40 days abroad

I’m really, really tired.

It’s 10:06 a.m. and I’m at work and I’m terrible at blogging. In 40 days I’ve written one legitimate blog, so I guess we should all play some catch-up, yes? Full disclosure: I’m seriously really tired and today is the day I lost the battle against wearing leggings to work.

I do love work. I do, I do. Almost all of the stuff worth writing about has been stuff I’ve done because of Reuters, and my internship makes this semester away so worth it. Sometimes I look at other people’s study abroad blogs — they’re in Barcelona on a Thursday and I’m like “OK COOL WHATEVER” from my desk — but I don’t know if I’d really want to be here if it meant I wasn’t working. If my summer internship search has taught me anything, it’s that the idea of not reporting makes me really uncomfortable. So I’m happy to work a lot. It keeps me sane and this job is so cool.

So far, I’ve helped cover:

1. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (I sat in his chair for a second and then this happened, please enjoy my nervous laughter)
2. Protest over the Turkish PM’s visit
3. Protest over EU environmental policy
4. Protest over human rights in Russia
5. A FEMEN demonstration
6. The EU-Russia Summit
7. A life-size cat brothel advertisement (for cat neutering) (it was strange)
8. A hotel shaped like a colon (Charmingly named CasAnus)
9. Working conditions in Qatar
10. A speech by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
11. Child euthanasia in Belgium

PLUS because I do collegiate stuff too, I went to Amsterdam.

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1780678_10152332754766754_414009179_nAnd I went to Ghent on Sunday for the ballet. This is Lauren’s picture because I didn’t have my iPhone with me :/

I’ve also been sporadically attending classes and trying to get my online classes under control and cursing the Internet connection here about every five minutes. And applying for dozens of summer internships (guys, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, I can feel it, I’ll explain later but keep going you got it) and sleeping all weekend.

Plus, it’s my 21st birthday tomorrow and I have no idea how that happened.


My first few days at Reuters

I’ve been in Brussels for almost two weeks now. There’s stuff I’ve had to adjust to — absolutely no one sells normal sized coffee — but for the most part, I’m really enjoying the city. Yesterday, I realized I’m confident using the Metro. I can get through choppy French conversations with shopkeepers. I have something of a routine.

Before I started working at Reuters, there was a week and a half of tours and free time. Being in a new place, I needed some kind of consistency. I’m not ungrateful for the time to explore and settle in, but I realized that I need patterns to my day, especially when I’m dealing with that W culture shock curve that I figured was bullshit but actually isn’t. But! I started at Reuters on Monday and this whole don’t-see-your-friends-or-family-for-four-months thing is starting to feel worth it.

(On Sunday, I bought a superchouette leather bag at a street market, by the way. And I accidentally heckled it down 5 euro wooop. And I’ve been wearing these black boots that too cool for American Me)

So now I’m at Reuters (actually now, as I type). And I love it. I’m still not sure how I got here. A few years ago, if you asked me what my dream life was, I would have told you it was working abroad at a place like Reuters. I’m doing it right now. I’m 20. In my very first journalism class in high school, we read Reuters stories almost exclusively as examples of great reporting. And now I’m in their office.

Yesterday was my first day out with a cameraman. We covered a Turkish protest outside of the EU Parliament; the Turkish prime minister was in town and people weren’t exactly thrilled. I mostly followed Clément around and helped with sound. He had people respond to questions to me, so they wouldn’t be staring into the lens, so I did a lot of smiling and nodding at people speaking in fluent French. For the English interviews I asked questions though! Very basic questions, but it counts. Just watching Clément work was fun — he has no fear going up to people to film or ask questions. I’m hoping to pick up some of that fearlessness from him.

‘I am not supposed to be here; I’m an imposter’

In my last blog post, I briefly mentioned how I’m worried that I’ll end up “faking it” my whole life. I heard NPR’s interview with this researcher a few weeks ago, and I just had the chance to watch her full TED talk today. Amy Cuddy’s story about faking it until you become it is wonderful. It’s at 15:45 (although the rest of the talk is great too!).

P.S. Apparently, if you stand like Wonder Woman for two minutes, you will actually feel more powerful. So, guess what I’m doing before every interview from now on?

Here’s the thing

My semester as a Missourian reporter is wrapping up, and — I might be alone in this — I think it went by so quickly. I expected to kind of drag along this semester, crushed by stories and assignments and interviews and never-ending General Assignment shifts. That’s what I’d heard it would be like, and that’s what the Missourian tells you it will be like. I’m pretty sure at orientation in August someone was like, “You will drown this semester, but you’ll probably get through it.” My editor fully expected most people on my beat to cry in her office at one point. It’s propped up like THE SEMESTER THAT WILL KILL YOU, but it really won’t. I’m not saying I haven’t learned a ton since August. I have. I’m not saying the Missourian hasn’t occasionally beaten me down. It has. But it’s more good than bad. So here’s some stuff I learned, and some stuff I didn’t.

I learned:

  • how to balance Reporter Me with Person Me, and that’s it’s okay that I can’t be completely one without the other.
  • that being unbiased is not the same as being indifferent.
  • to be nicer to sources. Not that I was mean before, but — and I’m blaming The Maneater for this one — I used to be more rigid when talking to sources. I wasn’t mean, I don’t think, but I think I closed myself off to sources when it would’ve been easier and better to build a relationship with them.
  • I shouldn’t get caught up in one story. Sometimes that story doesn’t happen. And then there’s a month’s worth of work that doesn’t turn into a byline. You gotta multitask.
  • it’s cool to not be Number One. Once I stopped worrying about being great, I got greater.
  • it’s okay to lay on my futon and watch Parks and Rec eating way too much mashed potatoes after a GA shift. No one has to know (until now, um)
  • don’t be afraid to make connections with people I think are way, way too cool for me. It took me almost the whole semester, but Jacqui Banazynski knows my name now and that is enough for me. ALSO everyone she is so nice just email her already

And there’s a few things I still need to work on:

  • I’m really bad at taking down quotes without a recorder. That’s why I record everything, but it has made AC’ing on the spot really hard. I’m getting better at it when I have the person on the phone (USE HEADPHONES why I didn’t start doing this years ago I will never know), but in-person I still need some work.
  • Speaking up in press conferences. I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid to talk in a crowd or because I’m afraid other reporters will judge my questions, but I’ve never asked a question at a press conference.
  • Still not too great at narrative structure. Like I think my story about Josie Herrera, MU’s first genderqueer Homecoming King, could have been less newsy and more of a “story.” But the story about Brady Deaton’s retirement was very narrative, so I might have just not been ready for that style when I wrote about Josie.
  • I NEVER WROTE A LIFE STORY. Is this a blessing or a curse? I don’t know.
  • I still get the unsettling feeling that I’m faking it. I know we’re supposed to “fake it till we make it,” but what if I wake up one morning and realize I just never made it and have faked my way through everything?

Good news is that I still have a bunch of time to work on everything I’m not completely comfortable with. This has probably been my best semester of college so far, and I love that I can say that.