The green, hilly countryside of Scotland was reminiscent of the Irish landscape we had driven through during our time on the Shamrocker. It made the whole program come full circle; leaving a big city and going back to the old stone and countryside we had been around before. Edinburgh is a gorgeous city made of old stone buildings, structures, palaces and castles that have been standing for centuries before I had the chance to stroll through them. It is hard to not want to take a picture of every building, rooftop and cobblestone road in sight, because every angle of Edinburgh offered an equally beautiful picture. The contrast between Edinburgh and London were evident in the architecture, regardless of their similar ages. While Scotland felt more medieval, it was in no way behind on the modern day times.
We were able to visit BBC Scotland and the Edinburgh Film Festival, and these visits made an old country feel just as in touch with modern media and the arts as the next. In the cities we visited, centuries old history and modern day technology can exist within the same walls. Being from a younger country, and city that is constantly creating new buildings it is inspiring to consider the years that have passed through the United Kingdom, and the people’s ability to follow the changes. BBC Scotland, for example, looks to create new content and channels, but also caters to their older, more traditional viewers by offering channels in Gaelic. Being able to blend the new and old is a really beautiful trend that I noticed during my travels. Perhaps this is awe inspiring because the history of East Lansing and my hometown of Grand Rapids is not very deep. Yet, it is what makes their take on the growing world of media that much more potent. Their films and art and music date decades and centuries back, and they have incorporated those same values and content into their festivals, channels and more.
I entered this trip with the hopes to have a clearer understanding of what I wanted to do with my degree once I graduated. As I visited different cities and their Television networks, film festivals and advertisement agencies, I could not help but feel excited about the variety of jobs that exist in the media industry for me. I could work for a television network like ITV in London based on my television and muli-camera production experience. I could work for a BBC Scotland radio channel based on my radio and audio experience working at our student radio station. I could even work for an advertisement agency in their media production department and help with the production of different commercial advertisements. I knew my Media and Information degree offered a range of skills, but it wasn’t until I was exposed to a variety of companies and networks that I really understood how creative I could be with the types of jobs I look for. I never would have considered advertisement agencies, but based on the movie-level quality of Golley Slaters work, I realized that there is more too it than just advertising.
Michigan State University has a variety of camera, audio and film equipment that I have been lucky enough to get my hands on and create content with. I recently finished a Multi-Camera Production course at MSU and while I knew the equipment I was working with was the real deal, it was not until I saw similar set ups at BBC and ITV that I really could appreciate the industry-level equipment I had the opportunity to work with. They had more television screens, more channels on their audio board, but it was reminiscent of what I have been working with back in East Lansing. It is extremely exciting to be able to sit in a real television directors chair and make calls based on cameras that are really used to produce an on-air show, such as Loose Women.
I am humbled by the experiences I have had abroad, and have a new appreciation for how the work I am doing at Michigan State University really is preparing me for a variety of positions available in the media industry. To know that there are even opportunities for me abroad in the United Kingdom opens a new set of doors and adventures. I have always hoped to work abroad, if not just travel, and this trip not only taught me about the United Kingdom, but also how competent I can be traveling from country to country for and extended period of time. I have found a real confidence in myself, that only can be found from being thrown into a new country, having to navigate culture and communication from scratch. Of course the United Kingdom is not the most exotic, but at the end of the day it is a completely different set of countries from the United States. Being an adult, conversations about real world situations such as politics tended to emerge. Considering recent elections in the U.S. and U.K. there is an interest in hearing from a real American representative on the matter and vise versa. These inquiries place you in a spot where you can not be foolish enough to speak on behalf of all Americans, but present your own perspective as well as those that you have noticed to be developing around you. I loved these conversations because I could provide an insight that CNN, FOX News and other networks might not have; that being the insight of a random, American student traveling the U.K. all the way from Michigan.
The movies I have seen set in the U.K. can’t do the cities and people justice. Nor can the reports heard on different news channels replicate random conversations with baristas and local shop owners. While I value our ability to communicate through Mass Media, it is the real face-to-face conversations that share the most insight and personal accounts. Some of my favorite moments were stories, opinions and laughs shared with locals from all the different countries we visited. Mass media and its technologies may continue to develop and while that is great, I go forward in my career remembering these personal and human accounts. Story telling, and face-to-face conversations are what I believe to be the basis of all communication. I aspire to make my work reflect the moments I shared abroad with locals, professionals and even my own group. The truth is, form me this trip would not have been as impactful if not a single story was shared or conversation had. The landscape may not change much over time, but the people and their experiences will come and go. I value the moments I had in the U.K. and the people I had the pleasure of meeting. As I go forth in my life and career I will always cherish the moments of inspiration, happiness and excitement that put me on the plane to the U.K. and continued carry me throughout my travels. I thank Michigan State University and the wonderful people of the United Kingdom for the best five weeks of my life. I guarantee I will be back and as the locals like to say, cheers!
-Just a couple friend highlights pictured below, not everyone, not every moment but a glimpse-