AIFS Study Abroad Blog

Working: London vs. the USA

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For those of you who don’t know, I am interning at a marketing firm this summer while abroad. This just so happens to be one of my favorite aspects of being abroad.

While yes, my classes, the people, and travelling have all been amazing, who can actually say that they’ve faced the dreaded (to some people) daily commute internationally?

Since this isn’t my first rodeo (i.e. Big Girl Job), I thought I would compare the London work culture to the American work culture. This isn’t about putting the other culture down, merely comparing the two!

Here are a few key differences I found:

  1. The Commute

Back in big cities in the states, the commute is rather similar to how it is in London. Since it is not common for residents in big cities to have their own cars, most rely heavily on public transportation, specifically the tube.

If you don’t live in a big city however, this is very different than the daily drive. In London, people from all walks of life commute via the tube. Whether you’re a business man or a busker, public transportation is the great equalizer!

  1. Lunch

Lunch in London is surprisingly similar to the American lunch experience. Much like Americans, many people bring their lunch from home to eat at their desk. Londoners often don’t take their entire hour lunch, and instead only take what they need. London is not like much of the European continent where people take a long break, and maybe a siesta.

Not all Londoners bring their lunches; cafes such as Pret-A-Manger are extremely popular for lunch. If someone doesn’t bring a lunch, it’s popular to grab lunch from the nearest Pret (usually to go), and then run errands on the way back to the office.

  1. The Work Environment

I have found the office environment itself to be the most different when compared to America. One major difference is the language used. There are of course different colloquialisms, but I was surprised at how openly and casually people spoke to one another. It is common for coworkers use very informal language with each other in my workplace, which isn’t necessarily the case in the American office.

Secondly, there is a big difference in workplace attire between the two countries. In America, a person doesn’t necessarily have to dress up every day for work; while we aren’t exactly slobs, I would say offices tend to be rather casual. London offices, however, operate a bit differently when it comes to the dress code. Rather than casual, everyday clothes, men are most likely to be seen in trousers and a sports coat with no tie, and women are more likely to be dressed in business professional dresses or pantsuits, usually black or some other dark color. This is especially noticeable on the tube.

These are just a few differences and I am so happy to have the opportunity to experience both!

 

 

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