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Wednesday, 24 April 2019 07:54 pm

London calling: Caught between the glamorous and the ordinary

Dec 6th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout, Opinion

Sabrina.MAIN1Whitireia journalism graduate SABRINA DANKEL (right) explains life in London and how she had to get rid of the skills she acquired during her journalism course in order to succeed in her job as a reporter:

EVERYONE who has ever been part of the Newswire newsroom would think that to someone like me – who had spent more than 15 months there – “how to approach your chief editor” would never be a question.

Let me prove you wrong.

Today, when there was something I wanted to discuss with my chief editor, the question came up and reminded me of the “old days” when I was a student journalist reporting for Newswire.

My experience tells me that I am going to need at least another 72 hours until I can finally force myself to take the highly dangerous step of approaching him.

Then to realise afterwards, that even though he is my chief editor and boss, he is not as scary as he seems.

And even the fact that we are talking about my real boss here (not my tutor, like in Newswire days) will not make it any scarier. He. Is. Just. Human. Fullstop.

However, apart from this little lack of self-confidence on my behalf, I believe Newswire had prepared me quite well for what is happening here in my life as a Real Journalist.

So as I sit here wanting to bust all the clichés you have ever heard about my new home, London – such as the amount of rain – it starts pouring down.

But let me assure you, this is really the only true cliché. Everything else you have ever heard about London – or the grumpiness of chief editors – is just that: a cliché.

London is buzzing with people, creativity and rock ‘n’ roll. They even sell flat whites here.

How did I get here?

To cut a long story short: I was desperate. Absolutely desperate to get a journalism job, and so, after I had applied to pretty much every job advertised in New Zealand as well as America, by accident I found this little ad for a news agency looking for a journalist fluent in German.

I applied and here I am, in London, working as a journalist… specialising in celebrity news.

This type of Journalism makes use of all the skills I had tried to lose during my journalism diploma.

I use one adjective after another, instead of writing “she says” I write “she explains” or “devastated about the shocking news, she adds…” and – most importantly – I have “insiders” and “anonymous sources close to the star”.

Basically, my job is to spread rumours. And I love it.

I mean, someone has to tell the rest of the world the real reason why Axl Rose came late to his own show, don‘t you think?

Apart from re-learning journalism skills on an entirely new level, there are lots of other challenges I find myself being confronted with.

Normal, everyday tasks turn into missions – like doing my washing, for instance.

In New Zealand, you just dump your dirty clothes in the washing machine, put some washing powder in and turn the thing on.

In England, however, I have a washing machine neither my flatmates nor I (or quite frankly anybody) can understand.

I can either wash my clothes and dry them, or wash my clothes too hot. Both cycles are bad for my clothes, but my washing machine gives me nothing but many confusing options that are eventually going to ruin my clothes.

Grocery shopping seems to be another rather complicated task. In my first week here, I was confused, because I was constantly in search of a proper supermarket.

See, in New Zealand (and Germany, in fact) you just go to one shop, do all your grocery shopping and you‘re done with that for at least a week or longer.

In England, I was told by my flatmate that people go to the so-called “supermarket” at least every second day, which results in “supermarkets” being small stores with a limited selection, meaning people run out of basic food like milk and eggs literally every day.

If I wanted to do my grocery shopping German-style or the Kiwi way, I‘d have to do something I like to call “supermarket-hopping” or visiting five supermarkets, one after the other and buying two or – if I‘m really adventurous – three things at a time.

Not exactly my cup of tea – which brings me to another point: tea.

Someone actually made fun of me and said I was a “true Kiwi” because I drink so much tea.

Sorry, but firstly, Kiwi‘s drinking tea goes back to the times of colonisation when the British brought tea to New Zealand and second, of all people the Brits are famous for being big tea-drinkers.

Not the Kiwis, who are actually more famous for their delicious wines and their pub-crawls…which, then again, subsequently go back to the British, as well.

It may sound like life in London is all nerve-wracking and stressful, but let me assure you it’s not.

Life in London certainly has bright aspects to it – the famous people, for instance.

I mean, hey, I live in the town where David Bowie kick-started his career, where you can walk down Abbey Road or go to the “Dark Side Of The Moon” and where you can drink a beer in the very same pub where Blur and Oasis drank their beers in the 90s.

When “supermarket-hopping” on Saturday, I saw at least five people carrying guitars and three or four men who looked like young versions of Mick Jagger.

And one Friday night a few weeks ago,  I went to the cinema – and Bruce Springsteen (the real Bruce Springsteen, for a change) came walking into the theatre.

Surely, London must be Rock’n’Roll heaven!

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is a graduate from Whitireia Journalism School, now working for a rock magazine in London.
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