By: Tarah Bourke
This summer was an experience of a lifetime. For the past few years, I had dreamed of studying abroad in London, and this year, for the month of June I got to watch my dream unfold before my eyes at Roehampton University. Initially, I wanted to study abroad just for the opportunity to travel. But as the time became closer to leaving, I figured I could use part of this trip to improve my abilities as a public relations student. Here’s what I believe I gained from my time abroad.
The biggest thing I had to understand as a PR student from a tiny town is that there are many different perspectives worldwide. Now, you may not think England would be all that different from the United States, but I noticed a lot of cultural differences right away. People dressed differently, used different words, and the service was rather different. It took some time for me to understand the slang, and get used to the way things worked on a daily basis.
I learned that you must specify you want tap water or you will be charged, look left before stepping into the street, the subway is the tube, I was paying in pounds not dollars, and the people working at Starbucks had no clue what they were doing.
But seriously, I did pick up on some of the advertising and marketing strategies while I was over there. We spent a lot of time on the tube going into the city. Everything was advertised from deodorant to sperm banks (no joke) and somehow they always managed to tie the product back to the tube system or the commute so people could relate to the product. They did this a lot with their word choice. This was for a deodorant ad: “Your sweat terminates here.” All of the trains had a termination point. This really intrigued me because I would not have thought to alter the choice of my words based on my audience. But I felt like it worked.
Now, I mentioned some of the advertising knowledge I gained, but we all know public relations is all about gaining relationships. I met the most amazing group of people while I was studying abroad. The people in my program were from all over the United States, and I learned so much from them. We came to realize that even though we were all from
the same country, our schools and way of life was rather different. We all had different slang terms- apparently no one says “cash out” when referring to falling asleep quickly. But, overall I really became close with these people and established friendships all across the United States. I know that wherever I decide to intern, someone I met abroad will be available to let me sleep on their couch for the summer.
Overall, studying abroad was an amazing cultural experience and it opened my eyes to other worldly perspectives. I would highly recommend anyone studying the field of public relations to study abroad.