ashlee-rivalto-in-london.jpgAshlee is a senior CCPA major and art minor who is interning at the Offscreen Education Programme:

So here it is, my last night in London. I cannot believe it is already over. As I sang karaoke and danced with Rita, Becky, and the rest of the SMU-in-London gang, I started thinking about what this experience has meant to me. It has meant a lot of things, but above all it has been a learning experience.

I have learned about the challenges of change, the tube’s sweaty madness, the wonders of London, and my abilities as a student and communications professional. In sum, here are the top three things I have learned:

ashlee-n17023156_36599860_7346.jpgOne is Silver and the Other’s Gold
Make new friends. As juvenile as that sounds, I think it is the most important thing I have learned here. I am embarrassed to say, after three years at SMU, I have not truly ventured outside my small circle of friends. My London adventure has introduced me to so many wonderful people. There is an abundance of amazing students at SMU, and as senior year rolls around I regret that I have not taken it upon myself to meet more of them. The girls I have gotten to know during my time here will continue to be a part of my life, and I am thankful for our time together in London.

Ashlee-n18812185_33329571_30.jpgBelieve in Yourself!
I realized what I have been learning in school is ACTUALLY very helpful. I started my internship at Offscreen afraid of the unknown. What would kind of work would I be doing? Was I qualified to do it? For some reason, I was surprised to find that I was. My first few days in the London work scene were stressful because I did not believe in myself. I felt unsure of my writing and editing abilities, considering I had only used them for school purposes. Once I realized I was producing good work that my supervisor found “excellent,” I was much more confident.

My studies at SMU provided me with the skills I needed for my internship. The skills I learned in Prof. Flournoy’s Start I and International Communication classes were especially helpful, as well as Prof. Baily-Byer’s Intro to PR and Dr. Dixon’s race and ethnicity class. Thanks, guys!

ashlee-n18812185_33242602_8884.jpgStep Out of Your Comfort Zone
Like most Americans, 58 percent to be exact, I knew little about Islam and Middle Eastern culture before I arrived at Offscreen. I was uneducated about these issues, and because I was uneducated I was uncomfortable with them. I knew coming into this internship I would be out of my element, and it made me especially nervous. I am so thankful for this out-of-my-element experience.

The people I met, the work I did, and the Offscreen message changed me. I have been missing out on a wonderful culture and wonderful group of people. I had fallen into a groove, and although it was comfortable and safe, I was not learning anything. It was not easy or comfortable, but my adventures in London allowed me to create my own perceptions of the world around me.

All of the SMU students here have been going going going and learning learning learning. It is safe to say I am ready to get back to Memphis and get some shut-eye … finally! BUT as I sleep I will dream of my time here, the friends I met and the lessons I learned.

You do not have to be in London to learn these lessons. You can do it wherever, whenever, however, SO I encourage everyone to get to know a new culture, a new religion, a new friend, and a new you!