|Handy article where this pictures is from.|
So a ton of people have been asking me about my program in the UK, and why I chose Wales over the thousands of other Universities in the world. I'm afraid I don't have a 'tied up in a pretty bow' answer, but I can tell you a bit about why it worked for me, and why it made sense over some US programs I was considering. For those that don't know, I did a semester abroad as an undergrad at Bangor University, loved it, came back to do my MA in Arthurian Literature (studying King Arthur in Wales...yeah, awesome), and am now at the end of a PhD in Film and New Media at the Creative Industries department.
Three main reasons why I came to Wales:
I'll tear those down.
1) Location- I think it's fabulous to live abroad for some portion of your life. It gives you a better view of the world, takes you out of your comfort zone and you learn more about yourself, your limitations and your capabilities. Plus you get some great stories out of it!
Now why did I choose this location? I've been obsessed with Wales since I was about 8 and I read The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I thought Wales was this secret, magic place where legends still live...and it's kind of true. There's no where else in the world where I feel this sense of wonder when I look to the hills. I love the language, the culture, and the fact that it's not overrun with tourists like parts of Scotland can be. Wales is a little more tucked away. Plus, my town is on the ocean, with Snowdonia National Park in the backyard (big, gorgeous mountains).
|Bangor, between the sea and the mountains|
|On set of Olivia's Army getting hands on experience|
This self-led aspect can also be the kiss of death as you are the one organizing your time, you're often questioning what exactly you're paying for since the onus is on you to find your topic and do your degree, but that's also where the joy of discovery is. I would never have found this topic unless I did it the way I did it! I had the freedom with this UK degree to travel, spend time on film sets (Twilight, obviously amongst others), talking to authors, observing game designers etc. and it was through this fieldwork that my department supported, that I found the topic that I could explore: the fandoms in event film adaptations.
|My supervisor with the art director for Doctor Who|
The staff here are knowledgeable, experienced, well-known in the academic world, and supportive of new ways to research (it's no longer just sitting in a library... my research is out THERE, in the field, in the production process).
3) Cost. Not gonna lie, it was an attractive selling point. International tuition at Bangor is about $14,000 a year, and it's a 3 year degree for a PhD, and a 1 year degree for an MA. Most US programs run about $40,000 a year, and can take 5 to 6 years for a PhD and 2 for an MA. I also got two scholarships so I'm paying less than half of that fee; I've still taken out loans (federal loans, which apply to school in the UK), so yes, I will be in debt, but it's a fraction of what a lot of my friends are in debt for, and I get to live abroad, doing exactly what I want to do.
So there are my reasons to go to the UK. It's not for everyone: you have to be self motivated, innovative, and be able to take and create initiative, but if you can do that, then this degree is rather rockin'. Make sure you have a good supervisor, make sure you're in a town that's on a train line so you can get to cities and travel when needed/wanted (you're living abroad... you have to make time for travel!), and follow the path of your own interests until you find a hole in the research!
NACAC fairs in Philadelphia and Baltimore, as well as college and high school visits in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. Let me know if you think I should come to your school, or let me know if you're coming to one of the NACAC fairs and want to know more!
Happy researching all :)
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