The End

Well…that time has come. And this time, I am not traveling anywhere new, I promise. I have a one-way ticket back to NYC, where my family, friends, and the office await me. Writing this from the airport in Kuala Lumpur, I am completely phased by the fact that 14 weeks have passed.

NYC to Buenos Aires to Kuala Lumpur. The difference in each city is immense. Buenos Aires (BA) and Kuala Lumpur (KL) are so different, you cannot even compare them. The work I did was a challenge in BA, particularly because of the language. The work in KL was insightful, because of the powerful Asian market. The office environments and culture were drastically different, and so was the life outside of work. BA is a movable city by foot. You can take a walk easily in almost every district because there are streets to do so. In KL, you need a car to get almost anywhere. A big similarity for both cities is that I learned A LOT from incredibly wonderful people at both offices, who are driven towards doing fantastic work, for a fantastic company.

So, as I sit here and reflect on my summer, I can think of just a few things I want to share. Some of them are things I have learned about myself, but also I give my advice. This advice is merely a way for the next travel lover who finds themselves in need of living abroad, working abroad, or simply traveling just for the heck of it, to have some background insight into what I’ve been through. This is a reflection of not only Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur, but also in my past international internships, as well as lifetime of travel.

So here they are:

1. I must work in an office space where I can call those people I work with “a family.” I have been fortunate enough to have met some of the most wonderful people in my travels and past internships. I still keep in touch with many of my past co-workers from other internships, and will always be acquainted with them in some way. I have been able to grow as an individual and professional because of the people I worked with, and it made me realize just how important it is to find that office family to continuously make you grow. This, I cannot be more grateful for. Because from this, the office becomes a space you are excited to work in each day.

In addition, this is something to note about people in general:

The people I have worked with and met along the way most importantly make the experience for you. I have seen that no matter how long you stay on your own, unless you meet others and learn about their opinions and ideas, you cannot fully understand yourself. I have engaged with everyone from the people in my office to the local fruit dealer in BA. There were those I met during a weekend trip, and some I shared long conversations with at local cafes. When you open yourself up to others while traveling, you get the opportunity to understand so much about the world and about how others see it. With this, you get to understand why you personally think the way you do. For me, everyone I interacted with, regardless if I saw them more than once, or talked with for 5 minutes, had some sort of impact on me in my travels.

2. This one may seem obvious to some… You can love the city you are living in, but at the end of the day, if you don’t love what you are doing, you won’t excel. I love the media industry, and I love marketing and advertising. I have definitely found my industry, but I will have to think more strategically about what I really loved doing within it. I have been exposed to many job titles this summer, and there are definitely some I favor more than others.

3. Finally, I really have to find a city I love and stop leaving it. I have worked and lived in many different countries. What I have hated the most is the fact that I am ALWAYS the one saying goodbye. I am always the one planning the goodbye parties and always the one in tears on the way to the airport. My goal after college is to find the city I want to live in and stay there for a long time. At least one year’s worth of time, maybe more. There has been so much change and growth in my life after each abroad experience, I cannot imagine what one year or more can bring me.

So I end this summer having learned so much about myself, reflecting on life in general, and specifically, my life. From the Spanish I acquired in BA, to the magnificent food I have tried in Asia, I have opened myself up to so much culture. I believe I have not only learned so much about media, but also about the business in general, and business conducts in so many different international markets. I can only give my many thanks to the people who have impacted me along the way. There is no way else to say it, but THANK YOU. Thank you for exploring with me. Thank you for teaching me new skills. Thank you for showing me a good time. Thank you for feeding me fantastic food. Thank you for always answering my many curious questions. Thank you for letting me be me and work with you all.

So I leave, back to NYC to continue to be a student. There will be more travels to come for me within my last year of college, and I am excited to share those with some of my best friends. Until I step up and receive my diploma, I will really never stop pondering on where I want my whole heart to end up after college. Until then, I will continue to ponder. Because, at the end of the day, who doesn’t love to dream about worldwide opportunities? The world holds an infinite amount of possibilities, and you won’t know that until you get up and just go.

With so many thanks to everyone who influenced me this summer, good luck in the future my friends!

Your humbled and so grateful intern,

Talia

One Last Week Abroad

This week was a really great week. I had a lot going on, both at work and outside of work. Now in my final weeks, I have been working with the Watsons team at the office in Kuala Lumpur, as well as on some internal work for IPG Mediabrands Global. Outside of work, I have been preparing for back to school. There is a lot of online work I have to complete, as well as training courses for my new year as a Residential Assistant on campus.

For this post, I just have to talk about food. I think it is something I will miss the most in Asia when I leave. Never in my life have I been so open to trying new foods, drinks, and just anything (regarding it is not meat, as I am a pescatarian (I eat fish, not other meat)). I have officially increased my spice intake to a point where I can tolerate almost the spiciest of foods. Now, I find myself not tasting much flavor unless it has a lot of spice to it. I have no idea what I will do once I return to the states… as most food I was used to eating was not so full of these spices.

My all-time favorite drink here: Milk tea with pearls

My all-time favorite drink here: Milk tea with pearls

Asam Laksa (fish and noodle soup)

Asam Laksa (fish and noodle soup)

Roti cheese (we ate this at a 24-hour restaurant that's called a "mamak" here)

Roti cheese (we ate this at a 24-hour restaurant that’s called a “mamak” here)

A more lavish place that served savory and sweet crepes! DELICIOUS!

A more lavish place that served savory and sweet crepes! DELICIOUS!

Nasi Kandar...all vegetarian, plus some REALLY good fish

Nasi Kandar…all vegetarian, plus some REALLY good fish

Over the weekend, I spent much time with my new friends that I have made here. Some were great girls I met here in Kuala Lumpur, and others I met at my office. I celebrated my co-workers birthday, Amanda, who has become a great friend of mine here. In addition, I also met for dinner with a family who’s son is enrolling at my college in a week! They are actually living in Kuala Lumpur full time. Their son will be attending Hobart and William Smith Colleges as a first-year. They are originally from Pittsburgh, so it was absolutely wonderful to meet them and to share our thoughts about KL and Malaysia in general.

My co-worker/friend Amanda! :)

My co-worker/friend Amanda! 🙂

Her AWESOME birthday cake

Her AWESOME birthday cake

I cannot believe the countdown officially begins until I go home. One more week and my international internship at IPG Mediabrands is over. My last blog post will be very emotional, so get ready for next week!

Two Weeks Left

Two weeks left and I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone. It feels like 14 weeks flew by and it only got faster towards the end. This week was really a great one. I joined Stanley’s team on the Milo and Watsons accounts. I got to be in both meetings, one for Watsons handover (as they just won the client), and another for a brainstorm meeting on a campaign Milo is launching.

For Watsons, I am working closely with Rachel and Matt, devising the September calendar for their social content. This includes all the Facebook, and Twitter posts the team will put on Watsons’ social media during the month of September. It has been really great exposure and I am learning a lot about social strategy.

On Friday, the company had an award event, which was held at a plane landing area (?) I put that question mark there because I still don’t actually know what to call it. It was definitely an interesting venue…and even though I am up for the unusual…this place did not have air condition. For me, it was a really, really hot night. Regardless, it was a great event and IPG Mediabrands won best agency worldwide! It was definitely news to me as I was eating my dinner during the speech by Prashant Kumar, President of IPG Mediabrands World Markets Asia.

The one image I was able to capture of the venue

The one image I was able to capture of the venue

Thank you to Amanda for sending me this one to share as well.

Thank you to Amanda for sending me this one to share as well.

Over the weekend, I stayed in Kuala Lumpur to enjoy some more things around the city. I went to the KLCC Park and the Aquarium. The city was packed, as the Grand Prix was being held this weekend. Traffic was insane, and so I tried to only go out Sunday. Unless I wanted to pay for a ridiculously expensive taxi both ways, I was safer just relaxing one day at home and getting things done for school (which struck me the other day that I have one more year to finish college).

KLCC Park

KLCC Park

Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers

The Aquarium!

The Aquarium!

I am already thinking about where I want to be and what I want to be doing after college, but it didn’t really phase me that I have a whole year of memories to make approaching me. Senior year will definitely be an extraordinary time, and I am so excited to reconcile with my friends and family when I get back.

Until then, I will enjoy my last two weeks here. So far, I have met incredible people at my office, who I admire dearly. The work they do is absolutely fantastic and they have made Malaysia a very special place for me. I am definitely lucky to have had them welcome me into the company and treat me like another employee. They have introduced me to so many new foods I can’t even pronounce the names of, taught me about Malaysia customs, and opened my eyes to knew ideas. I won’t say my final thank you’s just yet, because two more weeks, here I come!

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Some REALLY Malaysian foods

My first banana leaf rice meal. I ate this with my hands!

My first banana leaf rice meal. I ate this with my hands!

Goat milk coffee

Goat milk coffee

Halfway Through Asia

This past week was a busy one. Monday the company had an all-day ideathon at Genovasi. We watched many case-studies and formed groups to brainstorm campaign ideas for various brands. It was a really interesting experience, with an added plus… the food was great. On Tuesday, the RallyBuzz team attended a press conference for ALBA Watches. We got there at 8:30am and the event lasted until about 2pm. It was my first press conference and it was really a wonderful experience. It was held at a very traditional Malaysian restaurant in Bangsar. The event started with media coming in, the introduction from the emcee and welcome speeches from the general manager and divisional managing director. Then, the models came out with the various watches. The star of the event and new face of ALBA, Shaheizy Sam  came out wearing the advertised model. He is the new embassador of ALBA and face of the new collection, SignA. After, there was an open interview, lunch, and a lucky draw.

Following up with the event, we had to work on the post-release. So Tuesday afternoon was busy. Wednesday I worked almost all day for the global team, uploading cases to an internal site and filing them with the correct information. It was also another long day. For the beginning of the week, I had friends staying with me, so my sleep schedule was very off… However, I was able to catch up on sleep the next couple days, which felt fantastic on Thursday morning.

Thursday I continued working on collateral for a new campaign we are doing for GrabCar. It is really interesting, because it is an app that specifically started in Malaysia, and I was actually using it quite frequently to get around before I was presented with the brief for the campaign happening throughout the whole month of August.

This weekend I traveled to Singapore. I went on the trip with a friend who now works in Manila, Philippines. I previously worked with him in Tel Aviv two summers ago. It was really wonderful to see him two years later, and just simply put me in awe that we ended up in Asia together. We stayed in a wonderful house of a friend and the weekend was filled with lots of sight-seeing and walking. I think we walked over 30 miles this weekend. Singapore was really magnificent. It is modern, clean, and so put together, it almost through me off sometimes. There were many expats roaming the streets, many who were there for only a weekend, but also working and living. I think overall, I still enjoyed Hong Kong a bit more, just because I found it easier to navigate. Singapore is very spread out, and we had to take many taxis to get around. It is a beautiful city, with really fantastic architecture, but so far, Hong Kong stole my heart.

Flying over Singapore!

Flying over Singapore!

On the Singapore Flyer with an amazing view of Marina Bay Park

On the Singapore Flyer with an amazing view of Marina Bay Park

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Gardens by the Bay

Cloud Dome

Cloud Dome

Next weekend is Singapore’s 50th anniversary of its independence. During this past weekend, there were testers of the fireworks they will have for their big event this coming weekend. We were lucky enough to get to see them on top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel bar and roof. They were absolutely spectacular.

Fireworks for Singapore's 50th Anniversary!

Fireworks for Singapore’s 50th Anniversary!

It officially marks the halfway point of my time in Malaysia. I have decided to stay in Kuala Lumpur for my next three weekends and explore Malaysia. This summer has flown by, but I am excited for what is has left for me.

Second Week in Kuala Lumpur

This was my first full work week in Kuala Lumpur. There was a lot of work to be done, both for the Kuala Lumpur office, as well as the global team I am working with through the NYC office and Miami office. Working with the RallyBuzz team on PR collateral for ALBA watches is really an interesting experience, as I have never worked directly through clients in the PR role. The press conference is Tuesday, so this week there was a lot of preparation that needed to be done. It got extremely hectic towards the end of the week, but if you put in the hours to just sit and get it done, it’s never impossible to finish.  In addition, I am working with Moheeta Tamrakar on various projects. One includes setting up a LinkedIn account for Rally, and another included trying out the new social listening software for IPG Mediabrands. I was set to try out the program in both English and Spanish. Both programs were very cool to learn about and the software gathers digital information from all social platforms. It compiles it for the viewer and puts it in a nice, systematic format. It is fantastic for the individual who loves technology. So for me, it was simply amazing.

On Thursday of this past week, we had a couple company meetings. One with the Rally team and one company wide meeting, where the President Prahshant Kumar spoke. After a couple highlights, one of the requirements for anyone new in the company is having them stand up in front of the whole office and rap a song about themselves. As you can imagine, this can be very embarrassing… However, I tried to compromise. After writing out a couple lines about who I am, where I am from, and why I am here, I stood up in front of the whole office and spoke. I had the help of Miley Cyrus’s song “Party in the USA” behind me. I thought it was clever… seeing as I am the only one in the office from the USA. The President laughed at the end (hopefully because of my witty lyrics?), so I think I did the job well… It was definitely nerve wrecking, that was for sure.

As for the weekend, I finally had the chance to explore Kuala Lumpur and all that the city has to offer. I was invited by a mutual friend to an event at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur City Center for the Colombian Independence Day. When I first received the invite, I joked that I came all the way to Malaysia, only to find more people for South America. I absolutely loved it. The event was wonderful, and I met individuals from all over the world.

The following day, I went shopping in the Petronas Twin Towers in the city center. The mall is huge, and there is every store you could possibly imagine in it. On Sunday, I had two friends from Los Angeles come visit KL. We went to the Batu Caves to see the temple and monkeys! It was a rainy day, but definitely worth it.

Batu Caves!

Batu Caves!

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Monkeys!

Monkeys!

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After the caves, we headed to the Menara (KL Tower) that had a 360 view of the city. It was stunning, and probably the best view you can find of the city.

You can see the Petronas Twin Towers from here

You can see the Petronas Twin Towers from here

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I had a great full week, and I cannot believe I am already beginning my third week here in Kuala Lumpur!

Welcome to Asia

Upon my arrival, I felt sick from traveling over 30 hours and I was extremely sad upon leaving Buenos Aires. My stomach irked and I didn’t know why. As I wrote in my previous blog, that feeling in my stomach lingered for a couple days while I was in Kuala Lumpur. However, as the first week went by, I found myself immediately welcomed more than ever by my co-workers at the office in Kuala Lumpur. On my first day, they placed a sign that welcomed me at my desk, saying “Welcome to IPG Mediabrands, Talia Azour.” Everyone who passed my desk welcomed me and introduced themselves. It was absolutely wonderful!

I am working in the Universal McCann office on the Rally and RallyBuzz team for the beginning. I have been assigned to work on the Malaysian Airlines account and I couldn’t be more excited. The company is going through a restructuring process with the airline because of the crises in the past two years. On RallyBuzz, I am helping with PR for a client, including handling press collateral for an upcoming event. After, I will hopefully be able to work on other projects, like some with Johnson & Johnson and move to Reprise to work with the performance marketing team for a bit as well.

What I instantly realized upon my arrival to Kuala Lumpur, was that it was no Buenos Aires… It wasn’t even close to it. Customs are so outrageously different, it is hard to even compare them. First off, the office itself is much bigger, brighter, and livelier (in my opinion the liveliness comes from the décor and the brightness that embellishes the office). For lunch, we have to drive to different places each day. It is quite nice, because we get a chance to get out of the office. Normally, we would bring lunch back to the office and eat in the kitchen in Buenos Aires, which was fine, but it is definitely a nice change here. The first day we went to a Japanese inspired restaurant with Udon noodle and rice bowls. On top, you could top your noodles or rice with tempura vegetables, seafood, or meat. The second day, they took me to a full Chinese food place that was self-service. I tried a variety of vegetarian foods I have never even seen before. It definitely tops the experience of having a salad everyday like I did in Buenos Aires. Different…very different. And I absolutely love it.

The heat is a huge weather change for me as well, coming from winter in Argentina. I am shocked by how people actually wear long sleeves and pants each day here. You can’t even sit in the heat without profusely sweating. Something I was extremely happy about was the grocery store near my apartment. I almost fell to the floor in excitement when I saw how much variety there was for each food product. I had forgotten so many brands existed by being in Argentina, a country where its foreign import is closed. There were endless options and I think I went a little too far on my first grocery shop…However, the price change is still significantly in my benefit, just like the Argentinian peso was. Things are very cheap for U.S. dollar holders here. I get lunch for $2-$6 dollars a day here (and the $6 includes A LOT of food).

This work week was a short one, as there was a Muslim holiday that allowed no work on Thursday and Friday. In Malaysia, there are three main races, Indian, Chinese, and Malaysian. The mix is very interesting, and I have met so many different people thus far. This weekend, it was the end of the Ramadan holiday, so the office had off from work Thursday and Friday. I took this opportunity to travel to Hong Kong to visit one of my best friends from college. She is from ShenZhen (about two hours outside Hong Kong), but is interning in Hong Kong this summer.

I arrived with an open attitude, ready to experience everything and anything different and new to me. It was a weekend filled with delicious and unique food, exploring remote islands, and seeing some of the most spectacular views in my life.

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Dim Sum!

Dim Sum!

Great dessert in HK

Great dessert in HK

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Hong Kong is probably the most efficient city I have ever visited so far. It is fast paced, clean, and extremely friendly. There are people from all over the world, working or visiting. I was able to see Hong Kong both during a work day, as well as over a weekend, and I loved everything about it. I was shocked by how clean the subway station was. I felt like I could literally lick the floor and it would be okay.

Skyline from dinner at Aqua one night

Skyline from dinner at Aqua one night

I was able to go to Lantau Island and see the biggest Buddha sculpture in China. It was spectacular! Especially the ride in the cable car to the island. The views were amazing.

The cable car we took to get to Lantau Island!

The cable car we took to get to Lantau Island!

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Biggest Buddha in China

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But I think my favorite part was going to Victoria’s Peak at night and seeing the whole skyline of the city. It was a fantastic moment that I won’t ever forget. The world has so much to offer, and it just made me realize how lucky I am to have traveled as much as I have and be able to have these experiences that teach me so much.

Victoria's Peak - breathtaking view!

Victoria’s Peak – breathtaking view!

Skyline during the day!

Skyline during the day

This coming weekend, I will have time to explore Kuala Lumpur!

Ciao Buenos Aires, Hello Kuala Lumpur

It is interesting to think about traveling for work. Most people work two weeks at a time in an office abroad, to help execute a project, or consult what is already being done. When I arrived at the office in Buenos Aires, six weeks seemed like forever. Little did I know how fast it would pass. Right before my eyes, six weeks was over. Now, I sit here writing this from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

People would expect from my experience, working in Tel Aviv and London the past two summers that I would be able to leave every country I visit with ease. However, it is just the opposite. I have an extremely hard time leaving places I have lived and worked in, and it only gets harder every year. This time around, I had the feeling of a stomach bug upon leaving. It was a strange feeling, and I didn’t really know how to approach it. In six wonderful weeks, I had established friends, knew my way around the city, knew where and what I liked to eat, and absolutely adored the company. My co-workers became family to me, and just as all of this became established, it was the end of week six.

Upon my leaving, I gave a speech, entirely in Spanish on my last day in the office. Delivering the long speech in a fluid manner (all while holding back my tears) boiled up just too much for me. I held my tears in just as I left the office. The bus ride was one where people starred at the girl with tears down her face. I pondered on the bus ride home, my last bus ride home in Buenos Aires. I pondered what it would be like to live here after college. To excel in Spanish and to work in the language for however long the country takes me in for. A year is a long time to tell where I will end up after college, but I just couldn’t help the thoughts that fled through my mind. Of course, these thoughts were not new to me. I had them when I left Tel Aviv and London. But there was something that had to do with the Spanish language that was making me think more realistically about Buenos Aires for my future.

For the trip to the airport, I had received a ride from a former employee at Initiative. He had worked at the company for 15 years and is now a driver at his older age. In the car, we spoke in Spanish and about our love for the company and the people who work in it. In front of me, I had 30 hours of traveling to get halfway around the country to Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur was my next destination, and I was in awe that I would actually be working for another six weeks for this wonderful company. I am excited to begin a new adventure and a new series of events that will shape myself as an individual and professional.

Pato, Eric, me, Gus, and Alita (the people I worked the most with in the office)

Pato, Eric, me, Gus, and Alita (the people I worked the most with in the office)

Mumi, Alita, Pato, Meri, me, and Julian

Mumi, Alita, Pato, Meri, me, and Julian

My goodbye present the office presented me with after my speech

My goodbye present the office presented me with after my speech