It is Thursday 25th June, short before 5 in the morning and thanks to this sort of acquaintanceship, I am one of the few passengers who know that we will be waiting for a delayed bus from London for at least another hour. Since there is not much to do outside at this time and since I am still really bad at sleeping on a bus seat, I think this is a good time to write sort of a recap article. However, I am fully aware that if I tried to look back at the entire year I’ve spent in Rotterdam, it would end up with me writing all these cheesy phrases and clichés about time flying so fast and feeling like it was yesterday when I was sitting at my first lecture. For that reason, I think it is wiser if I try only to summarize the course of the last two academic terms that I have not elaborated on here yet.
In the last four months I took the remaining half dozen of the prescribed course for year-one students. As discussing all of them would take way too much space and your time, I will rather just concentrate on two of them. In the Communication as a Social Force course we discussed the issues of effective transmission of media messages. This was illustrated on case studies from different environments – politics, humanitarian organisations or ecological groups. The second half of the course was devoted to discussions on the impact of such mediated messages on us, the media content consumers. As part of this, we watched excerpts from various reality TV shows and explored how much these programmes promote consumerist and neoliberal values and defend the features of the control society and the omnipresent “personal development” mantra. Even though some of the theories the lecturer presented to us were maybe a bit too anti-establishment or even slightly anarchistic, it was certainly eye-opening to discover all the little manipulations we are subjected to every day when we watch the TV or use the internet. I am also pretty sure that if I wouldn’t take this subject, I would never watch a single episode of shows such as America’s Next Top Model.
The second course worth discussing in depth was Intercultural Communication, which I took in the last term. We were concerned with issues of communication between members of different nations or ethnicities, especially in the context of the Western world and the relationships between the White majority and the non-White minorities. Once again, this was all illustrated on case studies from the fields of business, popular culture or sports. However, the most interesting part of this course was the final paper, which contributed with 30% to the final grade. Our group task was to carry out a qualitative research in the form of interviews into the ways how members of different social groups perceive the relevance of cultural differences in their everyday lives. Our group has chosen the topic of refugees. For the purpose of this study, we have conducted three extensive interviews which gave us answers to some questions from the literature, but, most importantly, also provided us with an insight into the situations and feelings of people who were forced to flee their home countries. The relative absence of the perspective of the directly impacted individuals in the mainstream media does, in my opinion, dehumanize the whole refugee issue and only contributes to the spreading of fear and hatred in the society. For that reason I am thankful that I got the chance to get to know this angle of the issue as well and thus form a more qualified opinion on one of the important questions currently resonating in Europe.
I have successfully passed all of my prescribed courses for this year. What is more, by achieving substantially high grades throughout the year I should get invited to participate in the Honours program in the next year. I am planning to gladly accept that offer when it comes, but more about that in one of the upcoming posts.
There were many “adult” issues besides studying that kept waking me up in the middle of the night in the last few weeks. Will I manage to sublet my room to someone for the summer, so that I don’t need to pay two extra rents? Yes, on the day of my departure from Rotterdam. Will I be able to pack all my belongings and transport them back to Prague? Surprisingly yes. Will I find a new accommodation for the next year? We will see… Aside from education, my stay in the Netherlands has so far given me much bigger feeling of responsibility for my decisions. If it wouldn’t sound too cheesy, I would maybe say that I feel like I have indeed become an adult in the last ten months. I will be curious to see how much these feelings will intensify in the upcoming months when I will be required to choose my own courses and start preparing for an internship of several months in the next year. I am glad that I will be able to watch myself grow for at least another year thanks to generous support from THE KELLNER FAMILY FOUNDATION.
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