@TheCrowdandI Hosts #FuturePR Event

photo 3-1

I know this blog is mainly focused on adjusting to life in London, but as I say in my “About Me” section, I am a PR student, so naturally there will be PR-related posts.

On Wednesday the 12th (very, very late, I know), I was lucky enough to attend an event by local PR agency, The Crowd and I. I first learned about this when PR consultant and Managing Director of The Crowd and I, Gem Griffiths, hosted our weekly Master Class at the London College of Communication. I was so inspired by her success story and how she was able to branch out and start her own agency at such a young age. A bunch of us from the MA programme followed Gem and her agency on twitter afterwards, and that’s how we learned about the event.

photo 1-1

Even though it was at 8:00am on my only day off, attending was definitely worth it. The day started off with smoothies (the invite said breakfast so we were all expecting something else – ahem, more – but it’s whateverrrrr…. trendy Shoreditch, amarite?), and then moved onto an interesting panel discussion during which we were invited to live tweet. The panel consisted of Gem, CIPR President Stephen Waddington, UAL lecturer Simon Collister and Director General of PRCA Francis Ingham. Needless to say, lots of PR knowledge between the four of them.

The only person who seemed to be missing (or it would have been interesting to have him in the room, at least) was Ian Burrell, journalist and editor for the Independent. With the help of a video from his guest lecture at LCC, it became evident Ian is not public relations’ biggest fan. Using examples such as Max Clifford and Matthew Freud, he focused on PR’s “lack of champions” and need for better role models. The panel was not too impressed with his presentation or views of PR.

Photo belongs to The Crowd & I and is taken from their twitter feed

Photo belongs to The Crowd & I and is taken from their twitter feed

After a lengthy discussion, the panel came to the conclusion that PR does not need champions at all. As PRs, our jobs do not require us to be in the spotlight, so why strive for it? What I took away from the discussion was that we need to practice smart, ethical public relations, create an online presence through blogging and twitter and strive to keep public relations out of the negative press. We need to change the public’s perception of PR being a profession for “professional bullshitters” (as BBC’s Robert Peston calls us) and move into a more respected view.

Speaking of Robert Peston, an interesting point was raised in regards to the relationships between journalists and PRs. Yes, journalists may dislike us for sending them hundreds of news releases that may or may not have anything to do with their specialty, but the panel pointed out that journalists need us as much as we need them. It was Francis Ingham who pointed out that some of the facts used by Ian Burrell in his presentation were given to him by Ingham himself after Burrell asked for them. However, we need to stop sending out ill-targeted news releases and start sending them to journalists who will actually be interested in the topic.

I can go on about everything I learned that day, but most of all I learned the power of live-tweeting. At first I was uncomfortable tapping away at my phone while listening to a presenter speak, as ghosts of teachers past were yelling at me for not paying attention, but I soon saw what an impact live-tweeting can make on creating interaction and dialogue. If you wish to see it, click here.

One point that stuck with me was Stephen’s advice about writing a blog and consistently tweeting. I’m trying. I’m finding the blogging to be very difficult with my schedule, and I’m worried that I’m not updating enough. I want to build an online presence, but between classes and work I can’t seem to find the time or energy. However, I’m doing my best, with both tweeting and blogging, and hopefully I’ll be updating London Transplant more often now.

As the event was in the morning, it would have been inappropriate to end it with a shot or drink, so we did shots of wheatgrass instead. Cheers!

Mmmm.

Mmmm.

Thank you to The Crowd & I for hosting such an informative and thought-provoking event. I hope to attend more of them in the future!

Finding a Place to Live Part I: The Search

tolet

There are hundreds of blog posts about finding accommodation in London, because this subject is a beast.

I’ve read a lot of them, I’ve taken notes, I’ve studied them until I knew most off by heart and I still had to learn from my own mistakes and experiences. While my experience with finding a new home is different from the ones I’ve read about, and will surely be different from others’ in the future, I thought it may be helpful to share what I’ve learned. Maybe it will help someone, someday.

This topic has been split into different blog posts, as squeezing it into one would be too difficult. So, here is part 1… The search.

1. Initial Accommodation

I was lucky enough to stay with a family friend upon arriving to London, and I was able to stay there while I worked on my search. This helped me greatly, but others may not be as lucky. If you are need a place to stay while searching for more permanent accommodation, the following are viable options used by people I’ve met here in London:

  • AirBnB
    • This site allows you to rent rooms or flats (around the world) for short terms. While I’ve heard some horror stories of AirBnBs in other countries, people I have come across in London who have used them while searching for flats have given good reviews.
  • SpareRoom
    • This holy grail of room-letting sites will appear again in this post. It’s especially useful for finding short-term rooms while looking for more permanent housing. SpareRoom is monitored for scams by staff around the clock, so finding a room is pretty safe. A helpful tip: if the contact provides both an email and phone number, do try to call or text rather than email – they are much more likely to get back to you.
  • Hostels
    • I’m skeptical about this one, but I’ve heard of people using this option and having good results. I don’t have experience with this so I cannot vouch for how safe/practical it is, but if I were to add to this I would say to use this as an option only if you plan on searching for 1 to 2 weeks tops.
  • Friends
    • If you can, try to stay with a friend or acquaintance. Even if it’s someone you haven’t spoken to in years, chances are they understand your struggle (who doesn’t when it comes to house hunting in London?) and they will be willing to help. Offer some amount for compensation, as this will always be appreciated. this option will give you time view as many properties as possible.
  • Couch-Surfing
    • Last resort.

2. Search Engines

Newspaper ads (especially in big cities) are a thing of the past. Chances are, by the time it’s printed in the newspaper, it’s been taken. It’s said that for every flat in London, there are 10 people who want it. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. While the downside of flat hunting is that they go very fast, the upside is that there are constantly new listings being posted. So, for all of these search engines, I advise that you sign up for email alerts to stay on top of new listings that suit your requirements.

  • SpareRoom
    • This is definitely the website I spent most of my time on. It allows landlords and tenants to post lets/sublets without involving letting agents, so there is rarely an accommodation fee involved (more about fees later). In regards to usage, you type in what you are looking for, in what neighbourhood, and can sort results based on dates added or pricing (this holds true for most sites).
    • I would spend hours searching through listings and texting/calling/emailing tenants/landlords in order to arrange viewings. Keep in mind that renting rooms is a two-way process that closely resembles a job interview. This was pretty much my email template:
      • Hi ______! My name is Dominica and I am really interested in the room in _______! I’m an MA student at LCC (in Elephant & Castle) and I also have a part-time job. I’m outgoing and friendly, but don’t make too much noise! I am also very tidy. I like to cook, read, hang out with friends (don’t worry, no parties) and work out. I would like to arrange a viewing if possible. Please let me know what time would be best for you.
    • This would usually be answered with “sure, what time?”, “room has been taken, sorry”, or no response at all. Mostly with “room has been taken, sorry”, which brings me to my next point:
    • It is very useful to purchase the “Early Bird” option on SpareRoom for at least a week. This option allows you to contact the tenant/landlord before people who have not purchased this. Buy it, as the room you are interested in won’t be available once the “early bird” option is taken off, I almost guarantee it.
  • RightMove
    • This website has it’s ups and downs. Up: seeing what kind of space you can get for your budget. Up: getting lists of possible letting agents to contact. Down: Most listings are no longer available. This site is more like a guide rather than for finding your exact flat.
  • Zoopla
    • Very similar to RightMove, and this is actually the way I found my flat. I think this site may be a little more reliable than RightMove, as most of the listings are still available. A downside to these listing sites is that you have to go through letting agents. Letting agents = agency fees.

3. Using a Letting Agent VS. Looking Independently

I did both. I started looking alone, visiting rooms and flats I found on SpareRoom and talking to either the tenants currently living there or moving out. For many people, this is as far as they’ll go in terms of looking for a place. I thought list form for this section would be best:

Pros of Looking Independently

  • No administration fees (if subletting)
  • Potentially meeting the people you will live with
  • Asking anything/everything you want to know and not getting an ‘agent’ answer (though if they are trying to move out their answers may not be 100% truthful either, you never know)

Cons of Looking Independently

  • You feel like you’re on a job interview (seeing if it’s right for you while trying to be right for ‘them’ is exhausting)
  • They may not be able to answer some important questions regarding contracts
  • Arranging a mutually beneficial time to view the property can be difficult
  • Give you little time to decide
  • After finally deciding you will accept it, they may go with someone else (happened to me three times)

I don’t think the letting agent option needs a list. There is one major pro (you will probably find a place) and one major con (you will probably have to pay a fee). I ended up using Interlet.com, which is kind of like an agency…. but not? I don’t know how to describe it best, but it’s basically an agency which simply connects you with landlords and makes appointments for you to view properties. I saw three places with them. The first was on a very dodgy street in Brixton where the landlord turned up 5 minutes late, barely mumbled “hi,” walked me up to the top floor of a building where the lights kept flickering on and off, let me view the studio for a minute (ONE MINUTE) and then proceeded to yell at me because I was taking too long. I ran out of there as fast as I could and immediately called the Interlet agent to send me to more places. I was quite lucky with this service because, while they usually send you to landlords directly, my agent decided to call another letting agent to see if he had anything in my price range. This does not usually happen, but like I said, I was lucky.

After seeing the next property, I was sold. Newly renovated, new appliances, and I got to pick out my own furniture. Cutest little studio ever. I went to see another studio after that one, just to keep my options open, but the hole-in-the-wall for £200/week in Chelsea didn’t compare. Now, I live in a nice, new studio in West Hampstead.

 

£200/week: Expectation….

   £200/week: Expectation….

£200/week: Reality

£200/week: Reality

I think that’s probably enough information about flat-hunting for now. Or I’m just so exhausted from it that if I even think the words “spare room” or “tenancy agreement” I get a headache. Part 2 of this post will be about what to do once you’ve found the place.

 

Hope this was helpful to at least someone!

School, Work, Play, Flat-Hunt. Repeat.

In my last post, I said I would try to post another update within a week. I failed.

In all honesty, I’ve been busy, really busy. In between reading one peer-reviewed journal article after the other for my masters, working, looking for a new place to live (nightmare) and hanging out with new friends, blogging has been the last thing on my mind. Still there to remind me of how terrible I am at keeping it up, but way, way in the back.

What I’ve been up to since my last post:

1. I started my masters programme.

Yes, I’ve started my programme, and I love it. After graduating from UNCC in May, I’ve kind of put PR off to the side and didn’t really think much about it. So, when the starting date for my programme grew closer, I began to worry I might not remember much. But, I do. At this moment it’s pretty much a review of my undergrad with a lot of reading thrown into it. However, it’s a good thing I really, really like the topic. To be brief, I’m very happy I decided to do my masters in public relations.

Working hard? Hardly working?

Working hard? Hardly working?

View from out top-floor classroom

View from out top-floor classroom

2. I’ve been working, working, working.

I have been working a lot. When I’m not scheduled to work, someone usually needs a shift covered, and I usually find myself taking it. I’m a little tired, but I like where I work a lot and a little extra money doesn’t hurt, especially when….

3. I’ve been looking for a new place to live.

This has been a total and utter nightmare, but finally, I am done with my search. My search for flats could be turned into a reel for some sub-par comedy film. I’ve seen rooms in flats I really liked, only to have the tenants go with someone else. I’ve seen rooms in flats I didn’t really like but thought ‘hey, it’s London and I need to lower my standards,’ only to have the current tenants go with someone else. I almost lived with a friend from back home (which would have been ideal), only to have the situation not work out because her flatmate thought they could charge more rent for the room (no hard feelings). I’ve seen a studio apartment I was almost too scared to go in, only to have the landlord yell at me for taking too long (I swear on my life I was only there for one minute). I almost lived in a nice flat with a girl from my university, only for her to tell me the papers needed to be signed immediately without me even seeing the room – it turned out her boyfriend would be staying with her “until Christmas at least, maybe longer.” Finally, I saw a big, beautiful studio apartment in West Hampstead, which was a little more expensive than I would have preferred, but just too good to pass up, so I took it.

Sometimes I do feel lonely in my studio apartment, especially when my classmates talk about hanging out with their flatmates and such, but then I remember that even if I found a room in a houseshare, these people wouldn’t be my friends and I would end up hanging out in my room mostly anyway. Plus, (as an introvert) at the end of the day, people start to really bother me, and you can’t put a price on privacy.

My flat!

My flat!

blah4 blah2

Because flat-hunting in London is a topic all on it’s own, I’ve been thinking about writing a series of posts with tips on how to navigate the housing market and what to do after you’ve found the place. We’ll see how busy I am…

4. I’ve been making new friends.

The girls (and guys) in my programme are lovely, and we’re all getting along so well. Although I’ve been terribly busy, I try to never pass up an opportunity to go for a drink, to a market, out to lunch or out on the weekend. Hey, I’m in London, I need to live a little too.

My girls (not all of them - and sorry if it's a little blurry)

My girls (not all of them – and sorry if it’s a little blurry)

So far, life has been pretty hectic here. I looked at my Instagram and Twitter accounts recently, only to see I’ve barely posted anything lately (OMG HOW AM I LIVING?). This can also be due to the fact that I never remember to take pictures anywhere or with anyone and then I’m kicking myself for it later. Hopefully now that I’ve found my flat and have furnished it, things will calm down a bit and I’ll have the time to study and explore London a little more.

Right now, I may be busy, but I’m loving life here.

First Two Weeks in London – The Good and the Bad

Millenium Bridge View

Millenium Bridge View

I’m in London!

And I have been for over two weeks now.

I’ve been neglecting this blog because, to be honest, I’ve just had better stuff to do. This has been the last thing on my mind, but always in the back of it. So, I’m finally posting an update for all you followers, all 903472098578 of you…

Now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing that two weeks isn’t actually that horrible. The thing is these couple of weeks have felt like a couple of months. I’ve done so much and seen so much, it’s hard to believe how short it’s really been. There have been ups and downs, but I finally feel like I’m starting to settle in a bit. The weeks have been very different, so I’m going to break this blog post up and describe them separately.

Week I: I’ve Arrived!

Leaving my home for the last time EVER because my parents are selling it. BRB crying.

Leaving my home for the last time EVER because my parents are selling it. BRB crying.

I arrived at Heathrow airport on Thursday, September 19th. The family friend I’m staying with was nice enough to pick me up from the airport, so there was no hassle, which was nice because I’ve been traveling for 16+ hours and it was just one less thing to worry about. While driving home (which is in Acton), I was looking out the window and was just so incredibly ecstatic to be here. I received a tour of the house, which is really nice and shared with my family friend and two of her other tenants. Unfortunately, the two bigger rooms were already occupied, so I have a very small room, which surprisingly holds all my stuff (I can teach Organization 101: Living in Small Spaces). There still needed to be some work done in it, so I couldn’t put away my things just yet or take a nap (which I really wanted but also avoided in order make the jet lag easier). Instead, I decided to go explore.

The view from my window is a primary school courtyard. Those kids are cute, but waking up everyday at 8AM is rough.

The view from my window is a primary school courtyard. Those kids are cute, but waking up everyday at 8AM is rough.

Exhausted beyond belief and completely disoriented, I somehow managed to take the bus to Chiswick. Of course, I did get a little lost on foot, and the lack of google maps was not a comfortable feeling. After I found my way back to Chiswick High Road, I walked straight into a Vodaphone shop and bought a SIM card. One thing off the list.

I walked into a couple of banks (Lloyd’s and Natwest), hoping to open a bank account straight away. Hahaha. I was so young and naive. Long story short, no bank account was opened that day, or the next, or the next few. Getting proof of residence when you live with a family friend is next to impossible – I had to wait to the 29th for my enrollment to get a letter from my university instead.

London Tip #1: Proof of Residence

  • If you want to open a bank account, you need to show proof of residence. This proof needs to be OFFICIAL AS F_____. I had my Canadian bank change my address to my London one, send me a letter to London, and this still wasn’t enough. When they say BANK STATEMENT, they mean it. No simple official letter is enough for these people. Your options include:
    • Utility bill (living with a family friend? good luck)
    • Tenant statement (living with a family friend? good luck)
    • Letter of enrollment from university (no matter how much tuition you’ve paid, they will not help you until enrollment)
    • Letter from employer stating your residence (you probably don’t have a job yet)
    • Have your bank send you a bank statement with your new address on it, and have them send it directly to your new address (banks send statements every month and don’t print them just like that, so expect to wait a month)

Once you’ve opened a bank account, they send you your bank card and pin separately, which is good for security reasons, but just more waiting time.

After wandering the streets, going on 36+ hours of absolutely no sleep and 16+ hours of travel, I wasn’t feeling very good, or all that excited. I somehow managed to get home, and I took a nap, which lasted 7 hours. I woke up in the middle of the night and I wasn’t in the best mood.

Yes I was excited to be in London, but I was also extremely sad.

Going out with KC!

Going out with KC!

I thought I was in a bad mood because I was just jet lagged, but this lasted for a few days on-and-off. I was excited to be living in a new city, but I had many moments where I thought what am I doing here? Can I just go home where it’s easy and comfortable? On top of this feeling, I felt guilty for feeling it. Now, thinking back on this time, I’m realizing it was a completely normal reaction – I was alone in a city I don’t know, I was out of my comfort zone. I felt this more than I’d like to admit. However, as the days went on and I began to figure things out more, I felt less and less uncomfortable and more and more excited. Having KC, my one and only friend in London so far, arrive from the States has definitely helped this as well.

It wasn't all bad the first week, especially on days like these when this was the view for my morning run. I had the South Bank all to myself.

It wasn’t all bad the first week, especially on days like these when this was the view for my morning run. I had the South Bank all to myself.

I spent the rest of the week searching for jobs like it was my job, searching for new flats (this living situation is temporary), and wandering around London. I came to London two weeks before my programme started because I wanted to settle in (aka: open a bank account, find a job, get a NI number, etc.) I now realize that most of these things are impossible to do so soon and I maybe should have arrived just one week before. Whatever, it is what it is.

Week 2: Things Fall Into Place

Week two has been MUCH more enjoyable. For starters, I had the best case scenario with finding a job. I applied online to a few restaurants and had some trial shifts set up, but I must say I really lucked out. My next-door neighbour from Calgary, Lauryn, happens to live in London as well and is working at Barrecore, a barre/fitness studio with three locations in central London. She told me they had just finished hiring for receptionists at the time, but were potentially looking for someone to start in November. I really needed a job immediately, but Barrecore sounded amazing and I would also be able to do workouts there so I went for an interview. Turns out a position became available the day before my interview, so I am now employed. I’ve ben working pretty much all week and I absolutely LOVE it. I also took my first barre class, and I loved it as well. I love the location I work at (Mayfair – near Oxford Circus and is just ahhhmazing). Love is in the air in this area of my life. Thank you Lauryn, I owe you a drink.

2nd week better moods = more selfless

2nd week better moods = more selfies

Also, applying for an NI number, which I thought would be another ridiculously hard thing to do, was actually the easiest! An NI number is the equivalent of a SIN in Canada and an SSN in the US, and I’ve read and heard that it’s notoriously tough to get here. I had to call to make an appointment, which was a week from the call, and then I had to bring as much information with me as possible (both passports, proof of residence (uggggh), proof I am a student, proof that I am looking for jobs or have found one, etc.) With everything else in London turning out to be such a pain to accomplish, I was quite nervous. I walked in, and walked out in less than 30 minutes. The interviewer asked for my passports, asked if I had found a job (didn’t need any proof, even looked up the address himself) and asked for my current address (also, didn’t need proof). He then proceeded to photocopy my passports and explain to me that I will receive my number in four to six weeks. Then, I was out of there. Simple. Refreshing.

Turnham Green Station, my tube stop.

Turnham Green Station, my tube stop.

Having a routine with work has definitely helped me feel more normal in London. I’ve also learned to navigate the tube, buses and the city in general like an expert (I really must say I’m quite good at it), so things are looking up, up, up. There are moments when I’m commuting to-and-from work with ease, or going out to KOKO Camden or another bar with KC, and I catch myself feeling euphoric about being and living here. Tonight probably the first night I’m actually home, and not coming home from work, from touring the city or from a bar. I’m never at home, and I love that. I’m sure this will get very old soon once the honeymoon period is over, but for now I’m enjoying it.

Now It All Begins

Tomorrow is my first day of class. Therefore, tomorrow my full routine begins. I’m excited about starting my masters, I’m excited about the new adventure, and I’m also excited about meeting new people and making new friends (that sounds like I’m in kindergarten – should I bring PB&J sandwiches to share?). I’m glad I wrote this blog post before this, and I will try my hardest to find the time and energy to write one next week. Wish me luck!

List of things I still have to do:

  • Find a new place to live

One last thing to add:

  • Having an EU passport has been a LIFESAVER for me here! Not only did I not need a visa, I can work as many hours as I want and things such as opening accounts and applying for NI numbers, as complicated as they are already, were 10 times easier. If you are a soon-to-be expat and are considering getting your EU passport (if eligible), DO IT – it will help out a great deal.
  • Oh and byyy the way, I was waiting to get into a bar with KC, and I see that some people are waiting behind us. I turn around and f_____ing JON SNOW is standing behind me. Kit Harrington. Everyone may fangirl right now, it’s ok. I kept it cool……….. Just kidding, I totally asked him if he was Kit Harrington (he 100% was) and he said no, and wasn’t very nice about it. I totally get that he’s out with his friends and doesn’t want to be bothered, and I wasn’t going to say anything at all, but I thought I would kick myself the next day if I didn’t do it, and I kicked myself the next day anyway…

More Pictures

KOKO Camden

KOKO Camden

Borough Market (serious eats)

Borough Market (serious eats)

Another running view, this time in Gunnersbury Park

Another running view, this time in Gunnersbury Park

Stopped by 10 Downing Street on my way to work. Wonder if Dave was in.

Stopped by 10 Downing Street on my way to work (you can’t see it, but the door is there!) Wonder if Dave was in.

Tate, baby

Tate, baby

Pubs, amirite?

Pubs, amirite?

Admiralty Arch, my view during a coffee one morning

Admiralty Arch, my view during a coffee one morning

Neal's Yard - this picture doesn't do the colours justice

Neal’s Yard – this picture doesn’t do the colours justice

Marble Arch

Marble Arch

My last day(s) at home

Want am I going to do without these big, open skies?

What am I going to do without these big, open skies?

I was planning on writing this blog post a few days earlier, but laziness and procrastination got the best of me, again. But alas, the time has finally come with me to part with Calgary and make the move to London. It’s been a bittersweet couple of days, especially since these are my last few days in this house forever, as my parents are selling it :(((.

However, that is not to say I’m not SO EXCITED FOR TOMORROW! It’s barely even registering with me that the day is finally here. I’ve been thinking about this since I returned home from London last year, determined to return for grad school. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to apply for the program, I was so excited about it. When I was accepted in January, I immediately began planning and obsessing, and I haven’t stopped since. Still, it hasn’t felt real until right about now, when I’m cramming my life into two suitcases, a carry-on and a large-ass bag (too much, I know).

That’s actually a bit of a lie, it starting feeling real about two weeks ago when I had to fly to Toronto to pick up my new Czech passport (the process of applying for and getting this passport required two day-trips to Toronto – horrible). It’s not to say I dislike Toronto, I actually quite enjoyed it, but two four-hour flights there and back in the span of 15ish hours, TWICE, isn’t fun. However, the pay off (a Czech passport allowing me the privileges of an EU national in the UK) is well worth it. I am eternally grateful to this opportunity I have, as it is making life so much easier for me. No student visa, I can work as many hours as I want and, if I decide to stay afterwards, I don’t need to be sponsored by any company ….. aaah the freedom.

My trip to Toronto was so much more enjoyable in the rain

My trip to Toronto was so much more enjoyable in the rain

Other than the trip to T-dot, the past few weeks have been filled with good-byes, gym/phone/account cancellations, bank visits and all that fun stuff. Right now, I’m just excited to get on this plane to Ottawa, wait FIVE HOURS, and then finally board plane headed for Heathrow.

I'm going to miss this little turd :)

I’m going to miss this little turd 🙂

My next update will finally be from London, although not for a few days (ummm weeks?), as I’ll be ridiculously busy trying to get my life in order. I’m really going to need to put on my big-girl pants (trousers?) and do some adulting. Wish me luck.

A list of things I have to do once I arrive:

  • Get a SIM card for my phone
  • Get an Oyster card
  • Put money on said Oyster card
  • Open a bank account (why does this sound so hard to do?!)
  • Apply for NIN number
  • Find a job
  • Find another place to live (only after job is found)
  • Discover my surroundings (only after above list is completed)

Why London? My Top 5 Reasons

I'll be honest, it's for this sense of humour

I’ll be honest, it’s for this sense of humour

(Yes, I wrote “humoUr,” I’m Canadian)

Ever since I received my acceptance email from LCC, and I told anyone and everyone that would listen (even some that wouldn’t), I’ve been confronted with the same question over and over again:

Interested/Uninterested person: Wow, London! That’s awesome, so exciting! Why London?

My urge is always to say “It’s (insert adjective) London, why not?” However, not only would that be rude, but it wouldn’t suffice as an answer because, although London is (insert adjective) amazing, I could have just as easily chosen New York, San Francisco, Paris or Prague (which would make most sense of all). So, here is my reasoning behind choosing London, in list form:

  1. I spent a month in London last summer completing an international PR course through UNCC, and I just couldn’t imagine not coming back. I loved it so much, and more importantly, I felt right at home. Being a child of European parents, I spent many summers in the native land, so perhaps that is why I feel such close ties to the cobblestone streets and old, period buildings. While the two cultures are very different (Czech and English), there is still a European attitude about both of them, and I think my upbringing draws me back to it.
  2. If you haven’t heard yet, I studied PR in undergrad. PR is one of the fastest growing fields/professions at this time. After the recession hit, PR/Communications people were amongst the first to be let go, and then amongst the first to be rehired. Upper management realized they needed to interact with their publics and maintain their reputation (amongst other services), and thus PR started booming. PR is needed everywhere, but how better to start your career than in a city that hosts the headquarters and offices of all the major PR agencies in the world? No better way – there is no better way. I’m jumping off the high platform into the deep end of the PR pool.
  3. Have you heard I studied PR? Oh you haven’t? Well, I did. I did pretty well in undergrad, mostly because I just really liked what I was studying (NERD). I completed two internships (see About Me), I opted to take an event planning class which consisted of only myself and seven other girls and had to plan the entire UNCC Communication Studies Celebration Night and International PR Conference, I attended the International PR Seminar in London and I was on the executive board of our PRSSA chapter. I’m not bragging, I’m just expressing my nerdiness. I really dove into my major, and I had no plans of going on to grad school. However, after visiting LCC during my time in LDN, I realized there was so much more I could learn and so much further I could go. I knew if I pushed a little more in my education to put an MA where that BA is now, it would pay off. On those days when I got a lump in my throat from creating my budget and questioning if I really need it, my favorite professor and friggin’ IDOL (who shall remain unnamed) always reassured me with “Oh this will be so good for your development! SO GOOD!” One year to an MA? Pfffft – DONE.
  4. I’ve done school in the States, and my other option was Canada (which would be cheapest), but not many universities here have an MA in PR program. Plus, I wouldn’t be getting all the extra experience of studying/interning in a PR mecca, well maybe if I went to Toronto (mayyyyybe). However, I’m young, I’m single (eye roll), I’m debt free (right now) – there is no better time to do it.
  5. IT’S (insert adjective) LONDON, WHY NOT?!?!?!

There you have it, my top 5 reasons for moving to London. If anyone else asks, I will hand them a sticky note with this URL

So, I’m Moving to London … No Big Deal

In 26 days, I move to London.

I never thought I would write a sentence like that in my life, but here I am. I will be travelling to London on September 17 to complete my postgraduate degree in public relations at the London College of Communication. The program is exactly one year long, and after that I will hopefully find a job in London and stay for a few more years, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Still, regardless of what happens a year from now, the point is: in 26 days, I move to London. Ever since I was a preteen, I’ve dreamt of a bigger life than my own. When my parents thought I was sleeping on school nights, I was secretly watching reruns of Sex and the City on the TV in my room, hoping to one day live Carrie’s life. I didn’t want the shoes, the clothes or the men (come on, I was like 12); I wanted the job and the city. That  brings me to present day, except instead of being a Carrie in New York, I’m more like a Samantha in London (cliché industry joke right there – we’ve never actually seen Samantha do any real PR …. and I’m nothing like Samantha).

Back to present day: I MOVE TO LONDON IN 26 DAYS. I cannot express all of my excitement and nervousness in one small blog post, so I won’t even try. I am simply writing to let you (my friends, family and all 0 of my followers) know that I will in fact be blogging my experiences leading up to and in London. I promise to write about all (well, most) of my amazing, exhilarating, frightening, confusing and definitely humiliating moments.

I’ve never successfully kept a blog because I’ve always lost interest, but by putting it out into my own social media world, hopefully I will be motivated to keep it going this time. To remind myself and inform you all of why I am doing this, the main reasons I am starting this blog are:

  • So you all can see what I am up to in London (like taking selfies with hashtags like #TheQueenandI and #TeaAtBuckingham)
  • So others preparing to make the big move will learn from my embarrassing mistakes and not make their own (though they probably will)
  • I study PR and will (hopefully) have a PR position in the future, so… I really need to practice my writing

In regards to the last point, please bear with me while reading this blog post, I’ve been out of practice and am therefore very rusty.

I hope to write one more post before I leave for the UK, and then I will try to post about once a week while there. But for now, I am still in Calgary, and 26 days is still a long time.

In the meantime, read this list of shit I have to do before I go anywhere:

-save up more money by working and not spending
-fly to Toronto, pick up Czech passport, fly back (all in one day)
-find a job in London
-enroll in my course (why won’t the damn website let me do that?!?!)
-find out how to apply for NIN
-find out how to apply for Student Oyster Card
-find out how to get a bank account in the UK
-make major life decision about which clothes to bring and which to leave behind
-decide whether I should keep my amazing, new camera to take pictures in London or to return it (yeah… that one’s been made)
-a whole bunch of other stuff I am probably forgetting

-Dominica