My summer couldn’t have been filled with more eye opening educational experiences. I decided to apply to journalism and creative writing programs in England and New York, where my favorite colleges are located; I seeked to immerse myself into the culture of the schools, different teaching styles, and of course meet other students and locals who shared my similar interests. On my adventures through the British Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and my journey to Columbia University in New York, I learned so much not only from the information imparted in the classroom, but from my hardships and the people I encountered in each program.
My 2 week trip to Oxford was with the New York Times Student Journeys Program. It was strictly a journalism course where participants were given lectures by New York Times journalists, editors, and reporters. Each student was required to choose a topic on which to report and create a piece through journalistic mediums (documentaries, long form articles, op-eds, photo essays, etc). My love for British literature and being in Oxford, the mecca of literary genius, allowed me to form a project that would link the location, the culture, and the locals together. I was curious as to how the morals and principals British literature conveys influence modern day British culture. After asking several Oxonians, who said they had taken a British literature class in school, I found that many could barely recall an English novel or work that had an impact on them. I continued this process for about 5 days, hoping that maybe I would receive quality answers; however, I did not. I was extremely surprised, but more so, I was disappointed. In my mind, this idea would have been absolutely perfect, considering the location. Having only a few days left to complete the project, I tried to brainstorm other potential topics. Through the stress and concerns I had, it was especially difficult for me to organize my thoughts. Prolonging the process for another three days gave me only two days remaining to construct my piece. In panic one night, I called my mom and she admonished me to give the subject an opposing perspective— to write about how my perceptions of Oxford were wrong and showcase the interviews that were “unsuccessful” in my piece. I was apprehensive at first, but it seemed appealing enough since I was so desperate to just complete the project. I completed one very interesting interview with a creative writing professor at Oxford who provided me insight to the university’s culture pertaining to my new topic. With help from a couple New York times journalists, I finished with a project I was very proud of as well as an incredible learning experience that could not have been done anywhere else. However, after reflecting on what I endured through this program, I could see myself as anything but a journalist.