SMU-in-London 2008

This summer 48 SMU students are traveling to London to study communication courses, including international media, free speech, creative advertising, British cinema and the global civil society. Some students also are interning with international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Pants to Poverty, and Save the Children, to name a few.

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We are here to work, you know!

grace.jpgGrace, a senior art history and CCPA major, is working this summer at WOMANKIND Worldwide in the communications and fundraising department.

The past two weeks have been just as amazing as the two before it. In between my various projects for Womankind and all of our class meetings and assignments, I have managed to squeeze in a few more fun activities before I leave my dear city next week.

After coming home from Scotland, I had a full week of work but made sure to punctuate it with a visit to the London Eye, a showing of Mamma Mia (the actual musical, not the movie), a discovery of a fabulous Indian restaurant in Primrose Hill, I walked around the fashion exhibit of the Victoria and Albert, and snuck off to Paris for the weekend.

But the London life isn’t all glamour; I am here to work and go to class after all. And that brings me to telling you about this past week. Monday and Tuesday were business as usual – early morning class followed by a full day of work. On Wednesday, however, I awoke with that awful “I’m sick” feeling. I dragged myself downstairs to meet for class and soon realized that I could not make it to work.

It is not so much that work wears me out (because a large portion of it involves sitting at a computer – not too physically exhausting), but getting to work in London is quite an ordeal. I walk at least 15 minutes to the tube stop, up and down and around the stairs of the first tube station, and then on the train, where I am usually awkwardly crammed up against a stranger. I then rush off that train to find my next one (again, more stairs, and more walking) then onto that train and then ten more minutes of walking to my office, where I trudge up a few flights of stairs.

This whole process takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and has given me a new understanding of what “rush hour” in London means. Though it may sound like it, I am not complaining because I believe it is all part of the process of genuinely becoming a Londoner, but there was no way, feeling how I did, that I could undergo that process without fainting. So I curled up in bed and tried to nurse myself back to health with some Gatorade. (Stay with me everyone, this has a point, I promise.)

Now I remember the days when being sick and staying home, watching T.V. while someone lovingly prepared soup for you, was considered a great day (relatively, of course). So when I thought I would stay back from work on Wednesday, initially I thought it wouldn’t be so bad – I could get better, catch up on some much-needed sleep and perhaps relax a little. And I did all of that, but the odd thing was – I missed work! (as in, I wished I was at the office instead of in bed).

I can say for certain, unless there was a field trip that I was missing at school or unless I was really ill, I never found myself saying I’d rather be at school. But here I was, seemingly lounging, and what I wanted was to be at Womankind. This is truly a growing-up point, I would say, when you realize that the work you are doing is so important and so exciting to you that you actually enjoy doing it.

Grace-London-165-sm.jpgAnd I knew all along during this process that I was enjoying my job, but it wasn’t until this moment that I realized how much I love it and how much I will miss it and my darling co-workers (photo right) when I go home in just one week.

The following day I was still a bit sickly so I opted to stay home, but this time I had a plan. I called my co-worker Emma, the technological go-to at the office, and in my raspy, sort of sad-sounding voice, I figured out how to access my files in my dorm room so that I could work from bed. Admittedly, I couldn’t put out a whole day’s work, but just accomplishing a few things on my list made me feel so much better.

As I am writing this I feel hugely recovered – a quick trip to Rye (a town about 2 hours from London near the beach) and some fresh air has rejuvenated me. I will return to my last week at work with enough energy to take on the world – or at least tie up all of my loose ends.

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