Hannah is an MA International Journalism alum from southwest Colorado.
Course title: MA International Journalism
Year of graduation: 2019
Please tell us about yourself.
I grew up and currently live in a small town called Durango in southwest Colorado. I did a Master’s of International Journalism at Cardiff from 2018-2019, and I am currently the news director for an organization called The Local News Network. We are a hyper-local online media news source, focusing on events, people, and organizations in the Four Corners area.
How did you find the transition to life in Cardiff?
Overall, I found the transition fairly easy - there definitely were a couple of things that came as a surprise, such as the fact that floors in the US are labeled differently than in the UK (my room was on floor one…but I couldn’t find it on the ground floor of the housing!).
I lived in university housing with other international graduate students, which was a lot of fun as we all had the opportunity to share our cultures and eat so much good food! I do wish I could have had the opportunity to at least meet my housemates before moving in - I received my housing assignment but little to no information about what to expect from the accommodations, but that is just a part of the adventure!
What was your favourite thing about the city?
I absolutely loved the fact that to get to class I would walk through Bute Park past Cardiff Castle - every day. It was such a unique way to see the city and feel the history of Cardiff. On weekends or free days, I tried to explore a different part of the city, figuring out where things were and finding new and fun surprises around every corner.
What did you think of your programme?
I really enjoyed the International Journalism program - we had such a unique group of students from all over the world, and so while we were studying events in other countries, students from those countries were able to share their experiences and their observations. I am still close friends with several individuals from my class, and we see each other when we’re able to visit each other’s home countries.
One of the challenges for me was figuring out the nuanced differences between American universities and Welsh universities. My course was full of students from countries where English was not the main language, and so many of the international students were taking English-language and culture classes alongside our master’s course, which gave them information about things like the grading system, or how expectations on submitted work differed from their previous experience.
As someone who did not need English-language lessons, there were times that I felt like I was missing something, or doing something wrong, like when I received my first graded paper back with what I believed to be a failing score based on the American grading scale but was in fact a very solid grade!
Overall though, my professors and instructors were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, and I have been able to apply much of what I studied and learned in my current job.
What impact has your time at Cardiff had on your future plans?
I was very fortunate to find a job within about a year of graduating within my degree field - I initially began working with the Local News Network as a journalist, but because I had done a little bit of everything media in my degree, I was quickly able to begin editing video as well as writing the news stories for our weekly programs.
The way the journalism program prepared me to enter the world of multimedia journalism meant that when the former news director at Local News Network had to suddenly step aside last fall, I was able to step in and take up the management of our journalism and production teams with relatively little difficulty.
On the personal side, I did meet my fiancé while I was at school, and although I currently live in the U.S., I am making plans to move back to Cardiff as soon as my job and life allow.
Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about joining us in September?
My biggest tip is to go out and explore - I loved participating in the Give It A Go programme, as I was able to go to Stonehenge, the Bath Christmas Market, and more - which would have been challenging to do on my own.
I joined a couple of other organisations outside of my degree program, which introduced me to other people and got me out of the house a couple of nights a week.
Get to know your housemates or flatmates - often they are the best allies you can have as fellow international students.
The city of Cardiff is full of unique experiences and individuals, and it’s a place I love to come back to visit. Good luck!