The second semester of my MSc Journalism degree went by in a flash. Before I knew it, I was given access to the placement portal; while there were many opportunities in Aberdeen, I decided to move to Edinburgh for a month.
Placement as a travel opportunity
This has been my travel hack 101 for a long time. When I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in India, I used to take up internships/placements in new cities away from home because it simply allowed me to travel. Here are a few advantages of this:
1. Moving to a new city for placement would essentially mean that you will have longer time to explore the place.
2. Unlike going on a vacation, you won’t have to feel guilty about spending money, because you moved for an academic purpose – travelling just becomes an added bonus.
3. Usually during my vacation, when I’m about to leave a particular city, I often catch myself wishing I could stay longer. My placement was a wish come true as I got live in the city and soak in the vibe of the place.
Making new friends
My placement was with the Scottish Field, a well known features magazine in Scotland. I rented an Airbnb for a month near the office – it cost about the same price as one month’s rent in Aberdeen.
It was challenging at first as I did not have any friends in the new city. While settling in a new city, the key is to try and put yourself out there. You may feel out of your comfort zone, but it is worth it to meet new people.
I made my first friend through an app called Couchsurfing. He was originally from India and was working in Edinburgh. It is always great to meet Indians in the UK because our shared experiences bring us closer! He had two VIP tickets to the Edinburgh Science Festival and invited me to join him.
After that evening of great fun, he introduced me to some of his Scottish friends, with whom I became good friends with as well. It became a group of five and during my four weeks in Edinburgh, we all met up every Friday for dinner and games night.
As it was just the beginning of spring, the weather was beautiful and we went on walks and hikes in places around Edinburgh.
Rustic City of Edinburgh
Edinburgh was very different to Aberdeen. It was busier and there were lots of amazing places to visit. I spent a whole day touring around Edinburgh Castle, National Museum of Scotland and walked the Royal Mile. The place was filled with buskers and street performers – I even met the cutest owl.
Out of all the places I visited, Dean Village was my favourite! This little scenic village is situated right in the middle of the city and even has a river running through it. I walked miles along the Water of Leith by myself just absorbing the beauty of the place.
Cafes in Edinburgh are also a treat to visit. One evening, I visited a nice little coffee shop in the city and spent a few hours reading.
My colleagues at my placement office were extremely friendly and taught me so many things. I wrote for different sections of the magazine and my work was not just limited to journalism, I coordinated with the advertising and graphics team. I wrote one elaborate two page article for which I received a byline. Overall it was a very positive experience.
My placement in Edinburgh did not help me grow just on the academic/career front, it also blessed me with some great memories, new friends and lovely views.
Apart from this invaluable growth in personal character, professionally I learned a great deal. I got more insight into the magazine industry, honed my writing skills and made new contacts.
If you have two choices – a placement in Aberdeen or a placement elsewhere, my advice would be to always choose the latter.