Monday, November 20, 2017

A SEMESTER ABROAD



As the customs officer cleared my entry at London’s Heathrow Airport, I felt a mixture of both excitement and nervousness.

I was going to spend an entire semester on NYP’s Overseas Student Exchange Programme far away from home. I knew it was going to be a different lifestyle in the northeast of England where my fellow OSEP participants and I were going to read Mass Communications at Northumbria University.

We arrived at the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the wee hours of the morning on Sep 9, 2016. We noticed plenty of graffiti on the walls of the railroads as we checked into Glassworks Student Accommodation (renamed now as true Newcastle), a 20-minute walk to the university campus.

 My room at Glassworks Student Accommodation
I fully appreciated how my lecturers from NYP who were in constant contact with us, checking in to ensure we were alright, and that we were coping well with our studies.  The general vibe at Northumbria was also very friendly as everyone treated each other like friends, and we even addressed our tutors by their first names. I settled in quickly, and found it easy to learn.

Dr Jamie Sexton, my Cult Film & Television module tutor, was very approachable, and had a very open style of teaching; my classmates and I had many opportunities to share our opinions and hold in-depth discussions with him. I also got along extremely well with Dr Russ Hunter, my National Cinemas module tutor. This module explored the numerous types and styles of films from different countries.

Both these film modules had the same assessment method, which was a 3,000-word academic essay. We were required to do research on the relevant topics and carry out required readings to support our views.  I was very pleased to earn a First Class grade (70% or higher) for both modules.

The assessment for my Re-Thinking Journalism module comprised a shorter 2,000-word essay, a group debate on current events and the publication of blog posts on relevant topics. I earned an Upper Second Class grade (65-69%). My tutor, Dr Bruce Mutsvairo was probably the coolest teacher I have ever met, with his dreadlocks and natural swagger.

With my Re-Thinking Journalism tutor, Dr Bruce Mutsvairo
My friends and I took some trips on weekends, and after our semester ended. We travelled around the UK to places like Leeds, Liverpool, the Lake District, London and up north to Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. We also visited Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. I also took short solo getaways to watch football games at the home stadiums of Manchester United and Liverpool FC.

The trips that stood out the most for me was my solo weekend in Liverpool, and my trip with friends to London during the Christmas period. Liverpool was so memorable because I am a lifelong supporter of the football club, and getting the chance to watch a game live was absolutely unforgettable. Furthermore, spending a weekend there with the locals, and experiencing the culture made it all extra special for me.

At Anfield for the Liverpool vs West Ham United game on Dec 11, 2016 
London was the other very fulfilling experience. My friends and I visited the famous Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace among others. We caught a live performance of Les Misérables at London’s famous West End and went ice skating at Broadgate Ice Rink at London Liverpool Street. We also took a day off separately to explore the different parts of London we each wanted to see. As a huge James Bond fan, I visited some of the locations filmed in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015), such as the Westminster Abbey and a few London Underground Tube stations.

Catching Les Misérables at London’s famous West End               
Ice skating at Broadgate Ice Rink

The four and a half months passed so quickly, it was soon time to leave.

Although I was happy to return home to Singapore, the experience left a deep impression in my life. I am glad that there are opportunities like this for NYP students: 1 in 2 students have the chance to travel and experience overseas attachments, internships, immersion trips, competitions or study semesters, like me.


by Michael Evan James Teo (Diploma in Mass Media Management, Year 3)

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