Category Archives: Graduate Life

International Students

A helping hand for the international students in COM’s Journalism graduate program

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

All Journalism graduate students at BU’s College of Communication are required to take JO721- Journalism Principles/Techniques. Every fall, Professor Christopher Daly teaches a section of JO721 designed for all new international grad students in the Journalism program.

Alongside classes, Prof. Daly does his bit to help these same students acclimate to American culture and the education system. “In a program like journalism, a lot of our assignments depend on cultural awareness. If the students need to tackle topics like the Red Sox, Halloween and Black Friday they need to have a general knowledge of American folkways and society, as they cannot be expected to have that exposure coming from another country” he says.

The American exposure begins early in the semester, when Daly invites students to his home so they can get a first-hand impression of an American household. Daly is also known to bring alumni and other experienced journalists into his classroom to speak to the international students.

The positive influence Daly’s class and efforts have on international students is apparent through the grad students who have been in the program for a few semesters. “My more experienced students come into class and happily and spontaneously testify that they got a lot better over the course of their first year. ” says a proud Daly.

Those grad students who visited Daly’s current students had a lot of advice to offer. Third-semester Journalism student Claire Giangrave told them about how she would ask American students who were better than her to let her read their work. She would look at what they did and imitate it. “The truth is, you have to work harder and better than the others. I made it my goal to compare myself with the best, not just among my peers, but also with great journalists and professors.” she said. She also advised the students to not hesitate to ask for help from fellow students and BU’s amazing faculty. Claire herself moved to Boston from Rome.

Prim Chuwiruch, another third-semester Journalism student from Bangkok, advises new grad students to relax. “ I know that it sounds like the most easiest piece of advice but it’s true. Once you take a breather and get yourself accustomed to everything in this new city, things will fall into place on their own and you’ll look back and wonder why you ever stressed out so much in the first place.”

A couple weeks ago, Melanie Lidman, an alumnus from the University of Maryland, visited Daly’s international class. Lidman now writes for The Times of Israel and the Global Sisters Report. The entire section pepped up when Lidman told stories about her reporting experiences in troubled parts of the world including Egypt and Israel. She also offered some sound advice for those pursuing a career in the journalism industry: “You will make mistakes along the way. It’s a long journey to grow as a writer and move your career forward,” she told the class.

Are you an international student looking to apply to BU? Find out more about the application process here.

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I spent my first two weekends of grad school in a journalism bootcamp… and I liked it

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

I remember when I registered for my fall 2014 Print Journalism graduate classes at BU’s College of Communication (COM). I took a good hard look at my schedule… I thought for sure there was a mistake. A typo. An abomination.

There, in black and white, on my BU Student Portal were the words “Multimedia Toolkit: Saturdays-Sundays 9-5:30 P.M.”

DAY 1- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6:  What I thought was just a sick joke, quickly turned to a harsh reality. Bright and early, I was on the Green Line with my backpack, blurry-eyed, hung-over and asking myself why on earth I was going to campus on a weekend. It was definitely boot camp alright. I felt as though I had joined the military.

Upon arriving at COM, we first learned how to rent equipment from the basement of COM. This included a Nikon camera, boom mic, and video/sound recorders (don’t worry, as I didn’t know what a boom mic was either). That day, Professor Peter Smith taught us everything we needed to know about operating a Nikon camera. He explained things in a “For Dummies” manner, so those who had never touched a camera before were not lost. We learned about camera terms including, aperture, light, F-Stops, ISO, etc. To say it was not a bit overwhelming for the first day would be a lie, but we all worked together and managed to get by.

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Photo of Lauren Westberg by Pankaj Khadka, MS Photojournalism ’15

After a lengthy lecture, we were given a few hours to go outside, get some fresh air (thank goodness), and take some test shots for practice. I’ve messed around with friends’ Canons and Nikons before, but I never knew what it really meant to fix apertures, quicken/slow down shutter stops, or how to fix lighting. It was incredibly interesting and actually quite enjoyable realizing all I had been missing out on in the photo world. Photography was always something I had been interested in, but I never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone to pursue the art. This boot camp reminded me of how multimedia skills and the art of photography are such important, integral parts of journalism and storytelling.

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Photo of Paul Dudley by Gina Kim, MS Journalism ’16

DAY 2- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7:  Today would be the day we learned how to use Adobe Lightroom. It sounds easier than it was, as there was so much information to take and remember. For our practice assignment, we had to upload nine finalized photos onto our Smug Mug accounts. Each photo had to meet specific requirements, such as different F-stops, a sequence shot, an action shot, etc. Once we actually started editing on the computer, Lightroom wasn’t too difficult to get the hang of, which was a relief. I think the lecture just sounded a lot more complicated than it actually was.

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Photo of Michelle Marino by Ann Wang

Over the next two weeks, we were expected to complete a multimedia project that determined our final grade.  The project entailed taking specific photos of our subject (our partners we chose for the duration of the boot-camp), and a feature mini-documentary on our subjects.

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Photo of Paul Dudley by Gina Kim, MS Journalism ’16

DAYS 3 & 4- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13-14: This weekend we learned how to record video. Now, I’m no stranger to a video recorder (I formed an all-girl rock band in high school with my four best friends and made movies and music videos), but I still had a lot to learn.

Additionally, we learned how to use a mic and audio recorder, so that we could practice editing and syncing our audio and video footage in Final Cut Pro. This weekend was also when brainstormed ideas for our final multimedia projects. My partner Paul and I wanted to come up with a creative way of sharing our unique stories, like a feature piece of each other. That part wasn’t too tough; my subject was interesting, funny, inspiring, and intelligent. My biggest issue was trying to showcase all the things I wanted to about my partner in just two minutes.

Multimedia boot camp was a weekend class, but it didn’t mean our tasks were limited to just that Saturday and Sunday. My partner and I had to plan out production schedules, shoot b-roll, and edit. Luckily, we both were flexible and made it work. Click on the picture below to watch my video on Broadcast Journalism graduate student, Paul Dudley.

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POST BOOT CAMP REFLECTION:  Now that our class has been done for weeks, I have to be honest: physically, that class was a nightmare. It was tough being on campus all day, sacrificing our weekends and our freedom to go out to bars on Friday/Saturday nights.

However, it was DEFINITELY worth it. Even though I am in Print Journalism, I now know how to shoot, edit, use Adobe Lightroom, and operate Final Cut Pro 10! I realize what a blessing this course actually was, as it made me recognize the value of a journalist who can master multiple skills such as, producing, writing, shooting, and editing. This class is another addition to my list of somewhat “impressive” achievements on my resume, so hopefully it’ll give me more credibility as to what I can accomplish in the newsroom or out in the field.

Although going to school on the weekends was tough, it opened my eyes to the real-life demands of this profession. When it comes to reporting, journalism has no set schedule or designated weekends off. Journalism doesn’t wait for anyone. You have to be on top of things. I know, for sure, that later down the line during our successful careers (thanks BU), we will encounter many occasions where we sacrifice sleep, food, and a life for a story. Being a journalist means we eat, breathe, and live this field. It’s in our blood.

Want to know more about our Master’s Program in Journalism? Visit our page to learn how you can become a part of BU’s College of Communication. 

Check out Broadcast Journalism graduate student and COMgrad blogger, Nikita Sampath’s video from the Multimedia Toolkit boot camp class.

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Let us know what you think of our bloggers’ work in the comment section below!

 

 

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I survived my first month of grad school! Here’s how…

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

It’s been a little over a month since graduate school has been in full swing. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of the T, the transit schedules and the eccentric teaching styles of some professors, I am bursting to say, I LOVE IT. That’s right. You got me, world. I admit it: I LOVE SCHOOL. I love the chaos, the stresses of impending deadlines, making sure I read the right chapters from my 2014 edition Media Law textbook, and the works. I love it all. I forgot how great it is to be back in the classroom. But did I ever stop and think about WHY exactly I love school, aside from having a sick sort of fetish for the anxiety and stress?

As student in the Journalism grad program, I am currently enrolled in 16 credits (actually, 14 since the Multimedia boot camp class is finally over after two full, grueling weekends). As for the rest of my schedule, I am happy to say I’m thoroughly enjoying all of my classes; however, there are a couple that especially stand out for me.

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I love my Journalism Principles & Techniques course. Every day we’re treated like we’re thrown into a newsroom and forced to approach every assignment as though we are real-life reporters. At first I was extremely intimidated by the class, but I soon realized this course will probably be one of the most important, practical courses I will take during my time at BU. Criticism is a daily part of our routine, but nonetheless, it’s what improves us as budding journalists and future reporters. I raise my hand at every chance to volunteer to have my paper read and critiqued in front of the entire class, something that the undergrad me would have never dreamed of having the guts to do; but here, there’s no such thing as a comfort zone. Journalism Print & Tech shoves us out there in the open and sees if we fight back. So far, I think I’m fighting back pretty well.

Media Law–this is probably the course for which I do the most work and real studying (don’t tell my other professors). This course is more academic, theory based, whereas most of my other classes are more practical and hands on. Media Law definitely intimidated the daylights out of me, and I struggled to keep up with the material in class for the first two weeks of the semester. I literally didn’t know what was going on the first few classes, and when I tried opening my copy of “Major Principles of Media Law”, safe to say, I didn’t understand a single word in the first chapter. Defenses against libel and slander? What’s that? What the heck is a “ride-along”? I knew right away this wasn’t a class that I could just “skate on by” without having to do much studying; it’s a lot of reading and constant reviewing. I’ve been repeating this to my classmates every day…you just can’t cram for a class like Media Law. It’s the same way you can’t cram for things like math or physics or chemistry back in the good old undergrad days. You have to constantly practice, be proactive, and stay on top of the reading. I had a feeling that amidst all of the practical courses I’m was taking, one would require me to dust off that old school method of studying from undergrad.

After I bombed my first “surprise” quiz (yep, we are subjected to those every week and so we’re always constantly on the edge of our seats), I decided it would be in my best interest to meet with the professor. With his help and some time, I eventually discovered the secrets behind skimming, pinpointing the vital concepts, applying the textbook material to the lectures in class, and the importance of participating during lecture. Now I’m proud to say I think I’ve got the hang of Media Law. See, these are all basic rules of old-fashioned education…we did this during college, and grad school is no different.

So far, my classes in graduate school have helped me realize that the mechanics you learn throughout your whole life can be utilized beyond college and post-graduate work. There will always be challenges, and a Masters program is no cakewalk. You have to bite the bullet, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty. Time management is so important, whether you’re juggling three different jobs plus a full load of classes, or having assignment after assignment after assignment; it’s up to you whether you fight back or not. It’s your responsibility to know what’s going on in class and most of all understand what you’re really here for. That’s right…it’s about YOU. Ask yourself why you’re here, and perhaps that’ll remind you of the levels and magnitudes of success that you have the potential to reach, once you know why you’re willing to put in the effort.

I used to think going to school was a chore, something to complete because that’s what was expected of me. I wanted to stick it to the man… stick it to the establishment, or the power-that-be. BU COM has changed all of that, fortunately. You know that old cliché: “if you love what you do, you literally don’t work a single day in your life.” Whoever invented that phrase, they weren’t kidding. Graduate school really reminds me of that. You literally have to love being here, and you have to love what you are doing. Not a single person goes into any of our classes dreading lecture or dreading an assignment. Nobody is annoyed at how busy their schedules are. Everyone wants to be here. They are proactive, responsible, and brilliant. It is nothing like college where we’d always whine, “Man, forget that 8 a.m. I have to go to tomorrow, I’m just going to blow it off and sleep in” or “I’m way too hungover for class…do you want to go in there and sign the roll sheet for me?” None of that here! If you aren’t making the most of your class lectures, textbook materials and aren’t interested in how to get one step closer to success, then what on earth are you doing here? Given all the time and money we are investing in grad school, we better make sure we take advantage of the exclusive opportunities being served to us on a silver platter.

image1 (1)But, before I go, please do NOT think grad school is all work and no play. Although I have deadlines to fight and surprise quizzes to constantly be on the lookout for, I know it’s important to set aside time to still maintain a social life and do fun things around the city (but only after I finished my homework!). Thank goodness we aren’t stuffy academics who spend hours in research labs. We’re expected to be social, to go out and open up to others, interact with peers and most of all, have fun with what we’re doing. As a journalist, you can’t afford to be a shy introvert or afraid to be around people. So yes, you are allowed to (or in this case, implored) to have a life! It all starts with your attitude and again, as I mentioned before, time management. Having a healthy balance between everything is a great way to know that you have it all together. Forget that triangle of doom that made you choose between a social life versus good grades versus sleep. You can ace every category, as long as you know how to organize yourself.

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How did your first month of grad school go? Please share any funny stories or survival tips in the comment section below.

Not a College of Communication student? Tell us what program(s) you are interested in and why!

 

Parents weekend

There’s Parents Weekend in grad school? What to do with your out-of-town guests in Boston

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

Even though it feels like the semester just got started, Parents Weekend is right around the corner (October 17-19)! New to Boston and wondering where in the world you are going to take your parents? Allow this BU veteran to help.

By now, most of us grad students have had our fair share of parents weekends.  Like most schools, BU has plenty of scheduled events and seminars throughout the weekend; but in general, they cater to the undergraduate crowd – such as the “Parenting Panel: Parenting During the College Years.  However, there will be an art exhibition at the College of Fine Arts’ Stone Gallery, a Movie Walking Tour of campus, and several other free events fit for graduate students and their parents.  See the full schedule of events here.

Looking for a little more action? See our Men’s Hockey team take on the U.S. National Under-18 team on Saturday at 7 p.m. in an exhibition match.  Just be sure to get your tickets in advance here.

Once you’ve had your fill of activities around campus, be sure to give your parents a solid snapshot of your new Boston home.

Fenway is both close to home and a Boston classic.  Just across the bridge from Kenmore, Fenway offers a glimpse at one of America’s most famous baseball institutions.  Not to mention the surrounding bars and restaurants.  My recommendations include Bar Louie for amazing appetizers, Landsdowne Pub for the atmosphere and Sweet Cheeks for barbecue.

Newbury Street is an absolute must if your family is even slightly interested in shopping and good food.  Newbury has stores for everyone, starting at Massachusetts Avenue with stores like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21, stretching all the way down to the Commons with high-end retailers such as Diane von Furstenberg.  Peppered along the way are all types of restaurants, including Joe’s American Bar and Grill, Stephanie’s and The Cafeteria.  You really can’t go wrong.  Once you reach the end of Newbury, be sure to enjoy the scenery at the Boston Commons and Public Gardens.  This is the best time of year to do so, while the leaves are turning and it’s not too terribly cold yet.

Want to take the tourist route? Walk your parents along the Freedom Trail and see the historical Faneuil Hall to get a taste of the rich history Boston has to offer. If you get hungry, grab a lobster roll from Quincy Market and check out even more shops and restaurants along the way.  And, if there’s time, get in line at Giacomo’s in the famous North End before 4 p.m. to experience some of the best authentic Italian food that Boston has to offer.  And don’t forget to stop by Modern Pastry for dessert.

What are your plans for Parents Weekend? Have any other recommendations or questions on how to entertain your out-of-town guests? Let us know in the comments section!

 

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Classmates and competition in grad school

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

One of the greatest aspects of grad school is the friends you make during your time. Instantly, you find a group of people that are going through the same thing as you, so you befriend them. The people around you offer to review your work and let you know what you need to add or take out before submitting it. Everyone is in the same-pressured situation as you, so it’s easy to quickly form a bond that continues to grow stronger, like a family.

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I met some of the greatest friends my first month here at Boston University, and for that, I could not be more thankful. When one of us is down, the others are always there to pick us up. When we all have the same project to do, it turns into a night with dinner and homework, spent laughing way more than students should be while doing homework. Everyone within the program is more than willing to help each other out; they’re the ones I call to go out with on the weekends, and the same ones I ask to reread my work.

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But then you go home and think about why you’re in grad school and the job you want in a year or so. Suddenly, you can see your competition; she’s the girl sitting across from you in class with the nice outfit and perfect makeup. She is also the same girl you just went to the bar with last weekend. You look to your left, and you see more of your competition. He is Mr. Personality with great hair that everyone loves. He is also one of the guys you had lunch with yesterday. The friends you make in the classroom are also the competition you face in the field. “Look around, these people are going to be your friends. But these people are also your competition,” my TA said on the first day of class.

When I first heard her say that, I chuckled, as I found it hard to believe we would one: all become good friends and two: compete with each other. Sadly, it’s the truth. Mr. Personality may be one of the funniest friends I have here at BU, but he is also the one that’s going to apply to that position at the Boston Globe when you apply too.

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Although at the end of the day, this unique friendship-phenomenon has its advantages. That competitiveness we find within grad school, subconsciously motivates us to better ourselves; run faster, swim harder, speak better, smile bigger. Grad school gives you a sense of healthy competition. You’re competitive with your friends because you want to do better, but you are also friends with your competition. You’re able to learn from each other and grow together as a unit, which will bring you one step closer to that dream job after graduation.

If you’re a graduate student here at COM, I would love to hear any of your stories or thoughts on befriending your competition! Not a graduate student, but interested in becoming part of our COM family here at BU? Learn more about our graduate programs by visiting our website.