Friday, April 22, 2011

Miamian Article

I mentioned that I was asked to write for my college alumni magazine, The Miamian. My article was in the back cover of the spring issue which came out in March. For those of you who didn't go to Miami, below is what was published. If you keep up with my blog, you already know most of the stories.

A link to the official Miamian blog post can be found here.

Cheerio from London

By Shannon Sieve ’02

Even after three months, I find it hard to believe that I board one of Britain’s red double-decker buses every morning and round onto Buckingham Palace Road to find my way to work.

Living in London has been a dream of mine ever since I participated in Miami’s Laws, Hall & Associates program in the summer following my junior year of college. Frito Lay U.K. challenged us to find ways to increase their potato chip market share in London. During the six-week program, I met some great friends, traveled all over Europe, and conducted a lot of research on potato chips. I can’t exactly explain it, but something about London really grabbed hold of me, and I was determined to find my way back.

I never dreamt it would take nine years to make happen. I was living in Chicago and working in advertising sales at Google. Life was good, but I needed a change. A big change. I pursued a job transfer within Google, and, before I knew it, I was working through the visa application and buying a one-way ticket from O’Hare to Heathrow.

The motivation for the move was to live the day-to-day of another culture, understand international business practices and pursue my love of travel. I’ve experienced a lot already and this is only the beginning.

The Yes Woman

I was cautioned by those who moved abroad before me that making friends takes about six months. The best way to get out there and meet the people you hope to later call your friends is by saying yes to just about everything. I am the Yes Woman. My stand-in family is a group of other foreigners, mainly from America and New Zealand. This community has taken me in, in a way I wasn’t ready for. It’s amazing how the right people turn up just when you need them most.

Turkey & Stuffing

This was my first Thanksgiving abroad. Thanksgiving is obviously not a national holiday outside the U.S., but I took the day off anyway and visited Stonehenge. It was an ice-cold day, and I spent more energy keeping warm than enjoying the site. To warm up, I was looking forward to a hot turkey dinner. I was determined to find something closely resembling a traditional Thanksgiving feast. After walking the entire city of Bath, the best I could find was a turkey and cranberry sandwich and a bag of “Turkey & Stuffing” potato chips. Disappointing, but, thankfully, pretty tasty. I don’t remember those from my Laws, Hall days!

Rookie in the Office

My team consists of 12 people from 10 different nationalities. I’m the only American. My days have become a game of navigating foreign languages, converting multiple currencies, learning how to make phone calls to five different countries, and planning international travel. I’ve made countless mistakes. My first week, I booked a conference room in Dublin. For a meeting in London. Then there was the time I showed up for a meeting in Heidelberg, Germany, that was actually taking place in Hamburg. Only 350 miles away. I’m such a rookie.

Royal China

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is obviously big news and has graced the cover of countless newspapers and magazines. The joke in London is that Americans are more fascinated by the royal wedding than the Brits. Judging by the reactions I’ve seen from my friends back home and my friends in London, this seems like an accurate statement. The wedding has been declared a national holiday, which means a day off for all U.K. workers. I won’t be purchasing the commemorative coin or royal china, but I can appreciate an extended weekend. Royal wedding street parties are apparently a great British tradition, and I’m excited to be in London for one. Now all I need is an invitation.


Moving to London hasn’t been a huge culture shock, but, more accurately, a huge amount of subtle differences. The accent is one, of course, but there have been plenty of other subtle surprises. Like the fact that there are no electrical outlets in the bathrooms. I’m required to pay a licensing fee just for the right to own a TV. My washing machine is in the kitchen and I don’t have a dryer. Body weight is measured in stones rather than pounds. Some of the most gourmet meals can be found in pubs. Fish & chips are always served with a side of mushy peas. And 25 vacation days is standard. Oh, and giving a high five is a strictly American thing to do. Who knew?

1 comment:

  1. I read your article in Miamian and was immediately jealous! :) How exciting that an experience at Miami has led you to this. Love reading your entries about your life and work. Thanks for sharing with other alums (and the blogosphere).


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