Andee Scarantino, 21 was a ‘big fish’ at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania’s Wilkes University. She was a multi-media guru and a 4.0 student. And, the big fish swam across the Atlantic for a semester in London, where she is not only studying abroad and interning for British television, but also getting used to a new culture.
Studying abroad has led her to new goals: The once small-town girl has high hopes of returning to London for a career in television after she completes her senior year. In fact, she now speaks in the style of a Brit and another sign of her acclimation to the culture-she enjoys tea with her coworkers.
Learn about how she transformed herself, made it further than her high school teachers ever thought she would and how a ‘poor girl from NEPA’ ended up studying abroad in a rich London neighborhood in an interview with this fascinating young woman:
I am an intern at Travel Channel International Ltd. They are a satellite (cable isn’t common) channel in the UK. I write shows and do various work for Thomson TV. Thomson TV people work for Travel Channel, but make television shows for the company Thomson, which is one of the largest holiday companies in the UK. They are owned by the German parent company TUI. I get to write scripts and such in a British workplace, which is totally awesome. In addition, I also get to do work for Travel Channel when things get slow with Thomson. We are located in Soho, in London’s West End.
Oh, and I’m a student studying British Film and Television, and a student at home studying TV and Journalism. And I’m a waitress… at home. I have been there since March. I work until I come home in early May.
Tell me a little about your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis:
My position is great, because as an intern, it always changes. Sometimes I’ll be writing a show about Greece. Sometimes I’ll be sitting and transcribing tapes for Travel Channel. I do different things, depending. The real highlight is working in a British environment. The employees are all very nice, easy-going, and far less P.C. than American employees. They really know how to make an American feel welcome.
One day, the broadcast director for Travel Channel needed my help with a series called “Hollywood and Vines” starring Jason Priestly. It’s a program that’s very American, so I needed to pick out some serious bits for PR purposes, as to try and “sell” the show to the British audience. It’s great to have an American perspective in the British workplace.
Tell me about your ‘customers.’
Travel Channel’s “customers” want to watch TV. Thomson’s customers want to buy holidays. Brits just LOVE beaches. It’s funny- because I have to write very cheesy travel material. “If you’re a water-baby, take a dip in the large pool, or, stretch out on the golden sands of–” It’s never boring.
Tell me about your coworkers:
My colleagues are fantastic. They’re a fun-loving bunch and get on quite well as a team. They’re young, funny, and love to drink tea.
What keeps you motivated to go to work each day?
I’d have to say working in Soho. The whole area is packed with production companies. Soho is also filled with other things, like an alternative culture and sex shops. I work off of Oxford Street, which is a very long street. Every type of person you can imagine is walking down that street at any given time. It’s fun just to be a part of it. (But not fun to walk through it at lunchtime when all the shoppers are out.)
What do you like best about your job?
That it’s television in London, and nobody wants to jump down your throat. Nobody feels threatened, here, because we don’t have the “American Dream.”
What do you like least about your job?
Probably that I don’t get paid (Interning is sucky.)
Reflect back from Day One to now. How have you evolved since you started to study abroad?
I used to think it was all about being a “big fish,” a “go-getter,” and from prior experiences, everyone around me felt intimidated by that. When I came to London I realised I didn’t have to be a huge fish. I could work five days a week, here, get 6 weeks of holiday time a year, and just have a good time making TV.
Tell me about any great success story you may have had at your job.
I cannot really think of any, except that I got there. A poor girl from Northeast PA (NEPA) who gets to live in South Kensington in London (home to some of the richest properties in the world) and work at Travel Channel for a few months is success within itself, to me.
Where do you hope to go with this job, or in your career in general?
I hope to finish school and move back to London to work. It’s a very difficult process for an American to get a permanent working VISA, but I have confidence in myself.
How did you education or past experiences prepare you for studying abroad, and this job?
I think my time at school really helped me. My classes were mediocre, but I spent a lot of time teaching myself different skills in our studio. I asked a lot of questions, and learned a lot of skills. When I came here, the producers were surprised I knew how to work a “Digi Machine.” That is essentially a high-priced VCR that plays Digi Beta tapes. I was an intern in NEPA before coming to London, and I can firmly say I was surprised how WARM the people are over here compared to back home.
Are there any challenges in your job? If so, how do you handle them?
My challenges were being an uncouth American who has never traveled much, and writing about exotic places that, to Brits, are: “I’ve been there 10 times” experiences. I can say, though– that now I know about more places in the world than I ever cared to locate on a globe.
Any funny stories?
I was writing about a hotel, one day, for some deal Thomson was selling. The one producer was looking it over (as I am an intern) and read the line “Dining catered to British tastes.” “Catered to British tastes?” she said. “Sounds like a real s*** hole.” We recognise the amount of cheese that we write, and there’s always a laugh.
Tell me a little bit about your life outside of work.
I went to one of the worst schools in Pennsylvania for high school. My teachers found me to be rude, annoying, and least likely to succeed, I’m certain. They never encouraged me. They never saw a hidden brain under my, at the time, blue hair. I went to a third rate university, which I grew bored with very quickly. I worked hard, though, and now I study abroad with people from various universities. Some go to BU, some go to Cornell, etc etc.
My life has drastically changed in the past four years. Four years ago I had ugly clothes, acne, and worked in a grease pit in Old Forge Pennsylvania. I firmly believed I could do that forever. I think now, after living here, and attending a program with rich, well-traveled people, I realise how petty my life was before. I hated it, and I hated how America made me feel about myself.
Can you elaborate on that, about your opportunities?
What I really hate, though, is the fact that good, intelligent people like me and my family, are held back in society. My one professor and I compared families. He lives quite comfortably. He has a ton of money. His parents were professors. Their parents were teachers/principals. My parents barely can find work, and my grandparents worked in factories. No matter how intelligent I am, I don’t get the luxuries in life OTHERS get.
This is why my long-term goal, and one of the reasons I came to Britain, is to bring social realism to America. It’s a popular TV genre, here. I want to write a sitcom/drama based on the American suburban upper-working/lower middle class. I think those people quite often are not seen.
What are your hobbies?
I drink and watch people. I also like to travel.
Anything else you can share about your job or experience studying abroad?
I’m just happy I’ve come this far.
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