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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.