July 17, 2013
by Jessica Karsten

I was so excited to hear about the HKS Xchange program that was introduced this year. I truly believe in the objective of the program, which is to connect and integrate the different cultures and experiences that the employees all across HKS have. The chance to learn about the differences and similarities between all of us will enhance everyone involved both personally and professionally, and will further the idea of one firm between all the offices. I am very grateful to be able to participate in this amazing program.

My first week in London has been wonderful! I flew in Monday afternoon and must’ve brought the Miami weather with me. It’s been warm with the sun shining all week long, which I’ve heard is a unique thing for London. The flat where I’ll be living for the next 3 months is located in Sloane Square, which is a very nice and safe neighborhood. It’s also apparently one of the more upscale neighborhoods in London. As you walk around you can see amazing brick flats and lots of expensive shops. There’s a nice square in the heart of the neighborhood where people come out on Saturday mornings to paint, it’s really beautiful.

FlatSloaneSquare

These squares are definitely a reoccurring theme throughout London and one of the best surprises for me about the city. When wandering around you can’t help but be swept up in the busy city life, with the large buildings, and cars and busses and bikes zooming by, and people everywhere, and then you turn a corner and you encounter a break in the busy fabric of the city with these beautiful green spaces. And since its been such great weather outside, the life in these squares is abundant, with people everywhere just sitting and chatting, eating, reading, painting, sleeping or just soaking up the sun.

The London office is located in the trendy Soho area of London. When you go out for lunch and after work it is packed with professionals getting a bite to eat or a pint after work, it is very lively to say the least. It’s also near the Chinatown area, where you can get amazing Chinese food. The office occupies the top 2 floors of a 5 story building, which is relatively tall for the area, and provides for beautiful views of the London rooftops all around. Everyone in the office has been really great. As Ellen has mentioned in her blogs, the office is truly an international mix of employees, which is reflective of the city itself. Walking around the streets of London, no matter where in the city you are, you can hear every language in the book, it’s really a stimulating experience both in the city and the office. For the next 3 months I will be working on the redevelopment of the Royal Liverpool hospital, which is a huge, 1 million square foot, 650 bed hospital located on the site of the current hospital that will be demolished after the new one is built. It’s a very thoughtful design which incorporates the surrounding neighborhood and nearby university that will use its facilities as a learning hospital as well. I have already learned a lot about the different methods for delivering healthcare projects here in the UK, with the PFI system of delivery. I’m excited to learn more as I become more involved in the project.

SohoOffice

 

I’m excited about what an amazing experience this will be. Thank you HKS for providing such wonderful opportunities for your employees!