My Freshman Year Experience: Gentry Bennett

By Gentry Bennett

ImageI have a strong belief that no one understands Ohio University until they come here. I too was once someone that wrote off OU as a backup school, and only applied here as such. Little did I know, four months after receiving my acceptance letter to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, I would venture to Athens for the first time and fall head over heels in love.

The campus is gorgeous, the alumni are stellar and the opportunities OU offers are second to none. I knew the journalism school would be competitive and challenging, and that’s exactly what I wanted out of my time in college.

What I didn’t want, however, was to not feel at home. On tours, at orientation and again at move-in, the Class of 2017 was told to get involved in order to make the most of our college experience. At the involvement fair I signed up for everything that had anything to do with the wild world of PR I would soon find myself in.

During the first week of classes, I met everyone in my learning community and found two other strat comm majors. After deciding to attend the first PRSSA meeting together, three fearless freshmen walked in to Scripps Hall 111 side by side. From then on, it became a tradition. Every speaker “aww’ed” at the fact we were freshman and commended us on becomiImageng involved.

Beyond PRSSA and the amazing connections I’ve made through it, I also decided to join ImPRessions, our student-run PR firm. After submitting my application I figured I wouldn’t get a position as a freshman- but I got an email later that week stating that I made it on to the College Book Store account, my top choice!

The people I’ve met and the experience I’ve had couldn’t be matched anywhere else. Ohio University has truly proved itself to me, and I hope that everyone gets to see this side of Athens. More than just a small town, it’s a community of Bobcats willing to help each other and grow together.

After learning a lot about not only myself, but also about my career goals, I look forward to sophomore year for more of everything; especially spending my Monday nights with Scripps PRSSA, the people that have helped make Athens my home– now and forever.

Why every PR student should study abroad

By Erin Golden

The benefits of studying abroad as a college student can be described just like the places you can go: unlimited. At the risk of sounding like every other student who’s had the privilege of traveling, stepping out of my comfort zone and living in a foreign country for a semester changed how I look at people, the world and even PR.

With endless opportunities available, many students are overwhelmed and don’t know how to start their journeys abroad. Especially with the amount of work that PR students do, taking a semester or summer off to study abroad can seem like too much. But the positive lessons that can be learned from traveling, taking pictures, map-reading, cobblestone-walking and mistake-making are numerous. I wouldn’t take back my experience for anything, but I will give some pointers to my peers who are contemplating starting a journey abroad.

1. Look at life through a different lens. Whether it’s a 2-week-long spring break trip to Ecuador, or a year-long exchange in Leipzig, Germany, exposure to how other people live can help you to understand how their societies operate. Understanding people means understanding their views and opinions, making it easier to put things in their perspective. I never thought I would have so much in common with a fifty-something woman from Toledo, Spain. And although it may come as a surprise to many Americans, not everywhere operates the way we do – and sometimes, their ways might be better. A little exposure to different elements never hurt anyone.

2. Be self-reliant.  When you’re in a foreign city, GPS and iPhones aren’t a reliable source for getting directions or Googling questions. Using paper maps and asking people for directions are a lost art in the days of technology. Many young adults don’t know how to read a map anymore or figure out their locations without their phones. Exploring new cities and countries while abroad is the perfect place to get lost and learn how to find yourself. Trust me, the amount of times I got lost is laughable, but I always found my way.

3. And when you can’t rely on yourself, trust others. When traveling, you learn how to rely on yourself, but you also learn that people all over the world are, for the most part, genuinely kind. If you need help, ask someone. Or lean on the shoulder of your travel buddy. Learning how to compromise and make decisions as a group can be extremely difficult, but after traveling in a group and being forced to come to a collective decision in a timely manner, working in a group is much easier. “Give a little and take a little” can be a good motto for school, PR and life.

4. Materialistic things aren’t as important as you previously thought. With limited space in your backpack or suitcase, it’s just not possible to bring everything you own. And backpacking from hostel to hostel means no laundry – re-wearing the same clothes will become a reality. Plus, when money is tight and your backpack is small, it makes more sense to spend money on experiences rather than things. If I could extend only one piece of advice to future study abroad students this would be it. Memories of the sky-flight over Madrid will most likely last longer than the keychain you bought at the palace. Experience trumps things, every single time.

In any line of work, experience is key. It’s not always the degree you have or the title it comes with, but the projects and work you’ve done before. (And as Scripps kids, we know this well.) However, studying abroad can be the trip of a lifetime – and may teach you things you never would be able to learn walking the streets of Athens (as much as we love those beautiful bricks). The whole world is out there; it’s just up to you to decide your destination.