Studying Abroad in Paris – Media Ethics and Media Literacy Edition

SOJC students in Paris at Montmartre
This photo—taken at the top of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre— features 16 of the students on the Instagramming Paris: Media Unfiltered program: Bella Barba, Lauren Baumer, Amanda Arnold, Katie Dunn, Ava Frazzetta, Aaron Gloates, Ellie Gutierrez, Sophia LaVigna, Caroline Moore, Makena Pratt, Sophia Rojas, Charlie Vigne, Sam Wettstein and Jamie Yanofksy. All photos courtesy of Sally Campbell.

This past summer, I had the privilege to study abroad in one of the most iconic cities in the world: Paris, France. During the winter 2022 term, I learned about the Instagramming Paris: Media Unfiltered program, a four-week trip to study media issues. I immediately grew interested.

two SOJC students journal at a cafe in Paris
Here Lauren Baumer and Tyler Ortiz are journaling outside of Kott Café. Kott is a coffee shop right by the Citadines, our place of residence for the summer.

After attending the SOJC Study Abroad Fair and exploring all the options, I knew the Paris program was the best fit for me. I started the application through the Global Education Oregon (GEO) portal. At first, I was intimidated by this, as any application can cause stress, especially when something big is at stake. However, GEO made the application process navigable and straightforward.

Important aspects I needed to consider before submitting my application were the finances, the dates of the program, and how the classes and credits within the program aligned with my graduation plan. With all that squared away, I felt confident in completing the application process.

A few months later, I received an email confirming I was accepted into the program. From there, I filled out some pre-departure information in the GEO portal. While it was tedious and a lot of preparation, GEO used this information to make our experience as smooth as possible after arrival.

Street scene in Paris with the Eiffel Tower
At the end of the first week, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. This picture was taken as we approached it for the first time.

Instagramming Paris: Media Unfiltered covered two courses: media ethics and media literacy. Both of these were led by Professor Nicole Dahmen. The level of care she provided for the students on this trip made it impossible to feel anything other than supported. She made everyone feel comfortable and made an effort to get to know each student individually on the trip. Additionally, the knowledge she shared throughout the program about media ethics and literacy made it clear that she is incredibly passionate about these subjects. She demonstrated a rich educational background and a high level of expertise.

The academic piece of the trip exceeded my expectations. It was broken into in-class learning time and exploration. Every student in the program used Instagram and a class blog as platforms to share our experiences. Learning about media ethics and media literacy felt important to me before the trip, but I could not have anticipated how impactful some of our discussions and excursions would be. We visited some very heavy places, including sites of World War II’s D-Day, cemeteries, terrorist attack sites and scenes of famous figures' deaths. These days were long and hard but also important to the overall experience.

Sally Campbell stands by an old door on a crumbling bright yellow wall
Sally Campbell, an SOJC student majoring in PR, took part in the Instagramming Paris: Media Unfiltered program. While in Europe for the program, she saw an opportunity to travel around to different destinations. In addition to France, she went to Poland and the Netherlands. Here, Campbell is seen in Warsaw — the capital city of Poland.

We also visited famous cathedrals and museums, saw stunning parks and gardens, walked up and down famous streets, ate at famous restaurants, took a boat tour on the Seine and, of course, had class at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

Every day looked different in Paris. We covered so much ground in just four weeks. After taking the two courses with so much applied context, I completed the program with a desire to make a difference in the professional world. I will continue to advocate for the importance of ethics in the communications world.

Traveling to Europe with a group allowed me to travel the continent comfortably for the first time. My curiosity to see the world from various perspectives continues to grow as I get older — studying abroad helped me start exploring this curiosity. Now that I have been and felt so supported and comfortable, the international travel process feels much less daunting. In five weeks, I visited three countries; took trains, planes and buses; met new people; tried different foods; walked miles and miles and reached a level of happiness that will be hard to reenact.

—By Sally Campbell, class of ’23

Sally Campbell is a third-year public relations major in the SOJC who plans to graduate a year early in spring 2023 with a writing, public speaking and critical reasoning minor.