Our Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies) alumni, and current Bachelor of Law student, Kiran Gupta shares how his virtual student exchange experience at Jindal Global University enabled him to explore new areas of journalism and strengthen his global perspective.
It was my dream to go on student exchange from the moment I started university. The ability to travel to another country and experience another culture whilst broadening my professional horizons and meeting new friends seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime; the quintessential experience one could only ever experience at university.
Less than six months later, an unprecedented pandemic swept around the world. Still keen to pursue a student exchange experience, I spoke with MECO (Media and Communications) faculty members and the Sydney Abroad team to explore virtual courses. When I was invited to be the first student to take a course through the Department of Media and Communication’s new partnership with Jindal Global University, it was an easy decision to make. I took a course in reporting on Rural India called Imaging India, taken by Professor Radhika Bordia, a consulting editor at NDTV India.
It was a great opportunity to take the skills I had learnt in the University of Sydney journalism courses and apply them in a completely new context.
As an Indian-Australian, I had some basic knowledge of the course content before I started but nowhere near as much as other students in the class who had studied the themes covered for a number of years. Thankfully, Professor Bordia was extremely helpful in explaining all the themes to me clearly and succinctly so when I finished the course, I felt as though I had been studying the content for years. I learnt so much about India’s history with caste, religion and geography as well as the socio-political environment of India now. The opportunity to learn from such an eminent thinker was truly unparalleled.
As a media student, my primary objective was to develop my journalism skills. The course allowed me to improve my long-form journalism skills, working through a sustained piece about religion in India.
While it was a challenge to develop a lengthy piece in an unfamiliar context, it challenged me to develop my writing and really think about the choices I was making. That type of experience and breadth of knowledge is invaluable for all prospective journalists as it gives a completely different perspective.
Luckily, India is not too far behind Australia in terms of time-zone, so my classes fell into a reasonable evening hour. This gave me added flexibility as it meant that I could pick up an extra day of work and study during the evening.
The Zoom classes were incredibly engaging, it felt as though I was in the room with the class. Other students were also very willing and eager to help me, so I felt at home in the online environment. I would recommend considering a virtual online student exchange if you are looking for the added flexibility that it provides.
When I reflect upon my arts degree, I realise just how different it was from what I planned. I went through two years of largely online classes, a global pandemic, multiple lockdowns and of course, missed out on a physical exchange. However, I would have never considered the amazing opportunity that came to me through my studies at Jindal. When I think about the type of journalist I want to be, three words come to mind: versatile, skilled and global. It was a remarkable way to finish my university studies and put all those skills I had learnt into practice in a completely different world. So, step outside of your comfort zone and do something new. You will not regret it.
The course truly allowed me to develop my skills in a way that I would have never imagined. To anyone looking to take a student exchange unit (even virtually), I would say go for it.
The School of Literature, Art and Media’s Department of Media and Communications’ MECO UG Student Units of Study with Jindal Global University (JGU) is just one of the international opportunities supported by Strategic Partnerships and Engagement within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and by Sydney Abroad. Please see Vice Chancellor’s Global Mobility Scholarship and Dalyell Global Mobility Scholarship for available scholarships.