Gabrielle studied abroad with CAPA International Education during Spring semester 2013. She chose London as her destination where she spent her time enjoying her favorite Learning through Internships class and attending theater events with her acting class. She was also an intern in London with Chisenhale Dance Space which taught her a lot about different work environments abroad. Below she talks about a surprise encounter that left an impact on her experience, how her impressions of London changed over the months and how she's applying her new skills in her current internships in New York City.
CAPA World: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Gabrielle Wilson: My name is Gabrielle Wilson and I am a senior at Rider University (Lawrenceville, NJ.) My major is theatre performance and my minor is arts administration. I studied abroad with CAPA this past spring (2013) in London. Some things that I enjoy in my life are the arts, traveling, going to the beach and spending time with family and friends.
CW: Tell us about your first impressions of London and any that changed by the time you went home. What surprised you most about your host country?
GW: My first impressions of London were a bit chaotic because I have never lived in a major city before. It was incredible to be in a place with so many people of different ethnicities and languages. One of the things that really interested me were the differences between the work day in London to a work day back in the States. Going to my internship and observing people in the office was insightful to see how work fields can uniquely operate.
CW: Where in London was it that you called home during your time abroad? What did you like most about your new neighborhood?
GW: My home in London was in Maida Vale in west London. This neighborhood was very residential and seemed to be very affluent. My favorite part of the neighborhood was a little spot on the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice. I would go to this spot to think, watch and observe the things around me. I lived on Clifton Gardens and my quaint little street had everything you could ever need. It was definitely a home for me and I often find myself thinking of my neighborhood.
CW: Did you complete an internship while you were abroad? If so, tell us a bit about your experience.
GW: I did complete an internship while abroad. It was at Chisenhale Dance Space. I was their marketing and development intern while there. I worked three days a week (20 hours) and learned so much from my time there. Since I am in the arts it gave me an awesome perspective on what the arts were like in London and to meet the different artists and learn about the history and tradition of Chisenhale provided great insight to how a not-for-profit is run abroad.
CW: What were the biggest challenges you faced in adapting to your host country? Most rewarding moment?
GW: The biggest challenges I faced were at my internship. I never really had a lot of marketing training prior to studying in London so coming into a company and being their marketing intern was a bit intimidating. I had to learn not only basic marketing skills but how to market to a whole new target audience. It was very hard in the beginning but with my advisor’s help and guidance she was able to teach me a lot and the end result was something she was very happy with!
My most rewarding moment was also came while at my internship. I was also the development intern for Chisenhale so one of the things that I had been working on was a new funding campaign for their upcoming anniversary. We started doing phone asks one day and it is something that I have done before and knew that I would be good at. I ended up getting several people to donate over the phone and my advisor was so excited and happy with my initiative. I was so proud of the work I had put in and was even more ecstatic to be contributing to Chisenhale.
CW: Did you have a chance to interact with the local community? If so, tell us the story of one interaction that stood out for you.
GW: I did interact with my immediate street community as soon as I was able to. One specific moment that stands out to me was actually when my family visited over spring break. My parents and I were walking down the Warwick tube station when I heard my dad say, “Paul?” it turns out that Paul was someone that my dad had gone to high school with. This man lived down the block from me on Clifton Gardens. This was one of those one in a million chances! I couldn't believe it when it happened but I ended up talking with this man throughout my time in London and he taught me so much more about the community that became my home.
CW: Talk a bit about CAPA International Education academics. What were your favorite classes and why? Did you participate in any MyEducation events?
GW: I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the academics but the relationships and knowledge that I learned will go throughout my life with me. My two favorite classes were my Modern Acting class and my Learning through Internships class.
Acting is my life so any chance I can get being in an acting class I will make the most of it. The professor, Michael Punter, was insightful and very open to what we as students had to bring to the table. He allowed us to use our skills and choose texts that we felt passionate about. We also were able to see several shows along with class and that was a great thing to see as an actor. I am always learning while seeing a performance and I had so many opportunities to do that with the Modern Acting class.
The Learning through Internships class was always interesting and Kristin Dean, the professor, made it a lot of fun. We would discuss our internships and the differences between the work places in London compared to back home. She was incredibly knowledgeable and was always engaging. I learned so much from that class about my own work, strengths, weaknesses and how potential employers could possibly see me. The things that I learned in that class are things I consider each time I apply for something or write anything. It was a really amazing class.
I did participate in a few MyEducation events and they were always very accessible and fun! It was great that so many were scheduled throughout the semester because you could really pick and choose the ones that were able to fit into your schedule!
CW: What have you been up to since you returned to the US? Do you feel that your experience with CAPA contributed or will contribute to your success in starting your career?
GW: Since being back home I have been working in two different internships (one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn) and several other arts projects. I do believe that my experience with CAPA has and will continue to contribute to my success with each new project I do in my future. As soon as someone sees my abroad experience on my resume it is almost always the first thing that they ask about which is always exciting to me because I love to discuss it whenever I can.
CW: What did your study abroad experience teach you about yourself and those around you?
GW: My study abroad experience taught me to be more open minded about every new thing in my life. I used to be nervous and apprehensive to try new things but emerging myself into a new country, city, school, work, and people has made me learn about all the things I am truly capable of if I just set aside the nerves and take a leap. I know what I really want in life now and I know how to go about achieving my goals and not letting anything get in my way.
One of the most important things that I learned while abroad is that there is truly so much in the world that the little things don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Being able to live in London and travel around Europe for the semester proved to me that getting outside of your comfort zone and appreciating each moment is one of the most precious things a person can do. I have learned to take in all the things around me for what they are and never taking anything for granted. I learned a lot about myself and learned a lot from others and each person that I came across affected me in a very special way. Each of those moments will carry me through life and I couldn't be more grateful.
CW: When you look back at your time in London, what was the most memorable of each of these?
Sight: Grand Union Canal in Little Venice
Sound: BBC Radio 6 Music Radcliffe and Maconie show
Smell: Hookah smoke on Edgware Road
Texture: The worn seats on the Bakerloo line
Taste: Scones and Cream Tea from Caffe Concerto at High Street Kensington