Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The day a stranger in London confirmed my future

by Megan Hickok,
Covering the London Olympics
LONDON, England -- Many times during these last few years as an aspiring journalist in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, I have second guessed my future. This usually happens after I fail a journalism ethics exam or when I struggle with a story deadline.
Right in the middle of the Women’s Cycling Road Race with rain pouring down on my face, I realized that not only did I pick a major that fit me, but I also picked one of the most unique and rewarding career paths on that Student Orientation tri-fold.
I was talking to Chris, a volunteer for the Olympics. After giving myself my routine 30-second pep talk, I started to ask him all of the questions I was curious about for my story on the atmosphere of the event. He was friendly, helpful and once I turned my recorder off, very entertaining.
We talked about the funny differences between Brits and Americans. I told him all about my embarrassing train ride where I hit an English man with my baguette on accident. He shared stories of growing up in London. We were guessing why dogs seemed prettier in England and why lamb tastes so much better back in the states. I did my best British accent, which is absolutely terrible. I even confided in him about the few rude encounters I have had with some Brits. He gave me advice on how to make the most of my time here.
“Don’t take us so seriously,” he said.
He was right. I was too focused on fitting in. Talking with Chris was entertaining and interesting. If it weren’t for my role as a reporter to approach strangers and engage them, I would have never met Chris. I would have stood on the side of the road with my fellow American friends having a much more mediocre version of the road race.
I had overlooked this side of the job until London. Students studying abroad in other career fields may not have met all of the wonderful foreigners I have so far. They would not get to know a Brit past, “Do you know where Big Ben is sir?” As for my journalism friends and I, we’re filled with names and life stories in just a few days of being abroad. All of the strangers that I have gotten to talk with downtown, on the train or even in the pubs, have helped shape my time abroad.
The skills I have developed in Scripps have not only taught me how to get the best quote I can for my story, but also how to experience places and people on such a deeper level. I have not traveled much in my (almost) 21 years in this world, but being in England and being a journalist have made all of my confused stars align.
If you are not a journalist yourself, it may be hard to understand what I am getting at. However, you do know the feeling after having a really rewarding, intriguing conversation with someone you just met. Journalists get to do this everyday.
People may think they’re just helping me do my job, but really they’re helping to open my eyes.

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