Single Girl Diaries: Eurotrip: The Play-by-Play

Columnist Ellise Verheyen on her life in the big city.

In case you hadn’t figured it out already, I’m studying abroad for the semester in London. It’s been exciting, terrifying, busy and different than anything I could’ve ever imagined.

It’s now been five short weeks here in the land of fish ‘n’ chips. (Also, I haven’t had fish ‘n’ chips yet. GASP). So far, I’ve told you about my love for my friends, that I have a lot of awkward experiences and that I have now enjoyed “the drink.” But you don’t know how I spend the rest of my time.

Three days a week, I work as an intern at Lumieré London, a photography studio near the Southbank of London (I can see the London Eye from our third floor window). Now, to be perfectly honest, I imagined that I’d be spending my time helping on photo sets for glamorous celebrities and models. Thus far, I have only seen two shoots, spending the majority of my time helping get the studio set up. Unfortunately for me, the studio recently moved into a huge new home, and it’s a bit of a fixer-upper. So rather than wearing blazers and making tea for One Direction when they just so happened to stop by for a photo-shoot, I’ve been mopping stairs, dusting everything repeatedly, moving furniture and painting.

Now I can’t say that’s all I’ve done. I have been able to photograph a few models that come in, edit photos from previous shoots, update all the websites and, soon, I’ll be on the marketing team. And despite it not being what I’d imagined, I’ve really enjoyed my time there. The crew is amazing (pronounced AH-may-SseenGG by two out of my four coworkers). Everyday has been different, so I never know what to expect when I walk through the silver-painted doors in the morning. It could be a quiet day of painting, or I could awkwardly walk through a large corporate event because no one warned me to use the back stairwell. Just one of the many perks to life in a fast city is the surprise of the everyday.

The other two days of my “weekday” are spent in class. On Wednesdays, I have class with J-school professor Steve Rice, who is actually really cool. Our classes usually consist of really cool speakers from all walks of journalism life as well as “field-trips” to the BBC. I know, rough life. On Thursdays, we have class with Richard, a hilarious and adorable British man who tells us everything he loves about London as well as everything he hates. We adventure through the streets of the city on a weekly basis. Most recently, we went to the Southbank. I wish you could see this place. I fell in love with London for the 73rd time. Never in my life did I expect to look forward to the days I have class.

Weekends are usually filled with exploration, coffee shop stops and admiration of this beautiful city. But also (a lot of) sleeping because this place is exhausting.

Like I said, nothing is what I’ve expected. Literally nothing. Elizabeth Tower (i.e., Big Ben) is half the size I’d imagined. Very few areas look like “Notting Hill” (Notting Hill included). The city is so fast paced that having to wait three whole minutes for the next tube creates restlessness in commuters by the likes of which I’ve never seen. Everything is very condensed here and there is this amazing sandwich shop called Pret à Manger on every street. (Seriously, America. We need these ASAP).

I don’t know if I will ever live in this city long-term, but my tiny taste of living in a place bustling with life has already ruined me for small towns. I fear that reverse culture shock will take a huge toll on me as soon as I arrive back in the States. (That sounds so pretentious. I’m sorry.) I cannot begin to express my gratitude for such an amazing opportunity to study abroad. I may be thousands of dollars in debt for the next 50 years, but the “right now” I’m living is absolutely worth it.

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