Greetings AIESEC SFU from the UK!
London, England, home of the infamous Tower Bridge, Big Ben Clock, and the Royal Family. It is everything you think it is and more.
For the past 6 months of my one year internship, I’ve been working for Alcatel-Lucent Telecommunications Ltd in the position of Human Resources Coordinator. Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) is one of AIESEC’s global partners and has brought in more than 180 interns into their global offices since they first started their partnership in 2006. The word from the street is that Alcatel-Lucent is currently planning to take in an additional 40 interns this year and is aiming to increase that number the following year. I’m the first AIESEC intern for the London office; apply if you’re planning to do an exchange!
So what is it that I do? Well, ALU develops a lot of technology products and services, so many that to this day, I still do not know all their areas of business; the hundreds of technology acronyms are even more confusing (I learn something new each day!). Personally, I work in their fiber optics, submarine networks and applications division. On a day-to-day basis, when I’m not attending to employee HR admin work, I’m managing regional HR projects in people and talent development. I work long hours but it’s quite a rewarding challenge!
So have I picked up a British accent yet? This is a tough one! London actually is home to a variety of accents. Depending on where in London you live, you can sound quite different. Local people can tell which part of the UK you are from based on your accent. The one I have to watch out for, so I don’t pick it up, is the Cockney accent (Google it). London is also home to hundreds of ethnicities and interestingly enough, compared to Canada, many ethnic groups have preserved their culture more so than in Canada. It is common to see Islamic women in burqa – completely covered in head to toe shopping at a local Sainsbury’s (a supermarket chain).
My internship was raised on a national MC level, so I don’t really have a home LC per se. However, the MC team does try to arrange a weekly get-together for all the interns in London. I’ve met AIESECers all the way from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the list goes on. It’s amazing.
Being a Canadian in London has been pleasant so far. Of course, I do have to explain to people that Canada isn’t just all about Mounties and snow (speaking of Snow, London recently had their worst snowfall in decades). Many people here think that Canada is just an ‘extension’ to the States; I’ve met people who thought that Canada’s president is also Barack Obama. Other than minor misunderstandings, Canadians have a good image in this country. Overall, there are many similarities in culture but also many differences in ‘the little’ things (i.e. driving on the other side of the road and cramped living lifestyle).
To end this note, I’ll leave you with a few trivia facts that I’ve gathered so far:
Did you know?
- The national dish of Britain is Chicken Tikka Masala and I have to admit London has the best curry!
- London has the highest per capita ratio of CCTVs in the world. That’s right, you’re ALWAYS being watched.
- There are a lot of parks in England, but usually there is nothing in their parks except a giant area of well-kept grass and possibly some trees.
- Grade 12 or ‘A-levels’ as it is called here, is optional. University takes only 3 years to complete.
- Sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches! Eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a cuppa strong black teeth-staining tea.
- The word ‘hardcore’ is derogatory (don’t use it) and when you’re ‘knackered’ it means you’re tired. French fries = chips and Bag of chips = Bag of crisps. Aubergine = Eggplant. Wotcha? = What’s up?
- I recommend you try a Shandy when you order your next drink. It’s beer mixed with Lemonade (or Sprite).
There’s so much more to share but not enough time or space. I’d love to hear from you so if you have any questions or comments about my internship or what I’ve talked about in this post, feel free to send me an email at zhou.griselda(at)gmail.com.