Emily Gong

Public Relations | Student at USC

ICS 2017

USC Annenberg | ICS 2017 | Summer 2017

03 // Four Weeks, Five Cities

This summer I traveled across Europe and met with esteemed international media companies as part of the International Communications Studies (ICS) program.  ICS is a 4-week immersive study abroad program aimed at exposing student to public communication and media across Europe. Due to the class’ integrated curriculum, the learning environment provides students with a practical approach to navigating the international media and communications landscape.

After witnessing fellow classmates received their diplomas this past semester, the anxieties of real life overcame me. I was fearful of the change and my ability to be an asset to a corporation. I even explored further education with the hopes of deterring my ejection into the working world. However, the opportunity to participate in the ICS program expanded my view to career prospects within Europe.

I’m going to throw it back to when we were staying in Paris…

We met with a former ICS participant, Joan Wasylik, currently working at Euler Hermes. She believed each of us would have “an ah-ha moment” during our four weeks, either personal or academic. I was skeptical of her confident statement at the time, but Europe proved me wrong.

Amid ancient architecture juxtaposed to contemporary skyscrapers, I found the European perspective toward life the most inspiring. Across the four cities, it was obvious work culture differed from the United States. In Europe, one’s career is only a part of life, not their entire life. Europeans seemed to make time for work as they would to join friends for tapas or sunbathe at the park with a bottle of wine. As soon as you left the office, you were free – free from lingering to-do’s or emergency emails.

On the contrary, the United States work culture consumes the employee. Even before being handed a diploma, the expectations of earning six digits, owning property and rising within the corporate ladder is embedded into the minds of students. It seems like Americans work his or her entire life chasing the material concept of wealth and success.

I think this leads people to forget about enjoying life. By continuing to see the future, we are blindsided by the fleeting present. From my observations, Europeans are aware of this, therefore they can exercise a balanced lifestyle. The appreciation for life is embodied by the scent of fresh Parisian pastries, the afternoon siesta, a myriad of German beer gardens and a Londoner’s afternoon tea.

Europe allowed me to realize my future career goals and reevaluate the purpose of life. All in all, being a part of ICS has dispelled my uncertainties toward graduation as I am prepared to enter a new chapter in my life. Just as Joan foresaw, I did in fact have my ah-ha moment.

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