This post was written by Andrew Harlan, a Junior Communication Studies Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
A week in one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world with a group of eighteen Northwestern students. Sounds pretty incredible, right? Well, it is sure starting off that way.
This spring break, I have the incredible privilege of taking part in the School of Communication’s Global Media and Communications seminar. After a quarter-long course back on the Evanston campus, we flew across the pond to London, where we’ve been exploring for the past couple days. After tons of sightseeing, Tube-riding, tea-sipping, and much more, today was our first full day of events. We kicked things off in the morning with a lecture at the London School of Economics by Professor Nick Couldry. Couldry’s lecture focused on the new global media environment and the ethical questions it raises. In a contemporary climate in which an individual’s online data are at the disposal of companies and corporations, Couldry’s lecture raised important questions about the path ahead.
After lecture, we made a pit stop at the London Film Museum’s exhibit on the James Bond franchise. From Bond cars to Bond songs, the museum was full of movie history. Many students made their way to Covent Garden after visiting the museum, sampling tea in various shops and finding souvenirs to purchase for family back home. With more free time after lunch, I spent some time at the National Portrait Gallery. Starting back at the Tudor portraits from the sixteenth century, I made my way through over five hundred years of British art in about an hour and a half. I’ve always been fascinated by the British government (specifically, the monarchy). It was fascinating to see how art, fashion, and British identity changed over the years.
For me, the real treat of the day was our site visit to Nancy Bishop Casting, just north of Leicester Square. Nancy Bishop is an impressive Northwestern alumna, having graduated from the School of Communication with a master’s from the Theatre department. She has had a fascinating career trajectory, starting off in Chicago where she founded multiple independent theatre companies. From there, she landed in Prague, where she continued working in the theatre world. Various connections brought her to the Film/TV casting industry and to London today. As a young individual highly interested in careers in both casting and talent/literary representation, Bishop’s talk was particularly insightful. She spoke about topics ranging from her own Northwestern experience to how the industry is working toward diverse casting practices. I am so thankful to have had the chance to meet such a powerful player in the global film/television industry and to learn from her experiences.
With some free time left in the evening, I finished the day by purchasing some day-of tickets with other students for the current revival of Dreamgirls playing at the Savoy Theatre. It’s no secret among the students on the program that I’m one of the big theatre geeks of the group, so to say I loved the show would be an understatement. The show’s intricate costumes and glittering set design wowed the audience, and the cast members delivered powerhouse performances. Truly, a remarkable way to end a day in one of the greatest cities in the world! Now, it’s time for me to catch some sleep before our next big day…
This post was written by Amanda Xiang, a Senior Duel Degree Communication Studies and Piano Performance Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
There was a hint of remorse on this final day of activities for the trip. We started off as a continuation of last night’s (absolutely) fantastic performance of Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre and were able to talk to David Sabel, the alumni who works at the theatre as the Director of Creative Development.
The experience of visiting the theatre as an audience first, and getting to know the origin and core creator of the show afterward was a great idea. David shared his life story in much detail (he talked for more than an hour!), diving from his first involvements as an actor right after coming out of college, to his immersion in other sectors that go beyond the creative industries, like graduating from an MBA program in Cambridge. His career was the epitome of creation, not just because of his non-linear (a word we heard of many times in the trip) career path, but also his understanding of the creative media industry as a whole, diverging externally of his love for theatre! We talked about how live recording videos of concerts could be the first moves to moving into event cinemas, how event cinemas may not necessarily take away the profits of a live performance but as an add-on, or how the future of technologies like VR, live recordings, 360 degree sound systems could be incorporated into live performances. On top of his vast knowledge, David’s idea of immersing the audience entirely in the Julius Caesar show was an example of how these creative ideas could be successfully used in more traditional forms of entertainment.
It was a short day, and our events ended after the talk with David, as well as a delicious (and luxurious!) late lunch at an Indian restaurant named Masala Zone near our hotel that officially ended our trip. However, my day got better from there – after getting some very essential shopping out of the way, I met up with my previous internship colleague, who had moved onto a job at the management level of the London Philharmonia Orchestra. I followed him into the orchestra’s very exclusive rehearsal, as well as a backstage tour (more like an informal meet and greet!). Never in the world would I remotely imagined to meet him in London, but also having this super rare opportunity to meet the orchestra!
The Philharmonia Orchestra is stationed at the Royal Festival Hall right by the river. The building was beyond just a concert hall – it was like a hub of an artistic community, with buzzing noises of crowded people formulating around exhibitions downstairs of the hall, couples sipping tea at coffee tables right by the floor-length glass windows; and the concert hall itself looked spacious, luxurious and full of history. However, I was told that the hall existed before the newer additions to the building structure, so the acoustics of the hall was never improved since the 1980s. Personally seeing how the musicians struggled to project their music to the back of the hall, I realized that compared to Bridge Theatre, there was a stark contrast between a traditional form like music and relatively stagnant art form like theatre, and the innovative and integrating components of this greatly improving other aspects of the creative industry. It was beyond interesting and mind-opening to see both sides of technological development or enhancement in these different spaces, and yet they both thrived in a welcoming and arts-focused city such as London.
P.S: I also bumped into Casper Lee, one of the most famous British Youtubers, on the street of London today. That was a highlight and I wished I could write a whole new blog on how ridiculously joyous I was for the rest of the day.
This post was written by Jason Yang, a Senior Communication Studies at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
By day four of our trip, I had begun to feel more acquainted with London as a city as well as the general groove of our schedule which I know was a sentiment shared by many of my classmates. With that being said, Tuesday saw a slower day of two morning lectures at LSE and an afternoon visit to Deloitte. At least for me personally, I admittedly did not have expectations of this day bringing too much excitement. However, I was genuinely surprised with the value of the academic discourse and the unique interaction with a company typically assumed to be reserved for finance or economics rather than media studies. Our lectures at LSE were by Professor ? and Thomas Hoegh with both discussing our modern usage of social media and European specific media industry. Thomas went into more detail regarding his background as a Northwestern alumnus and founder of various media companies. Despite being two lectures back to back in the same classroom and truthfully being tough to absorb all the information, it was an enriching and gratifying experience to see them take time out of their day to speak to us.
After our time at LSE, we moved to Bill’s for lunch to refresh and recharge. I actually ordered an elderflower cordial, a historical Victorian soft drink, for the first time which certainly helped to reenergize my mind for our next visit to Deloitte. The atmosphere upon arrival at Deloitte was certainly much more formal and corporate than previous companies. Sara Siegel gave an informative presentation on the nuances of media work at the company with an additional highlight of the visit being two younger employees answering questions. Overall, I gained a surprising amount of insight into consulting as a career choice and the scope of media problems that Deloitte is tasked with solving on a regular basis. With anything ranging from sports to video games, media is still a growing industry and people knowledgeable in the area are still high in demand. This visit was especially enlightening for me to understand Deloitte consulting as being more than simply for finance or IT work and giving me more perspective on career choices.
After this visit, we finally had free time to experience the more touristy locations of London and a group of us obviously had to go to the Shard for one of the best views of the city. The aerial view was astonishing and after a couple hours of taking (excessive) pictures and embarrassingly wondering if you could see the Eiffel Tower from here (not me), the sun had set giving us another view of the brightly lit city (wow). For dinner, our group visited a French bistro and trekked back to the hotel to join the rest of the class. Some of our class decided to stay in while the others decided to visit a popular university student location. We listened to music, walked the city, interacted with locals, and even got cool wrist art to signify the city’s acceptance of us foreigners. I know I went to bed content (albeit not to wake up at 8:30) and ready for the next, especially long, day of new experiences.
This post was written by Sofia Kuta, a Junior Communication Studies Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
On Friday morning, we reluctantly packed our bags and bid farewell to the bustling streets of London and its iconic double-decker buses. Spring break had officially come to an end. To say the least, nobody wanted to go back home. The past week has been an absolute whirlwind of engaging lectures, site visits, laughs and touristy excursions. For some, this trip had been to a return to a previously visited city. For others, it was a completely novel experience. Either way, every person came out of the trip with a new lesson learned, whether that is how to navigate the tube system or properly order a meal at a pub.
Despite our group’s array of interests, we all came to London with the hope of gaining a more clear vision of our career aspirations to some extent. From site to site, we heard from a wide array of people with differing career paths. The biggest take-away from speaking with the people on these panels is that, for the most part, there is no “right way” to go about you career. There is no recipe that can be followed that will lead you to an exact job position. We are each on our own individual trajectories. Who knows what we will be doing in five years. Chances are it’ll be something completely unanticipated. It’s vague and a bit scary, but after all is said and done, we each need to trust that it will all ultimately work out for the best.
This post was written by Jesus Campos, a Junior Radio, Television, Film Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
I woke up Thursday excited about my coming day (as usual, I mean I was in London, how could I not be?). I was a little exhausted from the day before. It was the busiest day thus far in our trip and it definitely took a toll. It was a great day, I loved getting to visit Google, Zenith, and seeing Dream Girls, but I just wish I had a few more hours of sleep. In order to combat my exhaustion, along with some of my new #GMCSfriends, I decided to go to a restaurant near our hotel to pick up a quick breakfast and coffee. Throughout the whole trip, other people raved about this place’s porridge, so I decided to order it with a flat white on the side (I needed my caffeine). The porridge took a while to make, so we had to hustle to make it to lecture on time. (The porridge was incredible by the way!).
After power walking from the restaurant to LSE, we had a wonderful lecture by Wendy Willems. She spoke about the intersection between media and activism and how social media has been used to promote social progress and movements, but also how it can be used for the opposite as well. The most compelling part of her lecture for me was her talk about the global north vs the global south and resistance readers who reject western ideologies in media. In particular, I liked how traditional western genre movies could be interpreted in different ways by cultures not part of the “western world.” One example was how in the western genre, people from non-western cultures would root for the natives and not the white-protagonists during fight scenes.
After the lecture with Wendy Willems, Thomas Hoegh gave a wonderful talk about his experiences and provided us with advice about careers in entertainment. As an entrepreneur, he recommended that we take risks when finding opportunities and to be innovative as well.
After the speaker series, we walked to Masala Zone where we would have our last lunch in London. It was an incredibly nice place, extremely picturesque, and had a relaxed ambiance. We had a lovely array of traditional Indian food that we shared around the table. My favorite part of the meal was the Naan bread. It was so nice and warm, and the sauce it came with was a great complement. After lunch, we talked about how our week went, and our thoughts on the trip overall.
After our meal, a group of us decided to do some #shopping at Primark before having afternoon tea (something I NEEDED to do before leaving London). After an hour of shopping, I realized that everyone had left to go to afternoon tea. My phone had died, so I did not receive any of the messages. I ran up to the Primark café (honestly, all stores should have cafes) to charge my phone. To my luck, a fellow #GMCSfriend also lost track of time. We congregated at the café, charged our phones, and left to get our afternoon tea.
After a bit of confusion about where the place was, we finally arrived and were reunited with the rest of our group. Although I had a large lunch less than two hours before, I needed to experience afternoon tea in its entirety, so I went all out and got the whole ensemble. I do not regret doing so. I got an assortment of savory finger sandwiches alongside sweet and delicious pastries, and of course, scones with jam and clotted cream. It was all I could ask for, and although it was a struggle to finish it all, it was well worth it.
Once we finished up afternoon tea, we walked back to the hotel. Others planned to do more things at night, but I was pretty tired, so I decided to have just relax. It was said knowing that I would be leaving London tomorrow, but I was happy that I got the opportunity to spend my spring break in this fantastic city. However, the best part was that I made so many new friends on the trip and have so many memorable moments from it. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time I’m in London.
This post was written by Kaitlin Jennrich, a Senior Communication Studies Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
The GMCS group has an action-packed Wednesday ahead of us, with a lecture, two site visits, and a group outing to see Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. During our daily London School of Economics lecture, Dr. Myria Georgiou delves into an overview of London and the media—specifically, how media positions London as a top global city, which in effect construct a reality in which London becomes a top global city.
To begin, she asks us: Why did you want to come to London?
We look at each other. Because Queen Elizabeth lives here? (I am a big fan of The Crown.) Because people with British accents sound incredibly posh, and I hope that in less than a week I may pick one up? Because if I’m very, very lucky, I may stumble upon Diagon Alley and have all my suspicions about the wizarding world of Harry Potter confirmed?
Dr. Georgiou points out that many of our reasons for visiting London are formed by the media: movies like Notting Hill or Love Actually, sensations like Harry Potter, or even any one of the numerous books that take place in London. In fact, one in 10 tourists to the UK or London come because of depictions in movies. She then goes on to describe how cities like London are “media capitals,” or centers of cultural connection and mobility, and this gives these cities an outsized global weight. Often, these “alpha cities” can be more powerful and influential than the countries these cities are in. To illustrate this point, she asks us: Do you know the city of Dubai?
Of course, we all nod earnestly, because we are smart Northwestern students.
Do you know what country Dubai is in?
Unfortunately, most of us guess Saudi Arabia. Helpful hint: Dubai is actually in the United Arab Emirates. But this goes to show you—Dubai is an alpha city, a media capital, and a powerful center of symbolic economic power.
Finally, Dr. Georgiou tells us that certain cities are associated with romance and joy—like London—whereas others are associated with crime, deviance, and poverty—like northern England cities. By choosing to visit London as tourists, we feed into the idea of London as a joyful, romantic place and further affirm this slightly artificial reality. In essence, media in the city and surrounding the city makes the city. It’s a fascinating topic.
After the lecture, we’re off to the Google London offices. We finally make it to one of their four London offices after a thrilling tube ride, in which we tried to keep a group of nearly 20 people moving smoothly through public transportation.
What is there to say about Google? It’s Google! It’s the most recognizable software company in the world! They’ve become as ubiquitous as “Kleenex,” in that when you need to search for something online, you often just shout, “Someone GOOGLE THAT for me!” There’s a whole movie called “The Internship” starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn that is basically just about how wonderful Google is to work at!
Northwestern alum Amy O’Malley shows us around their offices, which I am pleased to announce are just as cool as you might have guessed. We have lunch at their canteen, and then head back to the conference room for a Q&A with some Google employees. They tell us about their career paths, experiences living and working abroad, and advice for applying for jobs at Google.
Next, we head to the ZenithOptimedia offices. ZenithOptimedia is a marketing agency that specializes in ROI and data-driven results, and speaking to its employees offers an interesting agency perspective after two days of talking with people who work for massive companies. They tell us about how in agency work, it’s important to be always learning because your clients will always want to be up-to-date on the latest industry news and trends. One of the best parts of these site visits is learning more about living and working abroad; as a senior, it makes an eventual job in a different country seem possible, which is incredibly exciting.
Finally, we’re off to dinner of burgers, and then to see the Savoy Theatre’s production of Dreamgirls, starring Amber Riley from Glee. The entire theatre gives her a standing ovation at intermission for her rendition of “And I am Telling You.” It’s the perfect ending to an action-packed day, and it’s hard to believe we only have one day left here before we have to head back to the States.
This post was written by Becca Smith, a Senior Communications Studies Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
I woke up on Monday morning, feeling a unique combination of jetlag and excitement for our first day of lectures and site visits. I grabbed a latte and headed to the London School of Economics for our first lecture. As soon as I entered the classroom, I took out my notepad and favorite pen and realized how much I would miss taking Northwestern classes. I recently finished my college career and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to spend a week in London learning about what captures my attention the most – global media. When everyone was settled in their seats, the man at the front of the classroom introduced himself as Nick Couldry and told us that we would be discussing the new normative turn in media and communications research. Suddenly, almost two hours went by and I had three pages of notes. Nick gave an incredibly captivating lecture that was so relevant to us as constantly busy and connected Northwestern students. One of the parts that was particularly fascinating was Nick’s focus on the burden of communication. He posed a question to us that I still think about as I sit at my laptop writing this, with the television on in front of me and my iPhone at my side, buzzing every so often with a notification: “Is technology offering us the lives that we want to lead?”. It’s obvious that technology permeates nearly every aspect of our lives, sometimes “burdening” us with having to be constantly connected. While this may seem like a positive to many people, there are undoubtedly times in which I feel the need to “unplug” and relax. After Nick’s lecture, Northwestern alumnus David Sabel talked with us about his role with the National Theatre, National Theatre Live, and his most recent work with the new Bridge Theatre, coming to London in fall of this year. David explained how he went from Northwestern to where he is now, and the varied jobs that he has held. He explained how his career path often followed his passions and the lack of fear for “shaking things up”. David truly inspired me to approach post-graduation life with a fearless and excited attitude.
We left the London School of Economics to eat a delicious lunch at Brown’s, where I had Butternut Squash soup followed by a Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich and chips (which you may know better as french fries). We ventured out into the pouring rain where I quickly began thinking again about post-graduation jobs at the one place where you will always think about jobs – LinkedIn. At LinkedIn, we were warmly greeted by another Northwestern alumna, Latia YoungFountain. She gave us an in-depth overview of LinkedIn and answered all of our questions openly and honestly. The most productive part of the site visit (besides the free snacks and coffee, of course!) was a panel of current LinkedIn employees from very diverse backgrounds. Their advice was extremely helpful in moving forward after Northwestern and they gave wonderful insight on the ups and downs of working abroad. I left LinkedIn feeling much calmer and excited about my future. However, the calmness was short-lived as Sam, another GMCS participant, and myself rushed over to get in line for The Nightly Show, a late night talk show in London. We got in and took our seats, ready for some laughs. The show was hilarious and featured two wonderful guests, Catherine Tate and Ruby Wax. The best part of the show by far was when the host, Dermot O’Leary, announced that a member of the audience would be receiving a trip to Ruby’s hometown – Evanston, Illinois! Of course, Sam and I went crazy and Ruby shouted “Go Cats!” and we enthusiastically returned the favor. Shortly after, Sam and I watched the aired episode of the show, and sadly realized that our moment of fame had been cut. Regardless, it was a wonderful experience and a part of the culture in London that I would have otherwise never experienced. Exhausted from my fun-filled day, I returned to my hotel room and chatted with my roommate before collapsing in my bed, ready for my next day of adventure in London.
This post was written by Stephanie Uriostegui, a Sophomore Communications Studies Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
It’s been a long finals week fueled by coffee and visions of London, which have helped me stay motivated in writing multiple 8-page papers. Now after almost three months of anticipation, the Global Media and Communication Seminar trip to London is finally here! It’s been a while since I’ve visited London and I am so excited to spend an entire week exploring the city and meeting alumni from the London School of Economics and global communication and media companies.
Last week, the School of Communication’s EPICS Office gave us a pre-departure orientation meeting where we discussed the logistics of the trip and were handed the long awaited itinerary. My classmates and I had a great time getting to know each other and mentally preparing ourselves for the trip in our quarter-long seminar taught by Professor Dilip Gaonkar. In this class, we’ve studied a broad range of topics including global flows, the new dynamics of production and marketing, the new geography of jobs and economic inequality, and the cultural economy. We explored and discussed the complexity of outsourcing trends in globalization and the impact of labor arbitrage. Through an in-depth analysis of successful companies like Amazon and Walmart, we were able to see shifts in the business models of the retail industry. Finally, we wrapped up the quarter by discussing the impact of the freelance or “gig” economy through emerging markets inspired by the Uber business model. Overall, it was fascinating learning about globalization models and trends applied to familiar and useful companies and services we use everyday like Uber, Amazon, and Apple.
Some of the highlights of the itinerary that I can’t wait to experience are the site visits to Google, LinkedIn, and Deloitte, scheduled visits to the Black History Walk and a showing of play Dreamgirls, as well as our lectures at the London School of Economics.
Until then, I will be spending my last night before the trip researching where I can get the best blueberry scones and afternoon tea near my hotel. Now I just hope I will be able to sleep on the plane ride there, but I probably won’t because of feelings of excitement for London and partly from of slight my fear of flying.
This post was written by Alaina McCaffrey, a Sophomore Communications Studies Major at Northwestern University attending the School of Communication’s Global Media & Communications Seminar in London.
I know that “jumping” out of bed is just a phrase. It doesn’t happen in real life. Except it did. To me. This morning. Today was the day that excited me the most: we started with a lecture from LSE’s Myria Georgiou, followed by a trip to BBC Film, and then a visit to LinkedIn’s London office. I’m a fan of all things Benedict Cumberbatch, and fascinated by marketing and advertising, so I knew this day would be worth the jump.
Myria’s lecture was a thought-provoking discussion about which cities are the most “connected,” and how different scholars’ definitions of connectivity influence power dynamics between locations. She was an excellent, engaging speaker and encouraged us to share and challenge our ideas about global cities. I was proud to recognize many of the concepts and scholarly works that we studied back at Northwestern, and to engage with them in the new context of London.
Afterward, we walked to BBC Films and spoke to members of their film and television teams. I was especially interested in the way their funding influences their philosophy: each household in the U.K. pays a “licensing fee” every year, and this money funds the BBC. This is in contrast to network TV in the U.S., where shows are funded by advertising. Because BBC is publicly owned, the team finds it best to make short series of 3-6 episodes each. These series might cater to relatively small segments of the U.K. population, but still showcase universal sentiments. This is different from the U.S., where we try to make shows as broadly appealing as possible to please large audiences and make more ad-money for the network. I was so fascinated by this unique perspective that I wasn’t even disappointed that Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t make an appearance.
After a lovely lunch at Pizza Express, we went to LinkedIn’s London office. The company is still growing extremely quickly, so lots of our discussion focused on growing the user base and the strength of its platform while still focusing on the user experience. One of the team members explained that he tackles issues that arise when different cultures use LinkedIn. For example, in Germany, it’s bad form to approach employees of a rival company, which he explained “is basically our business model,” so he and his team had to figure out different ways for Germans to use the site. Overall, one of the team’s biggest messages was to find a way to work abroad if possible. After their talk, I felt like working abroad was much more approachable than I had thought before this trip. We stayed for “drinks and nibbles”— this sounds so British to me— after the presentation ended to chat with the team about their experiences at LinkedIn. I tried to be professional and cool, but inside, I was still jumping.