It can be quite a daunting task to call a city with over seven million unfamiliar faces home. At least, it was for me when I studied abroad in London this past summer. Weary after the long flight to Heathrow Airport, I lugged around what seemed to be about 1,000 pounds of luggage, and realized -- shockingly -- that I was now a foreigner.
But as I walked onto the Tube with my fellow Ithaca College students, we prepared for the greatest eight weeks of our lives.
We arrived at IC’s London Center, and were greeted by the one-and-only Bill Sheasgreen, the London Center director. When the cab pulled up in front of the converted mansion, we were all stunned at how nice it was.
The cab driver’s exclamation of "this is you school?" summed up our own reactions pretty well.
Students hanging out in Bill Sheasgreen's office. Photo by Bill Truslow
After a quick breakfast of tea, croissants, and muffins (staple breakfast foods in London), we were off to London 101: Summer Orientation.
We were all very excited to hear that the London Center was about a five minute walk from where we were living, and was housed in a central location for buses, tubes, and stores.
Eager to move into our digs for the summer, we began the trek over to Chelsea, the affluent area which housed the IES Residence Hall, our new home. Located right on King’s Road, which was made famous during the 70’s for being a hangout for the Rolling Stones, Beatles, and other bands; King’s Road is now an upscale shopping district, filled with stores, cafes, and flats.
Apart from the incredible London culture, the main attraction of studying abroad for me was the ability to obtain an internship.
Even more attractive, instead of scrambling around London looking for work myself, the experienced and helpful London Center staff found an internship for me, before I even arrived.
As an accounting major, my placement at Perfect Storm Media, a small online marketing firm, was certainly not one I would have chosen, but doing an internship outside my field turned out to be a valuable experience.
I quickly fell in love with Westbourne Studios, the large purple office complex in Notting Hill that Perfect Storm shared with close to 100 other small businesses.
Here's a shot of the lounge area in Westbourne Studios where the autho interned. Photo courtesy of Brian Keefe '11
With a large lounge area in the center and a bar in the corner, surrounded by five floors of studios occupied by architects, designers, record labels, talent agencies, photographers, and media consultants, the building represents London’s casual culture to a tee.
During any given day, I saw everything from photo shoots to production meetings just by walking through the lobby.
Perfect Storm Media, which is run by two people, designs Internet-based ads for clients. Sounds simple enough. However, the actual system is much more complex.
Daily tasks of the employees include keyword mining, algorithm refinement, negative keyword analysis, and other complicated phrases that I won’t go into.
Their pioneering work with Google AdWords -- they virtually redefined the entire online advertising model -- has enabled Perfect Storm to secure very high-profile clients, including Seatwave (Europe’s largest fan-to-fan ticket exchange), GlassesDirect (the U.K.’s largest direct seller of eyeglasses), and Borro (the U.K.’s largest online pawnbroker).
With such a diverse array of clients, a lot of work each day goes into the daily maintenance of each keyword campaign. I spent most of my time analyzing keyword data and creating new keyword combinations, and occasionally performed tasks more closely associated with my major, like reviewing company financials and sending monthly invoices to clients.
About once a week I got the chance to meet with executives and marketing directors doing business with Perfect Storm, and I quickly learned that face time with clients is crucial in a market where huge amounts of money are invested into advertising campaigns.
When the day came to leave London, I was definitely sad to move on. The people I met, the experiences I had, and the knowledge I gained all made my study abroad experience more than I could have ever hoped for.
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Fuse is a student produced publication about the Ithaca College experience. All content in the print and web versions of Fuse is developed by current Ithaca College students in a breadth of different areas of study.