Another week has gone by living here in London, and I feel that I have settled into the life of a local very quickly. I have easily adapted to my busy schedule which involves an internship for 20 hours each week.
I was fortunate enough to be placed in an internship at the Langham Hotel in London. I am spending my time working in the finance department within the receiving office where I see a lot of paperwork and have started to see and participate in the daily accountancy necessary to run a business. My department is food and beverage so you can imagine the number of invoices that need processed daily whenever something is delivered.
I am enjoying the work, but I have also met some amazing people through this internship. Most offices and noncustomer facing jobs work in the basement where my office is, so I have had the chance to talk to a lot of people. The thing I really like about this is that the workforce in the hotel is very diverse. In my office there is only one person who is from the UK, and most people I have met seem to be from various parts of the world including Romania and New Zealand.
Not only have I met some interesting people, but I have also seen the culture of a British workplace in a unique way. Through talking with different people, it is clear that there are cultural differences among everyone, yet everyone is kind and has adapted to the British workplace culture.
For example, here a work-life balance is very important. Everyone takes a lunch break, and this is half an hour where we leave the office, sit down, and have a meal. When we eat lunch, we sit in a cafeteria where all hotel staff eat their lunches and when I look around, I notice that everyone does indeed take a lunch break and the work conversation is minimal. Regardless of our backgrounds, mine in a culture where lunch can be eaten at your desk while working, we all adapted to this work-life balance and happily accept it.
Speaking of adapting I have looked either a little dumb or very confused many times during my two weeks of work. We all speak English, but in the US, we are often a little more literal with our words which is an adjustment. I am asked “you alright” and here I am thinking I look upset, but this is actually the equivalent of “hi, how are you.” I also went to a meeting and when I returned my supervisor asked, “how’d you find it” and in my head I immediately thought of the walk there, but she was actually asking how it went.
For the first two days someone would say something to me, and I would just kind of stare at them. In my mind I was trying to decide if what they were saying was meant to be literal or if there was another meaning. I am also still trying to figure out sarcasm which everyone uses here. Sometimes while I am blankly staring at people I am also trying to figure out if what they said was serious or sarcastic.
While this does still happen occasionally, I have gotten much better at paying attention to what is being said and who is saying it because this context is so important to communicating. If I am not fully involved in a conversation I get lost very quickly.
Regardless of these few confusing moments, I am really enjoying my time here and especially my internship. I have only been going to work for two weeks, but I am still excited everyday I get to go.