Name: Elizabeth Jackson
Degree: American and English Literature
Destination: UC Berkeley, California
Graduating: July 2013
Intended career: Broadcast Journalism
Three years ago when I was looking at university courses, going to America seemed more of a pipe-dream than a reality. I never expected that I would be able to study at UC Berkeley for the year. I was nervous about spending a whole year in a foreign country, but I can safely say that studying abroad has been one of the best decisions of my life.
I had never been to America before and had no idea what to expect, but I have made some lifelong friendships and had some truly amazing experiences while I have been out here, all while learning at one of the most respected universities in the country. I was supported the whole way by UEA and was awarded the Allan Buch Memorial Scholarship to help fund my Year Abroad, which was invaluable to my experience.
While I have been studying out here I have broadened my experiences so much and challenged myself, and I have had so much fun doing so. I have studied journalism courses run by prominent working reporters and have sat in literature classes taught by internationally renowned field experts, which formed an exciting and intellectually stimulating environment that reignited my interest in my subject and my intended career. Berkeley is such an active, socially conscious and intelligent place that it really helped me to develop as a person and has inspired me academically and in life generally.
I heard influential speakers such as Robert Reich address Occupy protestors; saw Johnny Depp discuss The Rum Diary at his invite-only preview; watched concerts under the stars and got into the colourful school spirit on Game Days. I really feel ready to go out into the world after I graduate with an entirely new focused perspective on life. People at Berkeley are so driven, ambitious and passionate about what they do and that has instilled a hard working ethic and drive for continuous work-life achievements which I know has been hugely important in my final year at UEA.
The way that students were always involved in at least one campus activity or society also encouraged me to push myself and try different things. I joined a sorority, Delta Delta Delta, which I was truly lucky to be a part of. I cannot explain how amazing it has been to have such a unique bond with over 120 genuine friends, but more than that, being part of DDD helped me to network with successful female alumni in a variety of career fields, fundraise for our charity St. Jude’s, and engage to the fullest extent with the whole campus community.
I also anchored and reported for the campus television station CalTV, building up my own ‘reel’ full of different news packages and stepping out of my comfort zone to speak to ordinary people in the Bay Area. This has given me invaluable career experience and I know that without it I wouldn’t have developed the skills and confidence to secure my current role as News Editor for UEA’s newspaper Concrete, and become a reporter and presenter for UEA:TV.
There is always so much to do in America and so much excitement about travelling that you are guaranteed enjoy the culture you’ll experience on your Year Abroad too. I enjoyed the nightlife in the eccentric and lively districts of SF and immersed myself in the vibrant, diverse culture in Chinatown, Mission District and North Beach exploring the bookshops, cafes and rich history. I sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge; climbed the Berkeley Hills; visited Yosemite National Park; drove along the Pacific Coast Highway, visited LA and San Diego and even went to Las Vegas on a surprise trip with my American friends.
I’m currently preparing for a fast-track PGDip course in News Journalism, so that I am fully trained and qualified to pursue a long term career as a broadcast journalist, and to eventually become a television newsreader. I hope that I might one day get to go back to the Bay Area to work and live, and reconnect with the American friends I still keep in touch with. I know that without the huge variety and standard of professional work experience, cosmopolitan culture and travel opportunities available to me at Berkeley on my Year Abroad, I wouldn’t have the career skills and professional advantages and confident personality that I do now.