Fisher Students Experience Abbey Road and "Harry Potter" in London
Every January for two weeks, Fisher students have an opportunity to participate in the International Travel-Study Program to London, a joint study-abroad program organized by Cayuga Community College (CCC) with students from various local colleges. While there, they take one three-credit course, and pack in countless hours of sightseeing and exploration.
Tom Proietti, Resident Scholar in Media in the Communication/Journalism (C/J) Department, has traveled alongside students on this trip for the past 25 years, teaching in the program. The 2013 trip was his last, and Dr. Jack Rosenberry, Chair of the C/J Department, will carry the travel torch in the years ahead.
CCC organizes the trip, which this year attracted 100 students from CCC, Monroe Community College (MCC), SUNY Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Oneonta, Keuka College, Niagara University, and Fisher. C/J students Aimee Schenck and Carissa Cantie both went on the trip.
The program offers 10 courses to students. Proietti and Rosenberry taught the “Media in the UK” course, one of the largest, with 25 students from a variety of schools, eight of those students from Fisher. According to Proietti, the course was originally offered in 1988 as “Broadcasting in London,” and has evolved to its new name. The three-credit course is a C/J elective. It includes tours and media-related activities throughout London, with a backstage tour of the National Theatre, tours of Mediateque (the British Film Institute library and digital archive), visits to the taping of two television shows at the ITV network, a tour of the “Harry Potter” film studio, and a bus tour and walking tour of film locations and iconic locations for British music in and around SoHo, including the Beatles' Abbey Road studios.
Schenck and Cantie were intrigued to participate in the program after hearing so many positive things about it – from Proietti and from their peers.
Schenck was struck by the cultural differences, noticing how British people tend to live and act quite differently than Americans. Comparing both countries’ media also made her think.
“Noticing the pride that individuals have in their media was a very important take-away for me,” she said. “It was especially noticeable when we spoke to members of the BBC. They strive to be the best, and believe they can and will be. They also take pride in the information they provide to their citizens; it was very interesting to compare to what I have seen from American media.”
For Cantie, who has been to Austria and the Czech Republic, London was a place she saw only in the movies or photos ? certainly nowhere she thought she would ever find herself. She said it was hard to pick a favorite memory because she loved all of the opportunities the group experienced, and the exploring she was able to do on her own.
“I loved that you could walk down any street and turn any corner and there was always something different and beautiful to see or do,” said Cantie.
She, too, was fascinated by the media culture. “Media in the U.S. is very censored. I watched four shows on the BBC channel that showed things that I would have never seen on American television,” she said.
Schenck had the added bonus of seeing cousins while in London, which she says was her favorite part, aside from riding on the London Eye at night and the boat trip to Greenwich.
“I know that if I hadn't gone, I would have regretted it. The trip seems expensive, but it is completely worthwhile and the experience truly is priceless,” said Schenck.
Proietti said that over the years, he has seen students benefit from the trip in many ways.
“It is a wonderful cultural experience and an awful lot of first-hand and up-close examination of the various media in another nation and culture,” he said.
Rosenberry added that the trip really opens up a student’s eyes to another culture.
“London is an amazingly cosmopolitan city, and while walking down the street or riding the underground, it's possible literally to hear a half dozen languages spoken inside of 10 minutes. Students have to get outside of their comfort zones in a good way, and it's great to see them grow as they do so,” he said.
With Proietti turning over his frequent flier miles to Rosenberry, he has been reflecting on the 25-year experience. He has traveled with more than 600 students over the years, and said many of them return to experience an entire semester abroad. Some have even settled there for careers.
“The trip is truly a life-changing experience. Students become different people on the trip in the best possible ways of learning about a new culture and seeing a different media system,” he said. “London is a truly gorgeous and intoxicating city, so rich in history and culture.”
Rosenberry is looking forward to leading the College’s participation in the program.
“Tom has been telling me for many years that this experience is a life-changing one for students, and having participated in it myself for the first time, I really understand what he meant,” said Rosenberry. “In the space of two weeks, I could see the students growing and changing as they soaked in all of the cultural experiences, and I was really happy I could be a part of it.”
Fisher students Patrick Harney (taking photo with back to camera), Chelsea Salitan, and Aimee Schenck in the famous crosswalk in front of the Abbey Road recording studio immortalized on the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover.
Students Carissa Cantie of Fisher, Laquanda Fields of MCC, Todd Jackson of Fisher, and Mike Petrone of Fisher take part in a sample radio drama at the BBC.