Finished…. Marathon #2.

11140036_10155559589535565_8351291361405492431_n

Today, I finished the Virgin London Marathon in 4 hours and 37 minutes. I couldn’t be happier with my time, the weather conditions, and crowds that came to support the runners. Overall, it was an amazing day and after a flapjack cake, coffee and large bowl of pasta, I feel like a normal human being again. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning though!

My philosophy in life and in particular with this challenge was inspired by Confucius:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” 

I could shower you with cheesy quotes about perseverance, but instead I’ll leave you with a quote from NIKE:

JUST DO IT.

Advertisements

Full-Time Working Gal … in a Media Agency.

Ahhh… the bliss of Sunday! After my first two weeks of work, I have re-found my love of weekend relaxation. DSCN4644

I’m currently employed by Starcom MediaVest Group – a media agency – as a graduate media trainee in their London office. The program is a 13 week rotation scheme in order to gain exposure to different aspects of the business! The basis of media agencies, although difficult to explain at times, is their position between brands and consumers. The agency acts as the liaison between their clients [ ex. CineWorld ] and media owners [ex. The Guardian ]. With the data-driven research and expert knowledge, media agencies solve business problems through marketing campaigns. 

As a media planner…. here are some of the typical questions you would have to ask/answer:

1. From all the data on consumer behaviours, what is the one simple, meaningful insight into your target audience?

2. How can you use different media channels [press, radio, TV, outdoor, digital…] to create one unified message for the consumer? What do you want your brand experience to be? 

3. How well is your campaign performing? Can you optimise the budget to maximise the return on investment?

4. How are you going to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time? 

Starcom-MediaVest

Thus far, media as a career path has only been positive! The industry is extremely young [ the average employee age is around 29 ] and very fast-paced [ with digital technology, the rate of change is faster than ever ]. The work is intellectually stimulating and heavily relies on communication and networking skills within the small world of brand managers and media owners. Despite being a niche speciality, there is plenty of opportunities for travel and career mobility. As an arts and humanities graduate, I was lost in the sea of Google search results which suggested I would never find a job. But they were wrong. I love my job. [ SMG has ‘hot desking’, running clubs during lunch, chalkboard walls, free cappuccinos, and hilarious brainstorming sessions.] At the moment, it’s not very well-paid, but hey, you gotta start somewhere! And in 5 years time, I’ll have the expertise, the salary, and the happiness. How about that? 

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

-Earl Nightingale

Study Abroad Experience on the King’s College London Website

Well ladies and gentlemen,

I am officially on the King’s College London Website for a second time. This time I was asked to write about my study abroad experience at the Sorbonne – Paris III and I even got to include some pictures!

Click here to read about my Study Abroad Experience on the King’s College London Website

The advertising Job Hunt Continues.

2. Sell us one of the following: • A colander • A used match • A queue (300 words maximum)

Throwing a surprise birthday party for your girlfriend? Did you make a mess and need to get rid of your mum for a couple hours? Need to make grandma feel helpful?

No worries. Send them to buy some TQ branded item. TQ can guarantee that the designated person will wait in The Queue to purchase simple products. For the FIRST time ever, we sell time. You can gain a short break by purchasing a queue for loved ones. Or enemies. The choice is yours.

Queue begins here. 

45 Pounds of Hair Loss.

Today, I got a haircut. Seems simple enough. I Googled salons in London and found what I believed was the cheapest…. And yes, the cheapest was 45 Pounds for a cut and style. Granted I am in central London and I didn’t look for any available Groupons and deals, but I’d still like to share my overall experience.

Some background information is necessary first. Before today, I have never spent more than 20 Dollars on a haircut. That’s about 12 Pounds. And when I get my haircut at my grandmother’s hairdresser in Bulgaria, it costs 8 Levs… which is just over 3 Pounds. Thus, I’ve always avoided paying a lot of money for a haircut. I respect the profession and the hairstylists; I’ve just never been in the loop of stylist number 1, head stylist, top consultant, Brazilian blowouts, and highlight colouring. But this London Hair Salon experience was so much more than a haircut… it was luxury and marketing at it’s finest.

The Salon was very chic with white, brown, and light blue as it’s modern colour palette in Covent Garden. I walked in and quickly recited my name and appointment time, as if to prove that I belonged. A Nice Lady asked to take my coat, scarf and purse. The Londoner in me immediately thought about whether or not it was safe to hand over my bag. I hesitated for a moment and passed over my accessories… standing bare in the entryway. Then, the Nice Lady asked, “Can I make you something to drink? Tea? Coffee?” My though: “Am I allowed to do that?” My response: “Uh, no thank you.”

Next I was escorted to a chair where my stylist introduced herself and together, we discussed what ‘look’ I was going for. When we reached an agreement, I was escorted downstairs for shampoo and washing. Apparently, it was crucial that my hair be washed in the salon with their products… never mind that I had washed it one hour before to avoid extra costs. I sat down as the chair reclined and I placed my head into the sink. Next thing I know: the seat has transformed into a massage chair, my stylist is kneading my scalp and asking again if I want coffee. This time, my hesitation results in a “umm…yes, black simple coffee please.” The stylist turns to the Nice Lady and says “A black Americano for my lady please.” I was now “her lady.”

By the time we where done downstairs and I was escorted upstairs with my freshly washed hair, the Americano was waiting for me at our station. In the classiest manner I could pull off, I took out my gum and took a sip. The stylist then started cutting my hair; the moment had finally arrived! In the time it took her to add some layers and a little fringe to my brown mop, she politely asked me 9 times – and yes I counted – if she was pulling my scalp too much. Every time, I repeated, “no no” and smiled. I was probably doing something wrong because I kept adjusting my head to try and make it easier for her…

And there I sat. Getting a simple haircut. And I felt awkward, clumsy, and out of place rather than stylish and pampered. Every time my white coffee cup clanked on the plate, I got self-conscious. Everyone in the shop was trying his or her absolute hardest to make me feel comfortable, but the “girl who got a 3-pound Bulgarian haircut” was feeling something else. I felt spoiled. I felt like a haircut shouldn’t cost this much. I felt like I was out of touch with reality as a university student. True, that is a strong reaction to have against a haircut.

This might just be me, but if anyone else feels like this, know that you’re not alone. Getting my nails done, having my hair professionally cut, getting relaxing spa massages and trying on shoes for over 50 dollars makes me feel awkward and elitist. I can definitely afford it, but it doesn’t make me feel good. And isn’t that the point of these places? They want to pamper you and make you cappuccinos while you read Vogue. I’m not here to say that there’s anything wrong with it, but simply that it might not be for everyone. Just because something costs more, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more enjoyable for everyone.

5 ‘Petite’ Things About Paris

Exactly 5 months and 1 day ago I took the Eurostar from London to Paris, and naturally I voiced my enthusiasm on this blog. Well the time has come to journey back (quite literally… I am faced in the opposite direction of the train’s movement). So here are a couple things I’ve learned during my time in France:

1. As your proficiency skills in one language go up, your other languages will suffer. I would have never thought that becoming better at French would mean spelling and grammar mistakes in English, after all English is native language! But no, I was making silly typos almost every single day by the end of my stay. Bahhhhh, Alors, qu’est ce qu’on fait?

2. Quiche is one of the most delicious foods on the planet. Bahhhh….. Voilà.

3.  Being a nanny is a great way to socialize and learn about the country’s culture. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about the population by observing how children are raised. Bon… bahhh, on prend une goûte après l’école. Un petit Pomme-pot et une tartine avec Nutella pour toi aussi? 

4. They say bahhhhh….. a lot. The best way to learn a foreign language is to pick up the little sounds in between words. Believe me, it will do wonders for your accent. Je te promis.

5.  Living in Pars is HARD. And disheartening some times. You might get your phone stole. You will get whistled at and harassed. No matter how well you speak French, people will treat you like a foreigner. The metro will stop at random times. Your Internet will not work. You will live in small spaces. You will not have a gym near your apartment. Nothing will be open on Sunday and Monday and anything administration-related will never be open.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s a wonderful city. But to survive, you have to willing to struggle. To fight for what you want. Paris n’est pas la ville que tu as vue dans le film d’Amélie Poulin. Désolé.   

That being said, I would still recommend the experience to everyone. After all, the city does grow on you. You’ll crave a baguette as you walk down the cobblestone roads. Children will have the most adorable names. You will randomly decide to go the Musée d’Orsay on a Thursday night. And the French Countryside is absolutely lovely for a weekend escape.  

Bon… bahhh… voilà ! Une vite réflexion pendant que je prend le train à Londres. En gros, j’adore France et je suis impatiente d’améliorer mon français de plus. Peut-être c’est un peu difficile, mais avec les amies sympas ce serait une bonne expérience.