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As an international student...I came to Goldsmiths because of its great reputation in media studies.
Michelle's time at Goldsmiths
I am a MA graduate in Promotional Media: PR, Advertising & Marketing in 2018. As an international student from Hong Kong, I came to Goldsmiths because of its great reputation in media studies. Looking back, my time at Goldsmiths was fulfilling and productive.
Convened by an ex-practitioner, the course is well structured and easy to follow. It not only offered a theoretical lens to me to critically examine marketing strategies and explore the debates around public relations (PR), advertising, and marketing these three promotional professions, but also allowed me to develop practical skills, like project management and campaign planning, by working on different real-world group projects. Throughout my studies, I received an incredible amount of academic support from both the department and university. The facilities at Goldsmiths were great too – they created an excellent learning environment for lectures, seminars, individual study as well as group discussion.
Another thing I like about the course is that I got to become a student member of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), which is a trade association for the public relations sector in the UK. With the student membership, I had the opportunity to attend a networking event to meet people from the media industry. I was also able to acquire basic knowledge of working in the promotional industry through a series of online courses offered by PRCA – from crisis management to media writing.
Alongside my study, I was a member of Student Ambassador. I got a chance to take part in various school projects and events with other ambassadors across the University. I appreciate being part of a student body with diverse backgrounds and interests. Being able to talk to people from different backgrounds made me realise how big the world is, and how important it is to respect each and every individual. This had also boosted my confidence and enhanced my communication skills. Studying at Goldsmiths was absolutely one of my best times in life.
Life as an international student
For me, Goldsmiths is a melting pot of nationalities and cultures. I never felt left out as an overseas student because most of the people I met here were very friendly and helpful which just made me feel welcome. I also appreciate the intellectual freedom at Goldsmiths – everyone is able to discuss and explore all kinds of topics and issues. This absolutely made me feel empowered and motivated, allowing me to do my best work. Apart from that, I am also thankful for the opportunity to be part of the student ambassador team.
As an international student with a Tier 4 visa, I was permitted to work only up to 20 hours a week during term time. The student ambassador programme offered me a way to not only bring in some cash while studying, but also gain work experience in a culturally diverse environment. The work is flexible – I could choose the shifts that fit my studies. The work is also diverse – from supporting on-campus events to sharing my passion and knowledge around my course to holding workshops in local schools to promote higher education. It was challenging as it involved lots of public speaking and personal interaction, but the excitement of being a representative of the University is something I enjoyed the most. It gave me a huge sense of belonging to the place.
Living in New Cross
I lived in student accommodation managed by the University during my time at Goldsmiths. The closest tube station is New Cross Gate which is roughly 4 minutes walk. I enjoyed my time living at New Cross a lot. It is a great neighbourhood with amazing bus and rail connections. A big Sainsbury’s grocery store is next to New Cross Gate station. There are lots of independent cafés, pubs and restaurants scattered all around the area. Moreover, given that New Cross is in Zone 2, it is just around 20 minutes on a train away from the hustle and bustle of Central London. The living costs were a bit more affordable as well.
To my mind, the best thing of living in New Cross is that it has lots of green space nearby, with both Telegraph Hill and Greenwich Park down the road. It is something I appreciate a lot because green space in my hometown, Hong Kong, is very limited and is considered a luxury. I used to go to these parks during the weekend either with friends or by myself to wind down and switch off for a while.
My dissertation talked about the branding campaign in Hong Kong in the second post-handover decade (2007-2017). More specifically, it looked at how the campaign’s narrative evolves over the years, and how it has affected citizens’ view of their identity. In doing so, first, I underwent discourse analysis to examine the development of the branding practice. I selected a number of texts and documentation released by both government and non-government organisations, ranging from reports, booklets, opinion polls, websites and videos. Second, I conducted qualitative interviews with a selection of Hong Kong people. The interview was based on the aforementioned analysis and incorporated some phrases and materials into the interviews to stimulate discussion, as well as to capture their perception of the evolving narratives. Third, I reviewed both the analysis and interviewing results to see whether there are any differences and similarities, for example, in terms of the campaign format and narratives. The ultimate aim of this research is to understand how people perceive the evolvement, and how this view may affect their sense of identity.
Life since graduating
Ever since studying at Goldsmiths, I have always wanted to work in the digital marketing & advertising industry because I have a passion for it and I think it has a lot of potential. After completing my coursework, I went back to Hong Kong and landed a job at GroupM. I was the Media Executive working across multiple categories from FMCG to hotels, from telecoms to insurance. My role involved campaign execution and management across online, offline, social channels, data organisation and reporting, client-servicing, and research. I enjoy working at a media agency because it is fast-paced and varied. It is also exciting that we have opportunities to influence our day-to-day life through the work we do with clients. Moving into 2022, I wish to further challenge myself, both personally and professionally. So now I am back in London and am going to start working at Publicis Groupe. I am looking forward to joining the team soon and am also intrigued to find out the differences between life at a media agency in Hong Kong and in London.
Advice for future students
As an international student whose English is not my first language, I think the most important thing when studying abroad is to overcome the fear of speaking English. In hindsight, that is something I could have done better to make the most of my time at University.
Because of the anxiety about speaking English, I was always too nervous to contribute to seminars. I wish that, for some of my time at University, I had not been so self-conscious and nervous when it came to engaging in seminars. It is easy to shy away from the discussion or debate because I am scared of saying something ‘incorrect’, whether it is grammatically or verbally, or something simply people disagrees with. That is certainly not how I can get the most out of my seminars, or my course as a whole. The truth is that it is unlikely that anyone in the room is going to be critiquing or judging every word I said, or anyone in the classroom, except the seminar tutor, is an expert on the topic we are discussing. I wish I had put a little more effort into getting over this anxiety and seen it as a chance to practice expressing opinions in English during my University experience.
Also, I did not get involved enough in societies because of my fear of speaking English. I did attend the odd event or talk hosted, but I just failed to get involved with any of the societies because I was too shy to make the first step. I wish I had pushed myself outside of my comfort zone a little more and branched out a little more to try new things and meet new people.
The biggest thing I have learnt during my time at University is that you get out of your experience what you put into it. And we should not let the fear of speaking English hold us back. The more effort you put into joining societies and meeting new people, for example, the better your experience may be. Or the more engaged you are with your course, the more you will get out of that. I am so glad that the people at Goldsmiths are friendly and helpful. I had the most unbelievably enjoyable experience with the people I was studying with, and I even managed to get a distinction for my dissertation thanks to the guidance and patience of my supervisor. I am happy with my time at Goldsmiths, I just wish that I had always taken every opportunity given to me and made the most out of each and every part of my experience, which would be my advice to anyone coming to University.