Name: Hannah Bealer
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
University: Bowling Green State University
Major: Print Journalism
Program: Intern England
Program Location: London, England
How do you feel looking back on your experience in England?
I feel incredibly grateful. My experiences there were all positive, and the people I worked for really felt like family to me. I realize that at my age, I’m very lucky to be so well-traveled. A lot of people don’t and won’t get that chance, and going abroad while I’m still a university student has really changed my perspective of the world.
How did your time in England impact you? What do you carry with you now because of this experience?
It’s impacted me in numerous ways. It’s impossible to list them all. I think what my time abroad really gave me was a sense of adventure and also some very valuable professional experience. I carry myself a little differently now because of my time working there. I felt like a true professional, and I think my internships really prepared me for future work. I think I’m much more inclined to take chances now. I don’t believe in leading a boring life. I understand that others don’t have the means to travel. It truly is a privilege, and that’s why I don’t like taking it for granted.
Did you have any reservations before leaving for England?
Not really. I’d been abroad before, so I wasn’t all that nervous. I was a little worried about money since London is obviously a very expensive city. And while money was tight during my internship, it honestly didn’t stop me from having an amazing time.
What made you want to intern abroad and specifically why in England?
I studied abroad in England and I knew I wanted to go back. It’s really like a second home to me, so when I was looking for internships I looked mostly in London.
How did you hear about World Endeavors, and why did you choose WE over other programs?
I was just googling internships in London when I came across the site in a search. I chose WE because it seemed as though I would get the best value for my money, and I was right.
What was your first impression of England?
I lived in England for a year as an exchange student, so it was almost like coming home! Granted, I lived in Northern England just south of Manchester. While I did visit London during my time abroad, I hadn’t actually stayed there for longer than a weekend. Actually living in London was completely different. It’s a whole new world there. I’m from Ohio so at times the hustle and bustle of the big city was a little intimidating, but I truly loved all that activity and culture. It’s a wonderful city.
How did your first impressions/nervousness (if any) change from when you arrived to when you left?
As I said, at times the craziness of the big city was a bit much for me and I just needed some quiet time in my flat. But things definitely changed. I wasn’t as afraid of the traffic, for one. By the time I left, I felt like I knew the city like the back of my hand.
Tell me about where you lived. Did it add to your experience? Do you have any interesting or special moments from the people you lived with?
I lived right off the Barons Court tube stop on Auriol Road. It’s in Zone 2, so it’s nice and central. It was a flat that held about five other residents, I believe. I shared a room with a girl from Italy. I’ll be honest: I was really only in my flat when I woke up and when I went to bed, so I didn’t have much time to connect with many of my flatmates. I was more about exploring the city than sitting inside.
Did you have any trouble with language barriers?
British English is a little different from American English, but I was mostly over that from my time as an exchange student. It did take some getting used to, but it was really only a problem if someone was speaking to me too quickly. I was also guilty of that!
Tell me about your internship.
I did some work for two different companies. I wrote and edited articles for a website that focused around money-saving, so I was doing a lot of financial journalism. I also interned at a nanny agency. I helped out with their social media, and by the end of the internship I was interviewing and recruiting nannies. The owner of the nanny agency is the mother of the editor of the financial website, so that’s how I made that connection.
Tell me about a typical day for you from the time you got up until the time you went to sleep.
I usually woke up around 7:30AM. Depending on how I felt, I would either walk to work, take the bus, or take the tube. It all depended on how much time I had for transportation. I worked a typical 40 hour week, so I was working around 8 hours a day. I would usually meet with the staff of the website on Monday, and work at the nanny agency Tuesday through Friday. After work I would meet up with friends and explore London for the rest of the evening. Sometimes we just wanted a quiet dinner or drinks at a local pub, other times we would go to the theatre for a show. There was always something to do after work, so I stayed busy most days.
How did you get around?
Walking, the bus, or the tube! I preferred walking because it’s obviously the cheapest and healthiest option. But London’s a big city, so that wasn’t always doable. I had an Oyster card for the tube, but I tried to only take it when I was in a rush. The bus, I’d say, is the best option. I think staying above ground is a great way to orient yourself in the city. If you’re underground the entire time, London just becomes various tube stations and you really don’t get to know the city as well. Walking around London was always a great time, and it’s incredibly safe.
What are you doing now? Do you have future travels plans?
I’m planning on finding a full-time job – hopefully as a reporter. I’m a popular culture minor, so my dream is to be an arts and culture reporter. Amazingly enough, the website I interned for in London offered me a position as a blogger. Unfortunately it doesn’t require me to actually move to London (I wish!), but I work from here in the States. It’s amazing to still have that connection.
As for future travel plans, I’m taking a road trip with one of my sorority sisters to Toronto and New York City. I’m a huge musical theatre fan, so we’re catching a couple shows – one in Toronto and one on Broadway. It’s going to be wonderful to be back in big cities, even just for a few days!
What advice would you give someone traveling abroad?
Take advantage of the opportunities you have. It’s a true privilege to travel abroad. Remember to be sensitive to the culture you’re in, and just respectful in general. If you show an appreciation and admiration for someone’s culture, it will be returned. Americans are stereotyped in Britain (and the rest of Europe), just like we stereotype them. If you can show that you break that stereotype, life will be much easier. I always try to avoid looking like a tourist. That combined with good manners and just general decency gets you far.
Number one story you love to tell about your time abroad:
How about the fact that I saw Les Mis about 5 times? London’s theatre district is one of my favorite places on this Earth and Les Mis is one of their top shows (and my favorite musical). I just love telling people about the West End in general. It’s full of beautiful theatres and top notch performers. There’s nothing not to love about it. And it’s far more affordable than American theatre!
Number one challenge about being abroad:
I think it has to be leaving. All the other challenges – whether it be finances or homesickness – are all momentary. I think my biggest challenge was knowing I’d have to leave and not knowing when I’d get to come back.
Most important thing you gained from your time abroad:
Work experience in another culture. I think that’s invaluable, and it makes you stick out in a sea of identical applicants. I think in the journalism field especially it’s important to show versatility and that you’re completely okay with taking a step out of your comfort zone.
Anything you learned about yourself, US culture, etc?
I learned I actually do have a sense of direction! Or maybe that was just the city map app on my phone.