One of the very first things that someone usually learns about me is that I absolutely LOVE THE OLYMPICS. It’s just fact. Some people obsess over chocolate, Real Housewives, Bruce Springsteen, etc. I am obsessed with the Olympics. To put it into as few words as possible, it is the uniqueness of the global event combined with the numerous stories and sports that are put into the spotlight that attracts me the most about the Olympics.
It was back in April 2011 that I interviewed for a chance to intern for NBC Olympics. Over a year later, I am living an absolute dream. It’s been one of the longest days of my life, mostly because the last two days have combined into one. I left NYC on Tuesday and boarded a Virgin Atlantic flight that flew overnight to London. In the last 48 hours, I’ve only gotten about three hours of sleep.
On the flight to London, I was already put into the Olympic mindset by watching two shows on the plane. One was a mockumentary called “Twenty Twelve” which is a BBC series similar to “The Office” and follows the Olympic Deliverance Team in trying to get the city prepared for the games. Its a comedic parody in how much work and effort goes into the organizing of an Olympic games and I highly recommend the series.
I also watched an hour long special on the Olympic Stadium and how unique it is compared to previous Olympic stadiums in other host cities. London’s focus is on sustainability and the plan is to have the Olympic Stadium reduced in size after the Games end so that it doesn’t become just an empty elephant as past Olympic stadiums have, such as the ones in Beijing and in Athens. Building an Olympic Stadium is quite a challenge and I’m glad I was able to learn more about the work that goes into it, especially since the architects have to meet strict deadlines and make adjustments constantly.
Upon arriving in London, I realized how cool it is to be an accredited part of the Olympic family. At Heathrow, there’s a special section for getting your credential validated, which basically means getting in laminated and receiving a nice official lanyard. There were also other benefits like getting to wait in your own line for UK Border Patrol. But my experience would’ve been faster if I didn’t have to wait behind members of the North Korean delegation.
Waiting behind them was quite an experience because they rarely get to travel outside of their home country and a lot of this Western culture is new to them. It took a while for them to get processed by immigration officials and they looked scared when they were asked to step up to the next official. I was a little uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to interact with them. They wore distinctive pins that depicted their “dear leaders” including Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un.
Once I got through immigration, walking through the airport arrival terminal was a cool experience because there were media waiting for athletes and fans too. Too bad they weren’t actually waiting for me, but it was a nice experience nonetheless.
The hotel that we are staying in is nice and comfortable. I spent the day jet-lagged but trying to settle in. I visited some old places and neighborhoods that I used to hang out at when I studied abroad here nearly two years ago. A lot of the places haven’t changed a bit, which was nice because it felt like I haven’t left.
Tomorrow is Day 1 of when I report to work at the International Broadcast Centre. After spending the day reliving some of my old memories of studying here, it’s time for some new challenges. And I can’t wait.