Alexandra Busalacchi

COMM419h - World Media Systems embedded course
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Alexandra Busalacchi

Alexandra Busalacchi

Paterno Fellow
Majors: Economics, Telecommunications
Minor: International Studies
Hometown: Easton, PA


How did you learn about this opportunity?

I first learned about this class through other friends who had previously taken the course when it went to Prague. The Schreyer Honors College then hosted an information session with my professor in the fall, and a few weeks later I scheduled the course for the spring.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, was a supplement to what we had studied in the course all year, which broadly included the media in the United States and South Africa. In our week-long trip, we visited with a variety of media outlets in the city, and had the opportunity to tour their offices and speak with top editors and executives. The offices we visited spanned the print media, broadcast TV, and radio industries. At the South African Broadcasting Company, the home of the country's largest TV and radio stations, we met with the top editor and were able to question him about the company's role in today's media, how it has changed since apartheid ended, and how it interacts with the current government. We also visited radio stations in both Pretoria, one of the wealthiest areas near Johannesburg, and Soweto, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.

We also had a chance to experience other cultural elements of Johannesburg, including visits to the Apartheid Museum and Nelson Mandela's former home. One of my favorite parts of the trip was an afternoon visit to a Lion Park, where I was able to pet a group of lion cubs and get a picture with one that climbed on my shoulder.

“After I studied abroad in London, I discovered opportunities to work in that city, and now with this experience, I am even more determined to work abroad.”

How did this experience impact you academically?

The embedded course trip to South Africa played an invaluable role in advancing my understanding of the course material. The things we had read about for class were suddenly right in front of me and much more understandable. The class discussions we had following our trip were much deeper and often pulled from shared experiences we had together in South Africa. During our trip, we also had the opportunity to attend a lecture from the former head of the media studies department at Witwatersrand, one of the top universities in South Africa. Having the opportunity to engage in an academic setting outside of the U.S. was another way this class helped me learn.

What are your career goals or plans? How did this experience impact them?

I have always wanted to work in media, and this trip opened my eyes to opportunities in South Africa. After I studied abroad in London, I discovered opportunities to work in that city, and now with this experience, I am even more determined to work abroad. My immediate goal is to work at a TV network in the U.S., but I would love to branch out and eventually work internationally. Last year, I interned with NBC, working with their Latin American programing team, and this trip has only added to my international experience and potential to get a job internationally one day.

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students? If yes, why?

I would absolutely recommend this class to other liberal arts students. Even if students do not have previous experiences in communications classes, this class covers the South African culture in great depth through the lens of media, and students from all backgrounds would be able to understand and contribute to class discussions. The trip is also very much affordable, especially with grants through various sources, and is a unique opportunity for Penn State students.

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