Keep calm and study advertising and PR in London

large group of students posing in front of London's skyline
At the end of their study-abroad trip, PR and advertising students gathered for a reflective cruise along the River Thames in London, offering a fresh perspective on the city’s landmarks. Photo courtesy of Nicole Alstrin.

When I decided to attend college, I had one unwavering goal in mind: to immerse myself in an international learning experience. I’ve always been a hands-on learner, and I knew that studying abroad would magnify my capacity to learn. To make this dream a reality, I embarked on a journey of exploration and discovery.

I attended numerous study-abroad fairs, open houses and information sessions, eagerly seeking out every possible option that would align with my aspirations to study abroad. The more I dove into the possibilities, the clearer my path became. I had several friends who participated in the PR and Advertising in London trip through Global Education Oregon (GEO) the previous summer. Watching them return with newfound passion for adventure only helped fuel my determination.

Nicole Alstrin poses in St. Paul's Cathedral in London
Advertising major Nicole Alstrin ’24 was enchanted by the timeless beauty of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The students took an immersive journey through the cathedral’s hallowed halls, exploring the depths of history and artistry that have shaped the structure for centuries. Alstrin was impressed with the idea that she was stepping in the same footsteps of countless historical souls who had also walked within its walls. Photo by Logan Moscatelli.
students wear headphones during an audio tour of London's Opera House
Venturing through every nook and cranny of London’s Opera House, students were transported through time. The opulent halls were filled with costume rooms and grand windows, as well as hints of the countless novelties and mesmerizing performances that have graced the historic venue. Students in the photograph include (left to right): Alexa Walker, Logan Moscatelli, Nicole Alstrin and Shaelyn Ross. Photo by Olive Gallagher.

A critical factor in my decision was staying within my major, advertising, which would provide me with a more comprehensive global perspective of the industry. Fortunately, the PR and Advertising in London program was designed to align seamlessly with my academic pursuits. It allowed me to connect with professors within the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) at the UO, who not only taught us but also helped us connect theory with practice. Associate Professor Autumn Shafer and Senior Instructor Kathryn Kuttis, traveled with the group and provided a support system that proved invaluable throughout the journey.

Nicole Alstrin in a locker room
Nicole Alstrin explored London Stadium, home to the West Ham United football team, and had the chance to step into the world of sports she’s cherished since childhood. She had the unique opportunity to discover the hidden corners of the stadium, even some that athletes themselves might not have seen. Photo by  Logan Moscatelli.

Once I was on the trip, each day brought a fresh sense of excitement as we embarked on our London adventure. Our mornings typically began in the GEO classroom, immersing ourselves in Strategic Communication and Global Strategic Communication courses.

Beyond the classroom, we took captivating visits to historic sites, bridging the gap between our excursions and class concepts. One of our assignments was to craft PR pitches inspired by the grandeur of the Hampton Court Palace and create advertisements for historical figures. This helped us delve deeper into London’s rich history while honing our skills as budding advertising and PR professionals.

One of the highlights of our study-abroad experience was the opportunity to visit real-life PR agencies in London. This gave us a unique chance to network, gain insights into the nuances of the industry, and witness the operations of big-name agencies and smaller, boutique firms such as Weber Shandwick, Hoffman and Pagoda PR. It was a hands-on learning experience that further solidified my passion for the field.

looking up at buildings in Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland’s winding streets and steep hills brim with historic charm. Navigating from one spot to another was an adventure all by itself for UO study-abroad students. Photo by Nicole Alstrin.
Nicole Alstrin holds an iced coffee in Edinburgh
As Nicole Alstrin ’24 made her way to the summit of Edinburgh Castle, her drive for exploration and iced coffee was captured in action. Over the course of three days, the PR and Advertising in London group delved into the rich history of Scotland’s captivating cityscape. Photo by Logan Moscatelli.

One of the most enlightening aspects was our group trip to Scotland. This excursion allowed us to compare our experiences in London with another culture and environment, while also finding connections back to our home in Oregon. Every place we visited, we saw something new and different, expanding our horizons with each discovery.

three students pose in front of a bridge in London
There were nothing but smiles as students from the UO School of Journalism and Communication studied abroad as part of the PR and Advertising in London summer study-abroad trip. Students Logan Moscatelli, Nicole Alstrin and Olive Gallagher (left to right) bid their final farewell to the enchanting city of London on the River Thames. Photo by Ashley Hopper.

As with any good study-abroad program, we experienced a lot of cultural differences, from adapting to pub culture to mastering the London Underground, the subway system affectionately known as the Tube. Living in a university dorm alongside people pursuing a variety of endeavors was a new experience for me. As a freshman, I hadn’t encountered this level of diversity in my living situation, due to COVID, but it enriched my study-abroad journey in unexpected ways.

Living and studying together with my SOJC peers in a new place brought me into contact with a diverse group of individuals, many of whom were strangers at the beginning. However, as we shared this transformative experience, we forged deep connections that have made returning to Eugene all the more special. The sense of camaraderie we developed during our time abroad is something I cherish, and I am so happy to see everyone’s smiling faces around Allen Hall on campus.

—By Nicole Alstrin, class of ’24

Nicole Alstrin, an SOJC student majoring in advertising and sustainable business, embarked on a transformative journey during her 2023 summer break. She initially joined the Global Education Oregon’s PR and Advertising in London trip, where she thrived on pushing boundaries and embracing exploration firsthand. After the program, her adventure continued as she embarked on a six-week GlobalWorks Internship in Barcelona, culminating in a full and enriching European summer experience.