So, FPS, eh?

I have been an expat for a year and a half now. I moved to London from Toronto to pursue my masters. After being in the UK for a year, I figured I had nailed down British culture and London life. But now, as I reflect on the past 7 months since I started at H+K, I realize there was so much to learn.

When I started on FPS, I didn’t know what to expect or how different it would be to working in Canada. I found it’s a real mix but gaining work experience in a different country is so valuable and I have acquired skills here that I will take forward in my career.

My seat is conveniently located in what we on FPS call “The North American Triangle,” between a fellow Torontonian and an American. Occasionally we talk about hockey (ice hockey of course), puzzle at British traditions, or Steph and I come into work wearing the same outfit from our favourite Canadian shop. 

I think the best thing about working at H+K London is the global focus. Working in a global setting was one of my goals in becoming an expat and I feel that I have already had an opportunity to achieve this goal at H+K.

When I am doing media monitoring for Aon, the coverage is coming from the UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and the US. Many of the projects we are working on reach international markets and I have been able to liaise with European offices for different projects.

I was also really excited that FPS was in charge of the HSBC expat survey. One of my first tasks as an intern was to sort through about 5,000 hints and tips that fellow expats had submitted. While this sounds like a tedious task, as an expat, I was so interested to see what people had said about their expat experiences and compare it to my own.

With that, here are a few of my hints & tips as Canadian expat on FPS:

You become super patriotic!

o   Before I moved to London, I was proud to be Canadian but now you can find me waving my flag at the Maple Leaf in Covent Garden, embracing my oots and aboots, and all!

People make fun of your accent sometimes

o   But it’s ok because you can make fun of theirs too. People also notice when you say eh. Embrace it.

Learning the Lingo

o   One difference I have found is in the lingo, especially in writing emails. I find myself asking “Does that suit?” and saying “I reckon” or “I’m keen” - things that I would never have said in Canada!  

Be prepared to make A LOT of tea

o   I was not. I could say this was initially the most nerve-wracking part of my job. I looked up to those who could carry eight, yes eight, mugs of piping hot tea at a time. As of now, I can carry one in each hand without spilling. Progress.

FPS is very serious about their chips

o   Crisps – sorry! We even have a Crisp Fairy who generously does the first crisp run on Thursday evenings. Among the most popular flavours are Prawn Cocktail (this is very foreign to me) and classic salt & vinegar.

Now I’m calling on all fellow expats to share their experiences and hints & tips of being an expat – wherever you are! Who knows? You might help me choose my next destination. 

Kate Fox

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search