Seeing Scotland

A two-week trip kicks off a semester Travel Journalism class in the School of Communications. 

ST. LOUIS, September 5, 2013 – A two-week trip far away from family, friends and modern technology may not sound like something that a lot of students would enjoy but the students who signed up for the Fall 2013 Travel Journalism class in the School of Communications enjoyed the time to unplug and experience a new culture.

This is the third year for the three-credit hour course taught by Linda Williams. Williams takes the students to a country that has personal significance for her.

“My mother and my grandparents on both sides were born in Scotland,” said Williams. “My mother grew up on a small island that I feel is one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Isle of Arran, off the western coast of Scotland. I've been very fortunate to share my mother's island with Webster students for the past three years.”
Scotland Castle
This year, seven students are in the class and traveled to Scotland for the first two weeks of August. The remote location forces students to step away from their phones and computers and experience Scotland's culture.

“The first year we stayed at youth hostels the entire two weeks,” said Williams “The last two years we've rented a farmhouse overlooking the shore in the Isle of Arran. Students have to blog while we are over there and finding Internet is a major problem but being disconnected from the world is also a plus.”

Being disconnected from their lives back home gave the seven students in the class the opportunity to immerse themselves into the culture.

James Dundon, one of the students on the trip, wrote in the class blog, “While it's important to go sightseeing, it can't be the central focus of the trip. You have to mingle with the locals. You have to go off the beaten path and out of your comfort zone, and to accomplish this; you must approach the trip with an open mind. You have to live as a local and not a tourist.”

Throughout the two weeks the class traveled to the Isle of Arran, Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and a trip to Edinburgh Castle and also to Glasgow.

The trip to Scotland is the first part of this course. Students will continue to meet for class throughout the fall semester putting together three major stories for print, broadcast or the web.

Williams said that the short length of the travel portion is a big draw for students.

Scotland House“One of Webster's greatest strengths is offering students an international experience,” said Williams. “However, many students, especially transfer students, can not do a semester abroad because of money or time constraints. A short-term study abroad class gives them that opportunity. It may only be two weeks but that's enough time to change someone's life.  Two weeks can create memories for a lifetime.”

Jacob Trost, a student in the class, agrees that the two-week course was perfect for someone who wants an international experience but can't go away for an entire semester.

“I think some people can tend to get a bit homesick if they haven't been far from home like that,” said Trost. “Two weeks is a good taste of being in a foreign land.”

Kelsey Deters, a public relations major, was also attracted to the two-week travel time for the trip and considered it an introduction to the study abroad experience.

“I was really glad for this opportunity because it was a great way to wet my feet in studying abroad,” said Deters. “I now feel much more confidant about studying abroad for an entire semester. My plan is to study for a semester at the London campus but I am also very open to the idea of another short-term class like the Scotland trip.

Now that the students are back in St. Louis, they are piecing together their memories from the trip and putting together their larger projects. While the course is designed to teach the basics of travel journalism, the lessons of the trip go beyond writing.

James Dundon shared his thoughts on the class blog writing, “I hope I've developed a deeper understanding of the real value of traveling. It's not about what you do while you're traveling; it's about what you experience. It's about the lessons you can take away from other people and places. But most importantly, it's about how you apply what you've learned to your daily life when you get home.”

To read more of the blog entries, visit this website.

To learn more about the travel journalism class, visit the class website

All photos above are courtesy of Jacob Trost.