It’s true what they say: San Francisco will steal your heart and you’ll never get it back. I knew immediately that San Francisco was where I wanted to go on my year abroad; before anyone else had made definitive choices, it was my number one. I’d read so much about the city and I was drawn to it, inexplicably.
As soon as I reached the city, armed with expectations of homesickness, I shed my former skin and dived straight into my new one. I loved it from the off. Not without minor initial difficulties – a less than friendly landlady made me reconsider my flippant rental choice (the American attitude to renting is very different to the UK) – but I settled in without so much as a kiss goodbye to Norwich.
America opened my eyes. It taught me to think differently and independently, to embrace change and experience. I participated in many university activities, saw the different side of sororities (thanks to forging some brilliant friendships with the sisters) and adapted to the distinct style of teaching. Everything about the university was different to the experience that I’d had in Norwich, from the food hall to the study rooms (including the lack of a real library – it was in the process of being refurbished). I had some excellent professors who introduced me to brilliant texts, texts that I would eventually use in my dissertation. As part of the International Education Exchange Council I co-organised a winning entry for the 2009 study abroad fair for our stall, encouraging US students to visit the UK.
My friends and I became our own American pioneers. We spent the year visiting new places, using our time more wisely than we would have in England (perhaps we knew how precious our experience would seem with hindsight). We spent spring break in San Diego and weekends in LA and Santa Cruz. We also had two fun weekends with our international exchange council in Tahoe and Yosemite. At the end of our year, we travelled the country to Memphis, Chicago, New Orleans and Las Vegas in cars, coaches and planes.
I think the overriding sentiment from my year out was appreciation. I really appreciated everything. It was the furthest I’d ever been from home, yet I’d never felt more at home anywhere. The year I spent in California is one I still constantly talk about. I get asked a lot in interviews about it and I riff for more than is probably necessary about the golden city. It’s where I imagine living in the future, in a house just beside the bay.
I was always interested in publishing, which led me to do the course I did at UEA (American Literature and Creative Writing). I’ve always, also, had a special interest in travelling, new places and languages as I attended an international boarding school for seven years. Part of the reason UEA became my definitive university choice was the opportunity to go to America. San Francisco has such a unique literary history, and I completed a dissertation on Bob Dylan and featured some of SF’s most illustrious writers, and it is one of the places in the US where a small publishing hub is based. Once I returned, I was still very interested in publishing (with a view to returning to the US at some point) so I completed various internships and eventually landed on one which which propelled me towards my job as a Rights Assistant at a literary agency in London, which combines my love of words with love of places and exciting languages. Now, in my job, we secure translation rights deals for over 55 territories and attend a lot of book fairs annually which take place all over the world. I’m hoping in the near future I’ll get to go to the Book Expo in New York!
You can read more about my journey into publishing here: