In 2018, I was given the opportunity to join the Superdream team in Bromsgrove, so my partner, Matt and I packed-up our life and joined the queue of Britons on the quest to find the best fish and chips, oh and to learn some new marketing skills too.
The idea of living and working in the UK didn’t seem that daunting, and while I had always considered myself cultured, little was I prepared for new life lessons.
Since my return to Australia, a full year later, I have decided to compile 5 important things I learnt from living and working in the UK.
To my surprise, socially our nations are vastly different. I found I was quite blunt compared to my colleagues – a no BS kind of gal. While this usually wasn’t an issue and wasn’t always received negatively, it was difficult for me to not receive this behavior in return – at least not straight away. The British take some warming up to and I wouldn’t necessarily call their behaviours reserved and stuffy, but calm and patient.
Until you get some Guinness in them, of course.
Although part of the same brand, our two offices are immensely different when it comes to “appropriate” office attire. In Australia, our personalities are heavily communicated through our brightly coloured outfits or our extravagant earrings. Even men wearing dress shorts and t-shirts is more than okay.
Our clients value us for our individuality and would often consider it “weird” if a male arrived at a meeting in a suit. In the UK however, although receiving compliments from my colleagues, the idea of wearing a summer dress with sandals was not only inappropriate for the weather but I found I just wouldn’t be taken seriously.
Ahh yes, the waves of depression. It’s a real thing and to be honest I struggled more than I thought I would during my year on exchange. Other than my family, I found myself missing the simple things like our local bakery, restaurants, and even retail shops.
I took for granted having my own car or just being able to hang with friends in front of the tv on weekends. The Superdream staff became our family though, and were always accommodating, including Matt and I on outings, family dinners and taking us to tourist destinations. This helped us through the lonely times, more than they know.
In an agency environment, communicating between teams can be challenging - let alone communicating between offices in different times zones. I found myself in meetings often saying, “Have we told Australia this news?” or “Jump on a Skype call if you’re not sure.” I also found staff (from both sides) would be reserved from contacting the counter office, or teams had difficulty reading briefs because, once again, we don’t speak the same language.
A simple Skype call at the start, or end of the day, often resolved most issues immediately, or at least accelerated the project significantly rather than relying on a chain of emails over the course of a week. The exchange really helped me think outside-the-box when it came to internal comms, see issues from both sides, and allows me to now work with both teams on an international scale going forward to make it even easier.
Having an accent naturally drew attention but I wasn’t ready for all the questions. “Do you have salt n’ vinegar crisps in Australia?” Yes, sort of. Trying to explain that we call both crisps and hot chips - chips was a confusing topic.
“Isn’t Brisbane just an airport?” It probably didn’t help that I pulled-up a photo of the Birdsville pub and told a bunch of people that is was our office.
“Brisbane is near Perth, right?” That one I couldn’t grasp. But to be fair, I had no idea where Bromsgrove was or even how to pronounce Worcestershire (Woos-ter-sheer) until I knew I was coming over.
Secretly I enjoyed the novelty of all the attention, but refuse, I repeat, REFUSE to accept that salt ‘n’ vinegar CHIPS are in a green packet!