Meet Katja Kirigin, an exchange student from Chile who is majoring in journalism at her home university, Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile. Currently, she is taking an elective course called Cities and Change at the University of Amsterdam. I found it coincidental that Katja and I major in the same field, yet veered off course with the electives we have chosen. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her to share our experiences studying a similar field at two very different universities.
Journalism at Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile and Communication Science at the UvA
Ranked as the best university in Latin America for journalism, Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile has its own Faculty of Communication that provides one of three specialisation fields and a wide variety of mandatory courses in affiliation to that particular specialisation. The three domains – journalism, advertising and audiovisual direction – are fields that students of the bachelor program get to choose from. As she’s interested in non-fiction storytelling, Katja decided to specialise in journalism and is now in her fourth year.
Becoming a journalist major in Latin America’s top university also means getting to meet famous politicians and athletes
With courses ranging from Theory of Social Communication (Teoría de la Comunicación social) – the equivalent to Introduction to Communication Science at the UvA – to a variety of journalism workshops, the university offers its students the best of both theoretical framework explorations as well as a practical dive into the field works of professional journalists. One impromptu assignment Katja had to do with her colleagues was to record an on-site television style report as a team with a camera crew and presenter on the streets to interview pedestrians about a random but relevant topic.
Becoming a journalist major in Latin America’s top university for the field also means getting to meet famous politicians and athletes, depending on the coverage assignment. “I met the Prince of Japan and that’s the Chilean president [she showed me a picture], and I was in that ceremony. I went to the White House of Chile – it’s called La Moneda – and so I just went with my credential as a journalist […]. That’s for my workshop – those are the kinds of things you need to do”.
As with every other course in the world, the dreadful subject of statistics is also in sight. However, there was no mentioning of SPSS or other computer softwares being used. The statistics course is rather traditional in that sense. At the UvA, statistics form a major burden of Communication Science as a study, since we specialise as researchers. We are therefore more often seen conducting statistical analyses than roaming about Amsterdam interviewing the city’s hip and trending figures to give full news article-styled reports. Fortunately, we have Medium for that.
Needless to say, UvA is a research university that takes pride in its world-renowned researchers for their scientific works of high quality. This is especially true in the case of Communication Science, which has quite a broad, all-encompassing program. Students get to explore their creativity by conducting research analyses on topics that interests them. This, and SPSS, are the kinds of practical work we do here as Communication Science students of the UvA.
Same but different
Of course, different universities are entitled to their specific program focus. It’s actually in the curriculums that they offer that make a university appeal more to certain students, depending on their interests and career prospects. Media, as a studies, is very broad, and it’s always interesting to look at the different facets to envision what we might want to do in five to ten years time.
Katja chose her major and university because it ranked the best in Latin America, as did I with Communication Science at the UvA and its regional – as well as worldwide – ranking. However, at the end of the day we tend to reflect on how our university-related decisions translate to our future careers. Studying in a regional and world-renowned university does have its perks. “The main TV faces of Chilean broadcasters are from this [the Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile] uni. So, when you need something, or when you need an interview, [you can just] go to them because you’re from the same home uni.” Needless to say, the networks you get to form in a university setting more or less gives you the key to future career success.
Cover: Linh Dinh