About two years ago, I walked into the IU School of Journalism for the first time. It was the Friday of my first college finals week and I had scheduled an academic visit. My parents and I all took the day off work and drove three hours southeast of our home, just to spend an hour in Bloomington and turn back around.
But it was worth it.
I was done with my freshman year at IU's campus in Fort Wayne and I knew I would be transferring just a year later. I wanted to make sure I was on the right path to graduate in four years with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism.
I never really wanted to study abroad and I've never been big on traveling; the farthest I've been from home was a cruise around Mexico/Florida when I was 5 and a trip to Texas in eighth grade. But that was until I saw a poster in the SoJ that promoted the course, "From London to Paris: In the Footsteps of Ernie Pyle." It was all I could see and it was all I could think about.
"I want to go on that trip," I told my parents as we stood in front of the framed poster. "I have to go."
Two years later, I'm preparing for that trip.
My class, J418, has about 20 people in it (there was an application process), ranging from freshmen to grad students. Some have traveled abroad before, but I'm not the only one who hasn't. We spend 75 minutes three days each week leading up to spring break learning all about Ernie Pyle, after whom the building of the J-School is named.
Then over break we travel to London, Normandy and Paris, literally retracing the steps of the famed WWII correspondent. We leave Bloomington Friday morning, March 9, fly out of Indy to Charlotte, NC, and into England. Then we fly out of Paris 10 days later, into Philly and then back into Indy.
Since it's a research class, a paper is due a month after our return.
To be honest, I'd love to spend the whole trip in London. I'm obsessed with British accents. But I know I'll enjoy our other destinations as well. I'm nervous about the flight and fighting jet lag, but I've met some awesome people in my class who will help me get through it.
During our "Get Acquainted" dinner last month, I told SoJ Dean Brad Hamm that I wouldn't have had this opportunity elsewhere and he said that's exactly why they started the program about six years ago.
It's a chance of a lifetime I know is only possible at IU.