Ever since I was a child, I always felt like I didn’t belong where I grew up. I know, I sound like a cliched coming-of-age American teen movie, but my story has far fewer pom poms, pick-up trucks and the school’s bad boy picking me up around 8. Stick with me here. What I’m trying to say is that while South Wales is home, I’ve always had this pull to move away and find my feet elsewhere. As far back as I can remember I loved the hustle and bustle, the bright lights, the never ending energy of the metropolis, and cities that don’t shut down on Sundays and Thursday afternoons.
When I decided to pursue a career in journalism, the big cities were the only place to be. London had always been my dream. Since visiting as a child, there was something about the capital city that made me feel re-energised and ready for anything. Even my Dad accidentally leaving me stranded on top of one of the Trafalgar Square lions didn’t dampen this idyllic idea of “London”. So when I was offered a month-long internship at Stylist magazine, I couldn’t believe my luck. Not only would I be working on one of my favorite UK titles, but I’d get to taste the life I’d imagined since I was a nine year old girl rushing home from school to read Girl Talk.
The start of October came and off I went to London town. Although I was excited to finally dip my toes into the creative industry I’d been trying so hard to break into, I was a little worried that this romanticised idea I’d held on to wasn’t going to add up in reality. Best case scenario, I’d take the first steps to becoming a fully fledged magazine journalist. Worst case, I’d get a leading role in The Devil Wears Prada – the sequel. Luckily, no Miranda Priestlys were to be found, just an office full of ordinary people working hard to put together an extraordinary magazine.
After being introduced to every member of the team, which I thought was a lovely touch, I got stuck in helping the editors with a range of different tasks. I transcribed a few celebrity interviews, and silly as it sounds, it almost felt like Alicia Vikander was talking directly to me. I researched and fact-checked articles and wrote a handful of my own. I even did a few stints on reception and was sent on a couple of errands, which really helped me get to grips with the underground. By the end of the month, I started calling it the train, not the tube.
It was incredible to get an inside look at the magazine industry. Watching production meetings, people bouncing ideas off each other and seeing things which were ideas the week before materialise in print the week after was pretty impressive. Plus, the fact that all of this was done while drinking copious amounts of tea and complimentary brownies confirmed this was my kind of office. Another small gesture which made Stylist feel so friendly was the fact that everyone took their turn on the tea round. Being right at the bottom of the pecking order, even I was offered a cuppa by senior members of staff. Little things like this made me feel like a valued member of the team, rather than just a number in a never-ending cycle of interns.
After a jam-packed day in the office, I just about managed to squeeze in a little ‘me time’ during my stay. I was lucky enough to live with a family friend in Westminster for two weeks, meaning that my evening commute was a constant stream of enchanting sights. I never tired of passing the Houses of Parliament, watching the water taxis float past the London Eye and could almost see Peter Pan dancing around the hands of Big Ben. Crossing Victoria Embankment, I imagined the backstories of the politicians and glamorous women on their way to and from Burberry HQ. And once I arrived home, it was really lovely to be greeted by a friendly face and a plate full of hot food.
My school-friend was also kind enough to let me stay with her in halls of residence, in a room which was really only fit for one person. By the end of my stay, finding a way to move around the small space without knocking something over or injuring each other had become a well-oiled routine. We ate out in Las Iguanas and Giraffe and enjoyed a few film nights watching 13 Going on 30 and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. On an evening when we were feeling particularly adventurous, we headed to a bar know to be one of Tom Hiddleston’s local watering holes. We were out of luck that particular night, but it was nice to experience a few drinks in the city. Heading to Shoreditch and Brick Lane, we also tasted the best street food the East End has to offer.
Other highlights included a trip to the theater to see a friend perform in Mamma Mia, meeting up with family in Covent Garden, and attending the Magazine Academy Awards. It really was an eventful month. It gave me a taste of the magazine industry and the chance to prove to myself that I can succeed in the big city and in journalism. The experience has only reassured me that despite the media industry being extremely competitive, I am more than prepared to work hard to get there. I know I won’t get there straight away and it’ll require hard graft and a few more unpaid tea runs and tube rides. But, I also now know that the pull I was feeling growing up was drawing me to London. And if the top looks like Stylist magazine, grabbing a few Earl Greys and trekking around the big city really is a no-brainer.