Due to the university education system back home in London going through changes, Amy Starlight Lawrence immediately decided she would look into coming to the United States for a college education. “I’m from England. I am originally from London, but my mom was living in the countryside and at the time when I applied to come to university in America, the English education system was having a lot of problems especially the more elite universities having problems with social engineering.
[and] at a time when we had just finished our A-levels and as high school students had worked really, really hard to get a good placement in a university there was so many travesties with the higher education system that I felt really disappointment with my home education system,” she says.
“So I decided that I wanted to apply abroad. So I looked immediately to America because of the language similarities.”
Amy is attending the University of Miami in Coral Gables Florida and she has chosen Broadcast Journalism as her major. “I’m a Broadcast Journalism major and the program here in Miami is very comprehensive. It is a private university at the University of Miami so they have enough money to afford the most up to date equipment,” she says.
“We have a lot of input from industry professionals which is really amazing and I think overall the quality of the teaching alongside the technological advances that they have here and the input from the industry is so important to the overall quality of the program,” she adds. “You really learn a lot not just from the teachers, but from all these other people they bring in as guest speakers, but also your classmates too because they come from all over the country and all over the world so they bring a lot of different experiences to the classroom and I really think that helps you out in learning about anything really.”
Since studying Broadcast Journalism, Amy says she is much more aware of the differences in the two media outlets. “There are benefits and disadvantages to both. In England there is a lot more analysis I feel. There is more kind of editorials, opinion base, investigative pieces in the news and I think that is really good too you get to see different sides,” she says.
“In the news here and in the news class especially in Miami you really don’t get that since of evaluation of what is going on. You really just get what is just happening and that is something that I think is lacking educationally, but that also because the news sources here are private. Whereas in England we have the British Broadcasting Corporation, which is primarily government, funded so I think they almost have an obligation to educate and I think that is another difference, but I like both systems,” she adds.
“I think that in liking both systems I have become informed by both. I still read both. I look up the BBC online from America a lot of times because I want to see what’s going on here from their perspective and I think that it is something that I will always do from now on. I won’t just read one country’s news source on a certain issue because I think that’s often very one sided and I think that it is really, really important to get this overview. I think being an international student gives that to you. It gives you the opportunity to do that and it gives you the experience to know to want to do that.”
Amy says she enjoys going to classes and getting involved in campus activities however, learning about the American culture has been a big reward for her. “When I got here it was actually a huge cultural shock. I think in many instances because we speak the same language in England as they do in America, we take it for granted that the culture would be the same, but its not. It is very different and when I first got here it was a huge cultural shock for me kind of getting to grips with the fact that it was another country and it was another culture, but you get to adjust very quickly,” she says.
“I would say that I had some cultural difficulties understanding some people and they understanding me in my first semester, but following that I really had no problems I integrated very easily. At the same time it didn’t affect me when I went home back to England. It didn’t affect any of my understanding back home so I think that what I have learned here is as an international student is the ability to be bi-cultural,” she says.
“That sounds a bit bizarre because we are from two Anglican base societies, but overall I think that it is a great advantage to being able to understand to cultures. I think the England and American ones though we have similarities, they are very different and I think that it is a skill that I will definitely use when I grow up.”
This is Amy's final semester at the University of Miami. In the fall she will attend the London School of Economics back home. Her advice about studying abroad is “In this globalize world it is people that take the individual leaps to go and study abroad that really make personal connections with people and they make people see things a different way.
I know that I have encountered lots of people who didn’t know very much about England or had bad misconceptions about English people or England and I was able to talk to them about it and maybe educate them a bit about where I am from and to see that change in people, to see people open up and really accept what you are saying I think it is really nice, “ she says.
“It makes the world a smaller and nicer place and I don’t think that I would feel the same about my life as a whole if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to study abroad because it has changed the way I think about the world,” she adds. “It has changed the way I think about my place in it.”