Tag Archives: study tips

Journalism studies in Denmark: At the SDU there are 1000 exciting paths

When I received my acceptance letter to study journalism I thought I had chosen my direction in life. A year has now passed, and I have learned that I did not settle on a specific path at all. This education opens so many doors, and the university gives me the opportunity to discover what is behind these doors. I am now a good kind of confused.

”Hi, my name is Karoline Dam. I am a journalism student from the University of Southern Denmark. Do you have a moment?”

I have lost count on how many times I have said this the last year, but I will probably never get tired of that phrase anyway: All these people I get to speak to. The stories that they share with me, and I am allowed to tell others. It makes me feel really privileged.

Out in the field for Newsweek. Photo: Signe Julie Andersen.

The journalism education at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) has given me the opportunity to tell so many stories: I have recently discussed the guerilla movement FARC with a former Colombian officer, questioned the function of a prayer room with Hetem, who is a Muslim, and met Mads who lives in polyamory, and tore down some of my prejudices. I am positive that it is these kinds of people I will continue to search for, but if their stories will be told with the help of a pen, a video camera or a dictaphone, only time will show.

Doubts in my journalistic brain

Our education covers all aspects of a possible journalistic career. Writing, radio, TV, or digital storytelling? I get to try it all.

And that has left me with a doubt. But a great kind of doubt.

Half a year for each of the above-mentioned areas does not leave me a specialist, but definitely a multi-skiller. In today’s journalistic practice where the internet is a thing and news happen every second, I am sure that making journalistic newcomers to multi-skillers is the right way to teach.

A journalistic nerd

I have learned to write a captive subhead, to create a picture universe for radio, and now I am just learning to edit a TV interview. But I am not only learning to “do” journalism, I am also learning how journalism historically has affected the world, how politics have an impact on journalists vis-à-vis, and how research and statistics will help me create a thorough and well-argued article.

Academic subjects such as media law, international politics, and media language cover 38 per cent of the education, as depicted in the figure below. My first thought when I realized this was: Why? I just want to be a journalist.

The structure of the journalism studies at the SDU. Please click to see a larger image.

However, I have quickly realized that these subjects are what builds the foundation to become a knowledgeable and good journalist.

A kind push

The world of journalists is a battlefield. My fellow students and I know that we must have sharp elbows and do something extra besides the education.

Luckily, the university got our back there. Do you want to be a newspaper editor? Join Lixen. Or are you more interested in getting better with picture and sound? Well, Beton TV and Odense Studenterradio give you the chance.

Reporting news in the morning radio. Photo: Christina Yoon Petersen.

A little piece of advice? Do take these chances. Learn what excites you and what you are good at because two years during the education you must benefit from this knowledge, when you have to find an internship. One year of the studies is reserved for you to show your talent to a company and for the company to learn you how to work in the “real” world. I was just about to tell you that this is the first taste of the journalism industry outside the university, but that is simply not true.

I dare to say that the education at the SDU is, if not the one, then one of the educations that couple learning with real life throughout. We speak to experts, politicians, and to other interesting citizens weekly. We visit radio and TV stations, and we even work for a local newspaper for a whole week.

I have often heard that university students almost feel detached from the outside during their education. I certainly do not have this problem.

Tiny setup – huge competition

A part of the detachment from the outside is the lack of socializing. Luckily, we do not miss out on that at all. We consider ourselves a rather small education, we are no more than 200 students divided into two semesters walking around the journalists’ area, Medietorvet, at the same time. Most of them, including myself, moved to Odense from a long distance after getting in. That forces people to make new friendships, and so we did! Some of my fellow students have become people I do not know how to live without, and I thank the university, that I was “forced” to get to know these people.

Editing the newest TV-assignment. Photo: Karoline Hedegaard.

They are not only friends, they are also competitors. In a profession that is difficult to get noticed in, they urge me to become better at what I am already good at, because ‘good does just not cut it – we have to be great. And with the above-mentioned possibilities, I dare to say that SDU helps us more than we could wish. The rest is up to us. I am so excited to discover what the next year of school has in store for me before I (hopefully) find an internship.

Karoline Lunddal Dam

Me interviewing the Danish musician Hjalmer last month. Photo: Tine Dam Rasmussen

The author strives to become a journalist and began her path at the Danish Folk Highschool Krogerup, focusing on Journalism and Media. Afterwards, she stayed three months in the US studying News reporting and Writing at Bucks County Community College. Now she is studying Journalism at the University of Southern Denmark while working as a web assistant at the Danish television station TV 2.

 

Journalism studies in Iceland: ”I’ve got to know my country and society better”

Erna Agnes Sigurgeirsdóttir is a journalism student at the University of Iceland.

I’m very glad that I chose the Master’s Program in Journalism at the University of Iceland. After my first year of studies, my journalistic appetite has only grown and I have learned a lot about my country and myself.

I had just finished my BA in Art Theory and had been working at a kindergarten. I thought about choosing educational studies for my Master’s and I had already written my application letter. A year before that I had heard about this journalism program in the University of Iceland. I thought it was very interesting but I wasn’t ‘t sure if I was up for the journalism environment. So after some thought, I finally decided to apply for the Master in Journalism – and got accepted.

Although I loved working with children and I thought the educational studies program sounded very good, I didn’t ‘t have the same flutter in my stomach as when I thought about the journalism program.

Different in a good way

I knew from the start that I was most interested in human interest stuff and cultural angles. My dream was, and still is, to work in radio and make different kinds of segments. And for that, choosing Master’s in Journalism was probably one of the best decision I have ever made.

As soon as I started I realized what good a decision I had made, and I loved it from the start. It was very different from what I had been used to when I studied Art Theory, and it was different in a good way. The courses I took were very hands-on. I learned how to write for different kinds of news media and I also learned how to handle all of the technical equipment that is essential in the media environment.

Looking back to my first year

I have now finished my first year and have one year left. During this year I have boosted my self-esteem for I have seen that I can actually do the work, yet it is not easy and I have a lot to learn. Our teachers encourage us students to find their voice. They have helped me find my way, and they make sure that I also step out of my comfort zone. That is one of the best ways to learn.

At Háskólatorg where people usually meet up before class. It also has the best coffee on campus.

I have also got to know my country and society better. I have always been interested in social matters but in this program I have been able to dig deeper. I have learned how to find news and what matters.

The internship and the reality

One of my favorite part of my first academic year was the final month. That month I, and my fellow students, had the opportunity to work as an intern in a media company of the preference of our own.

The internship period was, for me at least, the most important course I had taken during the first year. There I really learned how the real media environment works. I learned so much during this month, and I loved every, and sometimes difficult, minute of it. I was also able to grow my social network, which, of course, is extremely important to a journalist.

I got to work in the news department at Ríkisútvarpið, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. First, I worked at the news department for two weeks and thereafter for another two weeks at Rás 2, which is a radio station specialized in current events. I did segments for the morning and afternoon radio. That was absolutely my favorite part of the internship.

During my first year I have learned a lot – not just about myself but also about how the media work, and about its power and influence on the social environment and political structures. I look forward to the next year, because I know I still have so a lot more to learn.

Erna Agnes Sigurgeirsdóttir

The writer studies journalism at the University of Iceland. It is a two year program that is both practical and theoretical. The number of new students per year is around 21. Erna Agnes’ post starts a series of blog posts with the title Min utbildning, presenting study programmes at journalism schools in the Nordic countries.

Complete your university studies like no one else

How is it possible to graduate from a Master’s program in three years with 44 extra credits, while holding three jobs? And do this in a country where only a fifth of all university students reach the target time of five years? I will tell you.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, September 1st 2014: This is a new day and my first day at the uni, and I’m already thinking about my Bachelor’s thesis. #twoyearbachelor #icandothis

Almost three years has passed since I posted the picture above on Instagram. It was my first day at the University of Tampere, the day I started my journalism and communication studies in Finland. Already back then I knew I wanted to do something that I had heard only rumors of. I wanted to finish my university studies under the target time of five years.

Understandably, my goal was difficult to achieve and I faced a lot of questioning, especially since I had three jobs at the same time. My study advisors, teachers and fellow students were not used to someone like me. In Finland, students usually don’t graduate in the target time, not to speak about being quicker.

But that is exactly what I did.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, May 28th 2016: Two years ago, when I started my uni studies, I decided I’m gonna make it in two years. And so I did. Now it’s time for me to move on. With me I’m taking a Bachelor’s certificate. #twoyearbachelor #ididit

Instagram @hannatuulonen, August 29th 2016:  In autumn 2014 I posted a declaration that I was going finish my Bachelor’s degree within two years. Today, two years later, I’m at the doorstep of a new pursuit: Master’s degree in one year. #twoyearbachelor #oneyearmaster #thisisgu

Pulling of something like this is not an easy task. However, I had some benefits that made things easier.

One was the fact that I had completed all the basic courses at the open university before starting my actual university studies. At the time I didn’t realize how much of an advantage it was for me, yet during the first year I quickly realized its value as I was able to participate in second-year courses.

Another benefit was the Tampere university’s preeminent system of free minor studies. Basically, I could enroll myself on any course from any faculty and make it a part of my Bachelor’s studies. Thanks to this, I completed 224 study credits (ECTS) within two years instead of the 180 credits required within three years.

Thirdly, having a possibility to complete a Master’s thesis in Sweden in one year was an opportunity like any other.

Having these possibilities and benefits were only a small part of the whole picture, though. To be able to to do what I did a lot of work and planning is required. Here are some of my tips and tricks, something that took me several years of modifying. It required self-discipline as well as knowing my own strengths and weaknesses. Being organized is going to require the same things from you.

Besides studies, these rules can also be applied to a freelancer’s job.

Notebooks

I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. All four of them.

To me, notebooks are like folders: one notebook for one category of thoughts, or, in the case of university studies, one notebook per  course. As an average university student has four courses per period, I had eight to ten. Keeping track of all their deadlines and lectures in an organized way was a key to starting and completing all of them.

The important thing is not to have a notebook or several. The important thing is the purpose they serve: clearing the cache inside your head.

The human brain is amazing in how many things it can handle at the same time but what it is less good at is holding on to all those threads of thoughts. Trying to remember everything eats up a huge part of your energy and efficiency. Stressing about that you forgot something does the same thing. Getting ideas, thoughts, feelings and unfinished processes safely stored helps you keep focus on what you want.

Synchronized calendars

At the moment, my online calendar consists of six synchronized, color-coded calendars. Having different timetables synced helps me and others keep track of when and where we need to be or what needs to done by what deadline.

The calendars consist of two different kind of markings: time-bound events (e.g. meet an interviewee at 3pm) and day-bound events (e.g. buy flight tickets to Helsinki). Time-bound events are what dictate the daily schedules and day-bound events are the to-do list.

To-do lists are handy, but only if you make them right. Instead of having everything as one long overwhelming list of tasks, divide your tasks evenly throughout the week. Set a deadline and stick to it. A daily to-do list will help you prioritize and keep your mind on what’s important. Especially essay and exam deadlines.

Spreadsheets

One tool that planner freaks like me use is the spreadsheet. Especially long-term projects and courses that last for more than one period, it might be difficult to keep track of everything only with the help of a calendar. And this is where spreadsheets step in.

The picture below shows a spreadsheet in which I kept track of my courses and credits. Everything needed can be seen on one climbs. This would be impossible to comprehend and update only with the help of a calendar.

Take to notion that having a properly functioning spreadsheet needs constant updating. It might feel like a boring thing to do and you might think that you can do it later. Don’t. You’ll lose track of what you have already updated and checking up on things two months old eats up more of your time than giving two minutes a day to one simple update.

Common to all tools

Never delete or destroy anything. These tools are not meant only for keeping you on track right here and right now. They are also tools for you to check on what you have done and tools to help you get back to what you need to remember.

Sometimes getting started is the most difficult part. Instead of pondering whether you should do something or what you should do, just do it. It takes less time than wondering around. Trust me. And once you get to doing, keep going. No task, thought or event is too small to for these tools and rules. Write everything you need either in your notebooks (or what ever suits you best), calendar or spreadsheet.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, June 3rd 2017: ¡¡ Masters of Investigative Journalism !! Graduation day. You haven’t heard the last of us and we haven’t heard the last of each other. #perceftion #twoyearbachelor #oneyearmaster

A journalist’s job is not only a job. It’s a profession that doesn’t count hours. A freelance journalist cannot expect workdays to be 8 hours long because sometimes even 12 hours aren’t enough. I feel the same about studying. Now I realize that not everyone is like me. Not everyone has the same desire and passion for studying that I do, and thus these tools and rules don’t work for everyone. That’s okay. I don’t expect the same things from others that I expect from myself.

Yet I feel that it is important for me to show that university studies don’t have to be dragged out necessities that throughout the years evolve from something manageable to something tedious. When only 10 to 20 percent of all university students in Finland are able to grduate in the target time of five years, I can’t help but think that there’s a problem – in the university system, society or the students themselves. Which one are you going to change?

Hanna Tuulonen

The writer started her university studies in 2014, graduated as Bachelor of Social Science in 2016 from the University of Tampere in Finland and as Master of Social Science in 2017 from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Currently she works as an editor-in-chief and as a translator. Find her portfolio and work samples at Göteborgin Sivukonttori and at Varusmies-lehti.