Friending

The boys have the sweetest and most wholesome host, Peter, an old Irish man who used to own a shop in Portobello, worked in event management with famous 70’s bands, and now runs this little Airbnb lodge. We drank tea and listened to his stories of traveling, working with bands like U2, visages of old London and the various characters he’s hosted. We even got a tour of his mug cabinet (there’s a story to each one!!) I’m definitely going to go hang out with him again under the guise of visiting Luke and Dalton.

I also made some local friends who’ve been showing me around — today Bryan showed me to Hampstead Heath where we drank his homemade Pimm’s fruit lemonade (v British!) This park is really great, underrated compared to Regent’s, and pictures don’t do it justice. It reminded me a lot of Piedmont Park, with the city buildings peeking out over the trees, a massive dog park and several ponds, basketball courts.

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Ordering

I ate Beigels twice this week, which Leila and Luke kept raving about. They’re the same thing as bagels, just spelled fancy, but there’s a 24/7 place that does them for like £1 each and you can get things like smoked salmon and cream cheese (which is probably a risky order at a pound each but hey, I’m not here to ask questions, just to eat.) This isn’t a photogenic food so I’ll move on…

Portobello Road Market was full of exotic foods  — some of us sampled oxtail (ew), paella and Polish dumplings; I stuck to katsu curry which was a little less exotic but still delicious!! After walking a bit we found giant donuts at 2 for £1.50 and consequently stuffed our faces.

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Today I ventured back into Camden Market (I usually avoid it on weekends because of the insane crowds) to get an Arepa from this place I’ve had my eye on. If you don’t know what an Arepa is, it’s sort of a fried Venezuelan cornbread bun with a melty cheese-meat combo inside topped with various veggies and plantains. Anyone Venezuelan will probably disagree with that description, but just trust me that it’s amazing and get one. I’ve only got a picture of the stand because I am consistently too hungry to take pictures of my food before I eat it, but I guess it can serve to show you the crowdedness and the line for this place.

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Working

This week I got to go on some expeditions to our partner theaters to meet with their managers about possible installation of bespoke IMAX digital advertising screens. It went really well and I feel good about being able to represent the company, even surprised myself on how well I was able to answer all their various questions. I’ve basically gotten a crash course in all things IMAX for the past three weeks so I guess it’s paid off! I also got the chance to design a presentation for the team to give at an important European film conference, which I felt pretty good about considering that design and presentations are some of my consistent strengths in school. I hope I get to continue doing this type of work moving forward because it’s really fulfilling to feel like I’m doing something I can do really well and be proud of; although I am enjoying learning the new skills that I have been doing in other projects.

Insights

Our GSU group has been planning a lot of weekend trips around Europe which is very exciting and all; but at the same time it’s nice to realize that we have a really unique opportunity to be more than tourists in London and actually experience local life and routine and relationships here. I’m looking forward to building on this in the next week as I plan more outings with London friends and us Americans explore further (maybe we’ll even find another karaoke night in a different part of town!)

After spending a month here, it’s really starting to grow on me and I know going home will be really weird to adjust to as I’m already so comfortable here. If I get into the career I want to have, I definitely could see myself living here as there’s just a plethora of opportunities and I can begin networking now to build on this experience!

Fancy in Amsterdam

Going
Its been an eventful week for Carissa and I! On Wednesday I brought her along to the Wonder Woman premiere to which I was graciously provided tickets by my office. We even got to attend the Warner Brothers cocktail party beforehand which made us feel very posh — bottomless glasses of wine served by tuxedoed waiters and little bowls of calamari! The movie was really powerful  and stood out from the rank of D.C./Marvel movies that have been out in the past few years. Strong themes of ~~Grl Power~~

Then this weekend we jetted off to Amsterdam, which has been a dream! We attended too many museums to describe, but the Stedelijk was my favorite, a modern art museum that takes you through the birth of modern art in all its mediums and the Dutch influence that shaped that, which was greater than I would’ve ever thought.

We arrived on Friday night after three hours of flight problems at the airport — Luton airport and 50 euro round trip flights are just not a good quality combo — and walked over 18 miles on Saturday. Today we rented some bikes and have been riding around feeling a little bit like locals! It gets you everywhere a LOT faster too.

Friending

On Tuesday our GSU intern group went out to karaoke at a pub called Dingwall’s right in Camden Town, and it turned out to be a really amazing night. Who knew we were all such great singers, according to two Spanish girls who sat next to us to ask if we were professionals… We’re planning more bonding events soon and this weekend trip has Carissa and I hoping to get everyone out of London together sometime, maybe to Prague.

Amsterdam has also been great fun for making friends. We were concerned about using the Couchsurfing app for free housing while here, but our host Ziyad actually turned out to be really friendly and great, and there are two Latina girls also staying with him while on holiday from their graduate school in Madrid. He showed all of us around the Red Light District last night and some of the night life here; and this he morning showed us where to get good Dutch pancakes, which are advertised with the same frequency and competition as Fish & Chips in London and turned out to be something right in between crepes and pancakes…. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ordering

Because of the trip this weekend, I’ve been eating out sparingly to save cash. Even here, Carissa and I have been splitting most meals. One of the supposed must-try’s is the Dutch herring sandwich, which they depict in menu pictures as a full, scaled, headless fish on a roll. I don’t know if this is actually what it is but I don’t really want to find out!

One thing they do well here is frites (fries) with vlaamse (mayonnaise) which we’re actually eating at a cafe with free wifi as I type. I’m just glad to be in a country that loves mayonnaise and cheese as much as I do!

 


Speaking of eating on a budget, the worst part about Amsterdam is that they charge you for water EVERYWHERE?!!? And it’s not cheap, either. 3.5 Euros for a bottle of water that fills one glass. We perfected the art of saving water bottles and refilling them from bathroom taps. Gotta do what you gotta do I guess.

Working

It’s been a busy week in the office, coordinating orders for a new brand campaign and launching advertisement for the upcoming Inhumans. Excel is like a whole new world with endless secrets! Really though, I think I’m learning a lot of technical skills really quickly because I just need them to get things done. Next week I’ll be going on some field trips to work on ad relations with our theater partners, which I’ve been learning a lot about recently.

Insights

My first weekend trip here has been really exciting and I can’t wait to plan (and budget) more. Couchsurfing turned out to be a really good experience and I would definitely recommend to travelers on a budget, just stay vigilant and safe!

You never really appreciate cellular data until you no longer have it. It’s really hard to find your way around a city like Amsterdam, where literally every street looks the same (a charm and a curse) without an updating map. Still, free wifi is more plentiful here than in London.

Dutch is a really hard language! This is both me and Carissa’s first time being in a country where all the signs are foreign and public transportation has just been a nightmare. It’s been a really eye opening experience though and I’m sad to leave this beautiful city tomorrow!

Bank Weekend, Touristing, Etc.

Going

My parents visited me this week, which meant a lot of traveling and hitting the big tourist spots (a.k.a. things I couldn’t afford to see on my own :~))

They came in on Wednesday, and we hit up the London Eye. I can say it’s just as overrated as all the Londoners say it is, but if you’re ever able to do it, it’s definitely a bucket-list type deal. We arrived at our booked time of 4:30 PM to what looked like a two-hour line — luckily, my dad happened to wear his Bruce Springsteen shirt, and the ticketing booth guy happened to LOVE Bruce Springsteen (seen him in concert 261 times!!!) so he put us through the “Fast Pass” line.

Later that night, we hit the “Jack The Ripper” horror tour of London — my biggest takeaway was that Sweeney Todd was a real person who actually did all of the things that happened in the play. Weird. Thursday was the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park, seeing “On The Town” — this was great, highly highly recommend. Just don’t eat their food.

Saturday we jetted off to Margate, a little Kentish beach town known for its vintage stores. The place was adorable, a dream, and the weather turned out to be PERFECT for the beach although the rainy morning had us doubtful. Apparently, hundreds of other people anticipated this as well, and it was packed. We also saw here the Shell Grotto, which I’m not sure has such a reputation but is absolutely amazing and only 4 pounds per person!!

We moved on to Dover for Sunday, where I was determined to see the White Cliffs (because of the song – Many Rivers to Cross.) I did see them, from the coastal lookout at Dover Castle. There is also a lot of British and World War II history stuff there which was pretty interesting! It was quite the walking adventure and my feet are screaming now. But definitely worth it.

Friending

My parents make friends everywhere they go, so we met a lot of interesting locals on our travels. In Margate, we sat next to a group of 20 middle-aged men who sang a different drinking song every 3 minutes, and obviously got to talking with them. They’ve all grown up in town and are still friends to the day, although they root for different football teams (this was the subject of a lot of the singing).

We also talked about politics, the meaning of life & mankind, and guitar styles with a couple of Doverian men (this is a term that was actually used on signage in their town — Doverian, of Dover). Mom loved that pub and those people so much that she swears she’s going back someday.

Ordering

This week consisted of a lot of traditional British dishes!! We first made the mistake of ordering fish & chips at a chain pub (they claim “World Famous Fish & Chips,” along with every other pub in the city — sort of like New York and coffee).. It was revolting. Totally turned off, we vowed not to eat it again.

When we arrived in Margate, though, we ate at a little outdoor cafe, where I had a vegetarian version of the traditional English breakfast (replace sauasage with veg sausage) and it was AMAZING. As we ate, we watched the tiny place next door — “Pete’s Fish Factory” — develop a line wrapping around the block. We decided there must be some secret that the locals weren’t telling us. So we returned for an early dinner around 4:30 (still about a 25 min wait) and gave fish & chips a chance to redeem itself. This one was markedly better, but I just don’t think this is my favorite dish in the world. I also wasn’t very excited about picking bones out of my teeth, but I’ve been assured this is “how you know it’s fresh.”

My favorite of the week was the meat pies that we ate just tonight at a pub. I got the chicken and mushroom, and it was like the Southern comfort food of London.

Also, I drank a lot of beer. Old Mout Cider now has a special place in my heart.

Working

The week was pretty exciting at work! We had meetings, physical and virtual, with several major news outlets, and I felt like I kind of got a private insight into how those companies and their PR/Marketing managers work, just from how they pitched and collaborated.

We are working on a very big project, Marvel’s Inhumans, which will be IMAX’s first try at producing original content. It’s pretty exciting to be included in brainstorming sessions for something like this, and it’s a bit of crossover for me from ‘entertainment technology’ industry experience to ‘entertainment production!’ We’re also working on VR, which is cool because there are not many in-person VR experience centers around yet, and we’re really one of the first ones in this industry! It’s a really interesting marketing angle and opportunity and I feel like a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in entrepreneurship have surprisingly applied, which I didn’t think they would working in an established corporation.

I’m starting to get some more independent tasks and projects next week so I’m looking forward to working more and more! Although I won’t complain about the short week next week due to a ‘bank holiday’ this Monday :~) We originally thought this was just a nickname for some sort of historical or honorary holiday, but the banks actually just make up holidays here and it becomes the norm. It’s kinda great.

Insights

I should wear sunscreen on my feet.

British people are very excited about the beach, and this makes you very excited about the beach, too.
Vintage stores open late and close early. If you want to hunt you need to know this (I do now).
If you want to know where the good food is, follow the locals.

Being a cheesy tourist is fun!

GROW’N – Week 1

Hey y’all! Today marks a little over a week in London, and my official first week of work coming to a close. This means it’s time for my first update.

First, a little intro: in attempting to name my little online journal, I decided a theme might help pull everything together — as well as keep me on track in my rambling, scatterbrained sharing of all the great things that I’m about to have to share!

In this spirit, we have here an acronym:
Going
fRiending
Ordering
Working
iNsights

These are the topics I’m going to be hitting in every post, and I think they represent pretty well the setting of my whole experience here — embarking on my independent adventure as a real grown-up lady (ha) and doing a whole lot of growing in the process!

Going (traveling, sights, n stuff)
I spent my first weekend mostly getting settled into Camden Town/Chalk Farm where I live, and exploring the local hangouts. I’m in a very central location, with the Camden Market right across the street hosting tons of food, vintage, and international goods vendors, and stores and pubs all along the main road.

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This means there is a lot of tourist traffic, which is great fun for meeting people, but also means a lot of noise outside my window at all times. I’ve heard “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran play from the pub across the street about a million times.

This weekend I got the opportunity to explore the London sights a little bit more — yesterday, myself and 4 other interns in GSU’s London program met up at the Tate. It was an amazing free museum with so much free stuff to explore, but we truly only got through about half of it and, pledging to return at a later date, headed to a nearby pub for pints and fish & chips. It was great to see these guys and find out that we all actually get along beautifully — I think we’ll have some great times traveling around together throughout the summer.

Today I made it out to Primrose Hill and found my way to Regent’s Park, both very beautiful places that I think I’ll frequent given the 10 minute walk. It was the first truly sunny day since I’ve been here, a nice 67F (19C? I still don’t understand this).

Friends
My favorite part of London so far has been just meeting the people it holds. It truly is one of the most multicultural places in the world. I’ve got three Italian flatmates and one Polish, all of whom are very friendly and have been living in London for quite some time. I got the chance to go around with Kadim (Italian) one Friday night when a GSU friend visited during her study abroad, and he showed us all his favorite local spots. He, like most people I’ve met here, immediately wanted to know my opinion of Donald Trump, and, like most people I’ve met, was surprisingly educated about our politics. Don’t ask me anything about Parliament — I think I need to start taking those free newspapers they hand out on the Tube.

Anyways, I went to see School of Rock at the New London Theatre on Wednesday, and sat next to an older man from the Philippines who was visiting London by himself on holiday. He was very excited about the discounted tickets you can find here and has been seeing a matinee and a nighttime show every day. His pure excitement and the fact that he came all the way here just to experience this was really touching to me!

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Ordering
One of the things I’ve most been looking forward to is all the great food I get to eat! I’m trying hard to keep a budget, so the first thing I did here was go to Sainsbury’s, one of the main grocery stores (‘supermarkets’) here and let me tell you, that was some of the biggest culture shock I’ve had. The food is just different in small ways that makes everything confusing.

My friend Rachel who is studying abroad took me for my first real foodie experience, eating jerk chicken at the African-Caribbean street market hosted behind Dark Sugars chocolate shop in Whitechapel every Saturday. Not only was the food great, the chefs had such infectious high spirits and engaged in constant dance-offs, making a real experience.

I sought out an Indian restaurant for before my musical on Wednesday and ate the best samosas I’ve ever had — I was too scared to order a curry and need someone with greater knowledge to help me figure it out.

I’ve been eating a lot of falafel here, because they make a great one, and have been introduced to Halloumi cheese, which basically changed my life.

I think I need to start taking pictures of my food.

Working

The reason I’m here! Maybe it should be a bit closer to the top, but I had to make the acronym work. Before I even started work Monday, I got the opportunity to attend the Pirates of the Caribbean fan screening in IMAX on Saturday. It was an amazing experience, listening to all of the people around me talk about how excited they were to watch this in IMAX really got me pumped to work for such a great company.

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Everyone has been very welcoming at work, and I get to interact pretty regularly with everyone in the office since we’ve only got 7 people on the team. Still, they handle a lot between them, and my first week consisted mostly of learning all the moving parts of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) management by sitting in on conference calls, reading email chains, watching videos and learning all of the systems they use. There is a lot of international communication involved with overseers of more local markets, and I suspect I’ll end up picking up a little bit of French and German during my time here.

This is my first time working in a structured office setting, so it’s been a learning process for sure. Thus far I’ve been pretty guided as I’m being introduced to all these new concepts and projects, but it’s clearly a self-motivated workplace with a relaxed and individual approach that I really appreciate. I’m set to start working more involvedly in the PR and marketing campaigns next week, so I look forward to updating you on all I’m learning!

Insights
The level of independence that this trip has already required of me is really rewarding and awesome to witness. I’ve been going out, exploring and discovering on my own, and striking up conversations naturally with people I encounter — something I never would have done back home. It’s so easy to sit in the house at home, forgetting that things will never happen to you if you don’t just venture out. Even things I could do inside here, listening to music, or reading a book, are better enjoyed outside.

Things like budgeting, scheduling, and navigation that have always kind of eluded me at home have now become necessities and are surprisingly (!) easy to pick up when they’re more dire.

I’m excited to see where the rest of this trip will take me as I can already seeing it impacting the way I’ll live my life when I return back home!