SJMC Study Abroad Part One: London

The following four-part series regarding the SJMC’s Study Abroad program to London and Rome was contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Check back each day this week for coverage of events that took place in Europe this June. 

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s London/Europe summer study abroad program just wrapped up its fourth annual trip, and brought back its fourth group of forever-changed students.

For this series of posts, we talked to some of those students, and we’ll be sharing the ways in which the program broadened their horizons and provided them with an experience they’ll never forget.

The trip began in London, where the program leaders, Drs. Sandhya Rao and Judy Oskam, and Mr. Harry Bowers, arranged for an impressive itinerary of visits to both media organizations and cultural sites. For this particular piece, students shared their experiences and discuss what they learned from the former.

One of the opportunities that provided students with particular excitement was getting to visit the headquarters of two leading news organizations: The Guardian and CNN London. Each visit provided a unique perspective on a vibrant and dynamic field.

As a historically print-oriented news outlet, The Guardian gave students a firsthand look at how one of the media landscape’s biggest names is adapting to the digital era. Eleni Stefanou, who is The Guardian’s head of social, discussed the organization’s efforts to engage readers through social and video content.

Stefanou’s talk provided students with the opportunity to hear from a professional about the industry changes they have been learning about in their coursework.

“It was inspiring to see how journalism is not a dying art, but a changing art,” said senior David Coronado. “The writers, editors and all of The Guardian’s employees are so dedicated to their work.”

The program’s visit to CNN London was made possible by a Texas State alum, Bharati Naik, who serves as a planning producer for the organization.

While students were thrilled to get some photographs of themselves sitting behind the CNN news desk, it was the in-depth tour that really stunned.

“Getting to see the production side of an international newsroom really gave a lot of us perspective and it was unbelievable to see it first hand,” said senior Madison Morriss.

The itinerary also included opportunities for students to learn from public relations practitioners.

Students received a half-day seminar from Weber Shandwick, a global firm who shared their varied expertise and provided a comprehensive look at all of the work that goes into successful campaigns.

“It was incredible to hear about award-winning campaigns and have each director of the different branches of the company explain their input into the end product,” said senior Chris Soliz. “Seeing how such a large company uses communication internally while creating effective communication externally in such powerful ways was such a valuable experience.”

 

 

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SJMC Grad Students Got Seoul

SJMC graduate students, Nikole Smith and June Leal, presented their research in South Korea this past spring semester

Nikole Smith and June Leal are more than just the typical Texas State SJMC graduate students; these two jet-setters can now claim to be international scholars specializing in Korean popular culture. Nikole and June were able to merge their love for traveling and scholarship by collaborating on a research project, titled #OppaNoticeMe: The Influence of and Idol Instagram Account on Sasaeng Behavior, and presenting their research in Seoul, South Korea this past semester.

The Seoul International Conference on Social Sciences and Management held its third annual conference in February, which was a fitting choice for these two Texas State grad students when considering where to present their project. Nikole and June began working on this research endeavor in Dr. Rao’s International Communication course nearly one year ago and continued to work closely with Dr. Rao as they added the final touches to their submission. Their research focuses on the correlation between K-Pop, or Korean pop music, idols’ Instagram pages and saesang (fan) behavior.

“As a fan of K-Pop since 2005, I always hear stories about these saesangs’ behaviors and it just blew my mind at the lengths they would go to get these idols’ attentions,” said June.

The two hope that this will provide an understanding on how idols influence fan behavior, a topic that is scarcely covered in Korean popular culture research.

Smith and Leal are no strangers to traveling abroad, both having traveled to South Korea in the past, which ended up being a great excuse to travel once again.

“I honestly never thought that doing a project over K-Pop idols and saesangs would get me back to Korea. It’s one thing to present in front of your classes, but to present in front of other people in your field from all over the world is another level,” said June.

Not only were the duo able to present their research in the homeland of K-Pop, their research was noteworthy enough to secure publication in the International Journal of Communication and Media Studies.

“I would have never imagined that this project would have actually gotten us to Korea, let alone get published,” said Nikole.

These two SJMC grad students can proudly boast that their unique research article can be found in the April 2017 edition of IJCMS, a goal of nearly every grad student of the discipline.

As far as tips for traveling during your academic career, Nikole and June recommend aligning research undertakings with a topic and location that you are passionate about. Once you figure out your passion, the rest will fall into place. “Take the chance and do it! You never know where your research will take you are what things will happen when you travel. You can learn new concepts and meet interesting people, plus new opportunities may be presented in the future,” agreed Nikole and June.

If not on the campus of Texas State, these two can be found sipping on a South Korean favorite, bubble tea at the local San Marcos shop, Kung Fu Tea. As any SJMC grad student or instructor who has had the fortune of having Nikole and June in class know, these two live and breathe their research interests. Have a question about anything K-Pop or idol influences? Stop by and visit our resident experts for some invaluable knowledge about international research. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out these photos from their adventures in South Korea for your daily dose of jealousy!

 

Gilbert Martinez reunited with Okinawa

SJMC Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director Gilbert Martinez is known by many students for his life-questioning lectures and incomparable humor. But few are aware of what Martinez has been missing for the past 21 years of his life, or to be more precise, whom.

Martinez spent his summer preparing to present research to scholars in Okinawa, Japan which happens to be the birthplace of his mother. Although traveling across the world for business, Martinez will soon find the lost puzzle piece to his ancestry.

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Martinez and wife with Okinawa family.

It started at the beginning May with an invitation to the Fifth Annual Symposium on International Business and Social Science. The conference has always been in Japan but what caught Martinez’s attention was the exact city it was taking place in, Okinawa. Martinez was thrilled to finally have a perfect opportunity to reunite with his family that he hasn’t seen in 21 years. His last trip to Okinawa was with his mother and siblings in 1995; unfortunately, six months after the trip Martinez’s mother passed away. After her death, Gilbert lost all contact with his Japanese roots. “When it comes down to it, half of my life was empty for 21 years because we really just lost touch,” said Martinez. Gilbert knew the search for his family wasn’t going to be easy but with hard work and good friends he knew it was possible.

Martinez’s first thought was to contact some friends who lived in Tokyo; one personal friend and a Texas State University alumni who is a Tokyo correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. After a few online searches in Japan there were still no major leads. Martinez then went through a box of old papers and found his mother’s old address book that contained the names of his cousins and uncle. Although it seemed like a major breakthrough, the information fell short since his uncle had passed and all of his cousins were married women with new last names. The biggest clue was found by Gilbert’s sister in-law who had his mother’s old wallet. In the wallet was a card to a flower shop that his family worked at in Okinawa and is still a thriving business today. Even though the staff of the flower shop had no knowledge of Martinez’s family, they were determined to help find them. He sent a picture of his trip from 1995 to the employees with hopes that they would recognize at least one of his family members. It just so happened that one of Gilbert’s cousin Kiyomi was featured in the local paper for becoming the first female fire captain for the Okinawa City Fire Department. The flower shop employee showed up to the fire station, asked if she was the girl in the picture and it was a match! Kiyomi even expressed she had been searching for Gilbert and his siblings as well.

After spending a few days at the symposium, Gilbert was finally reunited with his family. Martinez was overjoyed to see his aunt Yoko, who was his mother’s only surviving sibling living in her 70’s. Through mannerisms, gestures and movements he saw so much of his mother in Yoko and the rest of his family. Martinez said, “My biggest take a way (from the trip) is the importance of family. Even when you lose touch, even after 21 years have passed, family is family; there is nothing like it in the world.”  Over two decades of separation and searching from both ends, Gilbert and his Japanese origins were joined once again.

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I see London, I see France, I see SJMC students with a study abroad chance

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Study Abroad 2015: Aisling Niestroy and Rebecca Silvas at the Eiffel Tower

Join us next Friday, Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. in Old Main 320 for our first information session about the 2016 London-Paris study abroad opportunity.

The program includes class meetings on campus in Summer II before the 12-day media and cultural immersion trip to two of the world’s top capital cities, from July 18-July 29.

Students will receive six credit hours and choose from Strategic Communication, Travel Writing, International Communication, International Advertising/ PR Issues or an Independent study.

The program also includes visits to leading global media companies such as the BBC, The Guardian, Agence France Presse, and Weber-Shandwick and international organizations such as UNESCO and Sorbonne University. Cultural tours of the two cities include a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Tower of London.

Academic Program Director Dr. Sandy Rao and Dr. Bruce Smith will be accompanying students on the trip.They have each been to six continents around the globe and are highly experienced professors. Also accompanying the group will be Study Abroad Program Assistant Mr. Harry Bowers.

Read more on the blog from graduate student, Aisling Niestroy’s and 10 things she learned from last year’s trip and AJ Arreguin’s post about their tour of the BBC in London.

Students at the BBC in London

Study Abroad 2015: Students at the BBC in London

 

10 Things I Learned on the SJMC Study Abroad Trip

Story by SJMC Study Abroad graduate student, Aisling Niestroy:

Twenty-nine inspired students. Three encouraging faculty members. Two historic countries. One unforgettable experience. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication sponsored a Study Abroad trip to London and Paris in June, and SJMC graduate assistant Aisling Niestroy shared what she learned during her time abroad.

 

The best thing about the SJMC Study Abroad program was that the majority of “book learning” was completed prior to leaving the country. We attended classes, conducted research, read articles and turned in assignments the week before beginning our journey. This afforded us the opportunity not only to learn from the scheduled media organization visits, but from the unforgettable experience of spending time in another country.

  1. Customs are different, but not necessarily foreign.
    You might be in a foreign country, but you don’t have to act like it. Respect that people do things differently. If you ask your server to split the check multiple ways, you are likely to receive a dirty look. Pay attention to how people interact, how they carry themselves in public, and try not to stick out like a sore thumb.
  1. People don’t hate Americans.
    If they do, they hide it well. While the French might have been annoyed with my crummy accent, they seemed appreciative I was making an effort to speak their language. The majority of people I met were really nice, especially when I dropped my wallet at the hotel in Paris, or when I left my phone in the back of a cab in Dublin. Both were returned to me. It helped that I tried to hold an honest conversation with every person I came into contact with. When you’re kind to others, they’re usually kind to you.
  1. Conversion rates will get you.
    Believe me when I say you can buy too many souvenirs. It is unfortunate for both your wallet and your luggage. Although the things you buy may seem less expensive, they usually aren’t in the long run. As for the British Pound, say goodbye to half of your money.
  1. The best plan is a flexible one.
    I received this same advice before attending SXSW Interactive. Going with the flow is one of your best options when exploring a new city. You can plan a day down to the minute, but something might happen to derail it, or something better might come along and change your mind.
  1. Tour, but don’t stick to the tourist places.
    I went on a different kind of tour in every city – a bike and boat tour in Paris, a self-guided walking tour in London, and an evening bus tour in Dublin. Tours are a great way to learn about the history and culture of a place, and tour guides are the perfect people to ask for city suggestions. I turned to my tour guides for recommendations of non-tourist spots, and they did not disappoint. Another good way to discover local hangouts and restaurants is to wander and get lost (but not so lost you can’t find the way home).
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Becca Silvas, my study abroad roommate and fellow graduate student, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Fat Tire Bike Tour around Paris. The Eiffel Tower was my absolute favorite sight.

 

  1. Try everything.
    As a picky eater, I promised myself I would try absolutely everything before deciding I didn’t like it. So I did, and more often than not, I enjoyed it. However, this doesn’t just extend to food. Not a fan of museums, but they’re free in London? Go. You never know what you’ll fall in love with.
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The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History was so interesting (and free). I discovered it while walking around alone in Dublin.

 

  1. Being abroad with friends is fun, but spending time alone is so good.
    I spent my last two days in Dublin by myself. At first, being alone made me nervous, but then I started to enjoy it. Because I didn’t have to coordinate my plans with anyone else’s, I was able to visit more sights and take more time appreciating what was around me.
  1. People love to share their passions with you.
    After listening to the employees at PR firm Weber Shandwick talk so highly of their jobs, I contemplated switching career paths. Even my various tour guides made me envious of what they do. Talking to people about the things they love is a wonderful way to turn strangers into acquaintances.
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Weber Shandwick put on quite a presentation for the group during our visit to their offices in London.

 

  1. Writing is a required skill for any media job.
    Someone mentioned the importance of writing and communication skills at every business visit. It didn’t matter if the company was focused on journalism or public relations. Good writers make better employees.
  1. Everyone has pride for where they come from.
    And they are not afraid to tell you all about it. They’re also often curious about where you’re from (even more so if it’s a recognizable place like Texas). I swapped hometown pride stories with many people I met throughout my trip, including the three Irish Aislings I found in Dublin. They practically convinced me to never come home.

For the most part, I was pretty confident I knew what to expect when I arrived in Europe. Thankfully, I was wrong. The study abroad program changed my life, and I am confident it can do the same for you.

Taking a Tour: BBC in London

Story by SJMC Study Abroad graduate student, AJ Arreguin:

The British Broadcasting Corporation is one of the most recognizable, highly creditable news organizations in the world. From local to worldwide news coverage, the BBC brings the highest quality of news from journalists that reach outlets such as radio, television and social media. Unlike some news companies around the world that are owned by the government, BBC operates by an annual licensing fee, which citizens of England pay in order to run radio, television broadcasts and premiere shows such as Doctor Who, The Office (English version) and many more. corporation

Courtyard at the BBC

Courtyard at the BBC

The BBC headquarters is located in London (between Portland Place and Langham Place) and contains the BBC Broadcasting House with television studios, radio studios, the main newsroom (where some of the BBC program is recorded), and a small theatre boasting concerts held by A-list musicians.

Our Tour
After getting through security and getting our backpacks and purses scanned and checked, we waited in a lobby that showcased TARDIS, the Doctor Who famous telephone booth, in front of a small gift shop overlooking the BBC Newsroom. Our tour guide first provided us a brief overview of the history of the BBC and its mission statement toward the people of Britain and viewers from around the world. During this brief lecture, we stood in front of a wall made of glass that overlooked the hundreds of employees and desk of the BBC Newsroom. As the tour went on, the guide paused and mentioned that a live weather report was happening. Sure enough, we saw the weatherman a few feet away and on the tube. Finally, we traveled from the newsroom to the studio station, which was in another building that had radio and television sets. Along the way, we passed through historical pieces from the longevity of the BBC, from the microphone used by Edward R. Murrow in World War II broadcastings, to all the memorabilia from celebrities. Walking through the Broadcasting House was a mass communication history lesson in itself.

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After viewing the theatre, radio and television studio, it was time for us to have a bit of fun. The tour allows participants to take part in a newscast and small, scripted play. After it was all said and done, the BBC tour was a must-do if you catch yourself in London. It does not matter if you’re a journalist major, advertising major or public relations major, there is something to learn and grasp from the BBC.

Studio One Panoramic

Studio One Panoramic

For more information on how to book your tour in advance for the BBC Broadcasting House, please visit their website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/.

Fifth International Research Conference for Graduate Students – Nov. 6-7

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 5.20.45 PMThe SJMC is very pleased to be taking part in the Fifth International Research Conference for Graduate Students on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 at the LBJSC Ballroom. Many of our mass communication graduate students are participating in the event, so please come and watch them present their research papers. To download the program, click here.

All are invited to attend the entire conference, including the following events:

Wednesday, November 6th

  • Conference Opening Panel and Reception- 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., LBJSC Ballroom.
    Award winning faculty researchers will talk about research issues such as how to focus on research topics, getting research grants, selecting appropriate research methods, and getting papers published.

Thursday, November 7th

  • Registration desk opens at 8:30 a.m.
  • Concurrent Sessions (Panel and Poster Sessions):  9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
  • Coffee Break:  10:30 – 10:45 a.m.
  • Concurrent Sessions (Panel and Poster Sessions):  10:45 a.m. – 12:15 a.m.
  • Keynote Address and Awards Luncheon:  12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. LBJSC Ballroom.
  • Top three research paper awards will be presented
    Concurrent Sessions (Panel and Poster Sessions):  2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Mass Comm Professor retraces her father’s steps in Zurich

Dr. Sandhya RaoSchool of Journalism and Mass Communication Professor and Graduate Advisor Sandy Rao writes about Zurich and shares some family history in her latest travel article. Read her Zurich travel feature in the San Antonio Express News.

Before coming to the United States, Rao worked as a journalist in India. Her articles were published in India’s top magazines and newspapers. She has also worked as a public relations officer in the corporate office of India’s largest earthmoving equipment company. Dr Rao teaches classes in travel journalism and international communication. She is also a professor of International Studies at Texas State University.

SJMC offers study abroad class in 2014

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is proud to be hosting a study abroad class during the summer of 2014 in the United Kingdom! Spearheaded by Drs. Sandhya Rao and Bruce Smith, the class will travel to London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

What You Will Learn
The program’s theme is ‘Global media in the United Kingdom.’ The program includes class meetings on campus and online before and after the 10-12 day cultural and media immersion trip to three capital cities of the UK. The program will include field trips to international media organizations and cultural excursions. Known for its leading media companies including broadcast companies such as the BBC and  ITV, newspapers such as The Daily TelegraphThe Guardian, international news organizations such as the Reuters, and public relations firms such as Taylor Herring, the  UK will provide an amazing global media experience. Students may choose from public relations, media writing (travel emphasis) and international communication or an independent study.

The Cities
LondonLondon, the capital of England, is a modern global metropolis, and world business center housing hundreds of international companies, and a thriving cultural center drawing millions of visitors from all over the world. Standing on River Thames, London has a history of nearly 2000 years and was a site for the 1948 and 2012 Olympics. A culturally vibrant city, London offers a wide range of top class cultural attractions including theatres, museums, art galleries, music converts and shopping centers. Landmarks such as the Buckingham Palace, the seat of British Monarchy, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge and Westminster Abbey are known as much for their history as their architecture.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is known for its banking industry. Declared as the first UNESCO City of Literature, the city is host to many international festivals. Located about 400 miles to the North East of London, it is the second most popular tourist destination after London.  Edinburgh is a World Heritage Site, and has historical sites including the Edinburgh Castle, the Old and New Towns, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is a port city located 124 miles West of London and belongs to the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. In addition to a beach front, gardens, museums, historical sites, and sporting venues, Cardiff houses a large independent TV production center with 6,000 employees.

More information and details on the course will be available soon. Questions may be directed to Sandhya Rao at sr02@txstate.edu.

International Studies honor student Hylary Ahrendt recognizes Dr. Sandy Rao for sharing her expertise and support

In her “Be A Bobcat” interview, International Studies honor student Hylary Ahrendt recognizes Dr. Sandy Rao for sharing her expertise and support. Ahrendt completed projects in Germany and India as part of her honors coursework.  Dr. Rao is Professor and Graduate Director in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.