Upon arriving jet lagged and nervous on my first day at Hornall Anderson’s marble and gold clad entrance way and hitting floor 13, I was both very impressed and very anxious at what lay ahead for my next three months. Being introduced to timesheets, hearing overhead intercom announcements, and having to learn the names of nine different meeting rooms was no doubt daunting! But beyond the surface differences I found a group of caring, fun and talented people, who welcomed me with open arms, made me very quickly feel a part of the team and made my entire experience one I’ll treasure.
The typical London attitude is to stand side by side silently in an elevator, see the same faces on the bus every day and not say hello….and maybe it was because I had the accent, but here I found myself making friends on the bus, in the supermarket and dare I say it even in the lift! Maybe it was the water view from my desk or the idea that one hour from the office I could be hitting the ski slopes, but I suddenly and happily felt at home in Seattle.
The changes were not only aesthetic and social. Not being used to managing my own time or working on more than two projects at once, I suddenly found myself having to take some initiative, and after a little bumpy start I realized what a useful exercise this was. I was also able to work on projects outside of my usual scope and with different teams of people, and experience innovation workshops that pushed you to your creative limits. The in-office bar was also an added bonus.
I’ve learned that being pushed out of your comfort zone is a good thing. I’ve lost one iPhone (do not take them clubbing in San Francisco) and two pairs of jeans (that no longer fit me thanks to the amazing variety of food and gigantic portions!). But I’ve gained an unforgettable experience, a group of wonderful new friends and the knowledge that no matter how much you force them, most Americans do not like Marmite.