Primarily, it was the course because alongside your Master’s, you can also get an NCTJ diploma, which gives you an edge when looking for a role in journalism. I’d decided I was going to do this course where ever the university was, but was glad that Medway was close to London.
I studied media at undergraduate level and have also worked in Pakistan as a journalist for two years, so I had qualifications and experience but wanted to further enhance my skills and I’ve definitely been able to do that. One thing I particularly liked about the course was that the groups were small, which made it easy to communicate with your professors and fellow students.
Unfortunately, a month before I arrived in the UK, I lost my mother so it was very difficult for me. But from the outset, I was made to feel a part of the Centre for Journalism family, my Academic Adviser and all the staff were very understanding. I didn’t feel that I was alone in this new country and was able to get help when I needed it.
Yes, it was good, there’s a nice community feel and we’d get together in the common room. Just to be living with other people, seeing them coming and going, having those little conversations with them was nice. The majority of the Master’s students live in the same building, so when restrictions were lifted, we were able to eat together and meet for our birthdays.
We did a module called Practical Multimedia Journalism, which ran throughout the year. It had four components, we started working in print, moved to radio, then to TV and finally online journalism. It was very interesting, particularly the transition between each medium because each works in a different way. Apart from that, I took a course on media law in the UK, which was challenging but enjoyable and a module on reporting conflict, which coming from Pakistan, a country greatly affected by the war in Afghanistan, was very interesting for me.
It was very different because of Covid. I became the class rep, which meant that I got to know everyone by name. I passed on their issues to our teachers and they were grateful for that. I made a very good friend who lives on the same floor as me, so we would sit together in the kitchen for lectures. I'm trying to get the whole class together before we all move on.
The teachers are helpful and are always interested to talk to you, not just about the course but in general about your experiences. For me, any time I've asked for help they've tried to find a solution. During Covid, they ensured we were able to access equipment on campus and were there to support us when we were editing stories.
The facilities in the Centre for Journalism are definitely up to the mark. There is lots of equipment, which you can take out and there are labs with Macs, which are open pretty much all the time.
My research skills have improved, I’ve learnt how to send in Freedom of Information requests and how to use data in stories. Gaining these data journalism skills has been interesting and I think it will be very useful going forward. I’ve also learnt more about conducting interviews and the ethics around that.
No, we do a ‘final project’, which includes at least six stories of different lengths. We also do other projects: we created a pilot episode for a TV show, produced multimedia stories and of course studying for the diploma is also challenging. It’s certainly very busy.
Oh yes! I was here for a year and I wanted to make the most of it. It was difficult initially because of lockdown, but I did explore when I could. I visited Kent’s Canterbury campus and went to Dover, as well as some of the beaches in Kent.
I'm a Commonwealth Scholar, so met with other Commonwealth scholars who are studying at various universities in the UK. I have friends in London who I visit and they visit me; we also went on a trip to the Lake District, they're like family now.
For the immediate future, I’ve just secured an internship at KMTV, which I’m looking forward to. Before my studies, I worked as a digital journalist but now I want to get into broadcast journalism. When I return home, I want to set up as a freelance journalist, pitching stories on South Asia to outlets around the world, as well as stories about South Asian communities in the UK to outlets in Pakistan and the UK. In the future, I’d like to launch a solutions journalism platform and involve young people in Pakistan who aspire to be journalists. With solutions journalism, you don’t just write about the problems, you report on how communities are dealing with them.
I would say make the most of the experience and challenge yourself. I think you don't necessarily need to have a media or journalism background, but you do have to be really passionate about what you're doing. It is a very rigorous degree, so be prepared to work hard!
For me living alone has been an interesting experience and I’ve learnt to depend on myself rather than others. I’ve learnt to cook from scratch and am a really good chef now! Through the pandemic, I think I've learnt to live more in the present; having been a person who planned and organised everything, I’m now more spontaneous, and if things don't go according to plan it doesn’t worry me.