As the recently new ambassador to Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have noticed a common question in the emails I have received from the prospective students applying to our program.
This question is, “How have you adjusted to life in Chicago?”
While the answer may seem like a no-brainer, because I have had great opportunities in Columbia’s journalism program thus far, I was without words, as I realized I had not yet asked myself this question.
How am I doing, am I adjusting okay?
This was a question I had been too busy to ask myself because I am the type of person to forget to eat breakfast, even though I already made it. But when I finally asked, I came to the realization that I had made a life for myself here and somehow managed to have everything under control—an off-campus job, two on-campus jobs, a j-term internship, and nine credit hours of classes.
Moving to a big city, or a new city—as I am from Cleveland, Oh and would like to think it is just as great as Chicago—it changes you for the better even if you don’t realize it at first. You become open to new people, ideas and experiences. You step out of your comfort zone and are surrounded by people like you, who also happen to be extremely different from you at the same time.
When I moved to Chicago in August, 2014, I was 21, and had hopes of pursuing my dream to become an investigative reporter. The excitement of living in Chicago made me think about what I could accomplish, but I was also thinking, “I am only 21, can I do this?” I was pretty sure I could succeed in Columbia’s journalism program, and I could be successful in this big city, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared to death.
Although this wasn’t the first time I had lived away from home, as my undergraduate college was two hours away from Cleveland in rural Findlay, Ohio, it was the first time I had been so far away that I couldn’t go home for the day when I was missing my family (Background: I am the youngest of five children, and one of 26 first cousins). While the first two weeks living in Chicago were hard, I was lucky enough to have found my “Chicago family” immediately in the seven members of my graduate cohort.
In an industry that can be very competitive, it was comforting to be surrounded by seven people who shared my love of journalism, and shared wanting my success as much as I wanted theirs. Even though graduate school can be overwhelming at times, your classmates at Columbia, along with your professors, are the ones who will get you through it.
There is a saying in the journalism industry: “It is all about connections and who you know.” This statement will hold true throughout your entire journalism career, and your first connections will be your classmates, your professors, and the staff members you befriend at Columbia.
I know that twenty years down the road, when I need a source for a watchdog piece dealing with a suspicious lawyer, my classmate John Knowles will be the first one I contact to help. Or, if I need a photographer to help me capture the perfect moment for a story I am working on, I will call Saiyna Bashir and she will be on her way to the scene in five minutes.
If you are questioning moving to Chicago or being away from your family when you considering applying to the Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, remember you are not alone. Columbia College is not just a great program to help you further your career in journalism, it is a program full of great people who will be here to help guide and support you.
Although the priority deadline has passed to be considered for the Graduate Merit Award, applications are still being accepted on a rolling deadline! Apply now and take the first step towards becoming a part of our Columbia family!